How to Pick the Right Off Road Helmet
What to look out for when your buying an off road helmet.



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 guide!

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 talk about:

- Shell Materials
- EPS Liner

- Weight

- Interior features

- Exterior features

- Safety standards

- Warranty

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.

Fiberglass is 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. Buyer Beware!

What the heck is an EPS liner?

Rarely discussed, the EPS liner is a part of the helmet that is not seen from the outside & 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.

How heavy 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. Any name 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 system: 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 and debris.

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.

What exterior 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 out of.

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 your life.


Warranty

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 HERE!

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