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Replacing helmets because of age?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

According to Giro's website, helmets should be replaced every 3 years even if they do not take any impacts. How much truth is there to this?

post #2 of 26

individual skier/users of helmets can't run the tests to determine that, but Giro would definitely be hip to deterioration of the foam element of the helmet. likely, the foam that is used for the crushable layer of the helmet is a plastic compound that weakens over time due to oxidation, changing the performance parameters established by the helmet manufacturer. so yes, replace it on schedule.

post #3 of 26

Plastic breaks down...in sun, in humidity, in dry conditions...so the wise course is to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer in helmet replacement. It's always, always, going to be cheaper than brain surgery.

post #4 of 26

I'm sure Giro would love it if you spent $150. on a helmet every three years.

I've seen polystyrene coolers that were 10 years old and still going strong.

 

I'll replace my helmet when the foam gets crushed.

Just say'n.

post #5 of 26

Buy a POC multi impact helmet.  They cost so much you'll want a helmet for your helmet.  $350 new.  Found one on close out for my daugher for $165.  I went to the store planning on spending $80.  I figured with all the money I have invested in that noggin' (private school, braces, hair care), I might as well protect it.

post #6 of 26

Way to keep a cool head, Ghost. wink.gif

 

I read a table of use periods for mountain climbing gear, ropes, webbing, nylon stuff, that indicated when the material is no longer at original specs. around 3 years if I recall.

 

post #7 of 26

unfortunately, your head does more than keep PBR's cold.......  I hope.  So what you are equating is a beverage cooler, designed to keep cold and heat contained and helmet designed to absorb and deflect impact? yeah, I see the correlationcool.gif  shouldn't you wait till your helmet doesn't keep your head cool anymore? 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

I'm sure Giro would love it if you spent $150. on a helmet every three years.

I've seen polystyrene coolers that were 10 years old and still going strong.

 

I'll replace my helmet when the foam gets crushed.

Just say'n.



 

post #8 of 26

I'm all for replacing helmets due to age and have paid for new helmets for my racing daughter over the years, but three years?  I'm thinking it's probably a sliding scale of decay and accumulated knocks myself.  I'd go every 6 years maybe.  Well, wait, I guess I went longer and only replaced my own after I slammed into my tree.  Might have been seven years.  The helmet worked or I wouldn't be typing now, I'd be sipping dinner through a straw.

post #9 of 26

"If at any time you are unsure or have questions about your Giro helmet’s condition, you can send it to Giro for a free inspection. Our technician will thoroughly inspect your helmet, note any damage found and make our recommendations on whether the helmet should continue to be used. Call us at (800) 456-2355 or e-mail us at feedback@giro.com for more details on this free service."

 

post #10 of 26

A helmet with no visible damage isn't significantly worse than a brand new similar model helmet from what I can tell.  Show me conclusive studies that prove otherwise way beyond simply "statistically significant" levels.

 

I'd say in a perfect world with limitless funds a new helmet every five years would be a reasonable expense.  However, in the grand scheme of things and mathmatecal world of probabilities it depends more on the frequency and level of skiing we are talking about here with level of risk.  Having a proper fitting helmet in the unlikely event of an actual head impact accident is far better than not having a helmet at all.  I'm going to venture that unless we are talking about rocks or tree trunks (even including those for the most part) that having a brand new helmet is only very slightly better than having a five year old one that wasn't already "crash tested".  I feel the same way about the out of control rider clipping them from behind. 

I'll buy used helmets, even for my kids.  They don't ski more than twice a year and are still on greens right now.  However, if they ever have the opportunity to ski regularly and become more risk seeking they will definitely have up to date protective gear.

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Buy a POC multi impact helmet.  They cost so much you'll want a helmet for your helmet.  $350 new.  Found one on close out for my daugher for $165.  I went to the store planning on spending $80.  I figured with all the money I have invested in that noggin' (private school, braces, hair care), I might as well protect it.



I've seen the testing and product information for POC Comp helmets and am impressed.  

If you see all the $$ parents put into race gear for their kids and the kind of training the kids do on a daily basis, then you'll understand why they are the same parents who'll buy their kid a POC Comp.

 

I, personally have not had luck fitting a POC helmet on my head.  If its not a good fit, its not going to be worn, so I have a Giro, maybe this year a Smith.

 


Edited by Trekchick - 8/30/11 at 10:39am
post #12 of 26

Most helmets use polystyrene to absorb impact energy by deforming.  This is the same material you will find in packing cases and cheap throw-away coolers.  When it is crushed, it has used up its ability to absorb any impact.  If it is not crushed, it still has its ability to absorb impact.  I do not believe 5-year old polystyrene is in any significant amount less able to absorb impact than 2-year old polystyrene.

