The Mammut Wall Rider MIPS is the first ever climbing helmet to incorporate this game-changing technology that has been common in downhill ski and biking helmets for many years now. While wearing a helmet may be enough to protect you from fracturing your skull by taking a rock to the head, or by hitting your head in an out of control fall, it doesn't ensure that you won't sustain internal damage to your brain, such as a concussion, in these instances. The MIPS Brain Protection System adds only 0.5 ounces to the regular Mammut Wall Rider helmet, but has been proven in scientific studies to reduce the impact forces and potential for brain injuries from lateral impacts. While this technology does add $60 to the price tag, making this the most expensive helmet we tested, we can't help but ask, "How much is your brain health worth?" We expect to see MIPS technology available in many more climbing helmets soon, but for now, laud Mammut for introducing this excellent safety feature, and bestow our Top Pick award for this reason.
Mammut Wall Rider MIPS Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: MIPS BPS technology, lightweight, well-ventilated, comfortable
Cons: Expensive, not super adjustable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mammut Wall Rider MIPS is a relatively lightweight foam helmet made of EPP foam with a hard plastic top piece that partially covers the outside for greater durability. It has a lightweight and minimalist webbing harness system to hold the helmet securely on the head. This system is adjustable, but not nearly as much as helmets like the Black Diamond Half Dome or Petzl Meteor. It is essentially the same helmet as the Mammut Wall Rider, but with the MIPS technology added inside and with a different color scheme.
MIPS Brain Protection System is a thin, mostly free-floating piece of plastic that serves as an additional, but pretty much unnoticed harness system inside the helmet. Basically, when your head takes a lateral blow (it doesn't do much for a straight-on shot to the top of the dome, which is probably not super common anyway), the MIPS harness allows the helmet to move on the head, deflecting a large percentage of the impact forces that would otherwise be absorbed by your head and potentially brain. The research cited on the MIPS website claims that it is proven effective at reducing the likelihood of brain injuries from lateral impact. There was no way for us to verify these claims independently, but we can say that one tester took an upside-down fall, banging his head and sustaining a concussion while wearing a different helmet, so the need for this technology in the climbing helmet market clearly exists.
This model is a comfortable, lightweight EPP foam helmet that relies on its shape for comfort. The insides cushion with thin foam pads that rest against the top and front of the head, and replacement pads come with your purchase so you can swap them out if they become too funky from sweat or flatten out over time. Compared to the Petzl Sirocco, we found this helmet to be a bit more circular, and not as elongated. It is also shallower fitting and doesn't sit on the head as deeply as the Petzl models.
Whether this is the most comfortable helmet for you or a close second, largely depends on the shape of your head. For our lead tester, it was more of the close second, not fitting as well as the Sirocco. He found slight pressure points on the back of the head and in the forehead, although these were virtually unnoticeable when climbing.
This helmet uses a straightforward and minimalistic webbing harness to hold it firmly on the head and to preserve the low weight. It's adjustable in the back by two webbing buckles which can rather easily be pulled tighter once the helmet is on the head if you know where to grab. While allowing for minimal adjustability, it is nice that there are two buckles to help keep the helmet centered, rather than one buckle like on the Sirocco.
The positioning of the chin strap along the v-yoke is effortless and easy to adjust with a sliding buckle, and likewise, the chin strap itself can easily be adjusted. These adjustments are far more user-friendly than the buckles found on all of the Black Diamond helmets, including the Black Diamond Vapor.
Our size large helmet tipped the scales at 9.0 ounces, which is 0.5 ounces heavier than the Mammut Wall Rider without the MIPS. So, for added brain protection technology, you only add 0.5 ounce of weight, which seems like a very fair trade in our opinion.
Despite this, the helmet is not exactly featherweight for using EPP foam. The harder plastic top piece weighs more than polycarbonate outer protection used on the Petzl Sirocco (6.1 oz.) or the BD Vapor (7.0 oz.).
This model is fairly well-ventilated, perhaps even aided slightly by the MIPS harness on the inside. There are 16 vents scattered about on both sides, the rear, and even two in the front to allow air flow through the helmet. Despite being small, the vents in the front seem to add to the feeling of coolness as any breeze directly cools the forehead region.
While this is one of the best-ventilated helmets you can buy, it isn't as "see-through" as the Black Diamond Vapor, which almost seems to be more air than helmet. Nor does it have quite as many vents as the Sirocco.
To accommodate a headlamp, there are two small plastic clips on the front of the helmet. There is also an elastic bungee held in place with a small hook in the back. This layout is essentially the same used on the Petzl Meteor and Sirocco and is meant to be versatile for use with ski goggles as well, which require the rear elastic band to be held in place easily.
While we found that both headlamps and goggles are effectively held in place by this system, we also noticed that the underlying tension in the front clips is far higher than on other helmets and seemingly greater than what is necessary to accomplish its purpose. We find it hard to slide the headlamp band up under them. This issue is very minor, but enough of one to differentiate between the best performers and ones who aren't quite perfect.
The helmet is made entirely of EPP foam, known for being lighter, more resilient to taking multiple blows without cracking, but not quite as solid as EPS foam. To help add to the durability, Mammut covers the entire top and front of the helmet in a rather burly shield of hard plastic. While the exposed foam on the sides and rear can handle a little abuse, it is best to be careful how you treat this helmet in your pack or on the ground for best longevity.
We can't comment on how many blows this helmet can take before needing to be retired, but it is EN certified as a climbing helmet. Due to its larger hard shell, we found it to be perhaps a bit more durable than the Sirocco, and far more durable than the lightweight polycarbonate covered Black Diamond Vapor or Vector.
This helmet is best used for any climbing, whether multi-pitch, alpine, or single pitch cragging. It can also suit ski mountaineering or regular mountaineering. It is ideal for those who don't mind spending extra for extra protection, or those who have suffered TBI in the past and will do whatever it takes to avoid more in the future.
This helmet retails for a whopping $180, making it $40 more expensive than the second priciest helmets in our review, and $60 more expensive than the standard version of the Wall Rider. Of course, it will always be impossible to tell whether it will, or has, saved you from a potential brain injury or not, but the truth is that $60 is pretty cheap insurance. For its potential benefits alone, we think it is an awesome value, and think that MIPS technology aside, it's still a pretty great helmet.
The Mammut Wall Rider MIPS wins our Top Pick award because it's the first climbing helmet to incorporate the potentially brain protecting MIPS technology. We expect to see many more companies follow suit soon to offer this technology as well. While it costs more than any other climbing helmet we have tested, we think its potential to prevent a potentially disastrous injury is worth the small bump in cost, and highly recommend you give this helmet a shot.
— Andy Wellman