After purchasing a mountain bike, a helmet specifically for mountain biking is the next important thing you should invest in. A helmet is an essential part of your safety gear as it protects the most sensitive organ of your body.
Mountain bike helmets are different because they are generally designed to provide more protection to your head than a road bike helmet. They have several extra safety features built in to improve performance in mountainous terrains where the risk of slipping, falling, or colliding with a rock or tree is far greater.
Mountain bike helmets usually feature an integrated peak to protect the face of a rider from the sun, rain, and other elements. A mountain bike helmet also has a lower back and side profile to provide greater coverage. Although a helmet will not completely shield you from a head injury, it will reduce impact resistance and protect the head in an accident.
The key features of a good helmet include great ventilation, lightweight, and the best impact protection. No matter if you are a cross-country (XC) rider, dirt jumpers, Enduro rider, or a gravity-hungry downhiller, we have the best helmets listed here for all types of riders.
For more information about purchasing mountain bike helmets, don’t forget to check out the buyer guide and FAQ section at the end of this article.
The 6 Best Mountain Bike Helmets [Overall]
If you want a lightweight helmet with maximum impact protection, then this Smith Forefront 2 helmet is best for you. Forefront features Complete Koroyd along with lightweight Aerocore in-mold construction that ensures efficient airflow, design flexibility, and more energy absorption in the event of an impact. MIPS Brain Protection System reduces rotational motion and protects your brain tissues from severe injuries.
Smith Forefront helmet offers an AirEvac ventilation system having 18 optimized vents which pull out fog causing warm air out of the goggles and keep your head cool with maximum airflow. For eyewear storage, front and side channels are present along with 3-position Adjustable Goggle-Friendly Visor to keep your glasses in place.
The integrated skeletal structure and VaporFit Dial adjustment system of the Forefront helmet provide the perfect and secure fit on your head. With its antibacterial, odor-free lining and ultra-light single layer webbing, you will not feel burdened while wearing this helmet on long trails.
The Bell Super 3R mountain bike helmet is designed for all-mountain trail riding, from steep climbs to longer trails. Its fusion in-mold polycarbonate shell along with its removable chin guard system provides full-face wraparound protection so you can ride without worrying about your head protection.
The Super 3R helmet of Bell has CPSC and EN-1078 certifications to confirm its safety standards and make this helmet great for off-road biking trails. Its newly added Float Fit retention system ensures a comfortable and snug fit for every rider. It has a great ventilation system with 6 chin bar vents, 4 brow ports, and 23 helmet vents.
with its No-twist Quick-adjust fastener and 3-click switch system, you can easily convert this helmet from normal to full-face.
The MIPS-Equipped Bell Super 3R mountain bike helmet features an integrated breakaway camera mount, advanced ventilation, and an eyewear control system that fits with goggles or sports glasses, making it an ideal convertible MTB helmet for all-mountain trail riders and Enduro racers, especially for hot weather.
Troy Lee Designs great looking A2 Mountain bike helmet offers the industry’s first dual-density outer EPS and inner soft EPP foam liner. This design works more effectively to absorb different impact velocities at both high and low speeds. To prevent accidental rotational motion, A2 is also equipped with a movable MIPS liner.
The breakaway screw design has high-quality aluminum fixings on the visor which helps in reducing possible snagging during a crash. Although the A2 helmet is not Glasses friendly, the adjustable visors keep the sun out of your eyes. This helmet proved to be great for trail riding with its huge air intake and exhaust ventilation ports, semi-adjustable straps, pure Silver X-Static comfort liner, and innovative features for maximum impact protection.
Troy Lee Designs A2 Helmet has a rear stabilizer fit system with slimline arms at 3-locations that are flexible and provide a perfect fit for every rider. So, if you want a durable helmet that protects your head without compromising on looks, then this A2 helmet is for you.
The POC Tectal helmet is designed for competitive trail riding and enduro racing. The lightweight Unibody shell construction of Tectal provides deep coverage with no pressure points on your head. The adjustable visor keeps the sun and rain out of your eyes and a one-handed fit dial on the back of the helmet allows you to loosen or tighten it even with the gloves on.
The helmet features a reinforced EPS liner along with an Aramid fiber grid which is mounted in key areas to magnify durability and protection.
This helmet has built-in storage for sunglasses, you can easily keep your glasses on when you don’t want to wear them while riding.
If you got injured by an accident in the vast mountainous area, the in-built Recco reflector helps to quickly locate you by rescue services.
