Reviews

LAST UPDATED: October 3, 2019

Best Mountain Bike Helmets: Tough and Durable Protection

Enjoy the trail with these comfortable, sturdy, and padded mountain bike helmets

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PUBLISHED ON October 3, 2019

Growing up we were taught to always wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Whether it’s a leisurely trip around the neighborhood or a fast-paced ride on a forest trail, every cyclist should wear one, especially mountain bikers. There are a number of things that can knock you on the head during a ride, and having the best mountain bike helmet will protect your head through them all. Here are a few of the best-rated mountain bike helmets to wear for protection and for adding a little style to your ride.

  • Best Overall
    Giro Revel Bike Helmet
    Summary
    Summary
    Developed with a polycarbonate shell and a thick liner of padded foam for increased protection.
    Pros
    Pros
    Includes 22 vents for more airflow to keep you cool. Features a snap-fit visor to block the sun and tree branches. Available in a selection of colors.
    Cons
    Cons
    The straps are long and may dangle around your chin. It may fit a bit snugly so you may need one size larger than usual. Then you can adjust it.
  • Best Overall
    Giro Revel Bike Helmet
  • Best Value
    Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet
    Summary
    Summary
    A rugged and stylish mountain bike helmet with large wind tunnel vents for maximum airflow and comfort while you ride.
    Pros
    Pros
    It features a custom dial for a tight and adjustable fit to your head, comes in several colors to match your bike, is light yet sturdy, and the padded foam is comfortable.
    Cons
    Cons
    The chin strap is thin and can be a hassle to adjust to fit comfortably (as are the ear straps), and they can feel a bit harsh on your skin.
  • Best Value
    Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet
  • Honorable Mention
    Base Camp NEO Mountain Bike Helmet
    Summary
    Summary
    A comfortable and modern-looking helmet developed out of sturdy polycarbonate material.
    Pros
    Pros
    Built with 18 air vents to keep you cool, plus a removable, soft, and cushioned liner to increase comfort.
    Cons
    Cons
    It only comes in black and is a bit heavier than other helmets. The visor is not adjustable.
  • Honorable Mention
    Base Camp NEO Mountain Bike Helmet

    Growing up we were taught to always wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Whether it’s a leisurely trip around the neighborhood or a fast-paced ride on a forest trail, every cyclist should wear one, especially mountain bikers. There are a number of things that can knock you on the head during a ride, and having the best mountain bike helmet will protect your head through them all. Here are a few of the best-rated mountain bike helmets to wear for protection and for adding a little style to your ride.

    Best Mountain Bike Helmets Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    Our top pick is the Giro Revel Cycling Helmet. This is a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet with Giro’s Roc Loc system adjustability to dial in the perfect fit. The Revel has thick EPS foam for extra protection. The adjustable visor is detachable, giving the helmet a road bike look with cross country protection.


    This Giro is well-suited for cross country and casual riding. The Revel helmet features 22 air vents, making airflow a non-issue when it gets hot. The Roc Loc system utilizes a dial in the back of the helmet to provide a snug fit. The snap-lock visor holds its position, even over rough terrain. The Revel also comes in a wide range of colors, so matching your color scheme won’t be difficult.


    While the Roc Loc system allows the helmet to fit snugly, the helmets themselves may run small for a universal fit. Also, the extra material on the chin strap may run slightly long, leaving the tails of the straps to annoy you. You’ll have to figure out a way to tie the excess strap up and out of your way.

    Best Value

    Our Best Value Mountain Bike Helmet pick also comes from Giro Helmets. The Giro Hex is a rugged helmet with lots of airflow, perfect for trail riding. The Hex also features Giro’s Roc Loc system for proper fit. It comes in a range of colors to match your style.


    While ruggedness and strength are the goals during Giro’s design process, this helmet features the Roc Loc 5 system to save weight. Operated by a dial in the back of the helmet, the Roc Loc 5 is stated to be 40 percent lighter than the Roc Loc 4. Having this level of ruggedness in a weight-conscious helmet is a real benefit. Giro has also given the rider a wide choice of colors, keeping their customers’ tastes in mind.


    Ruggedness may have come without refinement, however. The main complaint from users of the Hex are that the chin strap is too thin to be comfortable. The material is also harsh to the touch, so comfort isn’t the Hex’s main focus.

    Honorable Mention

    Earning our Honorable Mention spot is the Base Camp Neo Mountain Bike Helmet. The Neo is a modern trail riding helmet in a strong, polycarbonate shell. It comes in a universal adult size that is adjusted via the SH-18 fit system. It also comes with a detachable visor, offering some flexibility to the user.


