Truth be told, I own a lot of helmets. Six cycling helmets to be exact, and I don’t even road bike. It gets worse; my total helmet collection, across all sports, adds up to a whopping eleven, ranging from motorcycle to snow sports. That seems excessive I know, but let’s face it, you only get one brain, and a helmet worn during any sport that has a potential for brain sloshing is proven to minimize the chance of a serious brain injury. As anyone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury can attest, even the smallest concussion has the potential to have lifelong effects. Simply put: always wear a helmet. Always. Now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox and back into review reality, it’s time to talk about my current favorite brain basket: the Leatt MTB 3.0 All Mountain Helmet (sold at Moosejaw and other online retailers).
This helmet review initially came about because I’d spoken to many people who did not want to spend more than $150 on a helmet but wanted concussion prevention technology, a value-feature combo that is currently hard to come by. Many helmets that incorporate rotational impact features retail somewhere between $200-$250 dollars, a higher price than some are willing to spend on head protection. Luckily, the Leatt 3.0 All Mountain helmet fits within that budget and protects the head with the best of them.
Let’s talk specs. You’ve likely heard of a technology called MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, a slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. Since its patent in 2003, most helmet manufacturers worldwide have chosen to use MIPS technology in their helmets or created a similar brand-specific system to help reduce concussions. Leatt utilizes their own version of brain rotation/concussion prevention called 360 Turbine Technology, patented in 2016. As singletracks staff writer Matt Miller explains in his piece on rotational impact and concussion prevention technologies “the Leatt Turbines are small rubber-like, turbine-shaped circles, placed strategically around the interior of the helmet, resting against the rider’s head. The Turbines protect against linear acceleration and become more firm as they are compressed. The spoke of blade-shaped pieces on the inside stretch if the helmet is impacted from an oblique angle to slow rotational forces.”
The Turbine “wheels” are made from Armourgel, a material that hardens to absorb impact energy before returning to a flexy state, and it can sustain multiple impacts. While the wheel of the Turbine hardens to slow linear impact, the “spokes” or “blades” stay flexy to move along in a plane and displace rotational energy, an important and desirable feature of the 3.0 All Mountain Helmet.
The shell of the helmet is constructed with a polymer compound, hiding the foam inner, and making the look of the helmet seamless. Other notable features include: an adjustable, breakaway visor; Dri-Lex® moisture-wicking, breathable, anti-odor, and washable inner liner; and a Fidlock® magnetic buckle. Suffice it to say, this helmet is chock-full of technology to keep your brain safe in the event of a hard impact.
Look, fit and feel
Technology is certainly important in a product designed to save your life, but we all know that looking good is “equally” important. The Leatt MTB 3.0 All Mountain helmet hits the mark for me in terms of look and feel. When I initially took this helmet out of the box, my first thought was “wow, I love the color scheme.” Visually the helmet looks sleek and the Cactus color really blends well with everything. I should know, as I own more mountain bike clothes than any reasonable person should. It stands to reason that the color scheme may only be important to those of us who like to be matchy-matchy when we ride, but one thing’s for sure: you’re gonna look like an MTB pro in whatever color you choose.
My second thought upon seeing the 3.0 All Mountain Helmet was “holy smokes, this visor seems ridiculously long.” It is rather long and narrow, as opposed to some brands that have a shorter, wider visor. This may be a visually annoying attribute to some, however, the longer visor actually blocks overhead sunlight and, even in the down position, is never in my field of vision, which is a first. The sun visor is also adjustable and designed to break away without breaking your face, so I’ve accepted its longer appearance in lieu of a bloody eye socket.
Fit is rather subjective. How well a helmet fits is completely dependent on head size and shape. So let me preface this portion by announcing that I have a pea-sized head. It’s very small, slightly oval in shape, and not very deep from top to ears. In the past, I have worn primarily Smith helmets, for no reason other than they fit my head well enough to tolerate. I am always reluctant to test helmets because quite honestly, the size and shape of most are too deep, too large, or completely ridiculous looking. The 3.0 All Mountain is none of those things.
