Best Mountain Bike Helmet
As a mountain biker, you deserve an award for bravery. Whether you are braving thin trails neighboured by a drop off on one side and a rock wall on the other or hurtling through branches at full speed, it takes a lot of courage to hop onto that seat and go. Every adventurer knows that the most important aspect of mountain biking is safety, and the most important part of the body to protect is the head. This is why the mountain bike helmet is so important, and nowadays not only will the mountain bike helmet protect you but keep you stylish at the same time. A good helmet isn’t going to be the cheapest item in your basket, but it certainly is worth every penny to protect your head, brain, and physical health.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
- Giro Hex
- Kali Protectives Maya
- Troy Lee Designs A2
- Troy Lee Designs A1
- Bell Super 3R
- Smith Rover MIPS
- POC Trabec
- Giro Montaro MIPS
- Giro Chronicle MIPS
- Smith Forefront
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top Ten Mountain Bike Helmets
1. Giro Hex
Could protect more of your head
For those mountain bikers looking for a versatile, light and comfortable helmet that can protect them from any terrain, the Giro Hex Bike Helmet offers a viable option. This helmet is made to be both durable and comfortable so that you can wear it along on your longest bike rides, no matter what types of conditions you encounter along the way.Read more
The Giro Hex Bike Helmet provides excellent head ventilation, with seventeen wind tunnel vents and internal airflow channels to increase airflow and cool down your head. You’ll also get Roc Loc 5 protection with this helmet, meaning you can adjust the helmet easily so it always feels comfortable.
With the Giro Hex Bike Helmet, you’ll also get a P.O.V. visor to help protect your eyes from the sun, and keep brushes and branches away from your head. You’ll also benefit from the experience behind this well-designed, durable helmet, which brings great protection from crashes and impacts.
The Giro Hex Bike Helmet brings you an affordable choice that offers good head protection while you are out on the trails, but doesn’t include many of the other benefits provided by some of the other choices on the list. Depending on where you plan to ride, this helmet could be a budget-friendly option for you.
2. Kali Protectives Maya
Excellent impact protection
The two-piece fit system could be easier to use
The Kalie Protective Mayas Helmet is designed to bring you excellent protection in a tough looking helmet that performs with the type of durability you’ll want while out on the mountain trails. With the Kali Protective Mayas Helmet, you’ll get a lightweight helmet made to last awhile while protecting your head from any possible falls you may incur out on the trails.Read more
Kali’s helmet is made with its intricate mold-construction process, which allows the EPS foam to be bonded to the polycarbonate shell inside the helmet. This design feature results in a lightweight helmet that brings excellent head protection, with the EPS foamed arranged to help buffer any impact to sensitive head areas should you experience a crash.
With the antimicrobial liner included in the helmet, you won’t have to worry about odor as you sweat. Also, there are twelve vents in the helmet to produce airflow so that your head remains both cool and dry as you adventure on the trails.
Plus, the visor on the Kali Protective Mayas Helmet is flexible, so if you crash, it will bend and not break. Above the visor you’ll find a camera mount if you want to film and share your mountain biking adventures.
3. Troy Lee Designs A2
Excellent head protection
Excellent ventilation and cooling system
Could have more padding on top of the helmet
If you’re hitting lighter trails, you’ll want a lightweight helmet with increased protection, comfort, and excellent ventilation. With the Troy Lee Designs A2 Bike Helmet, you’ll get a helmet that brings you good gravity protection, excellent venting, ample coverage, and MIPS cooling technology.Read more
Troy Lee Designs’ A2 Bike Helmet brings riders 25% more ventilation than you’ll get from many other competitors’ options on the market. Plus, the ventilation system has a cooling airflow system that will keep your head from sweating too much or rubbing as you ride.
