Lazer Jackal MIPS Review
Cons: Limited fit range, above average weight, only three visor positions
Manufacturer: Lazer Sport
Our Analysis and Test Results
Lazer has updated the Jackal since our testing. It now comes with a proprietary impact protection system called KinetiCore as opposed to a MIPS liner. The helmet looks nearly identical, but there has been a significant change to the safety technology. -May 2022
Lazer has long been one of the biggest names in high-end road and recreational bike helmets, but they are not the first name that comes to mind on the mountain bike side of things. With the Jackal MIPS, they've applied their decades of experience on the road into designing this competitive high-end trail helmet in a bid to change that. This helmet certainly delivers all of the bells and whistles that we would expect from a high-end model with storage for glasses and goggles, a highly adjustable and secure harness system, MIPS rotational impact protection, a magnetic buckle, and a removable light/camera mount. While it wasn't the top helmet in our test, we found that it's a very competitive offering and a worthy option for anyone in the trail helmet market.
Like any good trail helmet, the Jackal MIPS doesn't skimp on protection. It received a perfect five-star score in Virginia Tech's impact test, and the shell's interior has a plastic MIPS liner that helps dissipate rotational forces in a crash. Many helmet companies have designed and implemented their own version of rotational impact protection, but the MIPS liner is far and away the most popular system among helmets today and is used by some of the biggest names in the category. Rather than attempt to develop their own system, Lazer went with the tried and true MIPS, and we have no complaints. Luckily we didn't get the chance to use ourselves as crash test dummies and test the system's effectiveness, but the MIPS liner and excellent rating from Virginia Tech give us a bit of extra confidence for when the inevitable digger occurs.
Like most trail helmets worth their salt, the Jackal MIPS has an extended-coverage shell and harness system that's adjustable both vertically and circumferentially. The harness wraps low around the back of the head and provides one of the most secure and planted fits of any helmet that we tested. There's nothing more disconcerting than the feeling that your helmet is too loose on a wild descent—something we experienced with some of the helmets in the test—but the Jackal's indexed ATS harness combined with the close-fitting EPS shell that wraps low down the back and sides of the head ensured that we never had that issue.
For the right head shape and size, the Jackal MIPS is certainly a comfortable helmet. It has a highly-adjustable harness and ample interior padding to contour to your head. Throughout our testing process, though, we found that the right fit might be harder to find with this model than some of our favorites. Our size-large test helmet was designed to fit heads between 59 and 61cm in circumference, which put our big-headed (61cm) primary tester right on the borderline of fit for the Jackal. Size-large offerings from companies like Giro and POC typically range from 59 to 62 or 63cm heads. With only small, medium, and large sizes available for the Jackal, riders with especially large heads will not be able to use this helmet.
Throughout the testing process, we passed this helmet around to a number of riders and asked for feedback on the fit, and we found that the EPS shell is more suited to round heads than oval-shaped ones. While round-headed testers generally found the helmet very comfortable, riders with oval-shaped heads, including our primary tester, typically gave feedback about pressure points at the rear and front of the helmet. In the case of our primary tester, he found that the pressure points tended to ease into the back of his mind while riding and never caused any major issues or headaches. Some of the most comfortable shell shapes we tested have the ability to bridge the gap between a variety of head shapes and fit a wide range of riders comfortably, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case with the Jackal.
With 18 vents and interior airflow channels in the EPS shell, the Jackal does a good job of keeping your head relatively cool when the temperatures rise. On long, exposed climbs in the sun we found that things can get a little bit sweaty, but at moderate speeds, the Jackal promotes good airflow across the top of your head. This model certainly feels closer to a lightweight road helmet than a heavy full-coverage shell in terms of breathability, and we wouldn't hesitate to use it for long, physical rides on hot days.
In addition to the vents, we found that the Jackal's interior padding does a good job of absorbing sweat and channeling it away from the face and eyes. It can get annoying to constantly have to clean salt streaks from your eyewear or blink out a stinging drop of sweat in the middle of a descent, so we were grateful for the effectiveness of this design aspect.
Lazer certainly didn't skimp on the features when designing the Jackal. This helmet is just about as modern as they come in terms of luxuries to make your life easier. First and foremost, the three-position adjustable visor and non-slip pad at the rear of the helmet allow ample space and security to stow goggles for the pedal up. If you prefer to ride with sunglasses, channels above the temples on either side of the helmet offer a decent place to store them. The Jackal also features a magnetic chin buckle that's easy to operate with thick gloves, easily-adjustable ear splitters that keep straps flat against the side of your head, and the aforementioned ATS harness system that provides an incredibly secure fit.
The only real complaint that we could muster with regards to the Jackal's features relates to the three-position visor. We found that the indexed positions either left the visor sitting too high or too low for our liking. In an ideal world, we would ask for a fourth position to provide a happy middle ground, but we might be getting a little bit over-picky with that request.
At 428 grams, or just over 15oz, the Jackal isn't a heavy helmet, but we wouldn't call it particularly lightweight either. For reference, our Editor's Choice winner and direct competitor to the Jackal, the Giro Manifest Spherical, tips the scales at 401 grams. The lightest helmets we tested measured in the mid to high 300-gram range, while the heaviest were well over 500. In that context, we don't have any major complaints about the Jackal's weight—especially considering that the secure fit makes the Jackal feel very lightweight on your head while riding. Unless you're a gram-counting racer we don't recommend letting this helmet's weight trouble you too much.
All of the helmets we tested are meant to be replaced in the event of a crash with an impact to the helmet, and the Jackal MIPS is no different. If you're like us and try to avoid hitting the deck, though, it's important that your helmet can stand up to the daily abuse of trail riding. Our test helmet saw trailside branch strikes, rain, sweat, mud, and sun. We stuffed it into backpacks, tossed it in the back of the car, and dropped it on the ground at least once over the course of our testing, and it came out the other side looking great.
By all indications, the Jackal MIPS is built to last. The outer polycarbonate shell resists scuffing and marring well, and it wraps all the way around the underside of the EPS foam for added protection from less-than-careful owners like ourselves. The harness system is sturdy and well-anchored to the EPS, and the visor has just enough flex to keep from snapping when you come into contact with brush or branches on the trail.
This helmet offers high-end features and style, and the price tag certainly shows it. It isn't the most expensive model that we tested, but it's right in line with the other top-of-the-line flagship helmets we tried out. While we think that this helmet has a lot to offer for the right user, we can't say that it's the best value in our test. For a similar price, you will find other helmets in our review with a more versatile fit that will be a bit more comfortable out on the trail. If you have more of a round head shape and are looking for a unique helmet that will stand out from the crowd, this is a great option and a good value.
From a company with a storied history in the world of road cycling, the Jackal MIPS represents a praiseworthy step into the high-end mountain bike helmet market. While it wasn't the highest-scoring model in our test, we found a lot to like in this sleek, stylish, and protective package. We would happily throw it on for another lap around the trails any time, and we hope that this in-depth review helped you decide whether it's the right lid for your next ride.
— Zach Wick
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