ALPINA ROOTAGE EVO HELMET REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Adam Lievesley
Alpina is a German brand that has been producing helmets for bike and ski since 1992, and sports eyewear for even longer. With a focus on providing the “highest possible levels of protection” while offering trendsetting looks and high comfort, they’ve gained a strong following in continental Europe, and are looking to branch out to the rest of the World. We got hold of their Rootage EVO helmet from UK distributors Moore Large to put to the test on the trails of the UK and had a mixed bag of opinions. Read on to find out why.
The Rootage EVO was designed by Alpina to provide a half-shell helmet for trail and enduro through to bikepark riding, with the over-ear design providing improved coverage for side impacts compared with a conventional open face, and a fit designed to offer compatibility with a neck brace. The main protective duties are handled by a Hi-EPS (High Expanded Polystyrene) shell with microscopic air chambers to aid in impact absorption, and a multi-density EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) ear cover and rear of the helmet. The EPP portions are designed to offer multi-impact protection, ensuring smaller impacts won’t prevent the helmet from doing it’s job again and again. The Hi-EPS and EPP base is covered by Alpina’s Ceramic Shell – a polycarbonate outer plate that gives the helmet impact and scratch resistance as well as resistance to UV, which is bonded to the shell during the molding process. Further protection is provided to the base materials by the Edge Protect Polycarbonate shell, which wraps around the edges of the helmet to avoid any EPS being left vulnerable to damage.
The fit of the helmet is adjusted with Alpina’s Run System Ergo Flex adjuster, a dial system with fine adjustments to tailor the fit, and the 3D Fit system allows for the cradle to be adjusted between five positions to give the most comfortable and secure fit in addition. There’s a large, fixed Visor to direct air the optimum way into the ventilation ports, and enough room below to fit an action camera. On the chin is a unique Ergomatic slide-fit buckle, giving easy micro adjustment, and inside is a thick pad set to give a comfortable environment for your skull. Alpina’s most aggressive half-shell helmet tips the scales at 522g in the smaller of the two shell sizes. The Rootage EVO is offered in three subdued matt colorways, with two shell sizes to fit heads from 52cm to 61cm, and a retail price of £129.95/€159.95.
The Rootage EVO has a distinct “euro” look when you pull it out the box, with a huge in-your-face visor and some sleek lines all round. On the head it offers the typical over-the-ear feeling of security, with the mechanical grip around the ears helping to hold the helmet tight in place. The dial offers reasonably small increments between adjustment to get the fit dialed in comfortably, and the result is an exceptionally comfortable helmet for my average-shaped skull that sits on the upper end of the smaller 52-57cm shell size. On the trail, the comfortable notions continued, though the security of the fit didn’t prove to be quite so high with the assumed level of dial tension, requiring a slightly harder cinch down around the head to prevent it rocking forward on heavier impacts. At this tighter setting the helmet would begin to feel uncomfortable after long periods in the saddle, so I resorted to loosening the helmet a touch on the climbs and cranking it up for the descents, which proved to be a satisfactory solution, if not ideal. The Ergofit buckle does the job just fine but doesn’t match the ease of use or the refinement of our preferred Fidlock system.
Contrary to the bulky appearance, the over-ear fit gives the impression of a reasonable weight on the head, and the large ventilation ports in the front allow for a sufficient airflow to keep temperatures inside at a comfortable level. Though the ventilation feels reasonable on the head, when things inevitably heat up the thick front pad allows sweat to build up until it releases in a stream on a compression. I’ve been spoiled by the likes of the TLD A3, where the simple foam strip prevents this issue without detracting from the comfort in any way. The buildup of sweat in the thick padding proved to cause issues in the smell department too, where the Rootage EVO picked up a stench before many others would. The fixed visor is very sturdy on the helmet even though there are breakaway tabs, to the point of concern – I could envision the visor snagging in a crash and failing to detach, leading to some quite nasty neck tweaking. I suppose it’s a relief that the Rootage EVO is neck brace compatible, as you may need it, though I can’t imagine many running the open face and neck brace combo. The potential multi-impact protection offered by the EPP around the ears and on the rear could be useful for riders prone to low speed topples, but I’d suggest it encourages riders to risk reusing a helmet that should likely be thrown out, as it can be difficult to determine whether the single-hit EPS portion has been compromised at all. Sure, it doesn’t make the helmet any less safe for a single crash and it passes the minimum EN1078 standard, but it’s still a point of contention. Combining these factors with the lack of a rotational impact protection system, I’d have a hard time recommending the helmet to someone I love. It’s a good looking, comfortable helmet, but I’d rather opt for a model that feels to have a more safety-first approach to its design, personally.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Alpina Rootage EVO looks great in my eyes, offers good coverage and feels comfortable on the head. However, there are some questionable choices made on the protective side of things, which would lead me to recommend other helmets first.