Picking an off road helmet is
easy; picking the RIGHT helmet may be a bit more challenging. With thousands of
helmets on the market how do you know which one to choose? Don’t sweat it,
we’ve got you covered; just spend a few minutes looking through our awesome
Yes, the helmet has to fit your head but it
also has to fit your activity as well. Are you going to be on an MX track for
15-20 minutes at a time? Or will be you riding in the back country for hours on
end? Are you the slow & steady type or do you have the need for speed?! Is
ventilation importation to you? Will you be wearing goggles or would you like
an integrated visor system? These are just a few questions you should ask
yourself before you make your decision.
In this guide we’re going to
- Shell Materials
- EPS Liner
- Interior features
- Exterior features
- Safety standards
What type of
shell should I get?
The trick here is to try and find a helmet
constructed with more advanced materials without spending a fortune. An
all-plastic shell like ABS is usually way less expensive but can be heavier
& less durable. Something with Carbon fiber weighs less, is extremely
durable but usually costs a lot. We find ones with a blend of plastic &
fibers to be strong and still affordable.
Here’s some detailed info on common shell materials:
ABS is a thermoplastic and one
of the most common (and affordable) shell materials.
It should definitely help protect you but it
is not as light as some other options. Also, it is not as durable and is more
likely to have pieces shatter off.
Polycarbonate is a less common
thermoplastic. It is said to be a bit stronger than the ABS and less likely to
break into pieces.
strong but it can be heavy.
Aramid Fibers are extremely strong
(material like carbon fibers). This is even used in military applications &
ballistics. Shells with this can be costly.
Carbon Fibers are
more widely used in helmet construction.
It can be less expensive & more refined then helmet with aramid fibers.
It’s important to note that the shell can
sometimes “contain” carbon or aramid fiber, but they are not made completely
from it. They will tend to be heavier and less durable. This could be a ploy to
get customers to buy a helmet. Also, some helmets have a carbon fiber design on
them and are not real carbon fiber. They will say “carbon look” “carbon design”
or something of the sort.
What the heck
is an EPS liner?
discussed, the EPS liner is a part of the helmet that is not seen from the
& may be one of the most important features. EPS is a
material similar to Styrofoam, and it is what absorbs much of the energy from
impact. The shell provides a primary defense; the EPS provides a secondary
defense. Manufacturers have been researching for years the perfect combination
between thickens, density, and shape to reduce injury.
Multi-layer and multi-density liners tend to
be rarer, but manufactures claim they reduce impact better. If a company cares
enough talk about their EPS liner, there’s a good chance that it may be better
than companies who don’t.
should a helmet be?
On average, most off road helmets are between
1400 grams & 1632 grams (3 pounds – 3.5 pounds)
.The weight of the helmet does NOT always correlate to safety. A
lightweight ABS helmet with a thin EPS liner may be dangerous. In fact, there
are some companies from China selling Mountain Bike helmets as “Motocross
Helmets” and they are not. They will have a thin plastic shell, thin ABS lining,
and could be very dangerous.
brand helmet will most likely be safer than one without a name.
What types of Interior
features are important?
The primary purpose of the helmet is to
protect your head, but there’s so much more to picking a good helmet. Here are
some important features you should look for;
Interior Lining: Should be removable, washable,
and moisture wicking interior lining. It helps keep the helmet dry and keeps
the stink away.
Emergency cheek pad removal
Pull two tabs and the cheek pads come out allowing for easy removal of the
helmet without moving the persons head and causing further injury.
Rubber Nose Gard: helps protect you from dirt
Filter: Inside the mouth guard. This
piece makes sure you’re not eating dust all day.
Ear cups: Gaps in the helmets pads
where your ears go. Without them it could be uncomfortable because the pads could
push your ears flat against your head.
Windscreen/Shield: Used instead of goggles to
protect your eyes and is usually seen on Enduro helmets or “Dual” helmets.
Flip Down Sun visor: An unseen visor that blocks
the rays of the sun and is a great option instead of wearing sunglasses.
Helmets with this usually have a windscreen/shield.
features are important?
We know that the graphics on the helmet and
the shape is often a deciding factor for many riders. But you, the informed
consumer, should know that safety & comfort is more important. Here are
some features to look for;
Adjustable Ventilation: Ventilation is an important
aspect to riding off road because it keeps you cool & dry. On/off vents are
good, but full adjustable vents are the best. Exhaust ports (vents in the back)
are important too because they pull damp, moist air out of the helmet.
Some ventilation systems are advanced and run
through the EPS liners that have streams of air running over your head and are
not just holes leading into the helmet.
Breakaway sun visor: Keeps the sun out of your
eyes and should not reduce safety in the case of an accident.
Eye Port: Viewing angle is key, and a
helmet with a small eye port may not fit your goggles or may be tougher to see
What safety standards
should a helmet have?
The short answer is the more the better! A
helmet that has met these safety standards means that it has undergone impact protection
testing and in some cases more advanced testing.
DOT– A USA safety standard that
focuses on how much force transfers to the riders head in case of an impact
(from a set height). Manufactures are required to test their helmets but the
Department of Transportation does NOT check. It is an honor system. DOT helmets
are required by law in many USA states.
ECE – Economic Commission of Europe is similar to DOT but for
Europe. Testing is a bit more rigorous than DOT testing and usually helmets
with an ECE standard are a bit safer. Even though this is true, and ECE rating
cannot be substituted for a DOT rated legally in the USA sates that require it.
SNELL – Snell is a foundation
known for helmet testing that tends to be more intense involving puncture of the
helmet shell & face shield by a sharp object, flame and impact testing, among
other tests. SNELL tests are an extra step in determining if a helmet can
withstand all environmental factors. If something is not SNELL rated it does
not mean it is unsafe. Some manufactures (even very high end ones) just choose
not to get a SNELL certification.
Make sure you check the description of a
helmet to ensure it meets at least one of these safety standards; it may save
Top brand helmets that are safe are usually
covered under a warranty programs. It’s a great option to have because a small
defect on the helmet can compromise the helmets integrity. It is important to
have a warranty that is not limited and the longer the duration the better.
See all of our
Off Road Helmets
Have any other questions? Email us HERE!