The helmet game has been pretty one sided for awhile now in the game of lacrosse. STX has partnered with Schutt this year to make their first effort into the helmet game with the Stallion 500 helmet. Helmets are a difficult piece of equipment to design with many aspects to consider making STX’s partnership a good decision when working into this market. With all of the events of this year and with your head being the most important part of your body to protect (along with your heart) this review was performed including multiple participants and focusing in on each detail more than we may with a shaft or head. For me this is how I have always tested out helmets that entered stores I worked in and sometimes, not in the case of the Stallion 500, not every helmet survived our pressures.
Vision 5 out of 10
Facemasks are not easy and this one has gone through some different iterations that have been seen on the internet, the original and the current mask. It is more reminiscent of an older facemask with a support area towards the top lowering the mask away from the visor. This may seem insignificant to the untrained eye but for those of us who have a good amount of experience this cuts out what many think is a style choice, tilt.
Tilt is important for many reasons including but not limited to cutting out glare from the sun. Lacrosse balls move quick and in the evening, when most lacrosse games are played at the high school and college level, the sun can get to a point where a midfielder clearing or a goalie would rely on tilt to be able to see. Tilting the Stallion 500 just really isn’t an option as there are 2 struts right where your eyes would be creating an impairment. This isn’t to say you can’t reduce your chance of looking into the sun with the visor it just takes a little more creativity tilting your head to the side or using your peripherals to gain a first look. Not that it is impossible but it isn’t the easiest either, I don’t think looking at the first version of the mask this would have been an issue but with the remodel it is there however STX is the king of learning from their mistakes and I don’t see this design flaw from them being a reoccurring theme.
Peripheral vision is what avoiding the sunlight in the Stallion 500 requires. Unfortunately when wearing the Stallion 500 peripheral vision was not a strong point. When we first adjusted the helmet and chin strap we had almost no peripheral vision access from any of the 5 players who wore the helmet. After we spent some time working on adjusting the helmet we did get the peripheral vision mostly fixed but it was not the best we had used, all 5 of us have used at least 3 different helmet models during games and more through personal tryouts for what we would buy. Once fully adjusted, seeing the field from the defensive aspect wasn’t that bad but I did feel like I had to turn my head more to track both the ball and my man than I normally would. From the offensive perspective this translated to missing looks for feeds and when going for groundballs often not seeing an approaching defenseman. The lack of peripheral will take adjustment as it does in any helmet and was definitely noticeable but I wouldn’t say not playable.
While on the topic of ground balls the spacing on the bars definitely took some getting used to. Seeing the ball during an approach that is technically correct (two hands on the stick hips and back hand low) was difficult at first. We did adjust but we never found ground balls to be exactly easy when wearing this helmet.
Vision is one of our most important factors when reviewing a helmet as being able to see the field is the best way to keep yourself out of harms way and to play the game at the highest level. 5 out of 10.
Jaw Protection 8.5 out of 10
The throat guard on the Stallion 500 is definitely solid. It can take a check and does not give much in the way of flexing. It did feel a little high but was comparable to us when adjusted correctly to be similar to the line of the CPXR. Though it protects the jaw adequately it did not extend much past the jaw line which in the past has allowed players to end up getting checked in the throat or chin during contact but only during large hits. The jaw line on the Stallion 500 is definitely one of its strong points. 8.5 out of 10
Fitting 6 out of 10
The Stallion 500 is a sized helmet. Not that common in today’s lacrosse market but very common in the football market. The helmet comes in a variety of sizes which is good and each size has a decent range of fit but getting your size was a little difficult. Your average player has probably never had to measure their own head and when doing so with help it still can be an abstract process. The size range with the air bladders does accommodate for this but for many it may feel a little frustrating.
The manual for the Stallion 500 did have a fit guide however it lacked a head image inside the helmet making it harder to figure out where exactly the bars should lie. Traditionally, helmets should be tilted down and avoid the dreaded “second bar syndrome” that really is only seen in players who have yet to be corrected by more experienced players. The Stallion 500 challenges this line of thought as the helmet almost has to be worn looking through the second bar due to the struts located in the higher location. Again looking at the original mask design gives me the impression this was not the original intention for where a player would fit the helmet but it has become that way. This took several attempts to get just right in order to make the helmet comfortable and allow for enough vision to play.
