By Bryan Youngs
July 18, 2003
Upside: Provides full coverage and stays tight on your noggin.
Downside: Not having one<.
Rating: ^^^^^ (5 out of 5 peaks)
Ideal User: Great for creek boaters or anyone planning to paddle class 4 or 5 rivers.
It was a good day when my new, disco ball sparkly, red metal flake, Shred Ready Full Mental Jacket was delivered to my needy noggin. I was ready
creeking that is!
The first thing that struck me about this helmet was its stand out design and shape. It brings to mind the old school helmets
worn in the trenches during WWI...TOUGH! This is a true blue full coverage helmet that covers all the soft spots such as ears, temples, forehead
(not so soft now, but has the potential to become soft if left uncovered!), and "the knock-out button" on the back of your head. The helmet is
slightly flared around the ears and this flare becomes a small brim as it moves around to the front of the helmet.
The small brim serves several
purposes. It helps to keep a marginal amount of sunlight and water out of your eyes that may be distracting in the middle of a drop (this is
also nice while trying to hide from the scorching sun in the middle of summer!). The brim is also designed to aid in preventing facial injuries
caused by forcefully contacting face to boat while running larger drops. An additional safety feature that this brim creates will be apparent
in some vertical pin situations. As water flows over the top of the helmet, the brim will create a small air pocket around the face, allowing a
boater to breathe. Hopefully this is a seldom-utilized feature!
Once past the technical structure of this ready-for-action helmet, turn it over and check out the outfitting! All 2003 Full Mental Jackets come
standard with the H.O.T. Lock Retention System. I'll say this: the H.O.T. lock system is a bomber. With the interchangeable compression molded
closed-cell foam fitting pads put securely in place and the three point retention system adjusted, the helmet slipped on my head like it was custom
built. As I tightened the H.O.T. Lock system, this helmet felt like it was vacuum sealed to my head...it was solid!
The trim line is low enough
to completely cover the entire forehead with the brim resting just at eyebrow level while the ears are nicely secured inside the slightly flared
ear wells. This helmet was built to go creeking and to stay in place when plan B isn't going nearly as well as you hoped plan A would. The Full
Mental Jacket will also take big hits with the best of them, using its multiple impact EPP foam liner. Standing there with this new helmet on,
instantaneously conforming to perfectly fit my head, it began to control my thoughts...it commanded me to go creeking!
First stop was the Green Truss on the White Salmon in Washington. Big drops, powerful hydraulics, and technical gorges were the order of the day.
Like a good creekboat, this helmet inspires confidence by those that wear it and jealousy by those that don't have it. Well, let me tell you, this
helmet hucks with the burliest of drops and the stompiest of hydraulics. The Full Mental Jacket was vacuum-sealed to my head...it must have been...because
it didn't budge all day. Needless to say, I was fully impressed! I did notice that the H.O.T. Lock system would slip a bit if you try to over tighten
it...but it never became loose. Roll-off that is common in many other helmets with a simple strap system is all but eliminated in the Full Mental Jacket
thanks to the H.O.T. Lock. This is reassuring while running stompy drops that like to pull at your helmet.
Something else I noticed...the small brim
won't always keep your face off the front deck of your boat while landing the larger drops. I managed to chew on the cockpit rim of my boat pretty good.
The verdict? I've tried many helmets, and none have fit as securely or as precisely as the Full Mental Jacket. It's a helmet built for creeking, but secure
and light enough to take down your favorite play run. It's a bomber helmet that keeps your noggin safe and sound so you can worry about other things...like
blowing out an adrenaline gland! Fred Astaire said it best, "Do it big, do it right, and do it with STYLE!"