Helmet is probably one of the most important pieces of protective equipment that a hockey player wears. Not only is a helmet responsible for protecting your head during play, but one of the other key duties it has is to allow enough air flow to ensure that the players are still able to think and perform their plays and roles effectively without overheating.
Having played the game for a number of years and having worn a number of different helmets all the way from the Gretzky Jofa to the Selanne Fishbowl and beyond. Additionally, as regular readers will know, I have a history of concussions, hence making the helmet selection process a delicate and meticulous process. In the past it was all about the ‘Mirror test’ of what looked good, rather than the protective features of the helmet, but now increasingly players and manufacturers alike are paying attention to the protection from rotational forces and direct impacts to the head.
Enter Cascade Hockey’s M11 helmet. The helmet has been at the forefront of helmet technology for a couple of years now and has made a significant effort in reducing the risk of concussion in a contact sport. Though it is important to note that no helmet will protect you fully from a concussion, but the Cascade M11 has made a conscious effort to dramatically reduce the risk of one.
As a side note, Cascade Hockey was recently acquired by Bauer, but the M11 line will carry on with Mark Messier still leading the development, which should ensure further leaps and bounds in terms of R&D
The helmet itself differs from majority of the competition on the market in that the helmet shell is all one piece. The likes of Reebok, CCM, Warrior and Bauer all use two piece outer shell construction in the helmet design. So far I’ve only come across the M11 and the Easton that rely on this design.
The single shell design distributes impact forces better than the traditional two piece shell. The only downside with the design and on the M11 is that it can look a bit bulkier than other traditional styled helmets, but it’s not in the league of bulk of the Warrior helmets.
When I was choosing the helmet, I tested and tried on the 11k from Reebok, The V10 from CCM (which I had previously), RE-AKT from Bauer and The E700 from Easton. However, none of the helmets were as comfortable out of the box as the M11 was.
My previous helmet was the CCM V10 and where I was looking to carry on using the model, I was sold on the M11 pretty much from the moment I fitted it on my head. As I mentioned I have had a history with concussions, so the research and technology behind it made the helmet appealing. Given that the CCM V10 helmet hasn’t really changed since it’s launch, it came down to the choice between the M11 and Bauer’s RE-AKT helmet.
Yes the RE-AKT is lighter than the M11, BUT the deciding factor, swinging it in M11’s favour was the fit of it. Even with the RE-AKT adjusted appropriately, it didn’t fit properly and the helmet still wobbled on my head if I shook my head, which was something I was looking to avoid. What I was looking from my helmet was something that stays in place and doesn’t move in case of a particularly heavy hit.
The M11’s tool free adjusting mechanism, or the ratchet system, at the back of the helmet ensures that the helmet sits properly. There is only a single mechanism used to adjust it, comparing it to the other helmets majority of helmets, bar Easton, where you have to lift up two or more flaps to adjust the helmet.
What I really like on the M11 is the adjustment coming from the back of the helmet, making it sit nice and tight on the head.
The thing that really sets the M11 apart from the other helmets is the foam within the helmet. Traditionally the pro-level and high end helmets use what is called an EPP foam. EPP Foam is not by any means bad, but it does not possess the same features as the M11’s foam. The way the foam has been designed to react to impact is to return to its original shape as fast as possible, which in turn provides better protection as the integrity of the foam has been restored a lot quicker. The foam and the cylinders that sit between the foam and the shell of the helmet have been designed to spread the force of the impact to a larger area, thus minimising the direct impact to the head.
The foam is definitely more comfortable than some of the other foams in helmets. The only thing I have experienced with it, which is something that has happened with every helmet, is initial headaches when first wearing the helmet on the ice. It has taken a while for the foam to adjust to the shape of my head, but it is something that I have encountered with other helmets throughout my playing days.
Customising and Fitting visors etc.
The one thing that was quite funky with the helmet was that you are able to customise the colours of the vents. At the pro shop where I got the helmet from, they offered to change the white coloured vents on my helmet to a desired colour, but I decided to stick with them as they came. Further to the point, if you are ordering the helmet directly through the Messier Project home page, you can truly customise the helmet colour and the colours of the vents.
The biggest problem I had with the helmet was installing a visor and removing the ear guards. The trouble is that some of the screws sit behind the foam and the cylinders inside the helmet, requiring a bit of handy work and in my case as I have no skill in DIY and incredibly short attention span with the screwdriver it was a bit of an up-hill battle in having the visor installed.
The helmet when I got it came with a cage, but the guys at my pro shop (Sportia-10), were kind enough to remove it for me.
The M11 is a great helmet, and I would go as far as to say that it is the best helmet you have never heard about. The price point for the helmet (€149 without visor or $119 on hockey monkey/$144 regular retail price) comes in lower than the E700 or the 11k from Reebok, but is slightly more expensive than the CCM V10 helmet.
The M11 provides superior protection while providing comfort. Where it is not as light weight as my previous V10 helmet, I hardly notice the difference between the two. The M11 stays in place when being hit and does not wobble around on the head when adjusted appropriately, something that other helmets can do.
I would thoroughly recommend the helmet to anyone looking to buy a new one or look out for the M11 Pro line as an alternative.
- Incredible fit. Helmet does not wobble on head and sits comfortably at the desired position
- Comfortable to wear
- Easy to adjust
- Single shell design provides superior protection
- SEVEN technology is a definite plus for the helmet and helps spread the force of the impact to a wider area and returns to normal shape quicker
- Great ventilation throughout
- Fiddly: Some screws not easy to get to when fitting visor/cage or removing ear guards.
- Breaking in pains
- Heavier when compared to the Easton E700 or Bauer RE-AKT
More info and dealer locations can be found at: http://www.cascadeicehockey.com/