The original Met Parachute from a decade or so ago had some diehard fans, but was a bit of a joke due to it’s “distinctive” (read: dorky) look.
However the increasing demand for lightweight full-face helmets for enduro racing and the associated style of riding led the Italian manufacturer to reinvent and relaunch the Parachute in 2015 – and what they came up with was a much-more-attractive proposition.
Personally I’ve previously been happy riding either in an open-face enduro helmet or my Urge Down-O-Matic full facer – but an unfortunate nose breakage before a riding trip to Italy put me in a bit of an awkward position.
I had an operation to fix my schnozz a week before the trip, and the doctor told me no sports for a month. We were going to mainly be riding in Finale Ligure and nearby Molini, getting bus uplifts and doing a fair bit of pedalling uphill as well.
I decided an enduro full-facer was what I needed, and the choice at the time was mainly between the Parachute or the Bell Super 2 (or was it 3?). The parachute was an easy winner on price – so I popped over to Merlin Cycles to pick one up (after trying it on, obvs).
The first thing to say about the Parachute is that, unlike some rival helmets, the chin bar is not removable. This wasn’t a massive downside for me, as I wanted to wear it at all times when descending anyway and could take it off when climbing.
As you can see from the pics here, it looks pretty similar to a normal full face helmet, though it doesn’t offer quite as much rear coverage and the chin bar is less chunky (though much beefier than on the original version). As you can also see from the pics, it’s full of vents like most trail/xc/enduro helmets.
Visiting Italy in late June was going to be a decent test for the Parachute thanks to the heat, and I was instantly impressed with how airy it felt in comparison to my full-facer. The vents don’t just offer increased airflow but there’s also much less of a feeling of detachment from the world around.
Descending and riding at a decent pace on the flat I might as well have been wearing an open-face helmet as far as heat build-up went. And this was in temperatures nudging 30 degrees.
Climbing was obviously a warmer experience, but taking things at a steady pace – as you would be in an enduro race – it was totally bearable.
More spirited climbing was uncomfortable, so I quickly whipped it off when we had a sustained climb ahead.
This brings me to the helmet’s biggest drawback (in my opinion), the attachment system uses moto-style D-rings rather than an MTB-style plastic clip.
Now there’s nothing wrong with D-rings per se, and you can accidentally stand on them without any fear of breakage – but for a helmet that you’re likely to want to take on and off frequently (when riding with an uplift bus for example) they’re a bit of a faff.
The only other negative I can think of is that the cheekpads have a tendency to come un-popped a little too easily. I lost one somewhere in Italy, but fortunately the helmet comes with a spare set.
I must admit I haven’t worn the Parachute as much as I expected since that trip, but have used it on a particularly gnarly day in the Lakes and more recently riding Innerleithen’s steep Golfie trails – where I was glad to have it TBH.
So was it money well spent? Well, I did manage to come off the bike on the second day in Finale, even managing to land on my face. While I ended up with a gob full of dirt and pine needles, my nose remained firmly in place and the Parachute had definitely earned its keep.
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