Expert Review: Giro Jackson MIPS HelmetPublished on 06/23/2022 · 8 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the helmet which I purchased with my own money in March of 2022.
All photos courtesy of Luke Hinz
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the helmet which I purchased with my own money in March of 2022.
The Giro Jackson MIPS is a sleek-looking, middle-tier helmet that keeps your head safe and warm. It doesn’t quite boast all the frills of some higher end options on the market, but the Jackson provides great protection in a small and affordable package.
About the gear
- Model: Giro Jackson MIPS Helmet-2022
- Size: L
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 200 lbs
- Head circumference : 61.5 cm
- Goggles: POC Retina Clarity
- Experience: 25+ years
- When I bought this helmet: March 2022
- Days tested: 2 days
- Where I’ve used it: Utah and Alaska Backcountry
- How I’ve used it: Backcountry
How it performs
What I was looking for
Truth be told, I’m very picky about my helmets, but for the utterly wrong reason. For the vast majority of my ski gear, I am all about function over form—but not when it comes to a ski helmet. I want my helmet to look good. Okay, okay—I also want it to protect my noggin, be lightweight, have some kind of venting, and be comfortable. But mainly, I want it to look good.
Why I chose this gear
In the past, I have always steered very clear of Giro ski helmets. It had nothing to do with the design or the protection; in fact, I knew Giro built high-quality helmets overall, having used them back in my racing days. No, it was the aesthetic of them that I could not stand—comically large, bulbous, and irregularly shaped, they resembled something from a bad sci-fi movie. My lip curled at the sight of them. But recently, Giro heavily revamped its line by introducing some stylish new shapes that made me quickly forget their old helmets. The Jackson MIPS is marketed as their lightweight freeride/backcountry helmet and seeing as that’s what I’m into, I wanted to give it a try.
What I love about it
- Protection: The Jackson felt more than adequate to protect my big dome from falls and impacts. Giro built the Jackson with a hard outer shell that surrounds a tough polycarbonate inner shell that is fused to the liner, and it works—the Jackson feels tough, durable, and ready to get rowdy. And to go that extra length, Giro installed MIPS in Jackson, the revolutionary Swedish technology that mitigates the impact of harsh rotational forces against the brain in the event of a trauma. MIPS as a whole is becoming more ubiquitous throughout the industry, and as a rule I no longer use a helmet unless it has MIPS.
- Comfort: If there is any one area on the Jackson where Giro decided to splurge, it was with the liner. Made with Polartec Powergrid Padding, the liner is plush and comfy and allows the helmet to rest easily on my head. I was worried that such a thick liner would lead to a hot head, but my fears were unfounded. The Polartec does an amazing job wicking away sweat and moisture—even out on a warmer spring day hiking up a steep chute, my head never felt hot in the Jackson.
- Fit system: Giro utilizes their own adjustable fit system named the In Form 2 Fit system. While the name could use some work, the system itself works great. A simple dial on the rear of the helmet can be rotated to provide a whole 6 cm of size adjustment, meaning I can quickly dial the helmet into my custom fit quickly and efficiently. What I really like about the In Form 2 Fit System is the size of the dial; dials on other helmets are often small and require me to take my gloves off to adjust, but with the Jackson, I was able to dial it with my gloves on, a very big plus on those cold days.
- Liner: I raved a bit about the Polartec Powergrid Padding above because it's so comfortable, but I forgot to mention that it also employs Silver Salt (Salt Chloride), which inhibits the growth of bacteria and odors. I know I'm being redundant, but I really like the liner on the Jackson. In comparison, the liner on another helmet I’ve used, the POC OBEX MIPS, is nearly non-existent. The Polartec liner does a great job of gently cradling my head, it keeps me warm when it’s cold, and keeps me cool when it's warm—very clutch!
- Earpads: Along with the Polartec Liner, the Jackson also boasts some very comfortable earpads that are also removable. Also, Giro teamed up with Outdoor Tech to release wired headphones that fit neatly into the earpads. They are great for listening to music, but in this day and age, they should probably be Bluetooth compatible.
- Goggle compatibility: Even though I didn’t have Giro branded goggles, my pair fit quite well against the Jackson brim. The brim on this helmet is definitely quite a bit more linear than other helmet brands, so I could foresee an issue with having some gaps on the side with non-Giro goggles. However, I did pair them with some Giro branded goggles as well, and those fit like a dream, almost as if they were one seamless unit. And they looked very good with the helmet as well.
- Weight: I ski in the backcountry quite almost exclusively, therefore I am extremely weight conscious of all my gear, and that is one of the things that impressed me most about the Jackson MIPS. Even with a full outer shell, an inner polycarbonate shell, and the Polartec padding, the entire helmet weighs less than a pound. So not only does it feel nearly weightless on my head, but I can hardly even tell it's on my backpack when hiking in the backcountry all day.
- Quality of Materials: For the most part, Giro used very solid materials for the Jackson, from the polycarbonate in the shell to the awesome Polartec padding in the liner. The only issue I’ve encountered is the outer shell, which I go into further detail on below.
- Style: A very big win for the Jackson MIPS is the look. I was so glad to see that Giro went away from the big, junky design of the past and built a helmet that is low-profile, aerodynamic, and good to look at. Even on my big head, the Jackson looks slim and practical. I hope Giro continues to make such low-profile helmets.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Sizing: Giro has a slightly different sizing pattern than some other companies. For almost every other brand helmet I’ve ever owned, I have always worn a size XL. But with Giro, the Xl proved to be a bit too big. I ended up fitting more comfortably in the Large. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (for once, I wasn’t self conscious of my giant head), it is something to be aware of. I have also heard from other Giro owners that they run large, which has been great for some people with very large heads.
- Breathability: If I have one major bone to pick with the Jackson, it has to do with the venting. The Jackson sports Giro’s new Passive Aggressive Venting System (another name that needs work; did they recruit my therapist to name this?), and claim it is modeled after the venting system of high-end cars. That sounds pretty cool in theory, but in practice, it ends up lacking. Compared to other helmets, such as the Smith Vantage, there just isn’t a lot of venting in general on the Jackson. Even worse, the little venting that it does have is not adjustable; the vents are permanently open. The Polartec padding does a great job of wicking away sweat, but I did find myself wishing for some big open vents on top of my head.
- Durability: There does appear to be some issue with the matte finish on the outer shell. Small bits of it have already begun to flake off, and I have heard similar reports from other Giro owners of this helmet. It definitely takes a bit away from what is a good-looking helmet.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was hiking up a steep chute in Alaska. I often don a helmet while in tight, steep chutes in case of rockfall, and heavier ski helmets, while great for skiing, aren’t so much fun for hiking. But the Jackson felt very comfortable and extremely light compared to other helmets I’ve worn, and was quite enjoyable to hike in.
Value for the money vs. other options
As a middle-tier helmet, the Jackson is a quality option for skiers and riders looking for a lightweight, dependable, MIPS rated helmet that doesn’t break the bank. It sports some newer technology, like the Stack Vents and the super comfortable Polartec liner, but it lacks some more versatile options, like the adjustable venting you see in more expensive helmets on the market. For skiers looking for all the bells and whistles, and adjustable venting, the Giro Range MIPS is a great option.
The Giro Jackson MIPS Helmet is a low-profile, lightweight helmet well-suited to freeriders and backcountry skiers who don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest in helmet design, but rather a helmet that will solidly protect their head and keep them warm and comfortable in the process.