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R.E.D. Skycap II Snowsports Helmet

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Winter sports are upon us, and to help stay safe when snow meets the law of gravity, you need a helmet to protect your noggin. A nice all-around pick is R.E.D.‘s new Skycap II ($80, www.redprotection.com), an updated and upgraded version of the company’s classic helmet design. Its simple style packs numerous features into a lightweight model, and it’s certified for skiing or snowboarding.

For a helmet to be worn regularly it’s gotta be comfortable, and the Skycap II delivers. On my head it felt more like a featherweight cycling helmet than a clunky ski helmet, yet the in-molded polycarbonate shell and EPS liner still give it strength and impact protection.

This version of the Skycap is the lightest one ever — the small weighs a mere 11.5 ounces, 25 percent lighter than previous models. On an early-season backcountry trip to Mt. Greylock in western Massachusetts, I actually forgot I was wearing it at times, and I never noticed it in my pack while climbing back up between runs.

A removable fit system is similar to the ratchet straps found in many cycling helmets, and it does a great job of customizing the fit along with foam pads that can be detached for washing.

The Skycap II was warm enough to wear alone on a low-20s morning, and the adjustable “goggle gasket” sealed out the cold. When temps climbed in the afternoon, I found the ventilation to be versatile: The ear pads are removable, and there are six permanent vents plus four ports that slide open or closed — an easy adjustment even with a mittened hand. My biggest gripe is that the entire fit system has to be removed in order to detach the ear pads, so it’s a hassle to adjust on the go.

Bottom line: Lightweight, comfortable, and versatile protection in a simple design, at a solid price.

Note: The women’s model (same price and features) is the R.E.D. Reya.

—Contributor Benjamin Roman is a writer and design consultant from Venice, Calif.

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