SWEET PRO­TEC­TION FAL­CONER MIPS

› Nordic head­wear that’s not just for Vik­ings

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YOU’D BE FOR­GIVEN FOR NOT know­ing much about high-grade pro­tec­tion brand Sweet. Launched in 1988, the Nor­way-based com­pany forged its rep­u­ta­tion in snow and pad­dle sports. Since 2000, founder and de­signer Ståle N. Møller has been pro­duc­ing cut­ting-edge head pro­tec­tion for snow, wa­ter, dirt and tar­mac. Sweet was one of the first brands to use MIPS (Multi-di­rec­tional Im­pact Pro­tec­tion Sys­tem), an­other Scan­di­na­vian in­no­va­tion.

The ad­di­tional pro­tec­tion sys­tem is li­censed from its Swedish de­sign­ers, and adds an in­ner skin that pro­vides a low-fric­tion layer. In the event of an im­pact it al­lows the shell to move rel­a­tive to your head. When you re­ceive a head im­pact your brain is pro­tected by a layer of fluid that sur­rounds it. MIPS em­u­lates that same move­ment, so in the­ory it lessens the vi­o­lence of big­ger im­pacts.

The Fal­coner’s MIPS insert is cus­tom to the hel­met so it doesn’t im­pede the chan­nels in the EPS (Ex­panded Poly­styrene) core. The chan­nels are im­pres­sively wide and deep, which give the Fal­coner an airy feel. We were hugely im­pressed with the ones that run just above your tem­ples on both sides. These are called Su­per­fi­cial Tem­po­ral Artery Cool­ing Chan­nels (STACC). The su­per­fi­cial artery runs from the carotid artery and is one of the ma­jor ar­ter­ies in your head, so cool­ing here will keep your head cooler over­all. It works, with these two chan­nels forc­ing air at quite a rate down the sides of your head and out through gen­er­ous rear­fac­ing ex­haust ports. The Fal­coner’s shape still pro­tects your tem­ples (ar­guably the most vul­ner­a­ble part of your head) while keep­ing you cool.

The front of the hel­met has a full-width brow vent, sim­i­lar to Spe­cial­ized’s S-works Pre­vail, and three sub­stan­tial front vents, mak­ing the Fal­coner not only one of the best vented MIPS hel­mets we’ve tried to date, but also one of the best hel­mets for cool­ing, of any spec we’ve tried.

The fin­ish is ex­em­plary too, with the matt fin­ish shell wrap­ping com­pletely around the EPS core so there is no ex­posed and eas­ily dam­aged foam on show. The neo­prene-like min­i­mal pads are ex­tremely com­fort­able, a sec­ond set along with a carry bag is in­cluded in the price, the rear cra­dle is sta­ble and the mi­cro-ad­juster is easy to use. The straps are held in place prop­erly and are made of three pieces with neat Y-shaped an­chors for the chin­strap so they al­ways sit flat. At 310g (L) there are lighter hel­mets on the mar­ket, but for a Mipsstyle sys­tem only POC claims to have lighter (Ven­tral, 248g, £270), but we haven’t seen many that are built this tough and well fin­ished.

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