The Lazer PNut and Lazer Nutz set out to solve a very common problem with kids bike helmets. Do you or your child sometimes forget to tighten that dial in the back of the helmet to ensure a snug fit? Does your child put their helmet on by themselves and just can’t adjust that dial right? Lazer’s EZ Fit system automatically adjusts to cocoon your child’s head, without the need for you to adjust anything!
The idea is genius in theory, and equally genius in execution… for some kids. We found the Lazer Pnut and Lazer Nutz to be an exceptional fit for several of our kid bike testers, but not for others. And with limited ability to make more minor adjustments in the sizing on your own, these high-quality lids won’t work for some heads.
In this review we’ll cover the magic and limitations of EZ Fit, as well as explain all about Lazer’s proprietary KinetiCore brain safety system.
- No dial-adjust necessary – helmet automatically conforms to fit child’s head
- Built-in KinetiCore foam design (Lazer’s proprietary version of MIPS) offers protection from rotational energy without an additional plastic layer
- Super lightweight
- Buckle positioned on the side of the face to prevent pinching neck skin
- Optional LED tail light
- Sizing and fit is hard to predict – fits some kids well, others it’s too loose or too tight
- Side straps are difficult to adjust right
Lazer Pnut and Lazer Nutz Helmet Review – Results of our Testing
The original Lazer Nutz and Pnut were discontinued in 2019 and replaced with the Lazer Gekko and Lil’ Gekko. In fall 2022, the Gekko line was discontinued and replaced with a re-designed Lazer Nutz and Lazer Pnut, which are featured in this review.
What is KinetiCore?
Most parents have heard of MIPS, but haven’t heard of KinetiCore. MIPS is the most well-known “brain safety” system for absorbing and dissipating rotational energy forces in a bike crash. While MIPS can be found in the helmets of many different brands, some helmet manufacturers have developed their own system to accomplish the same thing.
KinetiCore is Lazer’s take on MIPS technology. Also designed to protect against rotational forces (and the direct forces helmets normally protect from), it looks nothing like MIPS.
While MIPS is a thin plastic layer that sits on the helmet’s foam core interior, KineticCore has “crumple zones” built into the foam core.
Lazer’s website explains: “These controlled crumple zones are a unique set of blocks designed to buckle in the event of direct or rotational impact, redirecting energy away from the brain.” You can see these in the unique shapes cut out of the foam, seen below.
There is no government certification or professional standard to measure the effectiveness of these rotational safety systems against each other. As a result, we cannot say if one is “safer” than the other.
However, we do appreciate that KinetiCore doesn’t have an additional plastic layer, or the rubber MIPS anchors. On some MIPS helmets, the plastic MIPS layer has quite a bit of surface area and increases the “sweat factor” of the helmet. Additionally, long hair can snag on MIPS anchors if they aren’t covered by the internal padding.
EZ Fit Adjustment System
The primary benefit of the Pnut and Nutz compared to every other kids helmet is the EZ Fit adjustment system. This system allows the internal cage of the helmet to tighten on your child’s head automatically – no need to turn a dial in the back to get a snug and secure fit.
While previous versions of these helmets used a wire tension system for this purpose (called AutoFit), the 2022 Pnut and Nutz have expanding and retracting pieces of plastic on the sides called EZ Fit. You can see this below, demonstrated at the yellow arrows with the change in distance between the plastic wave pattern.
The EZ Fit system is simple, yet genius – even the most diligent parents can forget to tighten the dial adjust on the back of their child’s helmet. And a too loose helmet certainly can’t do its proper job in protecting your child in a bike crash.
But are there potential drawbacks to this genius system? Yes. In our testing, we found the EZ Fit system can be problematic in creating inconsistent sizing for the helmet, which we explain in the next section.
Additionally, be sure that the wavy shapes of the retracting plastic are covered by the black stretchy sleeve. (We pulled it back in the image above to demonstrate the inner workings of EZ Fit.) If these waves are exposed, they can catch on the sides of pulled back hair when removing the helmet.
Sizing Ranges for Lazer Nutz and Pnut
The stated size for the Lazer Pnut is 46 cm – 52 cm. For the larger Lazer Nutz, 50 – 56 cm. The rear cage of the helmet expands to accommodate head sizes within this range, but also has two different size settings designed to allow for that 6 cm sizing range.
When a child is on the smaller range of the helmet, the rear cage is set in the two holes closest to the front of the helmet. For larger heads within the range, the cage is moved back 2 cm to the rear two holes.
When we first received the Nutz and Pnut, that third hole shown above (closest to the back of the helmet) wasn’t deep enough to provide a secure connection. After connecting and disconnecting the rear cage into those holes many times, it was “worked in” enough to provide a much more secure connection.
Not a Great Fit for Every Head
A helmet that’s a great fit for every head does not exist. That said, some helmets have a more universally good fit than others. We found the Lazer Nutz and Pnut to be less universal in good fit than other helmets we love, like the Giro Scamp and Giro Tremor.
We tried these Lazer kids helmets on 10 different kids, with heads ranging in size from 46.5 cm to 53.5 cm. They offered an exceptional fit for a few of our testers, a mediocre fit for some, and were just too loose or too tight for others.
