When the good folks at Easton sent me one of their new Stealth S19 Z-Shock helmets earlier this year, I was excited to give it a try. Billed as being “the lightest helmet in the NHL” while offering premium protection, it was debuted during the Vancouver Olympics to great acclaim, and given all the concern lately about head injuries in hockey, Easton is clearly trying to provide a product which meets a growing demand in the hockey marketplace.
Extreme protection, maximum comfort
After having played with it now for several weeks, I can tell you that this is easily the most comfortable hockey helmet I’ve ever worn, and at least in my experience it offers solid protection, too. While skating, you hardly even notice you’re wearing it, which is pretty much the highest compliment you can give a piece of protective equipment. But it’s certainly there to do its job; during one game about a month ago, I was slew-footed along the boards, went down hard to the ice backwards, and thankfully avoided injury despite whacking the back of my head on impact.
I was pleasantly surprised at that protection, as the first thing you notice about this helmet when you get it in your hands is that it’s incredibly stiff. My first thought was that if you did take a big blow, the lack of flex might cause that force to go right to your head, but I was (thankfully) mistaken. The single-piece construction meets all the appropriate certifications for toughness, and Jarome Iginla is listed on the Easton site as one of the NHL players using this bucket, and he gets as physically involved in the game as anyone.
Need to adjust the size? It’s a snap!
I mentioned comfort earlier, and it’s impressive how securely the Z-Shock fits on your head without feeling overly tight in any given area. The key here is what Easton calls the “Acu-Snap Fit System”, which is basically a rugged version of the snaps which you’ll see on the back of an adjustable baseball cap. Instead of having to loosen a bolt, adjust the size of a helmet, then tighten it back into place, you can easily adjust the snaps as needed. For a guy like me who sometimes takes a couple extra weeks between haircuts, it’s nice to be able to adjust the helmet between shifts and not worry about missing any of the action. I was also impressed with how secure the snaps are, they are a bit bulkier than what you’d see in a cap, and haven’t come loose at all during my use.
Some players will also appreciate the adjustable clear plastic ear guards, which can be removed if you want. Personally, I stick with ’em.
For comparison’s sake, I thought I’d put this helmet side-by-side with the Cascade M11, another highly-touted helmet which aims to provide increased protection against head injuries:
|Easton S19 Z-Shock||Cascade M11|
|Weight||325 grams/11.5 ounces||646 grams/ 22.8 ounces|
|Protective||Monocoque Construction||Seven Technology|
Overall, I give this helmet high marks, with
the only real downside being the price, which is fairly high relative to the competition the price having been reduced recently to bring it closer to the competition (prices updated November 2011). If you’re as sold on this helmet as I am, you can buy the Easton Stealth S19 Z-Shock at HockeyMonkey.com for $99.99.
Other Easton Stealth S19 Z-Shock Hockey Helmet Reviews
NHL Digest – Tyler gives Easton a lot of credit for improving the fit of this helmet over the previous S17 design, although he’s not as crazy about the Acu-Snap system as I am.
HockeyUS.com – The following video review sums up the technical aspects of the helmet, but as it was done the same day they received the helmet, it doesn’t speak to actual experience with it. They do a fine job, however, of highlighting specific aspects of the construction, such as the detachable ear flaps and especially the Acu-Snap adjustment in the back which I noted above: