...However I have need to run it without a helmet, as well as in a lower profile capacity.
...For that money I'd be better off sucking it up and popping an ibuprofen before we start the long walk...
Ah, how low profile? Because I can even wear a boonie over the nightcap. If really sneakytastic, I bet (in low light or a distance) you could have it on under an oversized baseball hat so you are ready to pop on the NOD+Rhino (or whatever cool Wilcox thing you have) and rock out.
Shitty skullcrushers are shitty. Discomfort reduces your ability to think and do other things, you fidget and do things that give away your position, etc. Some discourage good behaviors like flipping the NODs up, some do not break away right, or look to me they can become secondary projectiles on impact. I also believe their general lack of rigidity causes vestibular problems (what I'd call "induced oscillopsia") due to the NOD moving out of synch with the head so there's eye fatigue or actual dizziness in some users, or some situations.
There's a training event or three where we hid all the skullcrushers (this is before ACH was even common so converted PASGT or extra PVS-5 strap, so you see how desperate that was) after some minor injuries walking into trees and stuff from not using NODs right, which we felt were the result of bad mounts. Helmets helped; I've seen a team all doing a battle drill, some with helmet, some with headcrushers, some with nothing, and the headcrusher guys are that little bit slower on everything, I believe due to momentary disorientation under sudden movement.
Now we have a new generation of awesome stuff to choose from.
Handheld is okay for observation, but if you do anything else, risks damage to the NOD, always exposes you to splash when you pull it away from the eye, and is (similar to bad skullcrushers) I feel actively dangerous for movement. Balance and fatigue issues with one arm up, and vestibular issues from the NOD not being rigidly mounted to the head.
And more. And that's before you even get to shooting.