 

The outer shell might eventually deteriorate and loose it's ability to spread the load, but I recon that would take more like 10 years than 3, just my opinion.

post #13 of 26

I think I will e-mail Smith and ask for some kind of statement of their research that supports the claim to replace the helmet. I can't believe I am simply wearing a cooler on my head. I will say that even with a helmet I took a fall going less than 5mph and slammed my head resulting in a concussion.  I sent in the helmet and Smith declared it dead on arrival. 

post #14 of 26

This is from the SNELL Foundation which certifies helmets. They have very few ski helmets certified, but they also certify motorcycle and other sports helmets... Seems reasonable that hours of contact with sweaty, salty head could degrade the material as might glues and other materials used in manufacture. However, even they say it's a 'judgment call'. I emailed Giro to see how one sends a helmet in for inspection but have not heard back. will post when I do.

 

Lifespan

The five-year replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal "wear and tear" all contribute to helmet degradation. Petroleum based products present in cleaners, paints, fuels and other commonly encountered materials may also degrade materials used in many helmets possibly degrading performance. Additionally, experience indicates there will be a noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over a five-year period due to advances in materials, designs, production methods and the standards. Thus, the recommendation for five-year helmet replacement is a judgment call stemming from a prudent safety philosophy.

Replace if you drop it?:

Generally the answer is probably not.  Helmets are one-use items, but are quite durable otherwise, at least the ones we certify. Frequent dropping or spiking   a helmet on the ground, or other hard surfaces may eventually degrade the helmet's performance.  Similarly if the helmet falls to the ground at highway speeds unoccupied, the owner must be aware that some degradation may have occurred.   In general, the real damage comes when the helmet contacts an object with a head inside.  The Foundation recommends that if you are participating in an activity that requires that you wear a helmet, you avoid hitting stuff with your headrolleyes.gif It can be difficult to readily determine if a helmet has been damaged, and the protective capabilities compromised without a thorough inspection by a trained professional.  Some manufacturers may provide this service or direct you to these others that can perform these inspections.  The Foundation recommends that if you suspect your helmet may be compromised, then replace it. If the helmet has been involved in an impact while in use, replace it.    

post #15 of 26

does Smith, like Giro did a while back, give you a replacement helmet of similar model at wholesale price when the damage is from impact? would the helmet companies possibly be saying this about the performance life expectancy to ease out of their responsibility for performance of "old" helmets (which are impossible to systematically test)? Old styrene may shatter into dust when completely oxidized or otherwise degraded over extended time, instead of flexing and bending under impact. The three year period is likely a legally prudent specification.

post #16 of 26

I'm more a believer in the theory of: if your helmet takes a significant shot then you may want to consider replacing it.  If you have it for 3 years and it hasn't really come into much contact, it's probably just as good as when you purchased it.  5 or 6 years, however, might make more sense to swap it out based on deterioration.

post #17 of 26

know the reverse snob-ism of being proud of wearing old gear, as if it indicates a wealth of experience (and a lack of wealth)? a renown rock climber had used his harness for many years in Yosemite. He did a lot of bolting and used cutting fluid and/or oil to enhance bit performance. this stuff soaked into his harness, including the loop that the locking 'biner and "8" knot attaches to. One day he took a rare fall and the harness had no strength left to hold him. not really the same, but it kind of is, nylon and plastics.

 

I'm gonna' say, IMO, that three years seems a bit overly prudent, five years sounds reasonable. The companies should perhaps stamp the production date in them where you'd notice it; kinda' make you think about the significance of the age of the helmet.

post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

does Smith, like Giro did a while back, give you a replacement helmet of similar model at wholesale price when the damage is from impact?



Not sure about Smith, but Giro still does.

 

Thank you very much for your recent inquiry. The following is information on our current Giro Crash Replacement program, which is 30% off of suggested retail prices. These prices are for the US only. If you live in Canada please contact your local retailer first, or Outdoor Gear (our Canadian distributor) at 800-363-0693 for details. If you are interested in our program you can call us at 1-800-456-2355 M-F 8-5 central time and we can place your new helmet selection right over the phone. We accept most major credit cards. Just reference ID# THANK YOU! HAVE A SUPER SAFE DAY!!!!!!!