    Base Camp knew the importance of airflow when it was designing the Neo. The Neo helmet features 18 air vents to cool you down. If you do overheat and sweat up the Neo, you’re able to remove and wash the internal cushioned liner, which is a really nice if you’ve ever smelled a stinky helmet. Base Camp’s modern design also provides extra protection in the back of the helmet.


    The Neo does come in a little heavier than its competition. That’s probably due to the rugged trail style and the removable liner. If color coordination is your thing, you won’t get far with the Neo. You can get it in any color you want, as long as it’s white or black.

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    Benefits of Mountain Bike Helmets

    • Head protection. In recent years, mountain bike-specific helmets have undergone a design change. As mountain biking has become more extreme, the helmets have as well. These helmets now focus heavily on protecting the rear of the head, so falling backward is less likely to cause serious injury. 
    • Sun/rain visors. Clear eyesight is important on ever-changing trail conditions. Most mountain bike helmets now come with visors either attached or built into the shell of the helmet. These visors protect the rider’s eyes from sun glare, rain drops, and also debris like mud and branches. 
    • Personal style. Mountain bike helmets allow a rider to display his or her personal taste and style on their heads for the world to see. Whether it be a drab mono-color style or a multitude of bright colors that match your bike’s color scheme, there is a mountain bike helmet for your taste.

    Types of Mountain Bike Helmets

    Cross Country

    These helmets are all about venting and airflow during long races. They look similar to the helmet road riders wear; however, they’re far bulkier and heavier-duty. The reason for the bulk is mountain bikers don’t need to be quite as weight conscious as the road racers do. Most allow room for a pair of sunglasses, which is important because visors are less common on cross country helmets.

    Trail

    At first glance, a trail helmet might look similar to a cross country helmet with the addition of a visor. These are more accurately described as an all-mountain type helmet. Trail riding helmets offer quite a bit more protection in the rear and the sides of the helmet than a cross country helmet. Aggressive trail riders are more likely to strike these locations than a cross country rider. Some trail riding helmets offer a goggle retention system as well.

    Dirt Jumping

    Dirt jumping helmets are the classic skate park, bowl design. These helmets nicely wrap around the head on all four sides, don’t have a visor, and aren’t using built-with-venting in mind. They feel heavier than trail or cross country helmets because they’re built to take a serious hit from bigger jumps at a bike park or harder surfaces like you’d find at a skatepark.

    Full-face 

    Full-face helmets are ideal for anyone taking his or her mountain bike up to high speeds. This usually includes downhill riders, enduro racers, free riders, and any cyclist in need of serious head protection. There is less venting than a trail or cross country helmet. Full-face helmets typically have visors and allow the rider to wear goggles. These are heavier than the other types due to the heavy-duty construction and the addition of the chinbar, which protects the rider’s face. 

    Top Brands

    Bell

    Making its start in the 1950s hot rod car culture, Bell has been producing high-quality helmets for the biking, racing, and general safety industries for years. It builds helmets for toddlers and children as well as helmets for extreme athletes like this enduro style Bell Super 3R that utilizes MIPS.

    POC

    POC is a Swedish helmet manufacturer that has been around since 2005. Specializing in skiing, snowboarding, and cycling helmets, POC creates high-quality products utilizing modern designs like the POC Tectal MIPS helmet, with extra protection in the back of the helmet.

    Giro

    Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, Giro knows something about producing tough headwear for extreme people. Giro strives to keep up with the changing needs of extreme sports, even creating the first modular full-face helmet with the Switchblade. Take a look at the Giro Chronicle MIPS MTB Helmet

    Troy Lee Designs

    Troy Lee Designs started with a signmaker designing and painting helmets in his garage in 1981. Its high-quality helmets clearly have a racing-inspired theme to them, like this Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS Classic in youth sizes.

    FOX Racing

    FOX Racing has been a staple in motocross, BMX, and mountain bike communities since the 1970s. Getting its start as a racing suspension parts producer, FOX has expanded to include apparel, safety gear, and head protection in its lineup. This Irvine, California-based company has several mountain bike helmet offerings, including the FOX Racing Flux MIPS helmet, available in several colors.

    Mountain Bike Helmets Pricing

    • $50 and under: This range is ideal for the casual mountain bike rider that doesn’t require a lot from his or her helmet. This range generally includes cross country and some trail-style helmets.
    • $50 to $100: Your choices expand in this range. You’ll find high-quality trail helmets for serious riding, lightweight cross country helmets for long races, and you may start to see full-face options.
    • $100 and up: These helmets are typically designed with the latest research and are constructed with the lightest materials. They’re often designed for multiple impacts, and even the full-face options are designed to be the lightest weight with improved airflow.

