100%’s Altec helmet is the brand’s all-mountain offering, and its first open-face helmet, touted as lightweight and well ventilated. I took to the trails to find out whether that’s true.
Built around 100%’s Smartshock technology – its own take on limiting the rotational forces transferred into the wearer’s brain – the Altec isn’t short on features.
The Smartshock system has 14 small rubberised ‘shock absorbers’ or elastomers that attach to both the EPS foam liner and helmet’s padding. Because these shock absorbers can flex, the padding is suspended separately to the EPS allowing it to move a limited distance – working in a similar way to a MIPS liner.
The shock absorbers can also compress, which 100% claims helps to absorb direct impacts. Its EPS liner features multi-density foam and has an injection-moulded polycarbonate shell that extends around the lower rim of the lid.
The moisture-wicking and anti-microbial padding can be removed for washing, but because it’s attached to the Smartshock elastomers – using rubberised plastic ‘buttons’ – it must be removed in a specific way to not damage the Smartshock system.
The helmet has 15 vents with five large front-facing ones and there are also internal channels between the vents to help with internal air flow.
There are channels on the sides of the helmet too, and the arms of glasses can slide into them for back-of-lid glasses storage. The peak has three points of adjustment, lifting high enough to place goggles underneath.
An indexed thumb wheel is used to adjust the retention cradle on the rear of the lid and has three points of vertical adjustment. Vertically-adjustable strap splitters are present too, and the chin strap is fastened using a standard clip.
The 100% Altec wasn’t included in Virginia Tech’s helmet safety impact tests.
100% Altec helmet performance
The large forward-facing vents suggested the lid would offer brilliant heat management and cooling, and out on the trail this proved to be the case.
Even during slow, hot, uphill slogs it managed to let enough heat escape to stop the pads becoming saturated in sweat as quickly as most other lids I’ve tested recently.
The air flowing over my head was a welcome feeling and when tested back-to-back with a Troy Lee Designs A1, the Altec’s cooling was impressive.
Although the large vents let bugs easily enter the lid and crawl over my head, they can exited just as quickly and didn’t become trapped.
Once the pads became saturated in sweat, their shape helped reduce how much sweat dripped directly down my brow, dripping just in front of it instead.
The fabric portions of the padding remained comfortable, even when they were totally soaked in sweat. However, the ‘buttons’ that attach the padding to the Smartshock elastomers proved to be a source of discomfort for me.
Because the buttons are much harder than the surrounding padding, when compressed or worn for prolonged periods, the squashed padding makes the buttons extrude beyond its depth.
This meant, particularly at the rear of the lid, I experienced discomfort even after short periods of wearing it. No amount of re-adjustment, whether that was with the indexed thumb wheel, the vertical cradle adjuster or just moving the lid around on my head, cured the problem.
However, other testers didn’t suffer the same level of immediate discomfort as quickly as I did or even after prolonged periods of riding, but they still felt pressure across the brow that was isolated to the ‘buttons’.
For that reason, I would highly recommend trying the Altec before buying. You could be lucky and find it suits you and is comfortable or you could be one of the unlucky few to suffer the same issues as me.
It’s a shame there were these hotspots and pressure points because the general fit is good; not feeling too narrow, short or otherwise.
On top of that, the chin strap was comfortable and the helmet stayed put over really rough terrain while still feeling light on my head.
Its compatibility with both glasses and goggles was also impressive. Even large-framed goggles didn’t push the lid back on my head and neither did the lid push the goggles down over my nose.
Equally, glasses remained comfortable when their arms passed over the retention cradle and it was easy to get them positioned correctly, quickly and regularly.
The storage of glasses on the rear of the lid is fine for slow climbs, but as soon as the terrain livens up, and depending on how ‘stretched’ the specs become as they’re pushed into place, they can fall off. So I’d suggest only using this storage solution for slow, long climbs or very gentle riding.
100% Altec helmet bottom line
It’s a shame the Altec’s Smartshock liner attachment ‘buttons’ protrude beyond the cushioning of the other-wise comfortable padding and create hotspots and discomfort, because the Altec is on the money for cooling, sunglasses and goggle compatibility, and looks.
Some people might not suffer from these pressure points though, so don’t discount the Altec until you’ve tried it because it’s a great helmet otherwise.