The Zone MIPS is a high-end helmet that will meet the needs of all levels of skiers. While it doesn't quite match up with our top-rated helmets, it's not far behind, and the price reflects that as well, leaving you with a few more dollars in your wallet for apres.
A cold, stormy, early-season day on the local ski hill in the Giro Zone.
The Zone MIPS is one of the more comfortable helmets we tested, due in large part to a couple of small features. It's solidly built, which we found gives it a sturdy, comfortable feel straight away. Beyond that, the earpieces have a very nice, cupped feel to them, created by a thicker, padded ring around the outside edge. That being said, we also found the earpieces to have a bit of a wind-tunnel effect to them at higher speeds, likely for the same design reason.
The ear flaps, while super comfy (and stylish), tend to get a bit noisy at high speeds.
The Zone has a quick-fit click wheel in the back that customizes the inner fit of the helmet. It's a relatively common feature, and one that exists in many of the helmets we tested, but the Giro system outperforms the others. We found it hard to put our finger on it in a quantitative way, but put simply, it's more snug and uniform all the way around your head. Other, similar systems felt cheap or only seemed to hold the back of your head. The chinstrap links with a magnetic Fidlock buckle that's meant to make getting your helmet on or off with gloves on easier. It's a little like clipless bike pedals. It will take a couple of minutes to figure out, but once you do, you'll appreciate the ease.
The Fidlock buckle on the chinstrap is pretty slick, it just takes a try or two to get the feel of it.
The Giro Zone provides solid protection from the elements on those bitter, blustery days. The top vents can be shut thanks to a slider in the middle of the helmet. The earpieces are extra thick around the edges, which creates a nice seal between your ears and the cold temps. The inner liner is also well-insulated, both in the ring around the outside of the liner as well as right across the top. The only noticeable flaw in the Zone, warmth-wise, is that while the top vents can be closed, the others cannot.
The Zone MIPS has plenty of vents, and a slider to keep at least the top ones closed on storm days.
We're okay with the front vents remaining open as they provide ventilation to combat goggle fogging, but the others remain needlessly open, potentially becoming drafty on colder, windier days. In the end, while it's not the Fort Knox of warmth, it does the trick in all but the most brutal conditions.
With thirteen vents throughout the helmet (two under the front, two on each side, five up top, and two more in the back), the Zone MIPS would appear to be heavily ventilated, and we're not disputing that. However, all of the vents are relatively small in size, limiting the amount of airflow that they trap as well as the area of your head that gets to reap the benefit of that ventilation. For comparison, you could probably squeeze three of the Zone's vents into each of the vents on the ventilation champion, the Salomon MTN Lab. Both of the upper sides of the liner are mesh, which does expose most of the vents on the inside, which definitely helps. The Zone vents well, but it isn't exactly a wind tunnel.
At 17.9 oz., the Zone MIPS lands in the middle of the spectrum among helmets we tested. It's not the bird-boned Salomon MTN Lab, but it is noticeably lighter the Smith Quantum MIPS. Of course, if you tend to stay inside the boundary lines of your local ski hill and don't do much hiking, be it sidecountry or beyond, you likely won't notice, but if you split your time between the resort and the backcountry, the Zone hits a nice middle ground that would work for both pursuits. Those with smaller builds might find the weight of the Zone more appealing than some of the heavier helmets we tested.
The Giro Zone, for being one of our higher-rated helmets, was surprisingly lightweight.
The Zone has a fairly standard goggle fit. The bungy back strap does an adequate job of holding your goggles in place and up front we found both smaller and larger goggles fit with a minimum of extra space or gaps. There is a noticeably wide ledge underneath the front that we found to be effective in two ways. First, it allows just about any size or width of goggle to snuggle up underneath it to achieve a tighter fit. Secondly, the vents along the ledge connect to the front side vents of the helmet, allowing airflow to reach the top of your goggles and fight every skier's arch nemesis, goggle fog.
The Zone MIPS has a sleek, classic look. It doesn't reinvent the look of the ski helmet, and that's a good thing. With smooth lines and a rounded feel, it has a timeless feel; modern, but somehow still old school.
It's sleek; it's classic; it's the Giro Zone.
The front edge juts out ever so slightly, giving the illusion of a visor, without there actually being one. Perhaps the most stylish part of the Zone are the earpieces. They have a polished leather swath with a couple small eyelets and then a more natural leather strap that holds the chinstrap in place; very vintage.
The Zone is a good, versatile helmet for those who want a quality, high-end lid, without paying top-end prices. It's not intended for the occasional, once or twice a year skier, but if you hit the hill more than a handful of times a year, this is the kind of helmet you're looking for. The style-conscious will be satisfied with it's classic, even retro look. Finally, at an acceptable weight, it's also a great option for people who split their time between resort skiing and the backcountry.
For the level of helmet that the Zone MIPS is, it's a solid value. $200 certainly isn't a bargain basement price, but this is far from a bargain basement helmet. The added safety of the MIPS technology alone is going to bump up the price, and while we don't all live on an open and free-wheeling budget, it's hard to put a price on your health and safety, especially your head. The Zone very nearly holds its own with our top-rated models, and you still get the MIPS technology, at a good discount from the prices of those other helmets.
Storm on! Enjoying a day of free refills in the Zone helmet from Giro.
The Giro Zone MIPS offers many of the same features and qualities of our top-rated helmets at a price that is a step down from them. It's a quality high-end helmet that will serve you as well on bluebird days as socked-in storm days.