You've got two options when it comes to enduro full-face helmets: Those that convert, and those that do not. In the convertible variety, you've got removable chin bars--think Giro's Switchblade, Leatt's DBX 3.0 Enduro and Bell's Super 3R. The non-convertible party is not as well attended, with Fox's new Proframe and MET's recently updated Parachute holding down the dance floor. So which has better moves?
Fox’s goal for the Proframe was to build the lightest, most breathable full-face helmet to date. The means to that end are 15 intake vents in the front of the helmet and chinbar, and 9 exhaust vents in the rear.
The EPS shell uses Fox’s Varizorb Multi-Density design, which combines three layers of conically-mated foam and is said to spread impact forces across a larger area. The visor is fixed in position to maximize airflow and eliminate hardware. I never had any desire for it to be tilted differently. The Proframe's fit is adjusted with padding, not with a dial system.
Despite being easy to take on and off thanks to the magnetic Fidlock buckle, I didn't feel much need to do so. I climbed for 25 minutes in 85-degree heat without removing the helmet on a recent ride. The large chin bar vents allow fresh air to enter and exhaled air to escape, so you don’t wind up with sloppy seconds on your own oxygen. The padding accommodations are spartan, most noticeably across the forehead. But in this case, fewer pads means more air flowing into the helmet, and there are plenty of vents from which all that air can escape.
When I put on a full-face helmet, I'm looking for both protection and the sensation of protection. As far as actual protection is concerned, the Proframe meets ASTM Downhill standards--even with its skeletal chin bar--and comes with MIPS. With coverage extending to the base of the occipital bone around back and dropping below the chin in the front, it meets my standard for full-face feel, too.
If the Proframe is a full-face made lighter and more ventilated, then the Parachute is a beefed-up half-shell with a chin bar. It gives up at least an inch of coverage depth in the back, with its dial fit system sitting at about the same level as the bottom of the Proframe. But the EPS shell doesn't start until above the inion--that pointy protrusion we all have in the back of our skulls.
It's short on chin protection, as well. I have a fairly long face, to be fair, but if I whack my hand into the bottom of the chin bar, I'll hit my chin while wearing the Parachute. The same experiment yields much more confidence-inspiring results with the full face-esque Fox.
So, despite both helmets meeting ASTM standards, the Parachute is short on coverage compared to the Proframe. Right now you're probably expecting to hear that the Parachute trades coverage for better ventilation and lower weight.
I can’t verify MET's claim that the Parachute is "the lightest ASTM certified full face helmet in the world", but at 720 grams it is 20 grams lighter than the Proframe. When it comes to ventilation, though, the Proframe brings in more fresh air through its massive chin bar vents, and allows for more airflow around the skull.
The MET also lacks a MIPS system, and its D-ring strap closure feels antique after using the Fox's quick magnetic buckle. The buckle isn't the only hassle when it comes to putting on the Parachute. The straps are attached to pieces of padding that are supposed to sit between the wearer's face and the sides of the shell, and these pads can sometimes get pushed up into the helmet when putting it on, and then have to be fished out. It's a minor annoyance, but not one I've experienced with any other helmet.
Some riders will appreciate the Parachute’s integrated POV camera mount, as well as its compatibility with MET’s LED taillight, neither of which are offered by the Proframe. I suspect for most, though, these will come off as gimmicks rather than useful features.
Both helmets were comfortable, light and breathable, whether worn with goggles, glasses, or the naked eye, and are vastly preferable to a traditional full-face helmet when in comes time to turn the cranks. But I only see one of them potentially replacing my half-shell helmet on trail rides that incorporate full-face terrain, and that one is the Proframe: It weighs basically the same as the Parachute, seems to offer more protection, and keeps a much cooler head out on the trail.