MIPS has given their anti-rotation, friction-layer helmet safety systems a naming overhaul to make it easier to differentiate levels of protection & performance, and at the same time unveiled a new MIPS Integra system to be built seamlessly into new helmets. MIPS Air, Evolve & Essential are simply new names to better highlight the current MIPS systems, but Integra is an all-new in-mold solution, plus a new Elevate system we won’t see in bike helmets.
MIPS Integra, an extra level of integrated helmet protection
The new MIPS Integra solution claims to be the brand’s “most integrated” MIPS helmet protection system yet. The new idea here is to actually co-mold their signature yellow low-friction layer directly into the helmet’s EPS foam structure – much like a polycarbonate shell is molded from the outside.
That is said to allow the helmet’s padding to slide against the low-friction layer for a lower-profile solution, without interfering at all with a helmet’s ventilation channels. It does however seem to only be able to reduce rotational forces in certain impact angles.
So far, MIPS hasn’t mentioned any helmet to feature the new Integra tech, or even show a real set of pads inside, so we’re unsure when to expect consumer availability. But MIPS is calling it one of their “lightest and slimmest systems”, said to have been co-developed with a favorite helmet brand.
MIPS helmet system reclassification: Essential, Evolve, Air, Integra & Elevate
The rationale behind renaming each MIPS iteration essentially comes down to making it easier for consumers to understand, especially as lower-cost & higher-performance systems have been introduced. We saw the issue come to a head last fall when Limar referred to the lightweight protection in their Air Pro as MIPS Ai, which was effectively the same system Specialized had called MIPS SL. That system now has an official name: MIPS Air.
Of the five renamed levels of MIPS protection, four will be found in cycling helmets. Essential delivers the most low-cost solution – all of the protection but sacrificing weight & ventilation. Evolve is the bread & butter of what we see as MIPS in bike helmets – improved fit, lighter weight, better ventilation & integration with dial retention setups. Air is that newer, lighter system above – replying on slip-layer pads attached to the helmet with stretchy rubber anchors to get unrestricted ventilation. And then, Integra promises the most seamless fit & performance.
The fifth system Elevate is actually quite interesting, even though it is limited to worker safety hardhats. MIPS simply developed a rotation-reducing insert that fits the standard hard hat helmet harness setup, adding a further layer of protection in hazardous industrial workplaces.
While MIPS’ business model revolves around selling to helmet makers, not end-users, this renaming is an attempt by the Swedish safety company to offer a “more consumer-centric brand identity.”
Other MIPS tech?
Interestingly, with four new names for MIPS protection tech for cycling (plus Elevate for hardhats), MIPS Spherical doesn’t really fit in anywhere here. MIPS Spherical is maybe an even more integrated system than Integra. Already available now in the Giro Aether, Tyrant & Helios helmets, it uses a helmet-in-helmet construction rather than the yellow low-friction layer like in the other helmets above to deliver similar rotational impact protection in a crash.