Ten years ago, there weren’t many helmet manufacturers talking about rotational forces or sub-concussive impacts. But in light of several high-profile suicides linked to repeated brain trauma, the race is on to create better brain buckets. Here are two of the most interesting new approaches that we saw during trade show season.
Kali Interceptor Helmet
Our understanding of the human brain has dramatically changed over the past 30 years. We’ve learned that it’s not just big hits we have to worry about. The brain is also vulnerable to repeated small impacts or any force that causes it to rapidly rotate inside the skull.
Our current helmet safety standards don’t do anything to address these issues, but brands such as Kali Protectives are taking a proactive approach. Their newest helmet, the Interceptor, uses a layer of material called LDL that works sort of like D30 in a straight on impact. The main advantage, claims Kali, is that it starts working to absorb impacts at a lower threshold than EPS, so it helps with the low-speed impacts that are sometimes described as sub-concussive.
LDL also has the added benefit of helping to reduce rotational injuries. The raised nubbins can flex laterally, to help reduce the amount the brain rotates in a crash. Think of it as their version of MIPS, except it also helps with lower speed hits.
This technology was first introduced on the Tava helmet last year, but is slowly trickling its way down the line. In addition to the Interceptor, a new version of the Shiva full face will also be released with the new tech.
The other new technology that Kali has been touting is Nano Core. This material is made from an acrylic foam with carbon nano polymers. Unlike the EPS foam used in traditional helmets, Nano Core is capable of self-healing.
Other manufacturers use a self-healing foam called EPP in their multi-impact helmets. The downside to this material is that it’s heavy and doesn’t work quite as well as EPS. Kali’s new Nano Core is claimed to not only withstand multi-impacts but do so more efficiently than EPS, without substantially increasing weight.
The first helmet to get this new treatment is the MacDuff skate helmet. Kali states this helmet is capable of withstanding between 8-10 impacts, but over some beers, Brad Waldron, Kali’s co-founder and director of engineering, let slip that he drop tested the MacDuff on the same spot more than a dozen times without it failing the drop test.