The ear pads and the air bladder were incredibly easy to use. The ear pads had more than enough Velcro to hold them in place and feel comfortable on the side of your head. The air bladders hidden behind the D3o Padding, amazing stuff definitely underutilized in every sport, inflated and deflated easily allowing for the tightness to be adjusted quickly via the pump. Once the helmet was angled these final steps were easy adjustments but they did not make up for the other difficulties. 6 out of 10.
Chin Strap 10 out of 10
Never underestimate a good chin strap. Every coach, ref, and parent cringe when they see players not buckling their chin straps and as we tried on the Stallion 500’s chin strap we all were impressed. This honestly was the favorite part of the Stallion 500 by our reviewers as it was soft but sturdy. You didn’t feel like you were inhibited when talking but the straps where strong enough to keep the helmet in place. The chin cup itself was very comfortable. The details make a difference. 10 out of 10.
Durability 7 out of 10
Air bladders really lead to this score. Football helmets aren’t known for lasting a long time as the air bladder systems do tend to give out over time based on the number of impacts and weathering. Lacrosse is played in every weather extreme and an air system being utilized in a helmet will give out sooner than a traditional pad.
The Stallion 500 is put together with several screws, which even though they are tightened down, do make it feel a little less durable when pulled and pushed on. Screws loosen over time and they are on every helmet these days but it just made the helmet feel a little less solid in my hands and such on my head. 7 out of 10.
Internal Padding 8 out of 10
5 technologies, that’s right 5 are in the liners of this helmet. That’s impressive and to make them work well together is even more impressive. STX and Schutt took some of the best tech on the market and mixed it together.
The top of the helmet uses a Hybrid TPU Liner which is similar to products used by competitors and definitely feels good on your head is a great addition which is also located under the ear pads. Hybrid TPU Liners have made their way into lacrosse and hockey helmets for awhile now and definitely help on an impact without adding weight. Adding TPU under the earpads is a nice touch protecting for side impacts.
D3o is something that I first learned about from an STX rep a few years ago with the K18 II line. After using the arm pads I was an immediate believer in the padding. It’s soft and moldable when not under stress and it is stiff when impacted. They demoed this with a hammer and a ball of D3o and it was amazing, no broken countertop and a solid ball of what looked like silly putty. Put D3o in every helmet I ever wear for the rest of my life and you will get no complaints.
The adjustable ear pads are comfortable and easily changed not a ton to really say here.
The Surefit AiR Liner is barely noticeable in this helmet thanks to the D3o padding layer. Most air bladders make helmets really uncomfortable or are barely responsive when used with a pump. The Surefit system does neither of these things adjusting rapidly up or down with the use of a pump. The helmet does take longer to fit totally comfortably due to this system as you do have to play with it to get a long term comfort fit that is still tight enough to really keep the helmet on during a strong impact. The Surefit is the one weak spot here for me.
An ABS shell is the standard for sports helmets. It is strong and reasonably light while moldable to almost any shape. Time tested standard no challenges here.
The padding holds up to our test 8 out of 10.
Impact 7.5 out of 10
The Stallion 500 held up pretty well to impact. Getting hit in the side, top and back of the helmet was not bad hardly feeling much of the impact at all. Frontal impacts were not quite as great leading to pressure on the forehead and feeling slightly rattled overall. Taking a hit in the Stallion definitely isn’t bad but it could be improved when taking a shot to the face. 7.5 out of 10.
Weight 8 out of 10
Heavy in the hand lighter on the head. The helmet is center-balanced which places it directly in line with your spine reducing how heavy it feels when wearing the helmet. This is a common practice among helmet makers in just about every sport as helmets get heavier to add protection. The helmet is definitely heavy though so even center-balanced it still has a heavy feeling to it when wearing it. Weight shouldn’t be an issue here after some use. 8.5 out of 10.
Look 7 out of 10
Looks don’t count towards your total with me but they are important to many. The Stallion 500 when customized looks pretty good. Not amazing but much better than the initial images that came out. The Stallion 500 has potential but the framing does hold back the looks a bit. 7 out of 10
Overall 7.5 out of 10
The Stallion 500 is the first attempt by STX and Schutt to make a lacrosse helmet and though it is far from perfect it isn’t bad. This review took into account the opinions and wear of 5 different athletes in order to get a complete opinion. We tried this helmet with the complete view of objective thought, I would not allow anyone with predisposed opinions to give input, and tried not to be too harsh in grading it. However we did not feel that with something as important as a helmet that it would be a good idea to be easy on the helmet either. It will provide competition in the market but I believe it may take a few attempts to be a true forerunner in the game of lacrosse. Only time will tell but we give it an objective. 7.5 out of 10.