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Best helmet for backcountry

You are really saying that government purchasing specs are some kind of an indication of quality? OUR government??? Really?

Well seeing as how I was the one that did the helmet selection and testing process, yes it’s taken very seriously, but your cynicism is noted. Sounds like you love your helmet, great!

Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org mobile app

I stopped trying to contribute on helmet topics years ago. I know lots of pilots that lived through crashes and have worked with crews that fitted and maintained helmets, both in the fixed and rotary wing categories. I even build up helmets for pilots. And, even though I have my tag line at the bottom of each post, I have taken more crap in this category than all other categories combined. The funny part of that is that the most strident comments usually come from pilots that have never crashed with a helmet on and may not even know someone that has done that.

So ya'all wear what makes you happy. If you DO crash while wearing a helmet, please share the details, good and bad, so that others may learn.

I have done my share of lab testing of helmets. Including testing to evaluate new designs and existing helmets to a wide variety of helmet standards. I have also participated in the creation of standards. I am not an expert.
I have examined a few helmets/humans after real world injury events. Things that happen in the lab and real world are not intuitive.
Let’s agree that lab tests are good but they don’t predict the outcome of all crash events; just (maybe) those events the standard looks at.

My concerns with most helmets used in slow (non rotorcraft) aircraft is that we don’t know what we don’t know. There are some old studies that are not well documented, others that are, well, not.

What we do know is that as soon as you add a screw or trim an edge of a helmet designed to meet a standard you have negated any lab testing. Fasteners and hard edges in the wrong spot are terrifically difficult on the test headform and humans too. There is no such thing as meeting part of a standard. Marketing folks say it often. It is just not true.

The military and others have done lots of study on ballistic and high energy crashes and helmets. The military has not spent much time studying slow crash environment in light GA fixed wing aircraft. Maybe because they don’t fly them or maybe because it is not a issue?

My advice?
Cinch your belt low on the hips, keep harness tight or use good inertia reel shoulder harness. Bonus for a fifth strap between the legs.

My belief is that in our cub world helmets may keep you from cutting your head when you release the shoulder straps while upside down. Don’t forget to unplug your helmet! Don’t get overheated and don’t do stupid stuff because you have a helmet on.

Until I see data for our kind of flying I’ll stick with my 5 point harness.

One last thing, have a look at lap belt buckle on YouTube “backcountry” performers. Many of these performers use helmets but are not securing their lap and shoulder belts as designed. Stupid or clueless? They are not stupid.
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I started wearing a helmet because my head hits the tubes in a Cub and the spar in my Cessna. It hurts in turbulence. Seeing stars while getting tossed and the right seater knocked unconscious isn’t something I want to do again. Scrapes in the helmet beat the heck out if scars on my head.

The application of which helmet has involve common sense. The passion of my adult life has been snowmachines. I never ride without a motorcycle helmet. Ruined a few, too. Ice and trees are hard. I was glad to have them when I needed them.
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Seventh grade for me. Could have been avoided if I had kept my smart mouth shut. Bonehead helmet wearer. The steel tubing above my head seems unforgiving.
LIFT helmet serviceability

I am sending a brand new LIFT carbon fiber shell helmet back to their factory for rebuild due to partially severed wiring of the Lightspeed mic wire, which they installed in rats nest fashion @ factory. Not impressed with their QC after months of delays in shipping it to us.

In regards to being able to replace components on the helmet, I don’t see why one couldn’t easily do so. The pieces Rob refers to are either velcroed in place or slip fit between the impact liner and the shell. I’ve disassembled ours so you can see the construction. The green piece is the Koroyd crush liner. https://koroyd.com/

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I still am not wearing a helmet in a GA airplane. Probably should think about it, but my fairly short stature mostly keeps me out of the top steel, and the inertial reel has served me well to date.

I have been through no fewer than a half dozen Gallets for work, a Peltor or two, and most every flavor of HGxxx or SPxxx. And I've always found the Gallet to come out head and shoulders ahead of the mil spec stuff in terms of fit & finish as well as comfort. Of course the first thing a person needs to wrap their mind around with comm helmets is that no (quality) helmet manufacturer puts out the complete finished product. From them it goes to a second party such as Gibson and Barnes, Merrit Appera, Helicopter Helmets, etc... where they will typically do the comm and liner installs. Those things will ultimately influence the comfort and to some degree fit & finish. For the average GA guy, those items may be less important than for the guy that dons it before sunrise and sheds it after sunset.

