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Published on November 26th, 2012 | by Louis

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Salomon Prophet Custom Air: Pump It Up

The long Thanksgiving weekend combined with a need to work off the inevitable overindulgence in turkey, and meant that a season-opening trip to Killington might be a good idea. And what better time to give our some of our recent gear a good whirl, in real life conditions?

The Salomon Prophet Custom Air is an innovative ski/snowboard helmet designed to give a better fit using an inflatable system to pump air into the padding. It is a top-of-the range product intended for free skiers and comes with all the bells and whistles one would otherwise expect: removable ear muffs, solid construction, a luxurious carry bag and even some nifty vents on the top which can be opened or closed depending on whether you need warmth of ventilation.

The main attraction here, though, is the air fit system. Using a pump valve on one tab behind your left ear, you pump up the padding. Using a release valve behind your right ear, you let that air out again. It’s similar to those old Reebok pumps, and kind of fun. Bicycle helmets have had roll-fit systems before that we’ve seen work well, so it was nice to see a new improvement.

The intention is that you can put in as much air as you need to give yourself a snug fit, with the added bonus of adjusting the fit if needed (e.g. if you wear a hat under it). For the most part, this works and it’s a great way to make sure the helmet doesn’t wobble on your head and gives you the most protection you could ask for.¬†However, in practice the inflatable padding is reserved to the crown of the head and does not extend over the top of the head. This reduces the Custom Air’s effectiveness at giving a fully snug fit, although the fit around the crown is unparalleled. I also found that it was hard to achieve a fit that felt right at home, with either the helmet feeling loose, or an overly tight grip presses round the side of my head. It’s still one of the easiest helmets on the market to adjust to your particular size and comfort, but I was sort of expecting more.

The rest of the features are great and work well. Over two days on the snow-cannoned lined slopes of Killington, I found no significant issues with it. The visor made raising the goggles onto the forehead troublesome, but overall the helmet was a pleasure to wear. I even took a couple of knocks to the back and side of my head and was very thankful for the solid protection and soft padding that the Salomon Custom Air provides. Some others offer optional audio packages which would have been a nice inclusion- yesterday’s Smith helmet does, though we didn’t test it out, but so does the Bolle B-Style (review coming soon).

The Salomon Prophet Custom Air retails at $140-180, although REI had it at press time on sale for $112, and Amazon lists a model as well. At that price it’s definitely worth considering, but at full retail price I would suggest looking around for a helmet that fits in the store or without adjustments.

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