Wearing a ski helmet can be hot, uncomfortable, ugly, and awkward. But it doesn’t have to be. Giro promised us that wearing the new Range would be our best experience wearing a helmet. So, we packed it in our carry-on and flew to Jackson Hole.
Day 1: There’s no fresh snow, but we click into our skis and slip on Giro’s Range for the first time. It fits like a glove — no pressure points at all. The shell is two pieces that expand and contract up to 6 cm with a knob at the base of the skull thanks to what Giro calls its Conform Fit Technology. It’s easy to operate with our gloves on, and when we tighten the knob, it doesn’t just make the back of the helmet tighter — it cinches the whole helmet around our head without squeezing it. Opening the vents on the Range doesn’t just open gaping holes in the shell; air moves over our heads through the helmet from the front to the rear without making our scalp too cold.
Day 2: We take the tram to the top of Jackson, then climb Cody’s rocky ascent ridge. We open the vents for the downhill. We catch a high-speed edge and cartwheel into a powdery duff. Luckily, our head stays safe under the shell, and no snow gets in thanks to the design of the air vents. We brush ourselves off and reattach our goggles with the easy-to-operate, tabbed, glove-friendly bungee on the rear of the helmet. After skinning up another peak, we enter the day’s main objective — a steep couloir that descends through a natural arch. We attach the Range’s included GoPro mount — it clips into the front of the helmet just above the visor. Then it’s a big skin out of the basin and back to the resort. We slide Outdoor Tech Chips — universal wireless helmet audio — into the Velcro ear pouches, flick up our heel lifters and start the ascent with tunes. When dusk settles in and we’re still shuffling and side-stepping through Granite Canyon, we slip our headlamp over the helmet shell. The visor is low profile enough that it looks cool, and cuts down on glare, but doesn’t create weird shadows.
Day 3: Even though we’re exhausted from our 10-hour epic, we head into the backcountry once again, this time with our helmet strapped to our pack. When we hit a rest stop, we unlatch it and strap it on to protect us from the stinging wind. Even though we’ve sweat in this helmet for three full days, it doesn’t smell bad. The liner padding is treated with anti-stink X-static, and it works. Taking the helmet off our pack, we have a momentary brain lapse and can’t get the magnetic buckle undone, but that’s only because it’s different from other helmets we’ve used and not yet intuitive. Later on, when we get whapped by several saplings, the Range does exactly what a helmet should do and lessens the beating — protecting us when we need it most and being so comfortably unobtrusive that we forget about it the rest of the time.
Available August 2015. [$240; giro.com]