With the development of new technology and the acquisition of scientific knowledge, we see advancements in both our beloved sports as well as the gear we use for them. This is especially true for skiing. The sport is getting faster and faster, the ski runs are getting steeper, and skiers are becoming more and more daring, as is evident by their massive jumps and crazy tricks.
That’s all fine and dandy, as long as ski safety technology can keep up! And, so far, it has, thanks in large part to the MIPS helmet system.
In the following, we’re going to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about this technology!
What does MIPS mean?
MIPS is a safety system for helmets in general. It was developed by 5 Swedish scientists from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and is the result of 30 years of hard work.
MIPS stands for Multi Directional Impact Protection System. Wow, that’s a mouthful. In simple English, MIPS is a system that was designed to manage energy from rotational and angular impact. These different directions of force are generated when the helmet is hit at an angle.
Regular helmets are best at absorbing static (straight) impacts that hit the helmet at right angles and do not generate any rotational force.
Since skiers usually don’t experience direct, vertical impacts on their head but rather hit objects at oblique angles, a helmet was needed that was capable of absorbing these kinds of impacts, thereby protecting the skier from more serious head injuries. And, the MIPS system does just that, absorbing both static and rotational impact.
How do rotational forces occur?
When impact occurs at an angle, the forces from the impact are directed not in a single direction but in several. This is how rotational forces come to be, and these forces hold great risks because they cause 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 was modelled after the human brain. To protect the brain, there is a fluid between it and the cranial bone. Upon impact, the resulting rotational forces are absorbed by this layer of fluid, which acts as a cushion for the brain and thereby prevents these forces transferring to the brain.
MIPS is basically a copy of this layer. It consists of two layers, the second of which moves. The second shell sits directly on the head.
When a helmet with this technology is subjected to an angled impact, the resulting rotational forces are not transferred to the head but reduced by the rotational motion of the first and second helmet layer.
This system is very effective and can be incorporated into any helmet.
What are the disadvantages?
Since the system is still relatively new and is only starting to be used by helmet brands, it remains very expensive. What’s more, there is no data on the lifespan of the system or whether or not it should be replaced after every accident. Another issue has to do with how snug the helmet has to be in order for it to provide optimal protection.
Apart from these concerns, the only thing you could call a “disadvantage” is that the helmets are 50-100 grams heavier than regular helmets, but I think for some extra safety, we’re all willing to carry some extra weight, right?
That said, I guess it’s safe to claim that there aren’t really any disadvantages, since the only thing we could think of is not to our detriment but for our own safety.
Who’s the system for?
All sorts of top athletes have been testing the system in their respective disciplines, but it’s not only intended to be used by professional athletes. The system is for anybody looking for extra protection. There are already plenty of cycling helmets with MIPS technology. Since the system can be built very compactly, there are no restrictions on who can wear it, either.
Things to consider when shopping for a MIPS helmet
Apart from being stylish, your helmet should fit perfectly as well. Other than that, the same “rules” apply as when you’re buying a normal helmet.
Where can a buy a helmet with MIPS technology?
You can find helmets with the MIPS system from all sorts of different brands in our online shop. Brands such as POC, Giro and Sweet Protection offer helmets with MIPS technology, so there’s quite the nice selection and something for everybody.
The great thing about this technology is that, even with the incorporation of MIPS, you won’t have to sacrifice any of the useful features you’d have in other helmets. In fact, most of them have the very same features as conventional helmets. A good example of such a helmet is the POC Helmet Receptor Backcountry MIPS Ducroz Edition, which you can find in our online shop. Apart from having MIPS technology, this helmet is compatible with Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and comes equipped with detachable ear pads and an integrated Recco reflector. Plus, the size is adjustable, so it can “grows with” a growing head size – perfect for kids!
Another great option is the Trooper MIPS ski helmet from Sweet Protection, which is an all-purpose helmet designed for skiing and snowboarding that comes with a size adjustment system, carbon outer shell, shock absorbent liner and ventilation.
The future of MIPS
The MIPS system is bound to be the standard, if it’s not already, and will continue to be reworked and improved. It’s a technology that not only significantly increases our safety but is also compatible with helmets for any sport.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or via e-mail.
There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 01/02/2016.