Salomon MTN Lab Helmet
Size Tested: Medium
Color: Black and White
- Hybrid construction
- EPS 4D foam
- Merino wool blend lining
- Custom Dial Fit adjustment
- Active ventilation
- Includes BC backpack helmet bag
Stated Weight: 300 g
Blister’s Measured Weight:
- 379 g with liner
- 337 g without liner
Test Locations: Teton Pass & Grand Targhee Resort, WY; Mt Olympus, WA; Mt Hood & Mt Bachelor, OR.
Days Tested: 10
We’ve heaped a lot of praise on Salomon’s MTN Lab ski touring boot, but their is another product in the MTN Lab collection that is certainly worth discussing: the MTN Lab Helmet, which is specifically designed for skiers looking for lightweight protection while skiing and climbing…
Safety Ratings (and Why They Matter)
In many ski mountaineering situations, the nature of the objective danger changes throughout the course of the day. When climbing up steep couloirs—especially in the spring—it’s generally wise to wear a helmet to protect from any rock or debris falling from above. And when it’s time to ski down, it’s wise to wear a helmet for all the reasons your mom told you back when you started skiing.
But in the quest to shave weight and maximize comfort, many skiers instead use climbing helmets in mountaineering situations. Climbing helmets are typically lighter and more comfortable than traditional ski helmets, and offer great protection from falling debris on the climb. But when it’s time to ski, you pay for that lightweight comfort with decreased protection—especially on the back and the sides of the head.
While some people reach for a bike helmet to compromise between breathability and protection, I spent last spring skiing in a climbing helmet. I’d decided that comfort while climbing was more important to me than protection on the way down, so I huffed my way around the northwest in a Mammut El Cap. But I was acutely aware of the El Cap’s minimal side and back protection (plus the fact that I looked like a goober wearing ski goggles with it) so when the Salomon MTN Lab helmet came along, I was excited. Why?
Because the MTN Lab is rated as exceeding both CE-EN1077 / ASTM F-2040 (European and US Ski helmet standards) and CE-EN 12492 (the standard for mountaineering helmets). That CE-EN 12492 cert means the helmet has been tested, and rated for a range of direct impacts from above, as well as a few smaller impacts from the sides and back. CE-EN1077 / ASTM F-2040 covers a broader gamut of tests and impacts modeled after those commonly found while skiing.
Fit & Shape
With my 59 cm head, I fit perfectly in the size Medium MTN Lab helmet. I have room to adjust both bigger and smaller, and the overall fit is very similar to what I’d expect from a Medium helmet.
The MTN Lab has a bit more of an oval shape than a round one. I’d say it’s similar to the fit of most Giro helmets: just a little more long and skinny than round.
Helmet Liner (and why I tend to avoid ear flaps)
UPDATE: Salomon will be coming out with a summer liner for the MTN Lab this fall that doesn’t have ear flaps. We’ll update this review once we have time in the new liner.
The MTN Lab comes with a removable liner that features a mesh top and a lightly-padded headband with ear flap. It’s lighter than any other ski helmet liner I’ve used, and it breathes very well.
But before I’d actually used it, I was initially disappointed in the liner. I generally pull the liners out of all my helmets, because (1) I run very hot and need as much room to breathe as possible, and (2) I hate ear flaps—my ears don’t usually get cold, and they make it harder to hear, which is something that I already struggle with. So one of the things I loved about my climbing helmet was that there was no liner.
For the above reasons (and given the mountaineering nature of this helmet), I personally would have liked to see a more minimalist liner with just a sweatband and no earflaps. But having now toured in the liner, I’ve found that it breathes better than any other liner I’ve used.
However I was still frustrated by the ear flaps (blame my poor hearing), so I experimented with going liner-less. Without the liner, the MTN Lab is very uncomfortable, and it doesn’t feel safe. So I swapped in a five-panel baseball cap, and found that the MTN Lab fit very well with it.
Note: I’ve found five panels work better under a helmet since they don’t have the button on top, and there is less structure to the hat to interfere with the helmet.) I’ve also found that a five-panel hat breathes about as well as the stock liner, it keeps the helmet in place on my head, and it gives me a little extra brim while climbing. (For an even more breathable option I’ll probably swap in a mesh trail running cap later this spring.) Since a fair number of backcountry skiers are already rocking the hat-under-the-helmet look, the transition to the MTN Lab should be easy.
NEXT: Adjustment System, Venting, Etc.