Remember back when we’d ski with just toques on? And sometimes we wouldn’t even use those? (I recall one incident on Mount Tremblant when a buddy refused to wear a toque because it wasn’t cool looking even though it was -20°C. He ended up getting horrible frostbite on his ear – which really wasn’t cool looking.) It’s hard to believe our parents sent us careening down the slopes with a few stiches of yarn between our noggins and the hardpack. Or the tree. Or the boulder. Or other skiers. Thankfully helmets are now de rigueur on the slopes and they run the full gamut from designer to full-face utilitarian. Most incorporate an expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner that shatters on direct impact ensuring it, and not your skull, takes the full force of a blow. But what about glancing shots off a tree branch for example or other less-direct impacts? If the helmet’s liner doesn’t shatter, then your head still takes the brunt of the shock and your brain ends up sloshing around inside your dome like an egg yolk in an agitated jar of vinegar. Which is a bad thing.
In answer to this non-direct impact dilemma, Norway-based Sweet Protection has introduced the Grimnir TE Helmet that incorporates multi-directional impact protection system, aka MIPS. (More on this later.) Sweet Protection has been around since 2000 when they got their start by producing ski/snowboard and whitewater helmets, their line of offerings now also includes mountain biking helmets. (Some of the latter also incorporate MIPS technology – we’re looking forward to reviewing a mountain bike helmet later this Spring.) Early on the company brought Norwegian snowboard wunderkind Terje Häkonsen into the fold and he’s since helped test their products. In fact, the “TE” in the Grimner name refers to Terje and also the fact it’s the company’s pro model helmet. So we took it for a spin at the resort and in the backcountry to see if it is indeed as pro as it gets.
It's one sweet looking helmet.
- Carbon fiber reinforced polymer shell
- Impact Shields technology to distribute pressure and absorb energy
- Embedded mounts for GoPro and Contour cameras
- Removable, washable liner
- Infused polygiene odor control technology
- 26 ventilation outlets
- Multi-directional Impact Protection System
- Padded chin strap
- Removable ear pads
- More vents on the back as well as the OcciGrip fit system and Goggle strap retention device
- OcciGrip system that lets you customize fit
- Goggle strap retention system is a simple strap and snap
The Sweet Protection Grimnir TE helmet is all about protection. In fact, it’s one of the most advanced snowsports helmets ever made. This thing is like having a second skull – except stronger. There are three reasons for this and we’ll start with the outside and work in:
CRP Shell Tech – The Grimnir TE helmet features a carbon fibre reinforced polymer shell that provides incredible strength-to-weight ratio, rigidity and impact performance. Although it’s carbon fibre, don’t expect this helmet to be the lightest on the market – it’s weight can be attributed to the fact that Carbon is heavier than plastic, which most other helmets are made of. As well, stainless steel is used over all vents to make sure that these are as penetration proof as the shell. This feature is unique to Sweet Protection as nobody else in the industry does this.
EPS Liner – This helmet also features a moulded shock absorbing expanded polystyrene liner with Impact Shield inserts – these inserts distribute the impact force to the head over a larger area in zones where the cranium has less protection. For instance, where your skull has weaknesses, such as at the temples, the helmet is more rigid. And where you’re head is flatter and harder, like the sides and top, the shell is more elastic.
MIPS – The inner multi-directional impact protection system imitates the brain’s way of protecting itself by giving the helmet its own low-friction layer between the outer shell and the head. (Similar to the way the cerebrospinal fluid protects the brain.) This layer absorbs much of the rotational violence created by an angled blow.
Conventional helmets are tested by dropping them vertically onto a flat surface, but very few ski and snowboard accidents occur that way. Most of the time we’re glancing off trees or the ground. The Grimnir TE is one of the first helmets to take into consideration the different ways we smash our noggins doing the sports we love and have addressed them with the three systems listed above. You can’t really buy better protection – but that protection will cost you, specifically US$450 per helmet.
Aside from the ground-breaking protection the Grimnir TE helmet offers, it also has some secondary features I like. For instance, the removable ear pads and washable liners are handy, the ventilation is excellent (26 outlets) without being too cold and it’s one of the few helmets on the market with embedded mounts for GoPro and Contour cameras. This last point is really important because Sweet Protection has reinforced the carbon fibre shell underneath these mounts so the cameras don’t act like hard rocks punching through soft butter if you crash on them. This helmet is the only snow helmet that is certified to take a full impact with a camera mounted on. This is due to reinforcements around the mounts (extra carbon fibre) and the general strength of this helmet.
One thing I want to note about the Sweet Protection Grimner TE helmet is fit. The OcciGrip system at the back can be finicky, especially if you have gloves on, so you’ll want to spend some time with it at the outset customizing the fit to your head.
In short, the Sweet Protection Grimner TE helmet is one of the most robust and technically secure devices you can put on your head. Some snowsports enthusiasts may bawk at the price but, really, how much is your brain function worth to you?
A close up of the bad-ass looking carbon shell and one of the Go-Pro mounts.
Size: S/M, M/L, L/XL
Weight: 600g / 1.3lb
Colour: Natural carbon
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.