The Lazer Pnut was a better fit for more kids than the Lazer Nutz.
While the stated head circumference range of the Pnut is 46 – 52 cm, it was too loose for our 22 month-old tester with a 46.5 cm head. For our testers in the middle of the range, it was a fantastic fit. For a couple with wider heads on the higher end, it was too snug.
The Pnut is more narrow than its Lil’ Gekko predecessor, so if your child has a wider head, it may be problematic as their head grows larger.
With a stated head circumference range of 50 – 56 cm, the Lazer Nutz was a great fit for two of our young testers with 51 cm and 52.5 cm heads. However, it was too tight for three of our testers with heads ranging from 52 to 53.5 cm. When we expanded the rear cage to its larger setting, the helmet became far too loose.
Overall, the sizing issues with these helmets was a bit puzzling for us, and is the primary reason we hesitate to fully recommend them.
If you love the idea of EZ Fit and KinetiCore but aren’t sure about sizing, we recommend purchasing the helmets from REI or Amazon, or another store that offers easy return or exchange policies. (Be sure to check the listings as return policies can change!)
Compared to other toddler and youth helmets, the Lazer Nutz and Pnut offer similar front, back and rear coverage. Compared to the highly popular Giro Scamp (which is known for being more on the “shallow” side), the Lazer helmets are a bit deeper, coming lower on the forehead.
Lazer Pnut vs. Giro Scamp
In Lazer’s marketing, they emphasize added coverage at the temples, which you can see in the comparison images on the far right above.
Flat Back for Trailer Use
The back of the Pnut and Nutz are flat, which is ideal for use with child bike seats and trailers. If the back of a helmet is pointed or bulky, (like the Joovy Noodle below) the back of a seat can push the child’s head forward and make for a very uncomfortable ride.
Flat Back of Lazer Pnut vs. Joovy Noodle
Side Straps are Difficult to Adjust
We’ve adjusted a lot of helmets in our years of testing, and the side straps of the Nutz and Pnut are some of the most difficult to get set correctly. (Their Gekko and Lil’ Gekko predecessors were also difficult.)
Once you get them set, you won’t have to re-adjust very often, which is good news. But you will need a lot of patience and trial and error to get the side straps positioned correctly in the first place.
The plastic pieces on the side straps should sit under your child’s ears so that the straps form a V. Depending on the size of your child’s head, you may need to adjust the length of the straps on each side by pulling the strap that is threaded through the rear of the helmet.
Once you have the length on each side adjusted right, you’ll need to adjust the webbing through the side plastic pieces so that the V sits evenly beneath the ear. Other helmets have similar systems, but we found these a bit more challenging to get right.
Side Buckle Prevents Pinching
One common complaint with kids helmets is that it’s quite easy to pinch your child’s neck skin when buckling the helmet. To help prevent this, the buckles of the Lazer Nutz and Pnut are positioned more on the side of the face than right under the neck.
On the flip side, this buckle design is also a reason why getting the straps adjusted correctly is more difficult. As you see above, the left side strap’s plastic slider and the buckle are connected as one piece. Normally, these are two separate pieces.
NOTE: We had an issue with the buckle on our Lazer Pnut; it was very difficult to unbuckle. The Lazer Nutz did not have this issue. Because previous versions of this helmet have had the same style of buckle and we did not have issues with them, we are hoping that we simply received a one-off faulty buckle.
High-quality, Lightweight, In-mold Construction
In-mold construction means that a helmet’s inner foam core and the outer plastic shell are fused together as one piece. This increases the durability of the helmet, as the shell won’t warp, crack, or come off over time as is common with cheap “hardshell” helmets.
In-mold construction also saves on weight, and the Lazer Nutz and Pnut are some of the most lightweight kids helmets on the market. Weight was also saved through the design of KinetiCore, which eliminates the need for an additional MIPS plastic layer The Nutz weighs 250 g, while the Pnut weighs 240 g.
This weight is similar to the highly popular Giro Scamp MIPS Small at 260 g, and significantly lighter than the Nutcase Little Nutty MIPS at 460 g.
These Lazer kids helmets have sufficient internal padding to be comfortable, but the pads are a bit more basic than other high-quality helmets. At this price, most helmets have sealed pads to keep collected sweat from dripping. The edges of the Lazer pads are open (exposed internal padding.)
The Lazer Pnut comes with two top pads of different thicknesses to customize your child’s fit based on the height of their head. The Lazer Nutz only come with one set of pads.
Short, Built-In Visor
The Lazer Put and Nutz both feature a short, built-in visor. It will provide a bit of shade for the eyes, but more importantly, help protect the face from injury in a crash. The visor is shorter than the original Nutz and Pnut.
Bottom Line on Lazer Nutz and P’Nut KenetiCore Helmets
The Lazer Nutz and Lazer Pnut are high-quality kids bike helmets that feature the unique and helpful EZ Fit adjustment system, and KinetiCore rotational energy safety system.
While it’s an exceptional option for many kids, a good fit is a bit harder to predict than other helmets. Be sure to purchase from a retailer with an easy return policy.