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We love Wildhorn Outfitters because they make good gear for average skiers. Functional, comfortable, and reasonably priced–people who are starting their own snow careers or only make it up to the mountain for the occasional trip will get the most out of what they have to offer.

In addition to their fleet of winter outerwear, we had a chance to check out their Drift helmet. Compared to Wildhorn’s premium Highline, the Drift is a little lacking in features that daily riders might look for. Below we’ll take a closer look at the Drift, and break it down piece by piece to help you decide if it’s the right fit.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

3.6

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Affordable and functional helmet that fits the bill for most entry-level skiers
  • check-mark
    Admirably lightweight compared to many dedicated resort helmets
  • check-mark
    Audio compatibility is always a nice feature to have on the hill
  • check-mark
    Retractable venting slits to regulated heat
  • check-mark
    Solid goggle strap

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markDoesn’t feature any rotational protection like MIPS
  • check-markWe’d love to see some visor vents added to mitigate fog buildup

Where to buy:

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Wildhorn Drift

Strong on Comfort, Average on Safety

The Drift Helmet by Wildhorn Outfitters is an affordable head shield for the casual skier or snowboarder. It’s a comfortable helmet for the resort and well-groomed runs that you’d expect from a once-in-a-while ski trip.

With fine tuning adjustment dials, the Drift will provide a lot of comfort. With ear flaps designed to cover ears as well as housing Bluetooth pads, it will serve a vacation with moderate temperatures.

This is a helmet for decent weather and moderate conditions–and in that capacity Wildhorn is drilling down on constantly getting better. But, as will be detailed in this review, it’s not a helmet for extreme skiing or backcountry boarding through steep ravines.

Specs & Features

  • Hybrid In-Mold Shell
  • Dedicated Lightweight Build
  • 8 Adjustable Top Vents
  • FTA Fit System
  • Snap-on Goggle Retainer
  • Audio Compatible Ear Flaps
See the complete list of the best Ski and Snowboard Helmets here!
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Safety Considerations

The first and foremost measure of any helmet is how well it protects your head. Fortunately in my time with the Drift, I haven’t had the chance to push the boundaries of its protective qualities but there’s still something to be said in that regard.

Wildhorn chose to opt for an in-mold build for the Drift’s shell. This process is great for saving weight, and making a more streamlined build that offers adequate protection in the event you take an unexpected tumble. The drawback is that it takes some of the long-term viability out of the helmet, as it is less capable of resisting smaller bumps and scratches over time.

Does this mean it’s not any good? No. No matter what kind of helmet you buy, it only takes one big crash before you should consider permanently returning it. When you opt for a helmet like the Drift, usually you’re looking for a little insurance to keep you covered for a single season or a trip, not the gauntlet of nicks and dings that entails an entire ski season.

The Wildhorn Drift Safety Considerations

In keeping with its lightweight and simple build, the Drift skips some of the key safety features that we like to see in our top-performing helmets. Namely, it lacks rotational protection that we see from brands that incorporate MIPS or in-house alternatives.

High performance skiers and snowboarders, running down the mountain at speeds where the potential for higher impacts are increased, might opt for heavier protection. But casual skiers of groomed resort runs won’t necessarily need it.

The research that goes into rotational protection is its own separate can of worms that you can read about in our helmet buyer’s guide. But as a whole, it’s agreed that it certainly doesn’t hurt, and is an extra signifier of quality many skiers won’t do without.

It Must be Comfortable

Second to safety is comfort. Your helmet only does its job if you’re wearing it properly and some small amenities go a long way toward making that easy.

The good news is that the Drift is lightweight. Clocking in at around a pound it scores reasonably well when compared to a lot of most competitive resort helmets out this season. Keeping weight down reduces potential fatigue that you’ll feel over the course of a long day of skiing. It also is accommodating to the helmet-hesitant who are worried about hauling around something cumbersome all day.

Aside from weight, next to the skin the Drift is serviceable–but not amazing. The liner is in large part to blame for this. I thought that it wasn’t quite built out enough to compare to plush resort helmets, but had a little too much going on volume-wise to compare to the minimalist style that I favor.

The Wildhorn Drift Comfort

Upon closer investigation, it feels low-quality. More akin to quick-dry mesh filled with packing peanuts than the removable merino liners that we see from premium models. Again, this isn’t the final word on the Drift, but it’s something to consider depending on how frequently you get out.

Finally, Wildhorn has employed their patented fine-tuning adjustment system, or “FTA”. This functions in a similar way and towards similar ends as the BOA lacing design and other tuning systems used by helmet brands. I found it to work as expected, with little trouble on my end making room for whatever layers I felt like I needed depending on the weather.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that I found the overall shape of the helmet to be geared more towards people with narrow heads. It wasn’t a huge deal but from a purely shape-based perspective, I’ve definitely had helmets where I was more enamored with the feel.

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Related Reviews

Warmth

Similar to their Dover Jacket and Bowman Pants, Wildhorn’s gear seems to play best with nice weather. I wasn’t miserable when I wore the Drift while waiting to drop in on ridgelines, but by that same merit, I certainly didn’t feel like hanging around any longer than necessary.

But that’s an extreme example. On your average winter day with vents closed, the Drift should be warm enough for anyone with proper layers and a good attitude.

The Drift is just average when it comes to warmth in cold conditions. It certainly performs much better in this metric than ultra-minimalist helmets without ear pads and with no vent adjustment. But I was unimpressed with its ability to keep out wind and cold when I brought it out in bad weather.