Given my small-head predicament, I opted for Leatt’s smallest size, small, with a range of 51-55cm adjustment. The Small weighs 12.9oz (366g), slightly less than comparable helmets, and it feels lighter on the head as well. To my delight, this helmet not only fits my head, it fits quite well. Dare I say better than any helmet I own or have tested in the past. The depth of the dome is perfect for my head size and shape, sitting atop snugly and completely, and without the circumference adjusters hitting my ears and causing pain over time. The front of the helmet comes to “the sweet spot” of the forehead, where protection is most necessary. With properly adjusted chin straps, it does not move up on the head as some helmets tend to do over the course of a ride. The 3.0 All Mountain also boasts a lower rear shell for greater back-of-head protection, necessary for more aggressive riders. I tested this helmet with every pair of sport sunglasses I own and all of them met the front of the helmet without creating an unsightly gap. All of the sunglasses arms could be placed underneath the circumference adjusters or over the top without hurting my ears, which is a big bonus.
Aside from the look and fit, there are a few functional attributes that I really love about this helmet: the Fidlock® magnetic closure system, the padding, and the ventilation.
Not naming names, but some helmets have really cheap strap systems. They are hard to adjust appropriately, don’t always sit flush on the cheeks, and quite honestly, they are annoying. The Leatt MTB 3.0 All Mountain helmet has the most comfortable straps and buckles I’ve ever personally experienced in a helmet of any kind. Instead of one plastic connection point for the two adjustment straps, Leatt has created a minimal, almost Tetris-looking, plastic connection piece that sits perfectly below the ears and allows for a flush-to-the-cheeks, multi-strap connection.
The front strap, which pulls the helmet forward onto the forehead, is not adjustable. In fact, it is permanently affixed to the top of the helmet and to the under-ear connector. There is no room to negotiate the forehead fit (read: head protection) of this helmet, as the strap is in the correct position from the start. That’s amazing news considering the fact that so many riders do not properly adjust the front strap. Problem solved. The back strap snakes through the rear of the Tetris piece with room for adjustment through the back of head and under the chin, through the chin buckle.
Once the helmet straps are properly adjusted, the plastic adjuster stays secure, and buckling or unbuckling is exceptionally easy with the Fidlock® Magnetic closure system. The closure system is magnetic, as the name suggests; and you know what happens when magnets get close to one another? They attract, and magically buckle into place. TA-DA! No need to remove gloves, no need to find the tiny pinch points to unbuckle, no accidental under chin bleeding. Honestly, it’s the best buckle ever. To unfasten, you simply slide the magnets away from each other. I know what you’re thinking, and no, the magnets don’t easily pull apart, they won’t just fall away while riding, but you don’t have to be the hulk to separate them either. The strap material is also nice. It’s lighter and thinner than the bulky nylon webbing most companies use, and it sits flush on the cheeks with no unsightly twisting or unwanted strap gaps, thanks again to the Tetris piece.
The padding inside the helmet is simple, comfortable, anti-odor, removable, and most notably, really good at directing sweat away from the retinas. Some helmets seem to purposefully pour head sweat directly into the rider’s line of sight, but not this one. The design of the padding seems to actually divert sweat away from the eyeballs. I haven’t been able to find information to suggest this was done on purpose, but it is a nice “feature” nonetheless.
Lastly, the ventilation system on the Leatt 3.0 All Mountain helmet is tops. In total, there are 18 vents in this helmet, all of which help the head stay cooler on every ride and make a really fun pattern on your hair after removing the helmet.
Just a few weeks ago Leatt released a newer version of this helmet, the 4.0 All Mountain helmet, which is similar to it’s 3.0 cousin with the addition of a universal sunglasses dock that allows riders to safely dock their sunglasses under the visor while not in use. Aside from that and a few small tweaks, there doesn’t appear to be anything wildly different in terms of functionality between the two.
Overall, I have nothing negative to say about the Leatt MTB 3.0 All Mountain helmet. I love it. Everything about this helmet is a winner. The technology is top-notch, it looks good, feels great, and is as functional as they come. Not to mention, the 3.0 All Mountain helmet is approximately $100 cheaper than some of its competitors, sitting at the moderate price of $150 and currently on sale at many online retailers.
- Features rotational impact protection
- Fidlock buckle
- Great fit for smaller heads
- Feels light on the head
Pros and cons of the Leatt MTB 3.0 All Mountain Helmet
- Longish visor might look odd to some
- No universal eyewear dock (the latest, 4.0 version includes this)