Lazer premiered the new Impala mountain bike helmet at Sea Otter 2019, and I’ve spent some time testing it. The Impala is a solid, comfortable helmet that also seems to offer great protection.
Starting at the top, the Impala features a matte finish on the shell and visor, with a few glossy accents on the sides, bottom, and rear of the helmet. Lazer offers six different color schemes including neutrals (black, gray, white) and colors (red, blue, and khaki with orange highlights). The three-position visor is sturdy and long-ish, and in the up position it offers just enough space to park a set of goggles. An included action camera mount snaps firmly into one of the center vents on the top of the helmet.
Below the outer shell, Lazer — like other helmet manufacturers — uses EPS foam for impact protection. The Impala features an extended rear and added wraparound coverage, dipping down past the ears both front and back. This gives the helmet a fairly low-profile look and feel.
The ratcheting retention system uses a dial covered in a tactile, rubber-like grip which makes it easy to adjust mid-ride. The “Advanced Turnfit System” can be adjusted up or down and wraps almost completely around the inside of the helmet to keep the tension and pressure even.
The straps are wide, made from a lightweight and thin material that’s comfortable against the neck. However, the straps on my test helmet needed to be maxed out to fit under my chin. The upshot is that there’s no excess, dangling strap ends to manage, but riders with longer faces than mine could run into trouble. Lazer says a running change has been made to the helmet line to provide longer straps, so be sure to try one on or wait until the short-strap helmets have cleared out of the market.
On the trail, the Lazer Impala helmet is very comfortable and offers good air flow with 22 vents. In particular, two small, brow-vent slits are said to “maximize frontal ventilation,” but truth be told, I still sweated a lot in this helmet, even in 60-degree rain, and particularly when climbing. That’s not to say I wouldn’t expect to sweat just as much in any other mountain bike helmet; sweat is just part of the safety tradeoff in my experience. Lazer uses a fairly simple but effective padding design that keeps sweat off the brow and out of the eyes.
Lazer offers a MIPS and non-MIPS version of the Impala, and I tested the MIPS version. All told, my helmet weighs 352g (size medium) which places it near the middle of the pack as far as mountain bike helmets go, though it’s impressively lightweight for the amount of coverage and protection it offers. It’s also competitively priced at $119.99, or $139.99 for the MIPS version (tested).