Gearbox: 2024 Helmets

Editors’ Choice: Atomic Backland UL

New this year, Atomic’s Backland UL hits the mark for backcountry-focused head protection. “So light, comfortable and breathable that I almost forgot I was wearing a helmet!” our traveling tester raved. “Ready for the skintrack straight from the box,” she added, highlighting how the UL’s interior padding mimics that of a bike helmet, allowing easy ventilation and beanie/ballcap compatibility. Featuring AMID—Atomic’s dual-density foam system designed to deflect multidirectional impacts—within a thicker foam layer that is molded directly into the hard plastic shell (cutting weight), the UL is built to protect your head without weighing it down. Compatible with various goggle brands and sunglasses, her only qualm was the high-profile shape. “It rises high on top,” she said, “but so what? It’s too comfortable and functional to care!”

Julbo Hyperion MIPS

Julbo’s new backcountry freeride offering channels the strength of Hyperion, the Greek Titan god of light. “It doesn’t quite make me a deity,” our tester said, “but it’s bombproof.” With an in-mold inner and ABS outer shell, the Hyperion has clean, smooth lines and strong protection. “It looks good, but more importantly, my noggin is protected in it,” our tester said. That security comes with a price, a semi-hefty 590-gram weight, so, he said, “I’m not taking this thing on long missions.” However, the MIPS; magnetic Fidlock closure (great for cold hands); adjustable vents that dump heat decently; and ventilated visor (helps with foggy goggles) all add up to create an ideal crossover helmet, one our tester would use both inbounds and out.  

Salomon S/Lab MTN

“Still the stylish, alpine look in a lightweight touring package,” said a tester who upgraded to the new S/LAB MTN this season. Under the hood, this model uses Salomon’s 100% recycled EPS4D lining, which, per the company, absorbs 30% more shock than the previous design. The helmet is still multinorm-certified, meeting CE-EN1077 (alpine skiing), CE-EN12492 (rock climbing) and biking requirements. “The shell is low-profile, so it isn’t bulky on my pack,” said our tester of this 400-gram brain bucket. “The vents dump heat, and, on really hot days, I can swap the merino lining for my Skida hat.” The size small fit her 22-inch head both with a thick hat and without. While the helmet worked best with her Salomon Sentry Pro Sigma goggles ($150), she noted the brim shape was a near-universal match with most other frames.

Pret Vision X

“A sturdy bucket that can crush in and out of bounds,” a Vermont-based tester said. “I wanted to use this as more of a touring helmet, so I removed the lining,” she added, preferring to wear a hat underneath for warmth. Guarding your head is a hard plastic shell, a layer of foam and MIPS technology that protects against multidirectional hits. Though it is adjustable, our tester recommended this helmet to those with a rounder head shape, noting she felt more pressure on the front/back of her head compared to the sides. Other than that, she found it multi-goggle/sunglasses compatible and praised Pret’s spectrum of color offerings, saying, “Never thought I’d appreciate a subtle pattern, but it’s spunky fun.” Pret also offers the men’s Fury X ($220), which is identical to the Vision X but comes in more traditionally masculine colors.

Smith Summit MIPS

“Finally, a multicert ski mountaineering helmet that looks good!” exclaimed our tester, who called the Summit the most stylish and comfortable in its class. With a combo of in-molded shell and zones of Koroyd, the Summit is light (450 grams) and provides ample airflow through 33 fixed vents, even on the uptrack. It’s not warm, he cautioned, but it fit well with beanies and billed hats. He loved the included MIPS; the Flexible Fit System (a Boa that cinches it onto his head well and folds into the helmet for packing, eliminating potential breakage); the headlamp-routing tabs; and the elastic straps for lashing it to a pack without a helmet carry sling. “It’s so nice,” he said, “I had to buy another after my wife stole mine.” 

These reviews were originally published in Issue No. 154. To read more, pick up a copy at backcountry, or subscribe to read our gear reviews earlier when they are published in print.

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