There was once a day when Salomon and other “alpine” skiing companies were to backcountry skiing as we are to piloting a space rocket. No mas. Witness Salomon, going for it with their bindings (MTN, Shift), as well as lightweight ventilated ski helmets such as the MTN Lab we’ve been playing with — along with the QST Charge that just dropped here in my studio. Come to think of it, it costs millions of coins to bring these products to retail. I find it hard to imagine that money will ever come back from human powered skiing. But then, I’m only a blogger, not a bean counter.
The Charge hardhat is marketed for “freeride” and only certified for snowsports, while the Salomon MTN Lab helmet is multi-certified for both climbing and snowsports such as ski touring. Near as I can tell with extensive measuring and weighing, in the case of these helmets the certs have more to do with the stickers they’re printed on than differentiating these products. In my opinion the two helmets are equal in their protection levels — for both climbing and skiing.
Caveats: The climbing and snowsports certification standards do have significant differences, so don’t take this too broadly. What appears to happen in some cases, likely for Solomon, a helmet build is adequate for both standards and the company plays around with the nomenclature, as well as avoiding the added expense of multiple certs. (That said, I’m still of the opinion that a multi-certified helmet, snowsports/climbing, preferably with MIPS, is your best bet for the most protection possible. If for no other reason than the rigorous testing entailed by achieving both certs. More here.)
Over arching difference is the MTN Lab has fixed intrusion protection bars in the vent holes, while QST has user operated vent closure using similar looking bars. In look and shape the two safety hats are nearly identical. MTN uses a minimalist liner. QST liner overall appears slightly thicker, has more coverage on the rear of your head, and appears to balance warmth and ventilation. QST has perforated ear flaps designed for headphones, MTN does not. Lest we forget, MTN has headlamp strap clips, QST does not. Judicious use of Gorilla Tape creates headlamp “clips” on any helmet.
The two contenders weigh nearly the same, and clearly come from the same mold. With liners stripped out, MTN clocks in at 324 grams, QST at 346: that whopping 22 grams (0.78 ounce) is probably the operable vent mechanism. With liners installed, MTN is 372 grams, QST measuring at 416 grams.
Shopping note: During our helmet evaluations over past months we acquired one brand/model that had a serious but hidden manufacturing defect. One of the rivets holding the chin strap harness was missing a backing washer, thus allowing the strap webbing to easily fail. When you buy a ski touring helmet, inspect the details before use, return if necessary.