This well-ventilated Tectal helmet of POC provides better coverage than the majority of the other helmets available in the market. The lightweight, easy-to-use size adjustment system ensures a safe and comfortable fit.
Bell 4Forty is a Half-Shell MTB helmet featuring fusion in-mold polycarbonate shell construction for solid impact protection. Inner EPS foam liner provides good back and sides coverage. The integrated MIPS technology is there to prevent brain damage due to rotational impact forces.
Adjustable Visor of 4Forty is goggle compatible and the Float fit retention system provides a snug fit. This helmet has 15 vents and some internal air channels which work well to allow cool air to pass through the helmet. The sweat guide pad design and silver fiber Quick-Drying material resist bad odor and keep your head cool and comfy on hot summer rides.
Bell 4Forty provides excellent value with its innovative features and durable polycarbonate shell. Without any hefty price tag, this helmet will prove to be a good investment.
Fox Racing Speedframe Pro Helmet is equipped with all the features an MTB rider looked for in a top-shelf Helmet. It has Dual-density Varizob EPS Liner to efficiently absorb impact energy at all speeds. MIPS liner is also there to prevent any rotational impact.
At the back of the helmet, present a 360 Fit harness which offers a huge range of adjustments with 26 clicks. With a snap-fit system molded into the EPS shell, the harness can also be adjusted vertically between four positions.
All this feature along with the magnetic Fidlock buckle provides a custom fit for every rider despite their head size. furthermore, Speedframe Pro Helmet has 19 vents to keep the airflow universal and make this helmet comfortable enough for long rides.
This Helmet received a 5-star rating in Virginia Tech’s helmet safety study, which proves that this Helmet is worth buying to protect your noggin on all trail rides.
Best Mountain Bike Helmets Under $100
A helmet is the most important safety gear a rider should have. Even if you are an entry-level rider with a budget of only one hundred dollars, you can still get some great helmets that will provide as much protection as a helmet, which costs 3 times more money.
Here is a list of some of the safest, comfortable, and budget-friendly MTB helmets you can buy under $100.
Right from venting to advanced fit customization, these high-rated helmets are excellent choices for riders on a tight budget.
The trail-inspired design of the Giro Fixture Helmet features lightweight in-mold construction with a polycarbonate outer shell. Its integrated MIPS technology along with impact absorbent EPS foam liner provides deep coverage and extra impact protection. The adjustable chin strap system and extra-plush padding make this helmet comfortable and easy to adjust according to your head size. The removable visor is designed to push more air into the helmet while also protecting against sun and rain.
This sport helmet provides a solid fit system and great airflow and multiple other features, all under a reasonable price.
This budget-friendly Giro Fixture also has an entire collection of helmet styles for women only. Roc Loc fit system offers ponytail compatibility and a wide range of color options with multiple sizes.
Lazer Coyote MTB helmet is equipped with MIPS technology with polycarbonate shell construction and EPS liner to resist both direct and rotational impact forces. A large visor provides more space for a goggle strap to be held in place. longer rear coverage that extends down the back of the helmet also improved protection.
The TurnFit Plus system of the Lazer Coyote helmet allows quick vertical and horizontal fit changes. 21 large side vents with internal ventilation channels provide greater airflow and make this helmet best for long and hot Trails.
The brow has a clean line that makes it easy to put goggles on, and the back has a cutaway that keeps them in place. For nighttime travel, this helmet has LED Light compatibility as well.
The Coyote MIPS helmet is lightweight, comfortable, and offers excellent impact protection. It also fits snugly on your head. The fixed visor can obstruct some riders’ vision, but it will provide great protection from the sun, rain, and low-hanging branches for less than $100.
The TeamObsidian Airflow is a high-performance helmet made with great attention to detail and the finest materials available. The integrated reinforcing ABS skeleton provides solid construction making this helmet lightweight, but very rugged and shock-resistant.
The washable chin pads are comfortable because they lie flat against your cheeks and assist you in keeping your helmet clean.
You can easily adjust the helmet with an adjustable dial fit at the back and with a quick-release chin strap system to get a snug custom fit.
This helmet offers great looks with its oval-shaped design and matt finish. The Airflow MTB helmet is lightweight, comfortable, and has CPSC certification for guaranteed impact protection. What else will you get at such a lower price?
