We all want adjectives like light and fast and cheap and safe to melt together and be poured into the molds of our favorite gear. O’Neal has managed a good deal of that tech and material fusion in their 362g Trail Finder half-shell MTB helmet that retails for $/€79.99. In the US the Trail finder comes in solid black or neon yellow, and in the EU it’s available in those same two colors as well as grey (shown), red, and teal.
Fitting skull circumferences between 54 and 63cm with its two different size options, this affordable lid is worth a closer look.
Along the backside of the Trail Finder, there is a rubber traction patch intended to grip your goggle strap and keep it in place. It works as intended, and is a sweet bonus feature that’s not often included on half-shell helmets in this price range. Inside, the thick replaceable padding does a good job of sopping up sweat, and it’s easy to remove when it needs a wash. The pad material is thick enough that if you dip the helmet in a cold stream you can squeeze cool water over your head to refresh further down the trail.
The magnetic Fidlock buckle is another rare feature on a helmet under $100. There’s a piece of foam that wraps around the extra chinstrap material to hold it out of the way, and like most other helmets on the market, the triangles on either side of the strap are also adjustable.
|Weight||362g (with a little dirt)|
|Sizes||S/M 54-58cm, L/XL 59-63cm|
|Colors||Black, Neon Yellow, Red, Grey, Teal|
|Strap||Fidlock closure with foam cover|
|Features||Three position visor, rear goggle strap keeper|
|Safety certifications||EN1078 and CPSC|
|Fit adjustments||Angle adjustable retention wheel|
The O’Neal Trail Finder is one of the best fitting and looking helmets that I have tested in its price range. Its aesthetic game is handily on par with an open-face at twice its price. The shell fits low over my brow, and the rearward coverage extends as low as that of any other gravity-focused, half-shell helmet. Between the plush lining and single-handed retention adjustment, it’s a comfortable piece of protection for long days on the trail. Though it does lack a MIPS or other rotational-force insert, the helmet feels plenty safe for any ride where I would wear an open face helmet.
My complaints about this half-shell are two fold, and both are arguably trivial. First, it’s a little hotter than other half-shells. While it’s no furnace, it simply doesn’t breathe quite as well as I would like. This is a common issue with budget-focused lids. The second gripe is that the three-position visor doesn’t click up high enough to nest a pair of goggles out of your field of vision while climbing. While it’s easy enough to strap the goggles on the helmet backward before ascending, not making that highest visor position another 3cm rearward seems like a silly oversight.
I’m headed to the Alps for a few weeks of riding, and this is the half-shell I’ll bring along. The small breathability difference won’t matter there, and I will likely keep my goggles strapped to my full face helmet. The foregettably comfortable Trail Finder has the sort of relaxed look and feel I want on my head while racing the sunshine home, and I have no doubts that it will protect my head if the need arises.
We would like to thank O’Neal for sending the Trail Finder for testing and review.