The 2012 Sweet Protection Strutter Whitewater Helmet ReviewThe 2012 Sweet Protection Strutter is a unique whitewater helmet, packed to the brim with technology and style. It utilizes LFT, or Long Fiber Thermoplastic. NO, LFT is not price point plastic, and no Sweet did not do this to cut cost. The Strutter is a no expenses spared whitewater helmet, that has a pre-preg carbon fiber inner shell (protection, strength and rigidity) that protects the forehead and temples, and an EVA shock absorbing foam liner. LFT technology, which is used on the shell, is a long fiber thermoplastic, which is a mix of polyamide's (plastic) and fiberglass. It was originally developed as an alternative to metal casting (lighter, more flexible and stronger). The reason that Sweet switched to this technology is because they now have control over stiffness and flexibility in certain parts of the helmet. In terms of fit and absorbing impact, the 2012-2013 Strutter is safer. With the addition of the OCCI-GRIP retention system, Sweet seems to have come up with a solid combo of aesthetics, performance and safety. Here is some detailed information as to why the new Strutter may be the most technologically advanced whitewater helmet in the world.
- LFT TECHNOLOGY ADDS TO THE OVERALL SAFETY OF THE STRUTTER: The use of LFT in the outer shell of the new 2012 Sweet Protection Srutter will significantly improve it's overall safety. LFT is essentially a long fiber (as opposed to a short fiber) of plastic mixed with fiberglass. It's injected into the shell of the helmet, which allows Sweet to determine where it will be stiffer, and where it will have some flex. Since the Strutter is meant to take multiple, slow impacts (compared to snow sports that take fewer high energy hits), having some flex in certain areas will only help the shock absorption. This technology was adapted largely from the automotive industry, where manufacturers were looking for ways to divert from metal castings, without losing strength. In short, they wanted something lighter and more flexible than metal, but also just as strong.
CARBON FIBER INNER SHELL: The shell of the 2012 Sweet Protection Strutter is constructed of pre-preg carbon fiber, which is the lightest and stiffest version of the composite available today (used in F1 cars, high end sporting gear, etc). It's there to protect the weak spots of your noggin, like the forehead and temple. The carbon inner shell also improves fit. It is formed to the shape of the paddlers head, and when used with the comfort pads, triangular tensioning straps, and OCCIGRIP, the fit is spot on.
Fit and protection. The inner shell adds more than just bling. Your temples and forehead are protected.
- MAJOR UPGRADES FROM THE 2012 STRUTTER: The OCCIGRIP no roll tension system is all new. Also, the 2013 Strutter has a carbon fiber inner shell, and a LFT outer shell (as opposed to 1 carbon fiber outer shell used in previous years). Sweet has always been known for providing carbon fiber stiffness in their helmets. This year, they also added LFT, which allows them to tune the stiffness, and have more control over spreading out the force of impacts. The comfort pads have also been completely redesigned,which may not sound like a major improvement, but they do a lot to dial in a perfect fit. They are way ahead of the curve in regards to technology and safety.
SWEET SPONSORS THE WORLDS TOP ATHLETES. WORLD CLASS PADDLERS AND SNOW SPORTS COMPETITORS DEMAND THE BEST GEAR. THEY ALSO PROVIDE GREAT FEEDBACK: It's reassuring to know that the top water and snow sports athletes in the world are wearing Sweet helmets, and providing their feedback. No one else out there is more familiar with the impacts and fit issues of whitewater helmets, than someone who spends 250+ days a year on super stout class V and gargantuan freestyle features. Evan Garcia, Ben Marr, Rush Sturges, Fred Norquist, Aniol Serrasolses, Terje Haaksonen...the best in the biz are on the Sweet short list.
Hands down, the best paddlers in the world, are sponsored by Sweet Protection. These guys (and girls) put their life on the line for a living. They need a helmet that keeps their heads safe.
THE STRUTTER IS IDEAL FOR SUP: The Strutter was designed with playboating and river running in mind. It is constructed to withstand the impacts associated with being upside down, inside of your kayak, in a shallow river. Because of the sun brim, low profile design, light weight, and sturdy / comfortable fit, it also makes a great helmet for stand up paddling on the river, as well as river surfing.
Testing out the Strutter on The Staircase wave after work. Getting dunked in a surf wave a couple dozen times is a good way to see how good the fit is.
- THE OCCIGRIP, COMFORT PADS AND 4 ANCHOR TENSIONING SYSTEM KEEP THE STRUTTER ON TIGHT: Similar to outfitting a boat, achieving a proper helmet fit is a bit of an art. Usually, whitewater helmets have adjustment straps that are used in combination with some sort of tensioning apparatus that fits on the back of your head. The Strutter is no exception. It has a 4 anchor tensioning system with 2 triangular adjustors on each side, and then one near the buckle on the chin. It also comes with comfort pads that help to make the helmet snug, and allow for different sized heads to fit inside of the EVA liner. The OCCIGRIP is gravy, and further tightens everything down. In rare instances, the OCCIGRIP has been known to slip a little bit. Sweet has some stiffer springs and can swap one out with you, if you need one. We have sold over 200 Strutters, and have had 1 spring return.
- THE LOW PROFILE DESIGN MAY NOT BE IDEAL FOR SOME TYPES OF WHITEWATER: As previously mentioned, the Strutter was designed to be used for river running and playboating. Some work has been done to the brim over the years, and with the addition if the OCCIGRIP, it has a much better fit on your head. But it still has less overall protection than other full cut helmets that are designed for paddling off of waterfalls, low volume creeks, and high consequence class V obstacles. If you spend your winters in Chile, or somewhere with a lot of gnarly whitewater, check out the rest of Sweets lineup; they are designed specifically for that type of padding.
- PRICE: The Strutter retails for just under $200. You can find baseball hat style whitewater helmets for less money. Before you pull the trigger on a price point helmet that looks similar, I would ask the following questions. Do they have a carbon fiber inner shell with EVA foam? Does the competition use LFT to control the force of impact, and create a safer environment for your brain? There's quite a bit of technology that goes into building a helmet like the Strutter, and that technology is usually not cheap. If you want cutting edge design, be ready to pay a little bit more.