Smith conveys MTB is one of the most affordable MIPS-equipped helmets. Its in-mold construction and impact-absorbing EPS liner keep your head protected, and the single-layer webbing makes it feel ultra-lightweight. The Convoy keeps things convenient with a fixed visor position and a basic internal strap mount, straps are positioned internally rather than on the rim. The thin webbing has handy cam-lock adjusters, and the back of the helmet is shaped for secure glasses storage.
It also has a VaporFit dial adjustment system in the back of the helmet for size adjustment. The EPS shell provides sufficient head coverage, but it does not drop low enough on the back or to the sides of the head.
The Smith Convey trail helmet provides premium fit, MIPS rotational impact protection, a highly adjustable harness system, and a flexible, comfortable EPS shell. This entry-level Helmet is stylish, lightweight, comfortable, and protective, all at an incredibly low price.
Best Full-Face Mountain Bike Helmets
A full-face helmet is the best choice if you enjoy vigorous cycling, such as downhill biking. In a strong downhill crash, the best full-face MTB helmet offers excellent protection for your entire head, chin, and face. They also block UV rays, wind noise, raindrops, bugs, and other airborne elements.
However, to provide more protection, full-face MTB helmets compromise a bit on comfort. They are usually heavier, hotter, and bulkier than other MTB helmets. To overcome this matter, we conducted in-depth research and testing on a variety of full-face MTB helmets on the market and compiled this list of the 5 best full-face MTB helmets.
All of these full-face helmets have a plethora of new features, are highly comfortable, durable, and ventilated, and meet all safety requirements. Whatever helmets you choose, you’ll be making the right choice because they’re all top-rated and protect you from a variety of potential hazards and unexpected accidents.
Demon Podium MTB helmet offers certified full-face protection with an integrated MIPS Brain Protection System. The tough and durable injection-molded Polycarbonate shell features a fully adjustable visor with aluminum side visor screws and a lightweight plastic chin bar.
This helmet is easy to manage with its removable and washable inner liner. The strategically placed 13 air vents provide good ventilation throughout the ride.
The contouring function of the soft EPS liner provides a better fit and the set of fixed cheek pads make this helmet even more comfortable.
The Demon Podium helmet met the U.S. CPSC Safety Standards and comes with Demon’s Shred Proof warranty. For mountain bike, enduro and BMX riders this helmet will serve greatly.
POC Coron Air Spin full-face helmet is constructed from a strong and rigid fiberglass shell lined with a multi-impact EPP foam to withstand much higher impact speed.
The Coron has designed for enduro riding and offers more shell coverage and a lot of foam and padding than other enduro-oriented full-face models.
Instead of a MIPS liner, the Coron Air Spin helmet is equipped with innovative SPIN technology which not only reduces the rotational impact forces but can also absorb direct impact energy, leaving you with a secure head.
This helmet is thickly padded, and the padding feels comfortable on your skin. The ear pockets are well-designed, and despite the thick padding, your ears feel free inside the helmet, allowing you to hear remarkably well.
In the event of an impact, the breakaway feature allows the visor to slip backward or pop-off. This helps to minimize the forces that could hit the rider’s neck if the visor bumps into a stone.
If you fall and hit your head, the emergency removable cheek pads accommodate rescuers by making it easy to remove the helmet and provide you first aid.
POC Coron Air Spin helmet is best for all aggressive forms of bike riding. Its high impact performance, fiberglass shell, and multi-impact EPP liner protect you on downhill riding as well.
The new D4 Carbon Stealth is the lightest BMX helmet made by TLD. It features TeXtreme Spread Tow Carbon Fiber reinforcement in the shell along with MIPS C2 liner to prevent both direct and rotational impact.
With its 24 total vents and Quick-Dry X-Static washable liner, you can easily manage this full-face Helmet in hot weather.
The EPP collarbone impact system prevents pressure on shoulders and provides comfort for long rides.
Additionally, the Quick-release 3D cheek pads, XT2 precision fit headliner, and titanium D-ring fasteners ensure such a precise fit that this helmet will feel Tailor-made for your head.
D4 Carbon Stealth helmet offers 3 shell sizes and 3 EPS sizes so you can easily choose the perfect fit for yourself. The high price is justified by the safety standards and high-end features of this Helmet.
Fox Rampage Carbon helmet offers the most complete level of performance and protection from any other full-face mountain bike helmet. This helmet has a dual-density EPS layer that sits underneath the light and durable Multi-Composite Technology shell, to provide better impact protection by spreading the force of impact over a larger surface area. Its latest Fluid Inside Technology works similar to MIPS technology and protects your brain from both high and low energy rotational impact.