The Gallet is not new tech. Even their latest greatest is over a decade old, and is basically identical in general construction to their previous offerings, which incidentally are all identical save for how many visors it has and how it 'stores' them. So I was really excited a couple years back when Lift helmets hit the scene, as it seemed like we were finally going to see some new blood in the helmet pool. But alas, when I got to hold one at a trade convention I was baffled that this fresh slate design still incorporated the snowboard 'rubber band' visor strap and velcro visor lens protector. I mean WTF... You have a helmet built to the tune of $3K and you still have a bungee on your head?

FFW this fall, and my last Gallet was getting pretty rank. Comm ear seals had shed all the pleather, edge roll was cracked everywhere, and broke and dangling in the back, and inside was probably about as sanitary as a basketball shoe... My backup was well... almost as nice. So before before spending almost as much as new on a refurb job, or the 'new norm' amount of my savings on yet another Gallet, I took look at the other players again. Much to my surprise Lift has been paying attention to it's customers, and they now have an option for a solid visor enclosure, as well as some other neat design features. The chin strap on these things is phenomenal. You set the size once, and the actual buckle magnetically seats itself. You can don this thing lickety split in flight gloves, and I imagine any sort of snow gloves. Also new is a carbon fibre model. It is not a CF wrap or paint job it is a different shell. It costs a fair amount more, so may not be a candidate for the average GA buggy, but is slightly lighter, and has a slightly different noise signature from the inside. More sizes! Yay, a company that figured out it takes more than two shell sizes and a bunch of pads to fit every head and every comm set up.

I ended Pulling the trigger on the CF model, with the CF visor housing and clear visor, and loaded it up myself with one of my older Lightspeed HMod comm systems. A new set of ear seals and they were as good as ever. These comms have BT, the bomb proof braided cord, and a bail out plug at the nape so you don't break your neck with said bombproof cord. For switch hitters you can order the comm cord from the bail out plug back and set one up for dual GA plugs and the other for a single heli plug and utilize the same helmet.

First impressions? It's cool. These helmets have cooling vents and a suspension style liner and they work. They are warm enough in freezing temps to not need a helmet sock, but don't overheat you when the temps are up. It's light. Lighter than a Gallet. It's quiet. It's quiter than a Gallet with the exact same headset in it. I imagine fire guys would appreciate that, as running 3 radios simultaneously requires as good a comms as you can afford. The fit and finish are excellent. I once had an EVO (Gallet clone) for a short period. The comm install (Bose) was a joke, and the overall fit and finish was sub par. It looked like an igloo cooler with straps on the inside. The Gallet finishes out much nicer, the Lift is a notch better yet. It Looks like a $3000K helmet. I realize some may not attach any value to aesthetics, I'm ok with that. I live in the thing, I asses everything a helmet brings to the table, and have found on more than one occasion that what initially appears to be an aesthetic difference such as a liner or chin strap ends up having a comfort difference 12 hours in the saddle later. Discomfort = distraction YMMV.

So far (only a couple hundred hours in it) I am truly impressed with this thing. The only concerns I have to date are;

The visor control system. The (inner) Gallet visor is really well designed, and controlled. The outer visor, not as much, but still better than the single visor of the Lift. The lift visor simply rotates down, no gears, springs, or thumb wheels. In fact the visor itself has two small 'wings' on the bottom that serve as 'pull tabs' to grab and pull it down. This probably makes for a lighter set up, it just isn't quite as 'refined'.

The only other concerns vs a Gallet, are the liner, nape and edge roll serviceability. I have no idea if these can be removed and replaced, or washed etc. Every inside component of a Gallet can be removed for cleaning, replaced, and utilized in custom fitting. Most of those components such as liner and edge roll are available in different finishes and from aftermarket vendors for different tastes. Will the Lift be as serviceable? Probably not. I imagine the average GA guy would have to wear it a lifetime before it needed interior service and to be fair most pro's have a new helmet every so often built in to their contracts, so maybe a moot point...

Anyway... no affiliation to any helmet vendor. and no experience in GA airplanes outside of banner tow ops, so take anything above with a large grain of salt.

Would I buy another? so far it looks good, but I am keeping a Gallet on the rack as a back up.

Take care, Rob


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