Launched at Sea Otter 2016, the Metah is Fox newest purpose built trail helmet. With a long history in moto, over the past decade Fox has earned itself a rightful place amongst the elite MTB companies by manufacturing some of the best gear in the industry. Introduced 10 years ago, the Fox Flux was un-arguably a huge hit, so much so that I'm sure every review on the Metah will make reference to the ground breaking Flux.
Times they are a changing, though, and the Metah is Fox's answer to those changes. The advancements made in everyday trail bikes and the changes to the trails we ride have forced helmet manufactures to make their helmets fit better and provide more protection. With a larger overall profile and aggressive moto inspired looks, the $150 USD Metah is purpose-built for today's all mountain rider. But can it compete with other premium trail helmets like the Troy Lee Designs A1 Drone and the Bell Super 2?
The first thing you notice about the Metah is the large and aggressive aesthetics. The oversized vents, large fixed visor, and slant-top continue Fox's moto inspired helmet look; falling in line with their premium full face, the Rampage Pro Carbon. Available in 5 colorways, the Metah has something for everybody. Unlike most other premium trail helmets on the market, the Metah does not come equipped with MIPS, but it does use Varizorb EPS foam.
Varizorb is not a slip-plane technology like MIPS, but a multi-density impact EPS foam where softer, cone shaped foam is sandwiched between layers of denser foam. This allows the foam itself to slow impact and provide more cushion for the head during a crash. Combine with the extended side and back-of-head coverage, the Metah is one safe helmet.
The 14 big bore vents work with the fixed visor to rapidly move a lot of air through the helmet. The liner padding is made from premium moisture wicking materials and has sealed edges, making them ultra-comfortable. The combination of the venting and the premium liner padding makes the bulky Metah actually quite cool while riding.
Fox uses a nice Y-strap system for the helmet strap, making it a lot more comfortable around your ears, but this means you lose the ability to adjust how the straps individually fit around your ears. Fox also has a slick, one-hand retention system in the form of a dial at the base of the helmet. All the refinements in the Metah make it fit better than expected.
On the Trail:
The Metah is a big helmet, there's no denying or hiding it. I have a large head (usually XL in every helmet I wear) and the Metah only comes in 2 sizes - S/M and L/XL. The L/XL fit me with a considerable amount of room; adjusting the retention system and throwing in the thicker padding gave the Metah the perfect fit. Even though this helmet feels and looks over-sized, it still fit me better than the Bell Super 2, as the Super seems to fit almost a full size too big. With that being said, the Metah is heavier than the Super 2, has less venting, and does not have built in venting for eye-wear and goggles.
The Metah isn't just big in fit, it's just overall big - the result of extended protection, Varizorb impact foam, and large vents. The helmet fits well over your temples, almost fits right down on your eyebrows, and covers the back of your head completely. You definitely feel safe wearing the Metah.
Despite the overall size of the helmet, it still fits quite comfortably and stays in place while riding. The large venting does a damn good job of moving massive amounts of air through the helmet and kept me cool in the 93-degree heat. At just over 400g, the Metah is heavier than some of its competitors but is still light enough to hardly be noticeable while riding.
The Y-straps definitely do a better job than most by keeping the straps flat around your ears and the retention system is easy to use and does a good job keeping the helmet comfortably in place. The helmet fit my riding glasses comfortably with no issue, unlike the TLD A1, which is known to have eyewear compatibility issues.
I did crash in the helmet, kind of an awkward head on with a tree that sent me straight to the dirt. The Metah did a fantastic job of absorbing the impact with no issues, so much so that I came up laughing from the crash. Despite taking a decently big hit, the Metah stayed in place and did its job well, leaving me with only a bruised hand and ego.
The Fox Metah is a very good helmet and it's clear that Fox had a very specific goal when they created it. The large, over-built fit houses Varizorb impact foam, and the Y-strap and premium liner pads make the Metah fit very well despite its overall size. The only drawbacks I can find are that you may swim in the helmet if you are a person with a smaller head - the thickness of the shell and ultra-low fit may overwhelm you. The thick brow on the helmet does not include any built in venting like the Bell Super 2 does; seeing how there is enough room for it, it would have been a great addition.
image: Josh Palmer
The helmet has a very distinct look, which may or may not appeal to you; read any comments section and you will see the polarization in people's reactions to the Metah. The biggest attraction to the Metah has to be price: for $150 USD you get a very safe helmet. The construction does not feel as premium as a TLD A1 or a POC Tectal or Smith Forefront, nor does it have MIPS, goggle venting or a fancy helmet bag. What is does have, however, is a smarter strap system, Varizorb EPS foam, and most importantly a smaller price tag. If you are riding lots and need a safer helmet, the Fox Metah for $150 USD is a pretty solid helmet.