The Magnetic Visor Release System added to the safety by purposefully detaching the visor from the helmet in the event of a crash. The 19 wide vents and a removable, washable X-static moisture-wicking comfort lining provide extra comfort.
Mesh screens on the vent allow air to circulate while keeping dirt and insects away. To provide a perfect fit, Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet offers three shell sizes and four EPS sizes.
This helmet is also available in a less expensive and heavier version, but if you want a multi-functional helmet that not only protects you in aggressive riding conditions but is also comfortable enough to wear on long racing days, then this is the helmet for you.
Leatt MTB 4.0 is a convertible full-face helmet for enduro racers who crave a little more adventure with their riding. This DH-certified helmet is constructed with a 360 Turbine technology, which lowers the cost while still managing to provide great impact protection. To help shield your heads from injury, this Enduro Helmet is equipped with in-mold EPS+EPO impact foam which decreases the rotational movement and absorbs energy upon impact.
This helmet offers maximum ventilation with its 22 vents, a removable mouth vent is also there to increase the airflow. The Fidlock magnetic closure system works well with gloves and allows for one-handed operation while remaining stable.
In an emergency, the front cheek pads can be removed easily and the breakaway visor design eliminates the risk of rotational impact forces.
This helmet is ideal for enduro and MTB rides but not secure enough for downhill riding.
How To Choose the Best MTB Helmet?
Mountain bike helmets differ from other helmets due to their incorporated features which are aimed at increasing durability and improving performance primarily in rough terrain. Mountain biking has different categories and the choice of a helmet can vary according to the intensity and style of riding you do most often.
Types of Helmets
There are 3 types of mountain bike helmet:
1. Cross-country (XC) helmet
Cross-country helmets tend to be lightweight and well ventilated and could be more comfortable to wear for extended periods, especially in hot weather. Visors are typically absent in the XC category to maximize the rider’s vision, provide better front-end air intake, and reduce weight. In comparison to other categories of helmets, they offer the least amount of protection.
2. Trail Open-Face helmets
All-mountain Trail helmets are simpler, but provide great head coverage and resist minor scrapes and knocks. Open face trial helmets typically have a thicker, harder plastic shell that can withstand many impacts before needing to be replaced. Unlike XC helmets, they provide extended back and side coverage for added protection. Many Trail helmets also have visors that can be adjusted to shield the eyes from rain, dirt, and the sun.
3. Full-Face helmets
Full-face helmets (BMX-style) provide the highest level of protection and are generally the strongest of all helmet styles. They also include a jaw guard to protect your face, and thus fully cover your head to provide 360-degree protection. So, no matter where you get hit, the Helmet is there to protect you.
The weight is the main issue with this type of helmet, but today they are often reasonably well-ventilated and made of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber.
These types of helmets are usually worn by free riders and downhill racers mostly those who need complete head and face protection.
Helmet Safety Standards
All MTB helmets should meet the minimum U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard to make them legal for mountain biking in most countries. Some other safety certifications are also there including CE EN-1078 (European Standard), SNELL (American Standard), and the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) certifications. ASTM F1447 certified helmets for recreational riding use only, ASTM F2032 certified helmets constructed specifically for MTB and ASTM F1952 approved helmets for downhill MTB riding.
Although these certifications are important, it does not mean a non-certified helmet can’t be able to provide adequate protection.
When it comes to MTB riding, having a properly fitted helmet is incredibly important. If your helmet doesn’t fit on your noggin properly, it can slip around or even fall off when you crash.
Everyone’s head and fit are different and not all helmets fit the same. Heading down to your nearest bike shop to seek professional advice and try on various helmets and compare them is a perfect way to find a properly fitting helmet. You can also read online reviews to see what other people have to say about the helmet you want to buy.
While trying, tighten your helmet down and make sure it moves no more than an inch in any direction. Look for a helmet that sits level on your head, with no forward or backward tilt, and that completely covers your skull with no gaps.
The helmet fit highly depends on the size and shape of the shell, either round or oval. It’s better to know your head shape and size in advance before buying.
If you are going to buy something online, make sure they have a good return and exchange policy because it’s not a good idea to be stuck with tight or loose helmets.
Padding on a helmet provides comfort and also modifies the fit slightly. Some helmets have a range of padding sizes so that the rider can find the right match. For example, smaller heads or faces need thicker pads for a snug fit. Full face helmet pads will appear to be too tight at first, but after a while, they will settle into a comfortable position.
