I'd suggest that you look into the Nutcase Helmet ($60; nutcasehelmets.com), a versatile, multi-use headpiece dreamed up by a former creative director at Nike. It is Consumer Product Safety Commission-certified and looks a lot like a skateboard helmet, but the company designed it to be worn for roller blading, mountain biking, bike commuting, or virtually any other street sport you can dream up. (Nutcase also makes helmets for snow, water, and moto sports.)
Like most helmets, the Nutcase has an injection-molded shell made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) which is an impact- and heat-resistant thermoplastic. The protective inner foam is made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), the stuff of packing peanuts and coolers. It's also the foam of choice for helmets because it’s inexpensive, blunts a hard blow, and spreads the impact of a crash out over time, converting the crash energy to heat and reducing damage to your head.
To test its lauded versatility, I passed the Nutcase to a small posse of road warriors—my nephews, niece, sister, and my dad, whose ages range from 7 to 74. They used it cycling, playing lacrosse, roller skiing, skateboarding, and chainsawing trees (definitely not a recommended use).
The consensus: The magnetic clasping device was easy to use and stayed secure, the padded adjustment wheel in the back allowed for quick and easy fit adjustments, and it was comfortable enough to feel almost unnoticeable even during a sweaty, nervous experience taking down a pine tree. The version I handed out came with a flowery motif which the boys didn't love (they prefer the melon, pictured above), but they approved of the helmet for the simple reason that it made banging each other's heads with a canoe paddle a lot more fun.
This winter watch out for Nutcase’s “Little Nutty Snow & Bike,” for kids. Certified for three sports—biking, snowboarding, and skiing—the Little Nutty 360 will will aim to keep you from dropping a small fortune on helmets or ER visits.
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