Through advances in technology and scientific insights, all sports – along with the materials that go with them – are constantly being developed. This has enormous consequences, especially for skiing. The sport keeps getting faster, you ski down steeper faces, dare to take bigger jumps and do more crazy tricks.
This is all well and good – but the only logical consequence is that the safety technology has to keep being developed, too, so that you’re well protected even at higher speeds. The MIPS helmet system is just such a development.
We’ll explain where it’s come from, what it can do and who it’s suitable for.
What is MIPS?
MIPS is a safety system for helmets of all kinds. It was developed by 5 Swedish scientists from the KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) in Stockholm, and is the result of 30 years of work.
What does MIPS mean?
MIPS stands for Multi Directional Impact Protection System. In plain English, it’s a system that is designed to provide protection against impacts with different directions of movement/ force. These different directions of force are generated when the helmet is hit at an angle.
Standard helmets are best at absorbing static (straight) impacts that hit the helmet at a right angle and do not generate any rotational force.
Static impacts are unrealistic – you mostly hit the ground or other obstacles at an angle – and this is why the MIPS system was developed. It absorbs both static and rotational forces.
How do rotational forces occur?
When impact occurs at an angle, the force generated from the impact is not just transferred in a single direction but in many, because the forces are distributed according to the vector principle. This results in rotational force, which serves to absorb the force of the impact. This force holds great risks because it causes the brain to hit against the outer wall of the skull, resulting in a concussion or worse.
How does the MIPS system work?
The MIPS system is modelled on the human brain. To protect the brain, there is fluid between it and the cranial bone. When the head is hit, the resulting rotational forces are reduced by minimal movements of this layer of fluid, preventing the force from being transferred to the brain.
The MIPS copies this layer, so to speak. This is achieved using a movable second shell integrated into the helmet’s outer shell. This second shell sits directly on the head.
So, when angled impact occurs, the resulting rotational force is not transferred to the head, but is instead reduced through the movement between the first and second layers.
This system is very effective and can easily be incorporated into any helmet.
What are the disadvantages?
Since the system is still in its infancy and is only just starting to be used by helmet brands, at the moment it is still very expensive. There is also no data on the lifespan of the system or whether it must be replaced after every accident. What’s more, there is still the question of how snug the helmet has to be in order for it to provide its full protection.
The only thing you could really call a “disadvantage” is that the helmets are 50-100 grams heavier than regular ones. But for this extra safety, we’re all willing to bear some extra weight, right?
All in all, there are no discernible disadvantages, since this is undoubtedly for own safety.
Who is the system for?
The system is for anybody who wants to be well protected. At the moment, all sorts of top athletes are testing it in their disciplines, but it is establishing itself on the market more and more, and really it’s suitable for anyone. There are already helmets with MIPS on offer for cycling, too. Since the system can be built very compactly, there are no restrictions on who can wear it, either.
What should you consider when shopping for a MIPS helmet?
The helmet should not only look stylish, it should also fit perfectly. Other than that, the same “rules” apply as when you’re buying a normal helmet. You can find further information on this here in our blog.
Where can I buy helmets with the MIPS system?
You can find helmets fitted with the MIPS system from different brands in our online shop. Amongst others, companies such as POC, Giro and Sweet Protection offer helmets with MIPS. There’s a good selection available, so you’re sure to find a helmet with MIPS that suits your taste.
Even with MIPS, you won’t have to sacrifice any useful features, as the helmets mostly have the same features as conventional ones – for example, the POC Helmet Backcountry MIPS Ducroz Edition, which you can find on our online shop. As well as the MIPS system, this helmet also has detachable ear pads, an integrated Recco reflector and is compatible with Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. Plus, the size is adjustable so it can “grow” with its wearer – perfect for kids!
The ski helmet Trooper MIPS from Sweet Protection is a fantastic all-rounder: designed for all kinds of skiing and snowboarding, its size adjustment, carbon outer shell, shock-absorbing lining and cooling system are sure to impress.
The future of MIPS
The MIPS system is bound to become the standard within a few years and will also continue to be improved, because it is a system that really substantially increases our safety and that can be used in any helmet for any kind of sport. In any case, there is incentive for the big players to further develop the system so they can stay competitive in the market for the foreseeable future.
If you have further questions or aren’t sure which product to choose, our customer service team will be glad to assist you. Philip is our inhouse expert when it comes to helmets. You can contact him during the week on +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or by email.
There is always something happening in the climbing and outdoor worlds. New products are developed, existing ones are revised or improved, and we learn something new every day, too. And, of course, we want to share our knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise our Base Camp articles. So don’t be surprised if a few things have changed after a couple of months. This post was last updated on 01/02/2016.