REVIEW – A few months ago, I had my worst crash ever in 25 years of riding and racing bicycles. I was riding some dirt roads in North Carolina and hit a large root hidden by leaves. The front of the bike stopped, but I didn’t. Going about 20 mph, I flew like superman head-first into a tree stump. I was injured pretty badly, but the injuries were in my neck, and no helmet would have prevented them. But my skull, and more importantly, my brain, were fine. I attribute that to the fact that I was wearing a high-quality MIPS-equipped helmet costing well over $100 (which was destroyed in the crash). MIPS is an extra level of protection built into helmets to protect your brain in severe crashes. I was lucky. With the OutdoorMaster Gem Recreational MIPS Cycling Helmet, that level of protection is now available at a much lower price point, which is very important since crashes can happen to anyone – not just people wearing $100+helmets. Let’s take a look.
What is it?
The OutdoorMaster Gem Recreational MIPS Cycling Helmet is an incredible value for a comfortable, lightweight bike helmet built with MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, designed to protect your brain, while the rest of the helmet protects your skull.
What’s in the box?
- OutdoorMaster Gem Recreational MIPS Cycling Helmet with removable visor
- Storage and transport bag
- Extra set of pads, including extra velcro sticky attachments
- Instructions booklet
- Product Type: Bicycle helmet
- Weight: 320g (my weight with visor, size medium. Claimed is 250g)
- Materials: EPS foam surrounded by a polycarbonate shell, with nylon strap
- Complies with ASTM and CPSC standards
- 3 sizes
- 10 color options
Design and Features
The design and features of this helmet are pretty standard, for a helmet that costs two to three times as much. The materials are high quality, the colors are stylish (10 colors to choose from), and the fit and finish are very well done.
In my cycling career, I have owned many (many!) helmets, most costing 2-3 times what this helmet goes for. I can honestly say that this is one of the best-constructed helmets I’ve used. The seams between the EPS body and the polycarbonate shell are well fitted and tight.
The helmet is secured to your head in two ways. There is an adjustable chin strap, but that’s really there to keep the helmet on your head if you crash – not to hold it on your head while riding. If you like to open your mouth and breath, this would be an ineffective way to secure the helmet. Regular security is accomplished by a dial at the back of the helmet that tightens the inbound suspension system around your head, locking under the base of your skull. This dial is large and rubberized and is easy to adjust with gloves on, and the system holds the helmet on very securely without being uncomfortable. It is also ponytail friendly, as confirmed by my wife when she tried the helmet.
The helmet is pretty light at a measured 320g, with a visor (claimed weight is 250g). My high-end race helmet is only 20g lighter and does not include a visor. You won’t really feel this helmet on your head, even after a long day of riding.
The color-matched visor is secure and does not rattle around, but is removable if a visor is not your thing. Finally, my favorite feature is an integrated mesh built into the pad system that prevents bugs (bees!) from entering the helmet through the many air vents. I can tell you from experience that when this happens, it’s unpleasant, to say the least.
The helmet comes with an extra set of pads. I’ve never had a helmet that included extra pads, although they are usually available from the maker for an additional cost. Anyone who rides bikes a lot knows that the pads in a helmet are the first thing to wear out, or at least to get very gross. OutdoorMaster even thought to include an additional set of sticky velcro tabs for attaching the extra pads, which is a very nice touch.
The performance of any helmet is assessed at two different times; while you are wearing it, and after a crash. I have not crashed while wearing the OutdoorMaster Gem Recreational MIPS Cycling Helmet, thankfully, so I can only address performance while riding. It’s great! The helmet is light and comfortable, the suspension system is highly adjustable and easy to set up, and the straps are soft and flexible. The 25 large vents kept my head cool on warm rides.
What I like:
The value and quality are the biggest selling points. Pro-level protection at a very low price. The “keep out the bugs” mesh is great, and the extra set of pads and velcro tabs are a nice touch. The storage bag is unexpected at this price point.
What I’d change
The OutdoorMaster Gem Recreational MIPS Cycling Helmet is well built and well-executed. The extras included with the helmet, together with the high-quality construction, make this an incredible value for an essential piece of safety gear.