Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS helmet review

Low weight, great ventilation, good looks, and high degree of adjustability

Helmets
Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

We love the swoopy lines of this helmet.

What is it

The follow-up to Sweet Protection’s original Bushwhacker, the latest enduro/trail helmet from the Norwegian protective equipment maker has a new retention system, revised interior, updated venting, and an adjustable visor. This model is also equipped with the MIPS brain protection system, a low friction slip-plane layer designed to reduce rotational forces in case of a crash. Our size M/L in satin-cody-orange metallic weighed a respectable 371 grams and sells for $260.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

Good looking helmet in a good looking place — our test HQ in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Pros
  • Reasonably light
  • Well ventilated
  • Straps lay flat
  • Adjustable visor
  • Good looks
  • MIPS safety built-in
  • Ample temple/rear protection
  • Easy-to-operate tension adjustment
  • Wide range of tension adjustment
  • 5-piece shell construction
  • Very comfortable
  • Includes thick and thin pad sets
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Forehead pad doesn’t shed sweat well
  • Can interfere with some sunglasses
Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

The helmet offers significant temple and rear-of-head protection.

Mtbr’s Take

Differentiating between enduro/trail helmets is tough. There are a lot of solid options on the market. But it’s the little details that separate one from another — and it’s these little details that are the strength of Sweet Protection’s Bushwhacker II MIPS helmet, which were it not for its high price, would have gotten a perfect 5-out-of-5 score in this Mtbr test. For comparison sake the popular Giro Montaro MIPS is $150, POC’s Trabec Race MIPS is $230, and the recently released Leatt DBX 3.0 is $170.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

The helmet has 13 total vents.

On the scale, our size M/L test Sweet Protection helmet weighed 371 grams, a very reasonable number for a helmet in this category. Sweet Protection achieves this in part through the use of in-mold construction where the shock absorbing EPS liner is directly fused to a 5-piece polycarbonate shell. As you can see in the blow-up diagram below there’s a lot going on, the idea being that using variable outershell thicknesses and shapes helps maximize protection, while keeping weight in check. Once on your head the only thing you notice is how well this helmet fits and vents.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

A look at what’s inside.

That exceptional venting is delivered via what Sweet Protection calls STACC (short for superficial temporal artery cooling channel). That’s excessive PR speak to be sure, but the combination of five forward vents, two internal channels above the head, and four large rear exhaust ports help keep heat from building up. (All told there are 13 vents). And this is all done while keeping the wearer’s temples well protected.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

The MIPS slip plane is designed to alleviate the effect of rotational forces in the case of a crash.

Fit is fine tuned via the Occigrip turn dial, which by our count has 30 clicks of adjustment. There are also three clicks of up-down adjustment for further customization. Once set-up properly, the helmet all but floats on the top of your head with no pinching or rolling. The entire mechanism is padded with soft silicone anti-stink pads. And the helmet actually ships with two pad sets, one normal, one thick, adding yet another layer of adjustability. The helmet feels like it encloses the head, rather than resting on top of it. Bottom line, if you can’t make this helmet fit, you’re likely a descendent of the Coneheads.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

Even in the heat of SoCal at a recent Giant Bicycles press launch, the Bushwhacker II did a solid job of keeping its wearer cool and comfortable. Photo by Jake Orness

Overall safety is enhanced by the inclusion of a MIPS slip-plan layer that’s meant to reduce the effect of rotational forces in the event of a crash. Additionally, the adjustable visor is made from a shatter resistant material, lessening the chance you end up with shards of plastic impaled in your face if you do take a tumble. Fortunately, we’ve yet to put any of this to the test. But the helmet certainly has the look and feel of a well-made brain protector.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

The shatter resistant visor has a short peak and adjusts up and down.

Other features of note include reinforced in-molded strap anchors that keep the straps flat and alleviate any unwanted rubbing. They also collect less sweat than some other strap configurations. Meanwhile, the visor is short and high enough that it doesn’t obscure your view even when in its lowest position.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

Weight of our size M/L tester was 371 grams. Price is $260.

The helmet meets and exceeds CE EN 1078 & CPSC 1203 certification. Color options include the tested satin-cody-orange metallic, plus matte white and satin-slate-gray-metallic. Available sizes are S/M, M/L, and L/XL. I normally wear a medium, but found the M/L size to be spot on for my slightly oval head shape. Of course always best to try on before you buy if possible — or at least check out Sweet Protection’s on-line sizing guide.

Sweet Protection Bushwhacker II MIPS Helmet

Four large exhaust ports help keep you cool.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $260
More Info: sweetprotection.com and shop.activebrands.com

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympics, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the Mtbr staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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  • Willis says:

    I own a Sweet Bushwhacker and agree with your comments about the forehead pad. In fact I swapped the stock pad out for a spare from my Urge All Mountain to get the Bushwhacker up to standard. If Sweet comes out with another revision, they should take a page from the Urge design book.

  • chase says:

    Without any real independent proof that these MIPS systems do anything the prices on these helmets are getting ridiculous.
    Until I see something definitive like SNELL or DOT tests show for Moto helmets my Bell Super v01 will have to do.

  • Adrian says:

    Looks like its begging for a Sweat Buster!

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