With the Troy Lee Designs A2 Bike Helmet, you also get a soft, removable and comfortable X-Static Pure Silver Liner that adds extra protection for your head, and also decreases bacterial build-up and smell. Plus, the helmet has a three-position adjustable system so that you can easily customize the way the helmet fits on your head.
For excellent protection, the Troy Lee Designs A2 Bike Helmet is designed with two different types of foam; one is EPS, which helps absorbs impacts if you fall at high-speeds. The other is EPP, which reduces impact during low-speed impacts.
The Troy Lee Designs A2 Bike Helmet is also made with a MIPS liner and breakaway hardware on the visor, which makes this a durable helmet. You’ll enjoy both the comfort and protection this helmet offers all bike riders.
4. Troy Lee Designs A1
Excellent head protection
Ventilation could be better
Although the Troy Lee Designs A2 Helmet discussed already on this list is more popular than its A1 counterpart, the Troy Lee Designs A1 Bike Helmet is still one of the best mountain biking helmets you can purchase on the market. It’s so popular because it’s very comfortable and made to fit well, which makes it hard to beat.Read more
The Troy Lee Designs A1 Bike Helmet is lightweight but still brings the type of protection most mountain bikers need in case of impact. This helmet is designed with extended protection features found at the back of the head and the temple area.
Alongside the extra protection offered to sensitive head areas, you’ll get the Multi-Directional Impact Protection (MIPS) system with this helmet, which helps dissipate any impact you might have if you fall off your bike. You’ll also get sixteen large vents that produce a constant cooling ventilation system plus a removable and soft Coolmax liner that can reduce both bacteria from sweat and the odor caused by it.
The Troy Lee Designs A1 Bike Helmet also comes with a three-position adjustable retention system so you can easily make the helmet fit your head. You’ll notice that this helmet feels great every time you wear it, which is one of the factors that makes this helmet so popular.
5. Bell Super 3R
MIPS impact protection
Overbrow Ventilation system
Comfortable and durable
Unlocking chin bar
If you want a versatile and adaptable helmet that works well no matter where you decide to perform your next mountain biking adventure, then the Bell Super 3R Bike Helmet just might be what you need. Bell Super’s 3R Bike Helmet is designed to meet the wide variety of needs many mountain bikers have, whether they are going on long climbs or at high-speeds.Read more
This helmet brings bikers a lot of versatility, including a removable chin bar that you can use as you see fit; if you’re taking a long climb and need to take the bar off, that can be done easily. But if you know you’re hitting more aggressive trails, you can easily lock the chin bar back on without having to carry around any extra tools.
Plus, the Bell Super 3R Bike Helmet brings you an improved design with the manufacturer’s new Float Fit system offering a better fit and increased comfort. Also, this helmet also comes with a GoggleGuide Adjustable Visor for easy goggle fit and a mounting camera feature.
The Bell Super 3R Bike Helmet is designed with Overbrow Ventilation, meaning it has an excellent ventilation system that increases airflow. Plus, the MIPS rotational impact system will protect your head in case of impact.
6. Smith Rover MIPS
Comfortable and durable
The visor isn’t adjustable
The Smith Rover MIPS Bike Helmet is another great helmet that brings bike riders both protection and comfort while out on the trails. This helmet is designed to offer increased protection on important impact areas, bringing increased safety and better head protection to all bike riders on the trails.Read more
With the excellent protection offered by the Smith Rover MIPS Bike Helmet, you’ll also get an excellent AirEvac ventilation system, which provides decent constant airflow to help cool down your head. The helmet also offers the VaporFit adjustable fit system, allowing you to adjust the helmet to make it comfortable to wear at any time.
The Smith Rover MIPS Bike Helmet also has an attractive, unique look that brings style options to you on the trail. Combine this with its comfort and ease of adjustability, and you’ve got a helmet that will feel great no matter how long you wear it.
The helmet is also lightweight, making it easy to wear for all-day rides, and offers excellent protective options for your head. While the back of the head could be better protected with this helmet, the Smith Rover MIPS Bike Helmet still has several features and benefits that bikers will enjoy.
