by James Searle, Warrior Helmet Engineer
In 2014 when we began to establish goals for what would become the Covert helmet line, the two main areas of focus were fit and protection. The changes to the fit system were very straight forward; develop a traditional fit adjustment system to give the customer a fit that they are familiar with.
BUILDING A NEW FITTING SYSTEM
Moving on from the four-play adjustment system on our Krown helmet line, we decided to develop a traditional side clip system for front to back adjustment for the new Covert line. Contrary to the original Krown line, this did not necessarily represent an evolution in helmet fit and adjustment but it was exactly what we were being asked for, especially from the NHL pros. This change in adjustment system would allow us to reduce the number of plastic components in the rear of the helmet, ultimately reducing the weight and improving the balance of the helmet as well. This, combined with the sleek new look of the re-designed rear piece allowed us to bring a modern, lightweight helmet to market while maintaining that traditional Warrior look. Now players can just flip open the side flaps, adjust the helmet, close the flaps and forget about it. Mission accomplished.
When we started talking about our protection goals, we ended up with more questions than answers. How can we tangibly improve protection? Protection has become such an important part of helmet technology, what can we bring to the industry to improve impact management? How does improving high-impact performance affect low-impact performance? Can you have both? To answer these questions, we had to get back to basics; get on the ice and throw some hits and learn from focused impact research.
NOW ON TO THE FUN PART; HITTING THINGS…
Like I said, our protection goals going into the project started off as a simple brainstorm where we took a hard look at the way we were evaluating our product. We noticed a disconnect between the impacts that we were seeing happening on the ice and the impacts that we were simulating in the lab. Most of our testing was based on a standard drop test (with some Warrior tweaks) simulating variations of the same thing; hitting your head against a rigid, unforgiving object (namely the ice or the boards). Even though this is an important scenario to protect against (CSA and HECC certifications require this test as their impact component) it doesn’t represent all the impact scenarios sustained during a typical hockey game. We wanted to expand the test to what we knew were “real world” impact occurrences during a hockey game. It was very obvious to us that being hit in the head with an elbow or a shoulder from an opposing player was a very different type of impact, but the underlying question remained, how different are they? To answer this question, we went to the experts to devise a plan.
Our work within the helmet research and development community has introduced us to a lot of interesting people who study sports impacts and their effects on the human body. These were the type of experts we were looking for, with one particular firm standing out from the rest, Biokinetics. Biokinetics is an impact biomechanics consulting firm that specializes in, amongst many other things, impact reconstruction scenarios and tests; exactly what we needed. With the help of Biokinetics and their staff, we set out to develop test protocols that would mimic elbow and shoulder impacts with REAL on-ice testing.
First step in the process; gathering data from real head impacts. Instead of analyzing existing footage and trying to pull the data we needed from the tape, we decided to start from scratch and run a controlled set of tests that we could then analyze after. So, we found some skaters and brought them out on to the ice to simulate the impacts on a “trusty volunteer.”
Thankfully for our skaters, the “volunteer” Biokinetics provided was a fully instrumented crash test dummy. The electronics in the dummy allowed us to collect all the relevant impact data that we needed and we used high speed cameras to track the skater’s movements during the collision to study all the dynamics of hockey related impacts. We ran a variety of impact scenarios and ended up with a wide range of data to bring to the lab to analyze. Based on the profile of the impact response, like how the head moved during impacts, we were able to match the impacts from our on-ice session to a repeatable test in a lab environment.
This gave us a way to quantify how our helmets performed under a different type of impact and an opportunity to make some modifications to the liner to better manage these types of impacts all while maintaining the performance we had come to expect from a drop test. This was a great way to understand what real-life on-ice impacts were and adjust our lab equipment to replicate those impacts over and over again. This led us to fine-tune our internal foam structures and combine the optimum foam mix to manage these real life head impacts. One of the other ways we managed to maximize protection was by increasing the stand-off, or thickness, of the helmet. In doing so, we’re able to introduce a more substantial energy absorbing layer between the impact surface and your head. It goes a long way to helping manage the range of high and low impacts that occur throughout a game.
So at the end of the day, we accomplished both of the goals that we set out for the Covert helmet line. Are we happy? Yes. Are we finished? No! We’re always working towards bigger and better things.
For even more information on the construction and testing of the new Covert PX2 and PX+ helmets, visit this link: www.warrior.com/covertpx.