Protect Your Joggin' Noggin

Running helmets hit the market.

These days it’s easy to imagine that everyone in the world has suffered a major head injury. Just join a protest or political rally—it’s like being in a live-action infomercial for TBI. Ironically, our cerebrums have never been safer. We’ve got bike helmets, skateboard helmets, ski helmets, climbing helmets, and whitewater helmets. There are helmets for hockey, spelunking, and riding horses. Roller derby? Yep—helmets required. Go-kart racing? You guessed it—wear your helmet. Trail running? Well, now there is: Trip’s Nano Jog.

If your first reaction is to scoff, you’re not alone. Besides looking patently ridiculous, what possible reason would a runner have for a helmet? “You don’t need one until you do,” explains Andy “Long” Trip, who lives in Bozeman and developed the Nano Jog after suffering a severe head injury while training for the Ridge Run in 2017. “I was on my way back down the M trail after a routine Saddle lap,” Trip recounts. “I slipped—it happens all the time—but this time, for whatever reason, I went down hard and my head slammed into a rock.” Trip suffered a brain contusion and was unconscious for half an hour, until a friendly off-leash lab licked him awake. He would likely have suffocated, if not for the fashionably tiny flip-up brim of his running hat, which propped his unconscious face just above the dirt. While he was still in the hospital, he started designing a helmet made specifically for running.

“Runners fall down; runners get hit by cars; runners take tree branches to the dome while zoned out,” says Trip. “These things happen to me all the time.” The reasons running helmets haven’t taken off before now, he says, have to do with fit, weight, breathability, and dorkiness. Trip thought about adapting an existing helmet design—say, from the bike world. “Bike helmets are light, breathe well, and are proven to work,” he explains. “But no self-respecting runner wants to look like he needs wheels to have a good time—plus, somehow after all these years, they still have that bobble-head appearance. Runners are accustomed to looking better than that.” 

So Trip modeled his helmet from the low-profile fabric dome worn by Eduardo Gaff in Blade Runner. His design utilizes strong, diagonally-woven carbon fibers wrapped over a thin layer of nanotech foam, with a removable 700-count Egyptian cotton lining. RunThrough vent technology moves air across the scalp continuously for cooling and breathability. With a semi-flexible design, the helmet fits more like a cap, and comes complete with a small, flip-up visor to complete the contemporary trail-runner aesthetic. Trip claims it reduces impact forces by half, and is virtually puncture-proof—an added benefit for runners in grizzly and cougar country. “Bear spray flops around and gets in the way,” he says. “A bite-proof helmet is way more convenient.”

The original Nano Jog will soon be followed by an even lighter, lower-coverage model called the Nano Sprint, and a fully-featured edition called the Nano Ultra. The Ultra comes with a built-in, ultralight, wraparound sun shield (no more bouncy sunglasses), dedicated space for custom sponsor logos, compact Bluetooth speakers, and new “Skull Bass” technology that uses your brain cavity as an amplifier for deeper, meatier bass hits. Need a little extra motivation at mile 30 of your next ultramarathon? Crank some classic Wolf Mother straight to your dome, and dig deep.

So what’s the response in the running community? “I haven’t sold any yet,” Trip admits. “But this is going to be big. Everyone will be running with helmets one day—there’s just no good reason not to.”

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