Norwegian company Sweet Protection is still a newcomer when it comes to providing stateside mountain bikers with protective equipment and apparel, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got it wrong at all. The 20-year-old brand has been making equipment for skiers, snowboarders, and mountain bikers for some time, and their presence in the US continues to grow stronger.
Earlier this year, I tried out the Dissenter, a helmet from Sweet Protection without MIPS, for $120. They also have a MIPS-equipped bucket for $150. I can’t say I was crazy about the looks on the Dissenter. It fits a certain shape and profile for a modern MTB helmet, but it looks a little dull.
The Trailblazer however, satisfies all the needs and desires for a great aggressive trail helmet. One: As stated, it looks rad. Two: It comes in a MIPS and non-MIPS version, so two different price points. Three: Both of the price points are fair.
The Trailblazer weighs 338g in the medium, MIPS version that they sent me. I received the helmet in a forest green, but there are five other colors to choose from and three sizes. There’s no sunglasses shed or anything like that where you can store your shades, and no emergency signals that phone a friend if you’ve crashed. It’s a dead simple helmet. The Trailblazer MIPS costs $180 and the non-MIPS version costs $150 (available online at Competitive Cyclist, evo, and Amazon).
The shell design is inspired by the Bushwacker’s 4-piece construction with varying material thicknesses, and it’s in-molded with the EPS liner for a strong, reinforced structure. The Trailblazer has the brand’s STACC ventilation channels and an Occigrip dial — Sweet Protection’s helmet retention system — on the back for an easily-grabbed adjustment.
The STACC (Superficial Temporal Artery Cooling Channel) is designed to protect a rider’s temporal arteries without actually exposing their temples. Venting starts above the brow and the channels wrap around the temples and around the top of the dome, toward the exhaust vents in the back.
How well do they work? Rather well, actually. Just like the bikes, anything with an “enduro” label on it usually means that it will be heavier and induce more sweating, while offering additional protection or capability. The Trailblazer vents exceptionally for an aggressive trail/ enduro helmet. Even at lower, climbing speeds, it feel be forgettable.
The Trailblazer is comfortable and it’s easy to find a snug fit. The Occigrip works like any other turn dial in the back of a helmet. There’s nothing revolutionary going on here and the helmet can be adjusted vertically as well. A little bonus with the Trailblazer is that Sweet Protection includes an extra set of pads that are a different thickness.
There are a lot of helmets on the market right now that offer the “next level” of protection, with attractive statistics about their capabilities, and even electronics to store personal health information or phone someone after a bad accident. The Trailblazer keeps things nice and simple, which is what most of us want in a helmet. It looks great, has a MIPS version that isn’t too expensive, it vents well, and it’s comfortable. The Trailblazer might not be on a path of its own, but it’s surely on a good one.
Thanks to Sweet Protection for providing the Trailblazer helmet for testing.