In this post I’m going to review and then compare the Rocker and Strutter helmets made by Sweet Protection, both are very popular helmets but it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you, especially right now where it may be impossible to actually try on or examine either. I currently own both and have been using the Rocker for two years and the Strutter for one year so I’m in a perfect position to critique them and to help you make an educated purchase.
Let’s start off with the Rocker. The Rocker is the older brother of the Wanderer and comes in a full face version as well as the standard one which I have. The helmet is available in a range of colours and comes with ear pads as well as a plastic visor (both of which are removable) – it retails for around £200 depending on where you buy it from. The Rocker is made from injection-moulded thermoplastic reinforced with carbon fibre so it gains elasticity and strength at the same time. It is far and away the best on the market in terms of protection and fitment, saving me from many nasty knocks which might have cracked a cheaper helmet. I will say that I strongly dislike the visor which gets in the way during freestyle and also appears in the bottom of Gopro footage but thankfully you needn’t add it in the first place. I also have the feeling that the carbon fibre may be in part just for show (certainly the way it is revealed along the top is solely stylistic), however when I wear the helmet I feel confident that it can handle any impact it might receive – the Rocker just feels well built and sturdy.
I have found it quite difficult to find a helmet which fits me well having tried both the WRSI Trident and Shred Ready Super Scrappy, but the first thing you notice when trying on a Rocker is just how comfortable it is and how well it stays in place. It comes in three sizes and is highly adjustable with little flaps on the inside where you can insert foam slips (also included) to push the helmet in any direction you want. Its rather bulbous design allows it to cup your neck while also sitting low enough on your forehead that you feel protected; a small rim on the brow provides a little extra buffer to prevent you from smacking your face on rocks. The ear pads not only keep your ears nice and toasty but they also clamp the Rocker more firmly around your head, that little bit of extra contact on the side does wonders for it’s ability to stay put no matter how fast you shake your head. I only have two complaints about the fitment: one is that the tightening mechanism on the nape of your neck sometimes slips – now that my Rocker has been well used it occasionally pops loose; not enough to be dangerous in any way, but enough to be annoying. My second complaint is that the padded plastic rim that runs along the forehead can sometimes dig in, especially when paddling for a long time – this can result in a bit of a headache at times.
Design-wise the helmet is not a stunner. It does come in a range of colours but I feel that Sweet missed an opportunity to offer some really gorgeous options. The rather large and dome-shaped design might provide a lot of protection (which is the main purpose of a helmet) and it doesn’t look like a club item, but you wouldn’t say it’s good-looking – even with those carbon fibre strips – and definitely not when compared to the Strutter.
Moving on to the Strutter, which is the helmet of choice for freestylers. It comes in at £180, which is a bit better than the Rocker but still very expensive. This hefty price tag is made up for by equal build quality, comfort and design to the Rocker. The Strutter comes in one version (no optional visor or ear pads) however there are a few more colour options than the Rocker, just not as many as the Super Scrappy which is available in some stunning colours. Protection-wise the Strutter is made of long fibre thermoplastic reinforced with carbon fibre, this plastic is apparently different to that used in the Rocker and is supposed to improve impact resistance in lower volume helmets; I wouldn’t have noticed a difference but maybe there is one. The helmet definitely offers less protection than the Rocker, both around the neck area and the sides where the helmet does not come down as low. The helmet is (as previously stated) much lower in volume than the Rocker which makes it feel less protective when held in your hands, however it is important to note that it still a very solid helmet, I just would not recommend (and I don’t think Sweet do either) running Grade 5 or doing any sort of hardcore river running in the Strutter. For anything up to Grade 4 and for freestyle this helmet provides more than enough protection. Something worthwhile to note is that the Strutter only weighs 400g which is 130g lighter than the Rocker, this may not sound like a lot but when it’s on your head you notice the difference especially during freestyle competitions where weight is important. Another benefit of the low volume design (and minimal padding) is that the Strutter dries very quickly, not a particularly important point I admit, but it makes putting on kit in the morning a little more bearable. Unlike the Rocker’s flimsy visor, the classic baseball cap design provides your face with good protection and it helps to shade your eyes without the need to wear a baseball cap underneath the helmet (which some people actually do!).
Fitment-wise the Strutter also falls a little way short of the Rocker, it does come with different sized padding strips to tighten or loosen the fit but the customizability of the Rocker is unparalleled. The lack of ear pads does mean that the helmet loses some extra grip around your head and that it will be colder to wear in the winter, but contrary to what I initially thought the large bill does not cause the helmet to tip back on my head when rolling or doing freestyle tricks. The occigrip system on the neck is actually a bit more effective on the Strutter and holds the helmet in place much better than imitations on cheaper helmets like the Super Scrappy but it still occasionally loosens itself. Overall the Strutter does fit really well, it does stay in place, it is very comfortable and it does beat, bob and thump other similar helmets – it just can’t quite rival the Rocker for protection or fitment. In terms of design, the Strutter is a much better looking helmet that the Rocker. It has an elegant, minimalist look that the Rocker is somehow lacking with it’s rubber spikes and carbon panels. If you see someone wearing a Strutter, you know immediately that it’s a Strutter – it is hands down the coolest looking helmet on the market.
To conclude, both helmets are worth the money, they offer a lot of protection, they fit really well and I certainly won’t be replacing mine any time soon. The Rocker is what I would recommend if you want to run Grade 4/5 and don’t intend to be doing any freestyle. The Strutter is my go-to freestyle helmet, it looks great and if you’re only going to be running Grades 1-4 then it’s the right helmet for you. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful, if you’d like to be emailed next time I post be sure to sign up below!