7. POC Trabec
Excellent impact protection
Easy to adjust
With the POC Trabec Race Helmet, you get a helmet that comes from a manufacturer known to create smart, simple designs. As a brand, POC comes from Sweden and hasn’t been around as long as some of its competitors, but it offers some unique design features other manufacturers haven’t thought of yet.Read more
First, POC designed its Trabec Race Helmet with less padding than most other helmets, but the EPS liner padding is designed to be more effective in case of crashes or impacts. The Trabec Race Helmet brings more protection at the temples and the back of the head than its competitors, which makes its padding system excellent.
The POC Trabec Race Helmet has a wonderful aerodynamic ventilation channel system, with sixteen total vent slots to keep your head cool.
Also, the helmet is made with a strong grid of Aramid fibers, which is the same material that makes most types of body armor, meaning it’s very strong and durable.
The POC Trabec Race Helmet fits slimly and with much comfort, and comes with a size adjustment system that will make the helmet sit correctly on your head. You also have a wheel that resembles the Roc Loc Giro on this helmet, meaning the helmet is made to be easily adjusted and locked into place.
8. Giro Montaro MIPS
Comfortable and durable
Inner pads could be more durable
For those planning to take longer climbs on hard, technical climbs, you’ll get a versatile and comfortable helmet with the Giro Montaro MIPS Bike Helmet. The helmet brings you excellent comfort, cooling, ventilation, and protection so that you’ll be safe no matter where you ride.Read more
The Giro Montaro MIPS Bike Helmet comes with the Roc Loc Air fit system, which helps to increase both ventilation and the helmet’s fit. The air fit system not only ventilates, but also helps to cool your head alongside the hydrophilic, anti-microbial pads inside the helmet that can absorb your sweat and decrease any odor in the helmet.
The Giro Montaro MIPS Bike Helmet also comes with the ability to integrate your goggles, with strap grippers to help you hold the goggles on the helmet. Plus, you also get a P.O.V. Plus Visor that can be adjusted and listed to help you fit your Goggles.
An extra benefit that comes with this helmet is the ability to mount a camera to your bike helmet, so that you can film all of your adventures. Now you’ll be able to share everything you do on the trails, and make your friends jealous.
9. Giro Chronicle MIPS
Great head protection
Visor could be designed better
For those of you wanting an affordable helmet with a great design, the Giro Chronicle MIPS Bike Helmet brings you the best of both worlds. It’s made to offer comfort and protection at a price that’s easy to budget.Read more
The shape of the Giro Chronicle MIPS Bike Helmet is compact while still providing excellent full head coverage. Giro’s helmet also comes with the Roc Loc 5 ft. system, which lets you adjust both tension fit and position your helmet easily with one hand.
Giro Chronicle’s MIPS Bike Helmet is goggle compatible, and also comes with a P.O.V. Plus visor that you can easily lift when putting your goggles on your helmet. The inside of the helmet is designed with Coolmax padding and extra plush for a comfortable fit, even if you’re wearing it for long periods of time.
Plus, if you do fall, you’ll be protected with this helmet since it’s designed with MIPS technology to redirect impact force to other areas that don’t need as much protection. With its lightweight design and excellent performance, this well-padded ventilated helmet provides a wide range of benefits for mountain bikers.
You’ll get an affordable helmet that brings you the features offered by many helmets that cost much more. So, this is a great value option offering excellent head protection.
10. Smith Forefront
Strong, durable helmet
Could have better ventilation
For riders looking for a good full-coverage, all-mountain type helmet, the Smith Forefront Bike Helmet brings you a lot of quality with its design. This helmet is made to be lightweight, durable, and comfortable, and also integrates well to other tools you may need on your rides.Read more
With the Smith Forefront Bike Helmet, you’ll get a helmet that can be used with sunglasses or goggles, as well as any POV camera you want to use to share film coverage of your rides. The helmet is also made to be ventilated, helping to cool your head as you ride.
