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.
- 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
- Very expensive
- Forehead pad doesn’t shed sweat well
- Can interfere with some sunglasses
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5