Contrary to common opinion, padding has little to do with impact protection. Instead, the internal materials of the shell, such as an EPS foam liner, are designed to absorb an impact.
Some helmet manufacturers use fix pads while others offer sweat-absorbent, antimicrobial (which can help remove odors), removable, and washable helmet pads that are easy to manage and increase comfort when they rest against the forehead.
A well-ventilated helmet is necessary for MTB riding. It’s important to keep your head cool while riding especially on hot summer days to prevent dehydration and heatstroke.
Since you’re moving slowly and exerting a lot of effort on the climbs, overheating is a bigger issue. As a result, every MTB lid has vents to keep air moving over your head and keep you cool.
More or larger vents, in general, can increase the amount of airflow over your head. While the size and number of vents are significant, their location should also be considered. Vents near the brow are great as they offer cooling where it’s needed most. Internal airflow channeling draws air in and circulates it around the brain for better ventilation.
However, if you live in a cold climate, larger vent openings aren’t always the best option. Helmets with small vent openings will provide the best protection against snow, rain, and dirt.
Weight is the most important factor to consider when buying the best mountain bike helmet, especially for a long riding session
The weight variation of a helmet is primarily determined by the price, size, and style of the helmet. The primary feature of a full-face helmet is to provide more protection for downhill, jumps, and enduro riding. It is around twice as heavy as a half-face helmet. However, the extra weight is justified in this case due to the 360-degree defense.
lightweight helmets with more ventilation ports will feel more comfortable on your head. Usually, they won’t provide enough protection for aggressive riding, and if it does, it will cost you a pretty penny.
A heavier helmet, on the other hand, will irritate you and make your ride more challenging in the long run.
If you want additional impact protection, look for a helmet that offers both direct and rotational impact absorption technology.
MIPS is currently the most widely used rotational impact safety feature. The structure is made up of a thin plastic shell that is lined inside of the EPS foam. In the event of an impact, it rotates a few degrees in different directions to prevent brain damage due to rotational impact forces.
Other rotational impact safety systems on the market include POC’s SPIN, Leatt’s Turbine 360, and others, all of which claim to provide a slip-plane similar to MIPS while still directly absorbing impact.
As compared to a road bike, a mountain bike places you in a more upright position. Mountain bike helmets have visors to protect the rider’s eyes from the sun or rain. Since some riders choose to ride without visors, many MTB helmets have visors that can be adjusted. The flexible visors can be easily raised and lowered when riding. This means you can turn the visor out of the way when it’s not in use for unrestricted vision.
- Camera and light compatibility
Many mountain bikers choose to use an action camera to catch the thrill of their adventures. To accommodate those riders, some helmets come with a built-in mount that keeps the camera securely in place even on the roughest rides.
- Eyewear compatibility & storage
Some helmets do not offer any glasses compatibility and it’s difficult to wear sunglasses with these helmets. If you don’t want to compromise on your eyewear storage feature, then go for helmets that offer this innovation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I use a Mountain Bike helmet for road biking?
Yes, you can. But keep in mind that Mountain bike helmets are meant to provide extreme protection on off-road trails and are not designed for long road rides. They may be a bit less ventilated and heavier than road bike helmets. But it’s much better to have a helmet on your head than nothing.
Can a CPSC certification be enough for Downhill Riding?
CPSC certification is required for all MTB helmets sold in the United States. Downhill mountain bike racing helmets, on the other hand, are subject to a particular certification requirement (ASTM F1952) that accounts for a higher number of collisions and higher-level impacts. According to BHSI (Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute), a road helmet could not safely replace a downhill helmet, and a downhill helmet would be too heavy for lower-level road impacts.
Why do MTB helmets have visors?
A mountain bike places you in a more upright position, so MTB helmets have visors to protect the rider’s eyes from the sun’s glare, rain, and dust. Also, during a fall, the visor offers additional security.
Do MTB helmets expire?
You can keep your helmet for up to 5 years if it hasn’t been damaged. the sun and sweat would probably weaken any section of the helmet. If someway your helmet experiences any impact, then you should replace it right away, even if the effect is minor. Damage may not be apparent, but it does exist. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Helmets are mandatory for mountain bike riding. The rider’s preference, the probability of crashing, and the features or properties of a helmet they need are all factors to consider to get the best helmet.
After conducting extensive research on their specifications, we selected the 15 best MTB helmets and provided a comprehensive analysis.
This guide will help you choose a helmet that best fits your riding needs.