Designed with a new foam technology Smith calls Aerocore, this system integrates EPS foam with Koroyd, a material that the manufacturers state helps to better absorb low-speed impacts. The foam design inside of the helmet also decreases the weight on the product, and makes this one of the lightest helmets available on the market today.
You also get an adjustable and removable visor with the Smith Forefront Bike Helmet, and a Google Retention Strap to help better fit your goggles on your helmet when you wear them. The helmet is designed with the VaporFit Adjustable Fit System, meaning you can adjust it and make it comfortable no matter where you are.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Lightweight helmets are always excellent to have when you plan on doing longer bike rides, but they do tend to cost more as a benefit. So, how lightweight you really need your helmet to be is something you’ll have to consider along with the comfort level. Most lightweight helmets still bring you excellent levels of protection and durability, so there really is no sacrifice or trade-off here when looking for your perfect mountain biking helmet. The typical standard for purchasing this type of helmet is that the more lightweight your helmet is, the higher the price of the helmet. Most all-mountain helmets come with everything you need and weigh in the 13-ounce range, which is a weight many riders feel is still comfortable for their rides without costing them much more in price. However, if you still feel you need something lighter than that for comfort value, then be prepared to pay a bit more for your helmet.
Purchasing a helmet with an effective ventilation system is something most mountain bikers require when they are out on the trails. On today’s market, there are many styles and options of helmets that bring you high-quality ventilation systems that will help cool your head for the duration of your trip. When you’re considering the ventilation system on a helmet, there are a few things you need to think about. First, some helmets have more holes and vents on them, which sounds like they’ll boost ventilation, but this isn’t always the case. Good ventilation really comes from the overall quality and design of the helmet, as well as how these vents work and where the vents are located on the helmet. Helmets offering good ventilation systems usually have a good retention and padding system inside the helmet that doesn’t interrupt airflow, while other manufacturers may not consider ventilation with padding and thus decrease airflow in the helmet. So, you need to find a helmet that’s interior padding is also made for better airflow, and when you find this, you know you’ll have a helmet with an excellent ventilation system.
When you’re looking around for your mountain biking helmet, probably the most important thing you want to investigate before purchasing anything is the fit of the helmet. If the helmet is too tight or constrictive, you can get headaches from it easily, and that’s something you certainly don’t want to deal with when riding on the trails. If the helmet is too large, on the other hand, it’ll flop uncomfortably on your head and offer you less protective benefits in case you fall or crash. So, when you’re looking to purchase your next bike riding helmet, you should focus on a helmet that has an adjustable fitting system so the helmet is easy to accommodate to your head. Many of these fit systems are easy-to-adjust, and can cinch to the correct size of your head. One of the best adjustment systems on the market today is the Roc Loc fit system, which is so easy-to-use you can adjust it with one hand, while it also locks securely on your head. All you have to do with this type of fit system is lock it on your head. Most of Giro’s helmets come with the Roc Loc fit system, while other manufacturers offer something comparable to it.
The size of the helmet is another feature you’ll have to look into as well. Many helmets come in a wide variety of sizes to better fit the head of the person wearing the helmet. Some baser helmets come as one-size-fits-all type helmets, which works well only for those thinking about doing casual mountain bike riding. If you need a helmet for more serious terrain or something that’s versatile, then you’ll need to search around for a helmet that comes in multiple sizes. Helmets made in different sizes do typically cost more, but they also offer better comfort, fit, and overall protection. So if you want something versatile, look at helmets that offer different sizes.
