Giro has been a leading helmet manufacturer for a long time, and claims the Montaro (the men’s version of this Montara) is one of its most popular trail helmets of all time – and with good reason. It’s comfortable, offers great coverage, isn’t too heavy and is decently priced. There’s not much to differentiate the Montara and Montaro, apart from colors and sizes. Giro has recently brought out a newer model, the Montaro II MIPS, which interestingly is now called the same as the men’s – it’s simply Montaro II MIPS Woman. It retails for a tenner more than the older Montara/o and comes in different colors (black and white). The main difference is the retention cradle and MIPS liner – the II uses the new Roc Loc 5 Air MIPS, which combines the liner and cradle into one, whereas they are separate in the model reviewed here. It means you can bag yourself a bargain by buying this Montara on sale, and we’ve seen it reduced by about 50 percent online.
A good-looking lid, the Montara is made using the standard in-molded construction method, where it is put in a mold and bonded to the polycarbonate outer shell, which wraps fully around the EPS so there’s no exposed polystyrene around the rim, as helmets from back in the day used to have. It meets the regular CE EN 1078 helmet safety standard, has 16 vents with internal channeling, a MIPS slip plane to reduce rotational forces during an impact, removable (Velcro-on) anti-microbial padding, an adjustable visor and uses Giro’s Roc Loc 5 Air fit system.
As mentioned, the Montara boasts some clever design features. First, if you favour the goggles and open face enduro style, then this lid is goggles-compatible. It has a ridge at the back for the strap to sit above, plus the three rear vents have a raised, textured rim (in the contrasting color) to grip the strap and prevent slippage. Of course, this means those ports are covered, which reduces ventilation. The three-position indexed visor flips up high so you can store your goggles beneath it on the climbs. Also, the Montara comes supplied with an action camera mount that slots into the central top vent and is designed to break away in the event of a crash, so it, not the camera, gets damaged.
This high-quality helmet fits in well with its competitors, as regards both design and price. Weight is average for a trail lid (my medium size is 374g), sitting between the Smith and the heavier POC – but a 15g difference isn’t really noticeable. Likewise, its shape is between the two with the rear extending quite low but it’s more similar to the Session, giving trail not enduro lid levels of coverage. Size up if you’re borderline – I needed the medium while I’m usually a small. The Montara only comes in the two sizes though, so if you have a large head – or lots of thick hair – the men’s Montaros are available in a size large (59-63cm) and the black model in an XL too.
Padding is fairly minimal, with none at the top of your head, but it feels perfectly comfortable to wear, although it’s not as plush as POC’s Kortal Race. The pads have an anti-microbial treatment, and it seems to work as after several sweaty rides the pads still smell fresh! You can whip them out to wash if they get manky though. Ventilation is decent, again not quite matching the Kortal for breeziness, but then that makes the Giro better suited to cooler weather – there’s no large central front vent which would allow cold air to blast your head in winter.
The Roc Loc 5 Air cradle tightens easily one-handed via the indexed rear dial, and stayed securely in place without the need to overtighten. I found it doesn’t sit as well with the arms of my riding glasses as the Smith or POC, but that’s obviously affected by your head shape and glasses style so might not be an issue. As is the norm now, the helmet straps are fixed into the rim, but the material is quite slippery and I found they loosened off, so often needed to adjust them before the next ride.
While the visor is big enough to keep sun or rain out your eyes, mine was quite stiff so needed both hands to move it between its three positions, and I like to be able to flip mine up or down while riding according to the weather. While I’m being pedantic, the choice of colors is limited (and a bit boring, frankly) with just two, and the purple accents on mine look closer to blue in reality, so bear that in mind if you want it to color-coordinate with clothing. The new Montaro II colors are even more monochrome – only black or white, while the men’s comes in gray too. The goggles gripper works really well, and is such a cleverly simple design, and there’s plenty of room to stow them under the visor between runs.
Overall the Montara is a high-quality trail lid, comfortable to wear, well constructed and specced with useful features like the goggles gripper and camera mount. I did find the slippery straps and stiff visor a little niggly, and the lack of color options seems a pity – but if you prefer an understated helmet, you can’t go far wrong with the Montara, and as it’s being superseded by the Montaro II Woman you should be able to find it well discounted.
Tech specs – Giro Montara helmet
- Price: $150.00 / £149.99
- Weight: 374g (size M tested)
- Sizes: S (51-55cm), M (55-59cm)
- Colors: Matte Gray/Green, Matte Black/Electric Purple (tested)