Size Tested: M/L
Stated weight (size M/L): 600 g
Blister’s Measured Weight: 710 g
- Removable Camera Mounts
- MIPS system
- Carbon Shell
- MSRP: $449
Days Tested: 20+
Test Locations: Alyeska Resort, Chugach Powder Guides, AK
I’ve been using various Sweet Protection helmets for over a decade now, both for whitewater kayaking and skiing, and have consistently been impressed by the quality of construction, clean look, and the way they fit my head better than most other helmets on the market. I’ve had several Sweet Protection ski helmets, and the most recent is the Grimnir TE that I’ve been using this season.
Sweet describes the Grimnir this way: “The Grimnir helmet is Terje Haakonsen’s Pro Model. It’s the most advanced freeride helmet on the market – only the best materials and production technologies are used. This is a pre-preg carbon fiber beast, impact tested and certified for selected POV cameras. This model is equipped with MIPS, a technology that reduces rotational forces.”
Having spent several seasons in the Sweet Igniter and 10 years in a full-face Trooper (for steep creeking in a WW kayak and sled skiing) I was excited to check out the Grimnir, Sweet’s top-of-the-line freeride helmet.
My response to people who ask me what’s the best helmet is similar to my response to people who ask me about the best ski boots: the top priority should be fit, regardless of all other features. Check out the Blister podcasts on helmet design for more on this but I strongly recommend that you work to find a helmet that provides you with a snug, uniform fit.
For me, the fit of the Sweet Protection Trooper, Rocker, Grimnir, and Igniter is pretty ideal, so I spend a lot of time in these helmets.
Sweet’s Occigrip system is a simple and (in my opinion) elegant solution to the problem of a reliable tightening / fine-tuning fit system. I’ve had several helmets that use a BOA system, and one of them has failed completely, while another stopped working as well as it did when it was new. After using three different Sweet helmets with Occigrip, I’ve yet to have any durability issues, and I’ve generally found it to be quite effective and easy to adjust while wearing the helmet.
The outer shell of the Grimnir is made of pre-preg carbon fiber, which is among the most expensive and potentially strongest carbon constructions available. The shape looks and feels the same as the Sweet Protection Igniter or Trooper helmets, and the internal foam lining of the Grimnir also appears to be the same.The padding / inner liner is the same as on the other Sweet helmets and similar to that of other ski helmets on the market. The main departure in the shell from the other Sweet helmets mentioned is the addition of vents throughout the signature Sweet swoosh pattern. I suspect that the increased strength of the Grimnir’s material allows for these openings in the shell without compromise in integrity. The goggle strap is also similar to Sweet’s other helmets, with a rubber strap and a snap fastener that works well and is easily removable if desired.
There is a MIPS system built into the Grimnir TE which, I believe, is a worthwhile feature. Please see Blister’s other coverage and podcasts about MIPS but, overall, suffice it to say that I’m happy to have a system that potentially mitigates rotational forces in a crash.
Aside from the features and construction noted above, it’s worth listening to the Blister podcast with Sweet Protection’s founder, Ståle Møller, regarding helmet shape and design. The biggest take-home message for me was the advantage of a design that is as round and smooth as possible. The round profile, almost completely devoid of ridges or bumps, serves to decrease leverage and prevent catching or hooking when the helmet strikes something, and the smooth surface of the helmet dissipates impact by sliding against the impacted surface.
Despite the expensive and advanced materials, the Grimnir comes in at a measured 710 g, making it the heaviest helmet I’ve used in recent memory. It still feels quite comfortable, and I can’t honestly say that the weight feels like it’s an issue. But it’s notably heavier in the backpack on the way up the hill, and maybe feels a little heavier on my head while skiing.
Much of the time, I’m happy to accept this weight penalty (and Jonathan Ellsworth said the same about the Sweet Protection Trooper MIPS helmet). Weight is a complicated can of worms when it comes to helmets, so for now, I’ll just say this: for those who insist on a lightweight helmet, then there are a lot of lighter options on the market.
Again, there is a description of the different helmet certification systems in the Blister podcasts on helmet safety and design. I’m not going to dive into that here, but it seems to me that CE EN 1077:2007- CLASS B ASTM 2040-11 of the Grimnir is adequate, and I suspect that more than any other helmet I’ve used, the Grimnir surpasses those standards.
I tend to get pretty sweaty while skiing, and I like helmets with good ventilation options. The Smith Vantage has been a great helmet for me for this reason. That said, I’ve also skied quite a bit in the Smith Maze, and most recently, the Oakley Mod 5, both of which appear to have less ventilation surface area than the Grimnir. Unlike the Mod 5 and the Vantage, the Grimnir doesn’t have any real ability to adjust the amount of ventilation. I thought this would be an issue, but so far, on 20+ days of skiing in everything from -10 F to 30 F, I’ve been comfortable. However, if adjustable vents are a priority for you, look elsewhere.
The Grimnir’s ear flaps are comfortable, secure, and keep the wind out while preserving hearing. They feel a bit more robust than the Smith helmets I’ve used recently, and are more similar to the Oakley Mod 5 in construction.
I prefer large-lensed goggles (primarily for their fog resistance) and have done all of my skiing this year in the Smith IOX and the Oakley Airbrake XL Prizm. Both fit well with the Grimnir, and the airflow seems adequate to prevent fogging.
Compared to the Smith Vantage / IOX combination or the Oakley Mod 5 / Airbrake XL combination that I usually use, the biggest difference I notice with the Grimnir is that the front of both goggles protrude out past the low profile brim of the Grimnir, whereas with the Smith / Smith and Oakley / Oakley combinations, the visor extends well past the edge of the lens. To me the latter situation is preferable because it keeps wet snow and other precip from stacking up on the ventilatory foam on top of the goggles. So far, this hasn’t been an issue — even on a day of skiing in the rain — but it seems like it could be.
I’ve taken my share of spills this season, including a couple of tomahawking falls. But thankfully, I haven’t hit my head on anything other than soft snow. The feel and construction of the Grimnir inspires more confidence than any other helmet I’ve used but I have no evidence to back that up. (and I hope that I never will!)
A lot goes into choosing a helmet, and fit should be the first and primary consideration. Sweet Protection helmets fit me very well, and I have never seen a helmet that feels and looks as well-designed and robust in construction. The weight is more than I’d like, and this helmet is certainly not cheap. But when skiing fast — and especially around lots of hard objects like rocks and trees — the Grimnir is my top choice and will continue to be my go-to helmet.