While making sure you’ve got a helmet that fits correctly is probably the most important comfort feature you’ll need to consider, the second most important feature you’ll want to look into when purchasing your next bike riding helmet is interior padding, comfort, and design. Typically, the better the cushioning and the more comfortable the fit, the more the helmet will cost. For bike riders that worry about the helmet smelling, rubbing, or creating any type of skin irritation, then investing in a higher-priced helmet will probably be the better option. If you can find a helmet that gives a good fit system and comfortable interior padding options, you may not even feel the helmet as you are riding on the trails. Plus, the more expensive padding systems in certain helmets help with sweat absorption while you are out on the trail. Of course, you’ll be paying a bit more for this benefit, but if you have sensitive skin or can’t stand the sweat odor that can come out of your helmet as you ride, then it’s probably worth buying a helmet with that level of protection. If you do decide to purchase a helmet with better interior padding options, beware of washing the helmet in your regular washer, and consider washing it by hand. Some manufacturers advertise the ability to throw your helmet into your washer, but to make sure you don’t damage or destroy the lining, hand washing, especially on a more expensive helmet, is almost always the way to go.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While the type of helmet you purchase for your outdoor mountain biking adventures can vary depending on what you need and what terrain you will find yourself biking in, you do want to consider a decent helmet that will protect your head from impact.
Other Factors to Consider
Almost all mountain biking helmets on the market today advertise their in-mold technology designs. Typically, these designs are made up of some thin shell (typically polycarbonate) and include an EPS foam liner that’s been molder together. With this type of helmet mold construction, you’ll get a combined piece that’s made to make the helmet more lightweight, and also allow for ventilation holes that increase the airflow on the helmet while still allowing for the helmet to work as a single unit should you incur any crashes or impact while out on the trails.
As far as helmet mold construction is concerned, there are a few manufacturers that offer different things with their designs. For instance, POC uses the Armamid fibers in the core of the helmet, the same material that is used to create bulletproof jackets. This brings extra durability and protection to the wearer. Smith also does something a little different, with their Aerocore layer of Koroyd under the shell. So, really, increased levels of protection will cost you more, but as long as your helmet has good in-mold construction design standards, your head will be protected in case of impact.
Many of the helmets on our list have Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) designs that come along with the helmets. This technology usually increases the cost of the helmet, but you’re getting something good if you are willing to pay for the benefits. MIPS helmets bring you better head protection in case of crashes, and are also lower in friction, meaning the technology reduces rubbing and skin irritation. With the MIPS technology, you’ll get one additional removable thin plastic layer you can use when you wish. MIPS is supposed to help reduce impact to more sensitive areas of your head if you crash.
As far as current safety standards for helmets on the market, all we can really gage from that is whether or not a helmet passes that test, but not much else. Every helmet we have here does pass current safety standards, and not all of them have MIPS technology. While the effectiveness of MIPS technology is still currently under review, it does have research backing up its ability to better protect your head upon impact. So, while you don’t need to buy a helmet with MIPS technology if you don’t want to buy a more expensive helmet, you do get better safety if you are willing to pay for the upgrade.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few features you’ll want to consider when selecting your mountain bike helmet that we haven’t covered here yet. Those features are visors and cameras. Whether or not you need a helmet that includes these features is up to you, and we’ll cover some of the benefits below.
Visors. Many different kinds of mountain bike helmets offer the additional visor feature. For many riders spending long hours in the sun, having the added feature of a visor not only helps protect their eyes from the sun, but also protects the face from low-hanging branches they might ride into quickly while on the trail. Most of the visors come in different shapes and styles, and the different brands offer different features. Some of the helmets covered above offer visors, but their types do vary. For instance, the Troy Lee A2 Helmet has a wide, short type visor, while the Giro Chronicle Helmet has a narrow and long visor. Other manufacturers offer larger, moto-inspired type visors, which are becoming more standard on the helmet market today for bike riders. Besides the size of the visor, you also need to look at the visor’s adjustability if you want a helmet that comes with a visor. Adjustable visors are great because you can easily move them when you no longer need them; for instance, if they obstruct your vision. They also help you keep your goggles easily on your helmet when you are not using your goggles. Even if your helmet features an adjustable visor, not all types of visors adjust as well or as easily as others. Also, not all of these helmets will give you room for your goggles. The Troy Lee A2 lets you easily slide your visor up and down, but doesn’t give you enough space for goggles. However, whether you want a visor at all, and what type of visor you pick, is really all up to you. Not all bike riders feel they need visors, so the choice is up to the mountain bike rider.
