Kask expands into gravity protection with their all-new carbon-shelled Defender full-face helmet. With a full carbon shell, the Defender delivers DH race-ready protection in a lightweight and comfortable full-face helmet that transition from technical enduro riding to full-on World Cup downhill racing.
Kask Defender lightweight carbon, full-face MTB helmet
The Defender is Kask’s first true gravity mountain bike helmet, expanding beyond a few XC & trail style lids that evolved from Kask’s road helmet line, as they aim to take a bigger foothold in the MTB market. Not dipping their toes gently into gravity riding, the Defender is a top-of-the-line DH-ready helmet that is being pitted at the most premium full face helmets on the market. And it looks to be a solid option for those looking to protect their heads at any expense.
Defender – Tech details
Maybe pulling more from their snow sport experience, Kask created the carbon shelled Defender specifically for downhill & enduro racing, targeting light weight, comfortable fit, good ventilation & maximum protection. The stiff, one-piece carbon shell does a good job at keeping weight down without sacrificing security, but it also allowed Kask to open up some decent looking venting as well.
Kask claims “excellent ventilation” (like pretty much every helmet maker ever) with 18 vent opening strategically placed around the shell, and linked to internal channels in the foam behind the helmet’s padding. All of those vents are quite small, but the location of a few key vents on the side of the chin bar, just above your goggles, and on the lower rear sides of the Defender do a decent job of keeping your head cool.
The front of the chin bar also includes a replaceable foam air filter meant to keep trail dust out of your lungs. And while I was skeptical of how well it would work; air flow was almost entirely unrestricted while clearly some protection is added.
The Defender overall is a slippery, shiny helmet, but its shape includes a channel that kept our goggle straps in place. Then, little plastic grippers at the temple helped keep goggles in place, without having to pull their strap too tight.
Kask Defender – Fit, sizing & actual weight
The helmet is fit close to the head and held in place with a classic D-ring strap. You can’t completely remove the strap, but it opens up as wide as the chin bar opening anyway, then a snap on the end secures the extra loop so it doesn’t flap around. Inside, cheek pads are quick release with little red tabs so it is easier to remove the helmet after a crash. But the pads are kind of a pain to get out & back in, so it’s definitely only an emergency or occasional cleaning solution.
The Defender comes in four sizes, each with a narrow 2cm size range (S 55-56, M 57-58, L 59-60, XL 61-62). That is entirely necessary as the helmet has no retention adjustment, and the pads are not adjustable, so a secure fit on the head requires getting your sizing right.
Kask makes a pretty bold weight claim of 750g (M) for the Defender, but our medium test lid came in significantly heavier at 844g. Still that is lightweight for such a stiff and secure feeling, DH-ready full-face helmet. But we just can’t help but wonder why they wouldn’t make a more realistic claim. Surely there is some variation from one helmet to the next, but I suspect that the weight claim was based on a preproduction helmet, or like the case we saw with the Endura MT500 full-face… a weight claim before padding was added.
Enduro Riding Impressions with the new Kask Defender
We’ve been test riding the Defender off-and-on for the last month, using it for winter overkill as an enduro or aggressive trail riding helmet, due to the fact that bike parks are still in skiing mode near us. That means it’s gotten a fair bit of wet & cold trail riding, but no bike park action or proper hot weather riding, but it did include more pedaling and even climbing than it would ever get in the summer months.
Ventilation through the many small ports is noticeable (and on par with other premium vented full-face helmets), letting the biting cold winter air through. But like most DH-certified helmets, the Defender is one you will really want to wear only for gravity-fueled riding and racing in warm weather. Strap it onto your back for the enduro transfer climbs, and you will however appreciate how light it is.
The Defender has a quick-release lever adjustable peak / visor that can move up and down about 2cm. This riding pic shows it in the down position, while the closer up photo above has it up. The difference isn’t huge, but it is just enough to slide goggles up when riding or taking the helmet off without needing to totally remove them (see the photo hanging on the bar below.) Other than just a bit of adjustable sun shading, visibility is good with a large & wide helmet opening.
Almost all of our winter ride testing has paired the Defender with Edge goggles from Kask’s optics brand Koo, so the fit was unsurprisingly tidy, again with great visibility. Other goggles should work well too, with space that should fit even the largest goggles.
The narrow fit range is probably the trickiest element in choosing the Kask Defender. My head measures 58.5cm putting me on the edge of the size range. Veronika, on the other hand is below eve the S size range so couldn’t wear the Defender on technical terrain, as it wouldn’t stay in place.
Personally, squeezing into the close fitting size M felt like it was too tight at first, but once on, the fit was comfortable & secure. Still, I wonder if I would be more comfortable sizing up. For sure, when you are buying a helmet at this price point, I would recommend trying it on before you buy, or at minimum ordering it from a company that will accept a return if you are not satisfied with the fit.
Kask Defender – Pricing & availability
The Defender is a premium lightweight carbon full-face, and with that comes matching premium price. The Kask Defender sells for $500 / 500€, and includes a nicely fitted & vented storage bag that protects your fancy carbon helmet from getting scuffed in transit, while still letting your sweaty helmet breathe. The Defender is CE/EN certified, meeting ASTM standards for DH racing.
The Defender comes in four different color options. Our test helmet is the lime version that maybe is harder to match to a lot of our riding kit (or my nice, red strapped KOO Edge goggles), although winter riding paired it with Veronika’s softshell pants. But there is also a properly stealth black/grey option, a black/red/orange and a red/white/blue version – all available now from Kask dealers.