No equipment holds as much importance as a properly-fitting, dependable helmet when it comes to bike safety.
Riders should never hit the trail without one as they undoubtedly prevent numerous head injuries and save hundreds of lives each year.
I was extremely excited when I learned I would have the opportunity to test and review the GEM Bike Helmet with MIPS from Outdoor Master.
Not only has my current helmet far exceeded its lifespan, but I have yet to use a helmet that features MIPS technology.
How does the helmet fit and feel? What is MIPS, and how does it work? And how my overall experience was with my first Outdoor Master helmet will be examined and answered in the following article.
First, let’s take a look at what MIPS is and how it can help save your life.
What Is MIPS and How Does It Work?
MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection.
Hans von Holst was a Swedish neurosurgeon who began focusing his attention on the correlation between helmet construction and brain injuries in 1996.
Since then, helmet technology has grown immensely, and you can find MIPS technology in over 140 brands of athletic gear.
The MIPS system found in the helmet from Outdoor Master consists of a low friction layer inside the seemingly normal-looking helmet.
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Your brain is extremely vulnerable when you are riding a bicycle, and in the event of a crash, the helmet you wear is your last line of defense.
During an angled impact to your head, there is a large amount of rotational motion that your skull and brain are subjected to.
Many in the medical community believe that this type of injury (straining or breaking of the axons in the brain) is a major contributor to more severe brain injuries.
The MIPS system helps reduce this type of stress on the brain during an accident by having the head and helmet move independently of one another.
There is no doubt that this sounds unsafe, but rest assured, this is only for milliseconds during the impact.
The friction layer moves just enough during a collision that it redirects a small amount of that rotational force from your skull.
While MIPS cannot stop all the rotational force that your brain would experience during an impact, it is comforting to know that you are wearing a helmet that protects you against multiple types of injuries.
Below is a video that explains the science behind MIPS a little more:
My Experience With the GEM Bike Helmet From Outdoor Master
My initial thoughts when first unboxing the helmet was that of pleasant surprise. I find many helmets are awkward sizes or shapes that don’t seem to complement a rider’s head.
This wasn’t the case with the GEM Helmet. Out of the 10 available colors, I chose the Speed Yellow, and it is a striking-looking helmet indeed.
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The helmet came in a handy branded helmet bag, which is great news for me as I keep both my helmet and bike locked in a dusty storage room.
Aside from the bag and the helmet itself, I also received replacement liners. While the liners in the helmet are washable, the extra set provided is a fraction thicker, in case you need to snug up the fit of your helmet.
To get an idea of what I was dealing with while unpacking the GEM, the following video includes the exact package I received, minus the color:
Who is the GEM Helmet for?
The GEM helmet easily traverses skill levels among cyclists.
With its reasonable price, removable visor, and adjustable innards, there is no doubt that anyone from beginners to experienced road and mountain bikers can find merit in this helmet.
The Big Picture
Let’s take a look at the helmet as a whole, touching on any questions you may have and my overall experience with the product.
As previously mentioned, I decided to go with the Speed Yellow color, as I enjoy my accessories being on the louder side. But, with 10 colors to choose from, you can easily give this helmet any “vibe” you want.
Weighing in at roughly 320 grams with the visor attached, this helmet is fairly light. After a full day of riding, I could barely tell that it was on my head, and I had zero soreness or stiffness in my neck.
The visor is detachable, so if you have no use for one you can remove it and shed a few extra grams. While the visor is a decent size, which will help block out the sun (among other things), it isn’t adjustable.
This would have been a nice feature that could have brought this helmet to the next level.
There is no question that this helmet is extremely comfortable. First off, with its lightweight, you can barely tell that you are wearing anything at all, which is a pleasant experience when cycling.
The GEM comes in two sizes, medium (measuring 21.6” – 22.8”) and large (23” – 24”). It has three different ways to adjust the helmet from a consumer’s perspective.
The three adjustable features are:
- The chin strap.
- The internal BOA System.
- The interchangeable inner linings.
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After a few minutes of playing around with all three of these, my GEM helmet was snuggly secured to my head and fit like a glove.
With so many ways to adjust this helmet, there shouldn’t be an issue getting this to fit just right, that is, unless you have a larger head.
Usually, my hair is on the longer side, and anyone with long hair knows that it affects how caps and helmets fit.
For this reason, I went with the larger-sized helmet. Surprisingly, I found that I had room in the helmet and even had to adjust it down to fit me properly.
I would be concerned about the helmet fitting properly on cyclists with larger heads and/or a lot of hair. While the GEM is new to the market (2022), it would be nice to see this available in an XL size soon.
The GEM features a whopping 25 air vents. This provides an extraordinary amount of ventilation and gives the helmet a very sleek and distinct look.
While the plentiful air vents provide a large amount of airflow through the helmet while riding, this could also be seen as a downside.
I am located in a country where the weather is rarely warm, and the need for a helmet with a large amount of ventilation is only helpful for about three months of the year.
The GEM is obviously better suited to warmer climates, but the numerous vent holes could make for a chilly ride, even on brisk days.
Lastly, as we touched on earlier in the article, this helmet does come with the MIPS system. Hopefully, this technology will never be tested on your helmet, but it is reassuring to know that it is there, just in case.
What we like
- Sleek and stylish design
- MIPS System
- Multiple points of adjustability
- Removable visor
- Large amount of ventilation
What we don’t like
- Current sizes may be limiting
- Unable to adjust the visor
- Ventilation may be too excessive in cold weather
My Riding Experience
I decided to try out the GEM helmet across three “test” runs. I attempted to ride in numerous conditions and terrains to really get a feel for what the helmet offered.
During my rides, I was extremely happy with the performance of the helmet. Not only was it comfortable, but after a few minutes on the trail, I nearly forgot it was there.
The GEM’s adjustability allows you to perfectly fit the helmet to your head snuggly and securely.
When working up a sweat on rough terrain, the ventilation showed its effectiveness by keeping my head cool via a constant stream of air rushing through the helmet.
By the time I returned home from all three expeditions, I felt cool, relaxed, and comfortable. The GEM helmet served its purpose well and performed flawlessly under numerous conditions.
The GEM helmet from Outdoor Master comes with numerous bells and whistles and has a truly futuristic feel to it.
Due to its multiple adjustment points, a seemingly outrageous number of vents, removable/washable padding, and intriguing MIPS system, this helmet is sure to satisfy the needs of any cyclist.
Any faults that we found seem to hail in comparison to what the GEM has to offer and should only affect a small portion of riders.
If you are in the market for a new helmet, I would highly recommend checking the GEM out.
Remember to always wear a helmet when you are hitting the trails and have fun out there!