Camera Mounts. Another unique, but not always necessary feature, you might want to consider when buying a helmet is a camera mount system. If you like shooting film of your adventures, you can get a great first-person view by directly attaching an action camera into a helmet that comes with a mount system. Most helmets offering this feature easily accommodate a camera you can slip into your helmet. Some higher-priced helmets come with built-in action camera mounts that make it easier to get the camera angle you want as you’re riding, allowing you to ditch the use of a sticky mount. However, some riders are just fine without this feature and if you don’t want to fork out the cash for this, you can always buy an action camera later and place it on the handlebars of your bike.
Deciding when you need a new helmet can sometimes be difficult to determine. Remember, most helmets you purchase do come with a shelf life, so you don’t want to use an old helmet that might not protect you as well if it’s been used for a long period of time, outdated, and past its shelf life. When taking a look at your helmet, determine whether or not you see the foam cracking, if you see wear on either the outer shell or inner lining, and if anything looks questionable to you. If you look at any of these features and feel uncomfortable, it’s time to purchase a new helmet.
Most manufacturers give their helmets a shelf life of anything between three and eight years. However, this doesn’t always determine the wear and tear on the helmet, which can increase if you ride more often than the average person. For avid mountain bike riders, you’ll probably need to replace your helmet more often. But, that is again something that the person with the helmet needs to determine.
If you crash while wearing a helmet, then you’ll need to see if the foam inside is damaged. If it is, then you know you need a new helmet because the helmet won’t offer the same type of protection after the initial crash.
The helmets listed on our guide above are mostly unisex and can be worn by either men or women. However, for some women, this might not offer what they need, and they might choose to opt for women’s-specific designed helmets with different sizes, colors, and other features. However, most women’s-specific helmets don’t vary all that much from the unisex featured helmets we’ve provided on the list and don’t really increase the amount of comfort or protection the everyday female rider might think she’s getting by buying a helmet made just for women.
Some helmets offer features that allow you to wear just about any type of goggles you want, while other helmets offer fits that don’t always permit the rider to wear goggles. Many mountain bike riders prefer wearing goggles so they get better protection from dirt flying into their eyes, but again, whether or not a bike rider wears goggles is usually up to the bike rider. So, if you do want to wear goggles with your helmet, look for a helmet that keeps those goggle straps in place. Some helmets that fit goggles offer a long list of features and benefits that can cost you more, and that you don’t really need as long as the goggles stay on the helmet. Some helmet features that can help accommodate your goggles better are highly adjustable visors and retainer straps, and really, that’s all you need for a helmet that can accommodate your goggles easily. If you opt for a visor and know you will wear goggles, you want to make sure that visor can adjust easily so you can slip your goggles easily on your forehead when you might not want to use your goggles. Also, helmets with retainer straps to hold goggles on the helmet are also better for those riders wearing goggles. Also, don’t just assume that an all-mountain helmet will bring you all of these features—that’s a mistake. You do need to always look closely at the helmet’s visor and retainer straps if you are purchasing a helmet that lets you more easily wear your goggles.
When looking at investing in a mountain bike helmet, do not think the more expensive the helmet the more durable or better quality it will be as that just is not the case. The best thing to do when looking for a durable mountain bike helmet to last you years to come and to ensure it will protect your head is to look at the material and also the reviews to see how the helmet has held up for other consumers that have put it to the test. Do not solely be swayed by price as you may end up with an expensive helmet that will not hold up, make an educated purchase and do the research before buying.