The Sweet Protection Ascender is a ski mountaineering-focused helmet certified to the American and European protections standards of snow sports and mountaineering. This helmet model has a feature set that is well balanced to perform while climbing and ski touring. Its adjustable harness provides a snug and adjustable fit (although the dial is a bit small, making it harder to operate with gloves on), and the MIPS lined shell is a welcomed protective benefit. The Ascender offers excellent ventilation through the standard front and back vent supplemented by 108 penetration-proof vents that are effective. While this helmet is relatively lightweight and packable, it does feel a bit top-heavy when climbing and riding. The Ascender is for individuals looking for a protective and well-rounded helmet for their ski mountaineering adventures.Editor's Note: The Sweet Protection Ascender MIPS review was updated on February 25, 2022, with more detailed product comparisons and additional information on what we would buy.
Sweet Protection Ascender MIPS Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Triple certified, ventilation, lightweight, skimo orientation
Cons: Top heavy, small dial for adjustable fit, not for most resort skiers and riders
Manufacturer: Sweet Protection
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|Pros||Triple certified, ventilation, lightweight, skimo orientation||Comfortable, warm, vents well, style points, compatible with most goggles||Magnetic buckle, ventilation, protection features, style, BOA-adjustable fit||Protective features, lightweight, adjustable ventilation, versatile||Affordable, adjustable vents, MIPS, adjustable dial|
|Cons||Top heavy, small dial for adjustable fit, not for most resort skiers and riders||Pricey||No adjustable vents, price||Earpads are challenging to remove, dial hard to use with gloves, style||Heavy, larger profile|
|Bottom Line||A ski mountaineering-focused model that finds a good balance between a climbing helmet and ski helmet||Deemed best of the best by our testers, there isn't a better combination of performance available from any model we have tested||A lightweight, comfortable, and feature-rich skate-style helmet that is great for those who traditionally prefer not to wear one||Equally at home on the skin track as the resort, we reached for this friendly-priced helmet frequently on ski tours||Equipped with MIPS, adjustable vents, and an adjustable dial, this model has high-end features and strong performance at a stellar price|
|Rating Categories||Sweet Protection As...||Smith Vantage MIPS||Anon Logan WaveCel||Smith Mission MIPS||Giro Ratio MIPS|
|Goggle Compatibility (10%)|
|Specs||Sweet Protection As...||Smith Vantage MIPS||Anon Logan WaveCel||Smith Mission MIPS||Giro Ratio MIPS|
|Measured Weight (in ounces)||16.0 oz||17.7 oz||17.1 oz||16.9 oz||21.7 oz|
|Adjustment System||Adjustable Dial Fit System||Boa Fit System||360° Boa Fit System||Adjustable Dial Fit System||In form dial|
|# of Vents?||108||20||10||18||10|
|Number of Sizes||3||3||4||4||4|
|Removable Ear Covers?||None||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Certifications||CE EN 1077 / ASTM 2040 / EN 12492||ASTM F 2040, CE EN 1077 Class B||CE 1077B & ASTM 2040||ASTM F 2040, CE EN 1077:2007 CLASS B||CE EN 1077|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ascender is a ski-mountaineering specific helmet that favors protection and ventilation over dropping everything to save weight. It is a well-rounded helmet that employs features from ski helmets, like MIPS, with those from the mountaineering field, like headlamp clips. It is also a triple-certified helmet for impacts related to skiing and mountaineering. While it isn't the lightest-weight mountaineering helmet ever made, it does find a great balance to appeal to the needs of both activities.
The Sweet Protection Ascender is a reasonably comfortable helmet and is noticeable on the head whether you are sitting or riding. It's a very low-volume helmet to help packability. It employs a shallow and oval shape to the helmet to achieve this. We find this makes the helmet feel a bit top-heavy on your head and reduces the amount of protective cover on the sides of the head. Our M/L-sized helmet covers up to the middle part of our occipital bun. For snowboarders, it could be possible to catch your heel side edge. The coverage pattern favors a mountaineering template instead of a traditional ski helmet amount of coverage.