The prices are as follows:

Giro Crash Replacement Fees—2012 SNOW HELMET MODELS (not effective yet…. *******

 

* Models may not be available till fall

MODEL 30% off Retail

 

Omen 140.00 200.00

Seam 112.00 160.00

Sheer 112.00 160.00

Chapter 98.00 140.00

G10 MX 98.00 140.00

G10 91.00 130.00

Groove 91.00 130.00

Nine.10 70.00 100.00

Decade 70.00 100.00

Surface s 56.00 80.00

Shiv 63.00 90.00

Revolver 49.00 70.00

Encore 2 42.00 60.00

 

Remedy S Carbon fiber 189.00 270.00

Streif Carbon fiber 140.00 200.00

Talon 77.00 110.00

Sestriere 49.00 70.00

 

Nine.10 Jr 56.00 80.00

Tag 42.00 60.00

Slingshot 42.00 60.00

 

**ALL MODELS SUBJECT TO PRODUCT AVAILABILITY**

*NOT ALL COLORS WILL BE AVAILABLE*

***pricing subject to change***

-OR-

Send the damaged helmet along with the appropriate fee (check or money order) and a letter describing the accident to: Giro Crash Replacement; 735 Pacesetter Dr; Rantoul, IL 61866-9512.

 

Thank You!

post #19 of 26

Initially I thought, WOW I missed out on that one...but I only paid $50 for my Streif....

post #20 of 26

Just sent our helmets into Giro for their inspection program. Will report what they say.

post #21 of 26

While i don't practice what i preach, I'd generally agree with SNELL with 5 yrs being very reasonable.  One item i didn't notice mentioned is storage.   Storing your helmet in a hot garage may be more detrimental to it's demise than your wearing it during the season.  I don't do a great deal of riding but did keep my Garneau bike helmet in the garage where summer heat builds up more than my sweaty head ... while my head may of bloated over the same time, i prefer to believe the helmet itself shrank from it's poly drying out. 

 

 

post #22 of 26
I agree that 3 is conservative 5 years reasonable. Replaced my Giro after about 4+ years cuz I liked a Smith better anyway
post #23 of 26

Uh, try a search for the many helmet threads that argue endlessly about topics like this? 

post #24 of 26


yes they do, just did it. See my first post.  New helmet arrived this week. It would be nice to get more off than 30% considering I had a brand new helmet but I don't want to mess around with something that's there to protect my head. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

does Smith, like Giro did a while back, give you a replacement helmet of similar model at wholesale price when the damage is from impact? would the helmet companies possibly be saying this about the performance life expectancy to ease out of their responsibility for performance of "old" helmets (which are impossible to systematically test)? Old styrene may shatter into dust when completely oxidized or otherwise degraded over extended time, instead of flexing and bending under impact. The three year period is likely a legally prudent specification.



 

post #25 of 26

OK so I sent our helmets back to Giro to have them 'inspected'. They turned them around very quickly and they paid for the FedEx return, which I thought was a very nice service.

 

But I was a little disappointed in the inspection since it seemed to be a fairly superficial visual inspection from the report they provided. They may have, but it did not seem that they actually tested the material in the helmets.

 

They recommended both helmets be replaced based on their age, especially the one that was so old they don't make it anymore; that said they both showed normal wear and dings. However, they basically repeated their 3-year recommendation based on their 3-year recommendation, citing the natural breakdown of material over time. Presumably, this is due to our knee jerk litigious society and they have to stick to their safety zone.

 

So, we decided to replace one this year and the other next. We don't want to be hysterical over this, but it does seem rather foolish to wear protective gear that is compromised, and virtually all the testing sites and manufacturer's sites that address this issue say the stuff does break down.

post #26 of 26

It seems to me that regarding the helmet thing that any safety conscious skier now does (wearing one!) is light years ahead of yesteryear when the idea of head protection was little more than none vs. stiff hair spray to look good on the slopes.

 

Unless I was a high level competitive or extreme terrain skier going down the hill at a zillion miles per hour all the time, it seems to me that just wearing a helmet, despite its age, is admirable.  

 

The interior cushioning of my ski helmet (and also my bicycle helmet) I always considered very stiff.   So what really changes if you've had a fall that has impacted the helmet against your head a bit.   It's not like you've whacked the thing with a sledge hammer 20 times.  After a fall and maybe a head snap against an icy mogul, the dense foam is still stiff!  And how about skiing on a really cold day vs. a warm day?  I suspect that the interior cushioning of a new helmet when the temps are say 20F, will do worse than an older helmet when the temps are 30F.   So its splitting hairs.   

 

Sure, manufacturers reveal substantiated data that after an impact and with the years, subsequent impact performance is diminished.   But in the real world for recreational skiers, does the degradation make any measurable statistical impact on day-to-day safety?   

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