The Engage MIPS helmet from Smith is one of the few (though that number seems to be growing quite quickly) trail lids out there that costs less than £100 and features MIPS (the plastic slip plane liner that sits between the padding and EPS foam, designed to better protect your head from angular impacts).
For a long while, we’ve often pointed readers in the direction of the Giro Chronicle MIPS if they’re keen on getting a helmet that balances comfort, fit and safety features without breaking the bank.
But at £95, could the Smith Engage MIPS be the new go-to trail lid for those not wanting to spend more than £100?
Smith Engage MIPS details
The Engage’s in-mould construction sees the outer polycarbonate shell wrap around the EPS foam liner, completely encasing the outer rim of the helmet – a feature not all reasonably priced helmets can boast – to better protect it from minor knocks and scrapes that can easily damage the foam.
As we’ve already mentioned, a MIPS liner is included here in a bid to better protect your head from rotational impacts.
Unlike the pricier Smith Forefront 2 helmet, the Engage MIPS doesn’t feature any additional Koroyd protection (the honeycomb-like structure that’s claimed to help absorb impact forces).
On the one hand, this does help to explain the difference in price between the two lids (the Forefront 2 costs around £200), but also means there’s nothing partially obstructing the Engage’s vents, which could be a plus on the trail – especially if you tend to run hot.
To help get the fit right, Smith’s VaporFit retention cradle wraps all the way around your head (rather than being anchored at fixed points) and offers three vertical positions to choose from.
The very positively indexed adjuster dial is easy to use when wearing gloves and doesn’t loosen off once cinched up.
Smith has included some adjustment to the peak, but although it’s claimed to have three determined positions, they’re not very distinctive in use.
Once in the highest position, though, there’s just about sufficient room to stow goggles under it.
Smith Engage MIPS performance
I was instantly impressed by the fit and comfort that the Engage MIPS offers.
With no pressure points around the head and a secure fit, I happily rode for hours without needing to adjust it or remove it to give my head a breather – something that can’t be said for every helmet out there.
Even over rough terrain, the Engage MIPS doesn’t shift around, but most importantly, I never felt that I needed to ratchet up the retention cradle head-squeezingly tight to achieve this.
To add to this, the 21 vents and internal channelling do a decent job of allowing air to move across the top of your head, but after riding it back-to-back with the likes of the Troy Lee Designs A3 and the Smith Forefront 2, I don’t think it’s quite as breezy across the brow/forehead. That’s no real deal-breaker for me though.
When you do sweat, the two-piece padding does an admirable job of soaking up the moisture, yet remains comfy.
While it’s not the thickest or plushest padding out there, it’s still incredibly soft and comfy against the head.
As I’ve mentioned before, although the peak’s three pre-determined positions aren’t as defined as they could be, the fixture remained solid enough throughout testing to ensure the peak didn’t move around or rattle loose while riding, and it’s easy to adjust without ending up with it wonky.
Overall, while I’ve picked up on a couple of minor niggles, it’s hard to knock the Smith Engage MIPS helmet.
Its solid construction, really comfy fit and feel and reasonable price certainly make it a helmet worth considering and a really nice lid to wear when out trail riding.
Smith Engage bottom line
It’s always nice to see brands investing in more reasonably priced kit such as the Smith Engage MIPS helmet.
It’s still expensive at £95, but considering the performance and features on offer, I think it’s good value.
Despite a couple of very minor niggles, I really rate the Engage MIPS lid.
Its build quality, coupled with how well it fits and how comfy it feels for prolonged periods of time, is what really won me over in the end. And it helps that it looks good, too.
|Price||EUR €100.00GBP £95.00USD $110.00|
|Features||Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 350g for M as per manufacture
Ventilation: AirEvac™ ventilation system
Adjustment: VaporFit™ dial adjustment system
Colours: Matte Cinder; Matte Black; Matte White - Cement
|Helmet type||Mountain bike open face|