Finally a true backcountry skiing helmet thats light and compact enough to pack on any ski tour. It’s so breathable that you won’t ever need to take it off and robust enough to do double duty at the resort. The Salomon Mountain LAB Helmet wins our Gear of the Year for oh so many reasons.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
The 2015/16 ISPO award winning Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet is one of the lightest on the market, is designed for both alpine skiing and mountaineering, and has features aligned for both. Its sleek style and design not only performs well but also looks good. The quick-dry liner combined with strategic venting ensures that you retain and shed the right amount of body heat slogging up or skiing down. The goal here is that the Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet never leaves your head whether you are ski touring, skiing at the resort or mountaineering.
If you're looking for more info about the Salomon Mountain LAB Helmet and other new Salomon products have a watch of the following video:
Two colour schemes are available in three sizes of the Mountain Lab Helmet; yellow & white with blue trim, featured in this article, and white & grey with red trim. There is a one hand, adjustable dial located at the rear of the helmet to secure it snuggly to your head which works even without the liner. The chinstrap comes with a comfortable, removable micro fleece cover and is easily tightened at the clip with a pull tab making sure this helmet fits well, regardless of the shape of your head.
The dual purpose mountain shell exceeds standards for alpine skiing and mountaineering safety with the proprietary EPS 4D shell construction giving it thirty percent better shock absorption to protect your noggin from a hard impact on rock or ice. The headlamp retainers located on the shell above the temple make sure your light stays secure and sits nicely on the low profile brim. The strap retainer on the back of the helmet does a great job of holding straps (ski goggle or headlamp) in place and is easy to take on and off with a large, easy to find elasticized pull tab. This means you shouldn’t have to remove your helmet to position your headlamp. I have noticed, however, that the headlamp retainer tabs are not as compatible with thicker ski goggle straps.
The liner weighs in at only 30g and not only feels super comfortable but also regulates body temperature well on skin up. It is removable for warmer temperatures or if you need to wear a thicker toque for the ride down. Its marino wool construction provides ample wicking, is washable and dries quick. This advanced skin technology also protects the ears and forehead from the elements. Mesh on top of the liner allows body heat to exit through vents in the shell and ergonomic ear pads combine with a gentle fabric to make this one comfortable helmet liner.
The Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet comes with a backcountry bag with multiple securing points for attaching it to your pack. The helmet becomes enclosed in the fabric bag with an elastic cord that allows just enough stretch for the helmet to get in and out, while helping to keep snow out. There is even enough room in the helmet cavity for your googles, should you chose to store them there.
Here's a look at the inside of the helmet with the liner removed. Below is the liner itself, note that there is no insulation at the top only on the sideas and over the ears.
- EPS 4D liner absorbs and dissipates shock
- Duel safety standard for alpine skiing and mountaineering
- Active Dry removable & washable merino wool liner with ear pads
- Optimized backcountry ventilation
- BC backpack helmet bag
- Ample insulation over the ears but still minimal enough so you can actually hear.
- Ample vents to keep you cool while skinning up.
- The goggle retention strap is minimal in design to keep weight down. Simple but effective.
- Fit Adjustment Dial.
- Headlamp clip (and in this case a goggle strap clip).
- Removable micro fleece chin strap.
Having tested the Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet on a few runs last year at the SIA Show at Copper Mountain Resort, I was eager to get one of my own to test it out in variable weather conditions and ensure it was a good fit for the average backcountry or resort skier. So far this season I have worn the Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet on multiple days in very diverse weather conditions that ranged from warmer days of zero to plus 3 degrees Celsius, to a day where the snow and wind was blowing incredibly hard sideways and it was easily -15°C with the wind chill. On all of my testing days I never removed or augmented the liner but simply left it in place to see what extremes it could comfortably handle. From above zero, to blustery days well below, I never got cold or broke a sweat (at least not from my head). I was really surprised at the comfort not only physically, due to the design of the Mountain Lab Helmet, but also thanks to its temperature regulation capabilities.
Having been a reluctant helmet user over the years and only recently beginning to wear one at the ski resort, I was happy to find that the Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet was light enough to take touring as well as being small enough to strap to my pack and not get in the way. You see, it’s a bit hypocritical to wear a helmet at the ski resort and not while backcountry skiing as there are many more natural hazards in the backcountry than there are at a ski resort. Not to mention the possibility of avalanche which has the nasty habit of inflicting a fair amount of trauma on its victims. The main reason I have resisted using a helmet is the inability to hear people clearly. Most helmets over pad the ear flaps and make even simple conversation hard to understand, not to mention someone in the backcountry in distress. Having a single helmet that could serve both as an on hill and backcountry helmet was welcome news to this reviewer.
Would I wear the Salomon Mountain Lab Helmet at the ski resort or in the backcountry? Yes, on both accounts. Would I buy this helmet and recommend it to others in the market for a versatile ski helmet, a resounding “yes”!
Price: $200 CAN
Colours: Yellow & white with blue trim / White & grey with red trim
Weight: 300g / 10.6oz, 270g / 9.5oz without liner (size Medium)
Safety Rating: EN 12492 and ASTM 2040
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.