    Key Features

    Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS)

    The Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (or MIPS, as it’s more commonly referred to) is a system that allows a helmet to rotate on a plane around the user’s head. Helmets with MIPS technology will have two layers that can mimic the way a human brain floats in fluid within the skull to resist damage done by rotational forces. MIPS technology is a nice feature to have in the event of a serious crash. 

    Adjustability

    Many helmet manufacturers now offer easy-fit systems with loads of adjustability. Some of these have a ratcheting dial in the back of the helmet that allows the user to cinch the helmet down around his or her head for the perfect fit that won’t go anywhere in a crash. Also, having chin straps that are easy to adjust and get just right are important. There are too many good helmets on the market to get one without adjustability-rich features.

    Eyewear

    If you’ve been riding your mountain bike for any period of time, you know it’s important to wear some eye protection. Some helmets have non-slip pads in the rear to retain a goggle strap, which is a really nice feature on bumpy trails. Other helmets provide adequate space to slip your sunglasses or safety glasses underneath the helmet. Either is a nice feature, it just depends on your eyewear preference.

    Other Considerations

    • Riding Style: If you’re riding a rail trail a few times a year, a cross country style helmet will suit you just fine. If you’re planning to take your full-suspension downhill machine off some serious drops, a full-face helmet might be necessary. For optimal protection, know your riding style when choosing your helmet.
    • EPS vs EPP: Extruded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polypropylene (EPP) are two foam types used in the construction of mountain bike helmets. EPS foam crushes under heavy impact, deforming the foam and making it unsafe for future use. EPP foam has an elastic property to it, allowing the user to keep it for a couple of hard impacts. If all else is created equal between two helmets, our choice would be the one with EPP foam.
    • CPSC: The Consumer Product Safety Commission rates helmets for their intended uses. You can find a listing of these safety standards here at the CPSC website. The CPSC makes sure that your helmet will work for its activity, whether it be trail riding, BMX, dirt jumping, or any other cycling activity.
    • Camera Mounts: Some users might want to consider a mountain bike helmet with a camera mount. There’s a large community of bloggers that gives first-person footage via a camera mounted to their helmets. If you want to provide the world with your epic shredding, a camera mount might be important to you.

    Best Mountain Bike Helmets Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    Our top pick is the Giro Revel Cycling Helmet. This is a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet with Giro’s Roc Loc system adjustability to dial in the perfect fit. The Revel has thick EPS foam for extra protection. The adjustable visor is detachable, giving the helmet a road bike look with cross country protection.


    This Giro is well-suited for cross country and casual riding. The Revel helmet features 22 air vents, making airflow a non-issue when it gets hot. The Roc Loc system utilizes a dial in the back of the helmet to provide a snug fit. The snap-lock visor holds its position, even over rough terrain. The Revel also comes in a wide range of colors, so matching your color scheme won’t be difficult.


    While the Roc Loc system allows the helmet to fit snugly, the helmets themselves may run small for a universal fit. Also, the extra material on the chin strap may run slightly long, leaving the tails of the straps to annoy you. You’ll have to figure out a way to tie the excess strap up and out of your way.

    Giro Revel Cycling Helmet}
    Amazon

    Our top pick is the Giro Revel Cycling Helmet. This is a lightweight, well-ventilated helmet with Giro’s Roc Loc system adjustability to dial in the perfect fit. The Revel has thick EPS foam for extra protection. The adjustable visor is detachable, giving the helmet a road bike look with cross country protection.


    This Giro is well-suited for cross country and casual riding. The Revel helmet features 22 air vents, making airflow a non-issue when it gets hot. The Roc Loc system utilizes a dial in the back of the helmet to provide a snug fit. The snap-lock visor holds its position, even over rough terrain. The Revel also comes in a wide range of colors, so matching your color scheme won’t be difficult.


    While the Roc Loc system allows the helmet to fit snugly, the helmets themselves may run small for a universal fit. Also, the extra material on the chin strap may run slightly long, leaving the tails of the straps to annoy you. You’ll have to figure out a way to tie the excess strap up and out of your way.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Best Value

    Our Best Value Mountain Bike Helmet pick also comes from Giro Helmets. The Giro Hex is a rugged helmet with lots of airflow, perfect for trail riding. The Hex also features Giro’s Roc Loc system for proper fit. It comes in a range of colors to match your style.