This helmet has been updated using an adjustable dial system for quick on-the-go adjustments. The dial and harness system helps prove a snug fit. The dial itself is small compared to other helmets, making it harder to use and locate, especially when wearing gloves. This helmet is clearly less comfortable than more cushy resort helmets, but compared to other skimo helmets, it's actually one of the more comfortable models we have tried.
The Ascender is designed to offer superior ventilation, which contradicts performance in warmth. This helmet is best worn with a thin buff or beanie as there are no included ear pads and minimal padding throughout the helmet. It is, however, surprisingly warm and has minimal drafts considering its 108 vent count.
Ventilation is where all mountaineering helmets should shine; when you look at climbing helmets, they often have multiple large vents. Climbing a powder-filled couloir is exhausting work, and you are sure to heat up. The Ascender offers excellent ventilation and has 112 vents. It uses three front intake vents, two back of the helmet relief vents, and 108 penetration-proof vents on top of the head.
The intake vents channel air to the side of your head when moving and help provide airflow to minimize goggle fogging, while the two relief vents on the back allow warm air to exit in conjunction with the intake vents. The 108 penetration-proof vents in the hard shell top enable heat to dissipate. These are effective due to the quantity and small gap of 2mm between the vent space, ensuring nothing will make it through to your head. The benefit of the penetration-proof shell is to prevent spindrift or wind-blown snow from entering from the top of your helmet. We were impressed with the ventilation ability while offering a non-airy feel and look.
The Ascender weighs in at 16 oz, a little heavy for a mountaineering helmet. When compared to ski helmets, it's lightweight. The difference between this helmet and a standard mountaineering helmet is its enhanced protection, and ventilation abilities with some ski-centric features like the dial adjust harness. The helmet's weight is quite reasonable considering its feature set, and it's not too heavy to stop us from taking it into the mountains. It should appeal to most ski mountaineers aside from the highly weight-conscience.
The Ascender provides a gap-free fit with both medium and large frame goggles of different brands and styles. This model foregoes a strap retainer in the back of the helmet in favor of two elastic headlamp/goggle attachment straps found on the sides of the helmet. The elastic strap is fitted with a small plastic hook that attaches to a notch located inside the helmet. The size of the hook and the notch can be a bit difficult to operate with medium-weighted gloves and very challenging with mittens. The straps provided excellent security to maintain the straps on the helmet and fit a wide array of goggle strap sizes.
The Ascender is offered in 5 different colorways to provide a color for all users. Its general styling offers a distinct look that is more desirable than most climbing helmets and is on par with some ski helmets. While this model is at home in a skimo environment, it stands out awkwardly at the resort.
Should You Buy the Sweet Protection Ascender MIPS?
This helmet does not fit within your typical ski gear setup. The category of dual-certified helmets is generally expensive, and the Sweet Protection Ascender is on par with the standard pricing. It is great for someone who likes to dabble in various outdoor winter activities, as the 2-in-1 product can be easier to store and better for your budget. If you are looking for a helmet to climb and ski, this model is close to being our favorite choice. But if this is not the case, this helmet may have many unnecessary features for the average skier/snowboarder, and you will be better off with a traditional ski helmet.
What Other Ski Helmets Should You Consider?
The Sweet Protection Ascender is a backcountry and ski mountaineering-focused helmet that will serve that user group well. Its dual-certification coupled with MIPS can provide peace of mind when climbing up a couloir lined with granite walls. If this is a situation where you find yourself frequently, then we can't recommend a better option. If you only occasionally venture off groomed runs, then the Salomon MTN Lab is an excellent multiuse option that caters more towards the resort crowd. If you're looking for a traditional helmet, this model's shallow shape and specific feature set will not benefit you. We recommend our Editors' Choice, the Smith Vantage MIPS.
— Isaac Laredo
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