Remember the Reebok Pump? If you do, great! Michael Chang sends his best! If you don’t, this was the infamous shoe series that allowed you customize the support and fit via a dome-shaped pump the size of a grape. Beside the grape was a smaller button that allowed you to let out the air you’d just pumped into it. I wanted a pair of Changs, bad. My mom laughed. She drove me to K Mart instead.
Now the Pump is back, and in a very interesting way for skiers. It is the very reason why Salomon’s new helmet fits like a helmet should. When Salomon asked Mike Douglas to design his own pro model helmet, he didn’t take it lightly. Douglas took the usual features you’ll find on good helmets—easily adjustable venting (even with gloves on), a small and removable visor brim, durable goggle clip, and comfy chin strap—then added the pump function to fine-tune the fit. He also added some personal touches, and had the good sense to keep them low-key. These would be the black-on-black graphics such as the West Coast native art—the Thunderbird, the most powerful creature in the totemic canon—plus a stencil of Black Tusk, the second-closest mountain to where Douglas rests his head at the family home.
But the pump is what makes this helmet great. It didn’t budge during bone-rattling rut skiing in the middle of a hard-packed week at Whistler. Normally a helmet will wobble on my head and the visor will slip up and back if I’m skiing fast through choppy, hard conditions. Not this. It stayed put. After a day of breaking in the foam padding and getting the air pressure up to where I wanted it, it felt like I’d owned this helmet for months.
Salomon Mike Douglas Custom Air helmet, $140, coming this fall.