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Ventilation

Perhaps more important than a helmet’s capability to keep you warm is how quickly and efficiently you can dump that warmth when the skiing is good and you’re working up a sweat. Nothing is worse than pumping the breaks on a powder day because your goggles look like a sauna door.

I was surprised by how well the Drift was able to keep up with the competition when it came to keeping things cool up top. Their adjustable vent system is, by comparison, unimpressive in both its scale and execution. Still the vents themselves were able to efficiently pull cool air through the front of the helmet and circulate it out the rear in a way that was noticeable when I wore it without any layers underneath.

Call it good angles or just a good eye for detail, but for routine skiing I felt like the Drift performed admirably for the majority of skiing that I did with it. However, when it came to warm days with deep snow, I felt like I wanted something a little more.

This issue is the lack of stacked vents over top of the goggles. It’s a little thing, but it makes a huge difference in the helmet’s ability to help mitigate fog buildup when things start to get wet. It’s another element of quality that we look for in our favorite helmets, and one that has been addressed in Wildhorn’s own Highline Helmet.

Wildhorn Drift Ventilation

Retractable Vent System

Vents are tough to get right. The Drift does an adequate job of keeping you warm or cool depending on the conditions but can be a little tricky to operate. The vents run along a track that is operated via a small, sparingly textured lever.

I haven’t had any issues with them freezing up, but the lever can be a little difficult to operate if you’re wearing bulky gloves or mittens like the Hestra Army Leather Extreme.

Wildhorn Drift Retractable Vent

Fine Tuning Fit

Wildhorn’s in-house fit system, the FTA, is similar to those we see in the rest of the industry. It’s simple, effective, and one of the better-realized features of the helmet. The fit of the helmet can be changed with a simple turn dial near the back, and I found it more than capable of accommodating whatever layers I wanted underneath.

Wildhorn Drift Fine Tuning Fit

Snap-on Goggle Retainer

The goggle retainer is unsightly but inarguably effective. Instead of a tensioned piece of plastic or elastic, like we see from most other brands, Wildhorn’s Drift has a thick strap with a pretty resound snap that connects to the helmet itself.

More so than other goggle retainers, I’ve never had issues with my goggle band rising up or slipping out during minor falls.

Wildhorn Drift Snap On Goggle Retainer

Audio Compatible Ear Flaps

Listening to music while skiing is always a hassle. Bar none, I’ve had more issues trying to figure out how to make my headphones work inside my helmet’s ear flaps than I have with any other single gear troubleshooting issue on the mountain.

Helmets with aftermarket Bluetooth compatibility are a great thing for people who plan on cruising to tunes every day. And while Wildhorn’s ear flaps work to accommodate earbuds, it’s really made to pair with Bluetooth devices like their chip speakers.

I’d say they’re a notable feature only if you’re already committed to making the additional investment in aftermarket speakers. If you’re like me and either forego the on-slope tunes or stubbornly insist on using wired earbuds they’re only slightly more convenient.

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Who’s it for?

I mentioned in the introduction that what Wildhorn does best is make gear for people who aren’t sure about their level of commitment or access to skiing but still need a solid setup. They’re not groundbreaking by any metric, and their strongest performance category is by far their value.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with their gear. In fact, they have that bang for your buck impact combined with better-than-average service.

There are a lot of things that they do right, and as I’ve been watching them over the seasons they’ve made some major improvements based directly on their customer feedback. Overall I think that the Drift Helmet is one of the weaker pieces of equipment in their gear lineup.

Not having rotational protection is a huge factor for me as a backcountry skier, and something that they’ve tackled specifically with the aforementioned Highline Helmet. Combined with some disappointing performance aspects that I saw across the board, I think that there are better helmets–and better budget helmets on the market.

If you’re already outfitting yourself with the full complement of Wildhorn outerwear and wanted to grab a helmet as well, I wouldn’t dissuade you. While I wouldn’t take into the backcountry, it’s place as a middle ground headpiece at a resort is worth considering.

Wildhorn Drift Whos It For

The Competition

There are a lot of helmets to choose from out there and we’ve done a lot of research this season trying to find the best of the best. Below are a few that we think are comparable to the Drift. For more on these and more take a look at our helmet buyer’s guide.

If you’re in the market for an affordable helmet in the same vein as the Drift, I emphatically encourage you to take a look at Giro’s Ledge MIPS. For the same price as the Drift, you get MIPS, stacked goggle vents, and a lightweight low profile build. It might not have adjustable vents to moderate your head’s temperature, but I found it to be comprehensively higher quality for, especially, more challenging terrain.

For those looking to emphasize quality, Smith makes some of the best helmets out there. The Vantage and the Quantum are forerunners in every sense, bringing the best of safety, comfort, and style- for a price.

Finally, if the Drift’s compatibility with aftermarket bluetooth audio caught your attention, you may want to check out the Sweet Protection Switcher. Sweet Protection has an exemplary reputation in the outdoor sports world, and their Switcher boasts of some of the best quality audio you can find on the ski hill.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

3.6

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Affordable and functional helmet that fits the bill for most entry-level skiers
  • check-mark
    Admirably lightweight compared to many dedicated resort helmets
  • check-mark
    Audio compatibility is always a nice feature to have on the hill
  • check-mark
    Retractable venting slits to regulated heat
  • check-mark
    Solid goggle strap

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markDoesn’t feature any rotational protection like MIPS
  • check-markWe’d love to see some visor vents added to mitigate fog buildup

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