-Goggle and glasses storage
-Smart approach to adjustability
-Works great with goggles
-Exceptionally secure fit
-Favors round head shapes over oval
-Camera / light mount is a bit clunky
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I like my brain. Or, at least I think I do. I consider it one of my best qualities. I also like this wonderful sport of mountain biking, though gravity and gray matter don’t always get along. This is where a trusted mediator comes in: the helmet. Over the years I’ve learned that bargain shopping for helmets often leads to headaches. Literally. All helmets must pass the same tests, so money doesn’t necessarily buy you a safer lid, but it can provide comfort, usability and style. You might as well get something you’re actually going to like riding in, right? That’s probably why, in the past, Lazer helmets haven’t exactly been a common sight out on the trail. They have more than a few decades of experience among the road, gravel and cyclocross crowds, but haven’t quite proliferated into the mountain bike scene, style-wise. But Lazer is trying to change that, and the company’s newest flagship mountain bike helmet, the Lazer Jackal, shows just how serious they’ve gotten.
Sharing a similar profile to other contemporary, enduro-leaning trail helmets, the Jackal boasts a MIPS liner, extended coverage and a sophisticated fitment adjustment system that includes an “occipital lobe” harness with multiple depth options (yes!). There’s a three-position visor with room for goggle stowage, grippers on the back for said goggle straps, an included camera/light mount, Fidlock magnetic chinstrap buckle (also yes!) and small channels for glasses storage. All that will cost you $200, which is about mid-pack among premium helmets on the market right now.
Features on paper are one thing, but no list of bullet points will get a helmet to fit every head. When I first tried on the Jackal, I felt some uncomfortable pressure points at the front and back of my head—the Jackal’s fit is more cantaloupe than watermelon. My head happens to be in the latter category. The Jackal is shorter front to back than my Bell Sixer or Fox Speedframe, more in line with a POC Tectal Race or Cortex full face. But, after a quick adjustment to Lazer’s 360-degree retention system, those pressure points calmed down, and after the first few minutes of riding I didn’t notice them at all.
The Jackal comes with a removable camera / light mount that Velcros on and off through the vents. But it’s a pain to install and remove, so I’d just opt for an adhesive GoPro mount and be done with it. Speaking of vents, the Jackal’s ventilation is good, but doesn’t rank as the best I’ve ridden. I’d compare its cooling ability to the Bell Sixer, and say that it feels a bit little warmer than the Speedframe. There are some nice cutouts in the brow of the helmet to help ventilation when wearing glasses, and this does help keep fogging at bay.
Storing sport-style glasses with grippy rubber temple tips can be a bit of a hassle, while smooth plastic temples slide right into groves under the visor. Goggles on the other hand, fit great. I haven’t had a strap slip yet, and it’s easy to move the visor up when it comes time for stowage. Considering the goggle-friendly nature and minimal venting, the Jackal seems better suited to the gravity end of the trail riders than XC pedal pushers. Or, it could appeal to riders in cooler, wetter climates.
At the end of the day though, it all comes down to safety. The Jackal conforms to all the usual CPSC1203 and EN1078 standards, as well as receiving a five-star rating from Virginia Tech’s STAR system, which attempts to provide more than a simple pass/fail rating. Along with a 1-5 star ranking, each helmet also is given a numerical score, whereby a lower number is correlated with a higher level of protection. Here, the Jackal performed better than several popular mountain bike helmets.
The Jackal’s extended coverage in the back feels closer and better fitted to my head than most other helmets I’ve tried—it really feels like the Jackal wraps around rather than just sitting on top. I’ve had helmets slide around in crashes, but even wrenching it around with my hands I can’t get the Jackal to move farther than what the MIPS liner will let it. At the risk of being wrist-slapped by my editor for using a banned term, that’s actually confidence-inspiring.
A few small nitpicks aside, Lazer has made a worthy offering. The quality-of-life features you get are above par in an increasingly competitive category. Further, Lazer’s long history of helmet fitment makes for something that feels more secure than just about any helmet I’ve tried before. Lazer might not be a brand we’re used to seeing out on the trail, but the Jackal might just change that.
Find it at lazersport.us/jackalmips