(Editor’s note: Wheniwasakid will periodically review and give recommendations for lacrosse gear. Drop him a line if you have a review you would like to see and check out his take on Gait Helmets..)
Gait/DeBeer has been manufacturing lacrosse products for decades and this Upstate NY company has maintained a presence in my personal lacrosse life for over 15 years. A few years back, I heard they were coming out with a helmet and I was actually excited because:
1) I had grown to like their products (like the Triton head: one of my all-time favorites)
2) I am a firm believer in competition breeding greater overall success for almost any market.
I figured that having more helmets available on the market would only increase the quality of the product overall and it seems like I was right as lacrosse helmets have evolved by leaps and bounds over the past 5 years. Is Gait solely responsible for this? Of course not, but they have certainly helped.
This article will specifically cover the newer Gait helmets as their first couple of models were really just glorified hockey helmets. I consider Gait to now be at the end of their R&D grace period.
From what I can tell the consensus opinion on the newer Gait helmets is that they are the ugliest things on the planet. I find this interesting because I remember hearing the exact same thing when Cascade came out with their first lacrosse helmet back in 1997-8! It took people a couple of years to give up the old toaster helmets from Bacharach-Rasin and Brine and make the switch over to the new look but once it gained just a little momentum, the change was unstoppable. Do I think the Gait helmet will see the same trending? No way, but the point reinforces the fact that people can tend to fear things they don’t understand or that seem just a little different. With this in mind, I tried to stay as objective and impartial as possible.
So what is there to understand about the Gait helmet that you can’t grasp by just looking at it? In my opinion, there are really a couple of categories that only come from direct product experience and can’t be gleaned by a mere visual inspection and they are: Comfort, Vision, Protection, Adjustability and Affordability.
I recently picked up an all Navy Gait helmet to try it out myself and here is what I learned:
The Comfort level is pretty good. It doesn’t give me a headache at all and doesn’t rub weirdly anywhere on my head. The inner padding isn’t the best but the helmet felt secure on my head and didn’t move around at all.
The Vision is actually pretty good on the Gait helmet. I had my doubts seeing as the face-mask is pretty far away from your actual face but the bars of the face-mask didn’t get in the way and the part you are supposed to look through was perfectly positioned.
The Protection level of the helmet seems very good. I haven’t taken any huge hits in it but the chin guard extends low to the neckline providing good jaw protection and the rear section of the helmet goes low enough to provide protection for the player’s entire head. The padding inside of the helmet is substantial and goes a long way towards explaining the overall bulk of the helmet.
For Adustability, the Gait helmet is quite adjustable and comes with padding inserts to take care of the side to side fit. The shell of the helmet is actually 2 separate pieces [front and back] that can be pushed closer together for a smaller size or pushed apart for larger domes [like mine!]. I was easily able to find a perfect fit where the helmet just sits on the top of my head perfectly and it only took about 2 minutes to get it all done.
For Affordability, I was able to find the Gait helmet (brand new!) at http://www.QClax.com located in Pittsburgh, PA for $110. This was a sale price as they were offloading extras but this should serve as an example that there are deals out there to be had.
Wheniwasakid’s Final Gait Helmet Verdict:
Overall, if you can find a Gait helmet for cheap and are willing to take a small amount of smack-talk from people who judge solely on looks then I think it is a good choice for you. If you don’t take style criticism well, then stay away from it. On a side note, it is very hard to find a place on the helmet to put your team’s helmet stickers. I ended up using the back of the helmet as the side has flaps used to adjust the size.
On a second, more fashion conscious side note, I really like the Gait helmets when the visor and shell are the same color and the chin guard is a different color. When the visor and chin are the same contrasting color? not so much. The visor is just too big and makes the helmet look even larger when it contrasts with the shell.