    While ruggedness and strength are the goals during Giro’s design process, this helmet features the Roc Loc 5 system to save weight. Operated by a dial in the back of the helmet, the Roc Loc 5 is stated to be 40 percent lighter than the Roc Loc 4. Having this level of ruggedness in a weight-conscious helmet is a real benefit. Giro has also given the rider a wide choice of colors, keeping their customers’ tastes in mind.


    Ruggedness may have come without refinement, however. The main complaint from users of the Hex are that the chin strap is too thin to be comfortable. The material is also harsh to the touch, so comfort isn’t the Hex’s main focus.

    <strong>Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet</strong>}
    Amazon

    Our Best Value Mountain Bike Helmet pick also comes from Giro Helmets. The Giro Hex is a rugged helmet with lots of airflow, perfect for trail riding. The Hex also features Giro’s Roc Loc system for proper fit. It comes in a range of colors to match your style.


    While ruggedness and strength are the goals during Giro’s design process, this helmet features the Roc Loc 5 system to save weight. Operated by a dial in the back of the helmet, the Roc Loc 5 is stated to be 40 percent lighter than the Roc Loc 4. Having this level of ruggedness in a weight-conscious helmet is a real benefit. Giro has also given the rider a wide choice of colors, keeping their customers’ tastes in mind.


    Ruggedness may have come without refinement, however. The main complaint from users of the Hex are that the chin strap is too thin to be comfortable. The material is also harsh to the touch, so comfort isn’t the Hex’s main focus.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Honorable Mention

    Earning our Honorable Mention spot is the Base Camp Neo Mountain Bike Helmet. The Neo is a modern trail riding helmet in a strong, polycarbonate shell. It comes in a universal adult size that is adjusted via the SH-18 fit system. It also comes with a detachable visor, offering some flexibility to the user.


    Base Camp knew the importance of airflow when it was designing the Neo. The Neo helmet features 18 air vents to cool you down. If you do overheat and sweat up the Neo, you’re able to remove and wash the internal cushioned liner, which is a really nice if you’ve ever smelled a stinky helmet. Base Camp’s modern design also provides extra protection in the back of the helmet.


    The Neo does come in a little heavier than its competition. That’s probably due to the rugged trail style and the removable liner. If color coordination is your thing, you won’t get far with the Neo. You can get it in any color you want, as long as it’s white or black.

    <strong>BASE CAMP NEO Mountain Bike Helmet</strong>}
    Amazon

    Earning our Honorable Mention spot is the Base Camp Neo Mountain Bike Helmet. The Neo is a modern trail riding helmet in a strong, polycarbonate shell. It comes in a universal adult size that is adjusted via the SH-18 fit system. It also comes with a detachable visor, offering some flexibility to the user.


    Base Camp knew the importance of airflow when it was designing the Neo. The Neo helmet features 18 air vents to cool you down. If you do overheat and sweat up the Neo, you’re able to remove and wash the internal cushioned liner, which is a really nice if you’ve ever smelled a stinky helmet. Base Camp’s modern design also provides extra protection in the back of the helmet.


    The Neo does come in a little heavier than its competition. That’s probably due to the rugged trail style and the removable liner. If color coordination is your thing, you won’t get far with the Neo. You can get it in any color you want, as long as it’s white or black.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Tips

    • To keep the dangling straps out of your face you can wrap them around the straps near your ears.
    • If the padding comes off, you can use a strong adhesive or double-sided tape to secure it onto the helmet again.
    • If the helmet is able to move more than an inch or slides over your scalp, it is not secured properly and you may need a smaller size.

    FAQs

    Q: How can I be sure a mountain bike helmet fits comfortably before buying it?

    A: Measure your head and compare the size with the manufacturer's sizing chart. To do this, measure the width of your skull and consult the sizes listed with the helmet. You will want a helmet that fits comfortably without being too snug or too loose.

    Q: Can I mount a camera to any helmet?

    A: You will need to check with the manufacturer to ensure you can mount a camera on the helmet. Many may not be able to properly carry the extra weight and that can throw off their effectiveness. Sturdier and more robust helmets should be able to handle a camera as long as they have a mounting bracket.

    Q: Can I wear glasses or goggles with a mountain bike helmet?

    A: Yes, you can wear both glasses and goggles while wearing a helmet as long as they do not interfere with the helmet or cause it to sit more loosely on your head. You may want to consider putting glasses on first before strapping on the helmet to ensure a tighter fit. Goggles can be placed over the helmet.

    Final Thoughts

    For a strong and comfortable mountain bike helmet, consider the Giro Revel Bike Helmet. Our more budget-friendly pick, the Giro Hex Mountain Bike Helmet, features thick padding and multiple air vents to keep you cool.