One of the most exciting technologies to emerge in the bike industry over the last decade is MIPS technology on bike helmets. If you have been hanging around here for long, you’ve probably noticed me mention MIPS helmets in my “best of” posts but I’ve never gone in-depth into why I think MIPS helmets are the best option for kids (and adults for that matter). In this post I explain what MIPS is, why I think it is worth spending the extra money to get a helmet with MIPS, and which kids helmets currently have the technology.
What is MIPS?
MIPS stands for “multi-directional impact protection system.” Traditional helmets are designed and tested for a direct impact. What the creators of MIPS realized is that when you fall from a bike, you usually hit your head at an angle. This causes a rotational force that can result in brain damage.
Their solution is a two-layer helmet. The exterior layer is made of traditional EPS material; the interior layer is a low-friction liner that rests on the rider’s head. The two layers are able to slide against each via a “slip plane” design, which results in less force transferred to the brain in the event of impact.
For a better explanation of this concept, here’s a great video.
Arguments against MIPS helmets
The most obvious drawback of a MIPS-equipped helmet is the cost. You can expect to pay $20 to $25 more for a MIPS helmet than a traditional helmet. For this reason, critics claim that MIPS has become more of a marketing ploy than an actual safety campaign. Marketing ploy or not, $25 is a lot of extra money for an item that has a relatively short life.
There are also some folks in the industry that doubt the efficiency of MIPS. An article on Helmets.org argues: “In the real world, bicycle helmets are so loosely coupled with the head that a slip-plane inside the helmet structure does not add significant sideways movement in an impact. The helmet moves anyway, unless it is constrained in a lab test.”
While it is true that there hasn’t been much independent research on the effectiveness of MIPS, there has been at least one independent study. The authors of the study concluded that helmets with the technology reduced the risk of concussion by 44%.”
Why I Choose MIPS helmets
Both my husband and I wear the POC Trabec with MIPS, and when our son isn’t testing out other helmets for me, he also wears a MIPS helmet. While the jury is still out on how much safer a MIPS helmet is than a traditional helmet, there are plenty of testimonials from doctors and cyclists who believe that a MIPS helmet helped prevent serious brain injury. For me, the extra $20 is well worth it to ensure that we are buying the safest possible helmet on the market.
Kids helmets with MIPS technology
If you want to make sure your child has the latest in helmet technology, here are a couple of your options. Make sure when shopping you look for the “MIPS” designation because several of these helmets come in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions.
Giro Scamp MIPS
The Scamp is designed for the balance bike crowd. In fact, it is our favorite MIPS helmet for little ones as young as 12 months and up to 5 years old. We also like the extended back-of-the-head coverage.
For more information, read my detailed review of the Giro Scamp MIPS.
Bell Sidetrack MIPS
If you have a little mountain biker on your hands, they will love the cool, grown-up design of the Bell Sidetrack. This helmet has excellent ventilation thanks to 15 vents, and the low-profile visor provides sun-protection.
For more information, read our detailed review of the Bell Sidetrack.
- $60 at Backcountry.com
Giro Hale MIPS
The Giro Hale is the next step up after the Giro Scamp, and is intended for grade-school kids. It comes in one size only and conforms to your child’s head size via the Roc Loc Dial fit system.
Price & Where to Buy:
Lazer Nut’z MIPS
If you want a top of the line helmet that is also fun, go with the Lazer Nut’z. The helmet can be upgraded with several different shells—pick from a fireman, astronaut, or pretty princess. It also has a pinch-free magnetic buckle.
- $75 at ReadySetPedal.com
Giro Dime MIPS
The Dime is the only skate-style bike helmet (that I’m aware of) with MIPS technology. Unlike many skate-style bike helmets, it has good ventilation so kids can stay safe AND cool.
Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS
Do you have a little shredder? Protect your daredevil at the pump track with this top of the line mountain bike helmet from Troy Lee Designs. Because you’re never too young to have the best….
Price & Where to Buy:
- $109 at REI.com
Giro Tremor MIPS
Here’s another mountain bike style helmet with MIPS technology. This helmet happens to be a favorite at our house because it looks cool, and according to my son, it’s really comfortable.
Price & Where to Buy:
- $55 at Backcountry.com
Here’s how the different kids MIPS helmets stack up. Pay particular attention to your child’s head circumference when picking a helmet. If you’re not sure how to measure, read my post on how to fit a kids bike helmet.
|Giro Scamp MIPS||$55||45-49 cm (XS)
49-53 cm (S)
|Bell Sidetrack MIPS||$60||50-57cm||276g|
|Giro Hale MIPS||$65||50-57cm||280g|
|Giro Dime MIPS||$60||51-55 cm (S)||420g|
|Lazer Nut’z MIPS||$75||50-56 cm||300g|
|Troy Lee Designs A1||$109||48-53 cm||346g|
|Giro Tremor MIPS||$55||50-57 cm||306g|