How to Pick an ATV Helmet

Steep, bumpy and rough tracks are common scenarios that greet every off-roader. But are you equipped with the right gear to protect your head against sudden concussions or something worse than injuries?

In this article, we’ll give you a walkthrough in choosing an ATV helmet, to get you ready in case a fun adventure takes a dangerous turn.

Why Wearing an ATV Helmet Matters

Sensible and responsible ATV usage is necessary to reduce if not to completely prevent fatal accidents from happening and one way to do this is by wearing an ATV helmet. Sadly, a lot of people still don’t take such an advice very seriously, until the damage has been done.

Believe it or not, other people refuse to wear ATV helmets for reasons like; wanting to feel the air on their faces and vision restriction. While these may prove to be true one way or another, putting on an ATV helmet can still make a big difference between life and death.

If this doesn’t make a convincing statement, then the Saskatchewan All-terrain Vehicle Association (SATVA)’s findings headed by John Meed, should change your mind.

According to the study after a 2013 ATV accident, wearing an ATV helmet minimizes people’s death risk by 42% and head injury by 64%. Then, Luke Lester, Contributing Editor of Dirt Trax Magazine, solidified such a claim saying it dipped the death risk further at 70% in 2015.

1.  Helmet Style

There are three main ATV helmet styles to choose from depending on the outdoor activity you usually get yourself into.

  • Open-face Helmet – It’s the most common helmet that you will see out there. It provides a reasonable amount of protection with a visor that shields your eyes against too much sunlight exposure. Of course, you won’t get wrong with it because it also gives you a generous view of your surroundings as its name suggests. On the contrary, it’s heavier than other helmets and it lacks a jaw and chin guard. This means that if you encounter a quick, face-first accident, you’ll most likely end up hurting your jaw and chin.
  • Full-face Helmet – This style has a larger visor than that of the open-face helmet which improves your sunlight exposure protection. But the notable thing about it is it consists of a jaw and chin guard to help you protect such facial features from forceful collisions. It also has an impact-resistant foam around its jaw and chin guard to further reduce the pressure that can lead to an injury. The funny thing about it is many ATV riders believe wearing it restricts their vision but the truth is it doesn’t because it still has sufficient eye allowance.
  • Off-road Helmet – An off-road helmet is used when you normally find yourself in vision-obstructed paths like; woods, lakes, etc. For this reason, you may find that such a helmet doesn’t have built-in eye protector, to enhance your vision and focus, plus the fact that it needs to allow a great amount of air flow for optimal comfort. Although this is where ATV goggles are best worn because they shield your eyes against; smoke, dust, flying insects, etc., in the absence of the eye protector.

2.  Size

Courtesy of Billy’s Crash Helmets

Determining the size of your helmet is a great way to ensure that your helmet isn’t too tight or loose on your head. As a rule of thumb, it should fit snuggly or comfortably on your head. To check for the correct helmet size, you have to measure the circumference of your head’s widest part. If you’re wondering what it is in particular, place a measuring tape around the area that’s 1’ above your eyes and ears and you’re all set.

However, take note that helmet sizes vary from one manufacturer to another. So once you’re done measuring your head, always fit a helmet that’s either one size larger or one size smaller than your measured size.

If the helmet easily shakes when you move your head up, down, or sideways, it’s too big, if you feel a pinch on your forehead, cheeks and chin, it’s too small. If the helmet’s a bit tight but its liner moves in unison with your face, it means you’ve found a match.

Another thing to consider in terms of size is you shouldn’t be able to insert your thumb in between the helmet and your forehead. This ensures that the helmet itself won’t slide off your face. The chin straps shouldn’t be pushing against your neck to avoid discomfort and the chin guard should at least have a 1-finger allowance for proper ventilation and impact protection.

3.  Material

Since you’ll be shopping for ATV helmets, you may as well find out where your desired ATV helmet is made from because it adds to the list of features that you’ll eventually benefit in.

  • Polycarbonate Shell – It’s also known as a thermoplastic shell that’s heavier than other helmet shells. While it’s the most widely used type of helmet shell in the market due to being very inexpensive, ATV helmets with this kind of shell isn’t the most impact resilient. In fact manufacturers producing helmets from such shells often make up for it by placing thicker or layered interior foams to reduce impact. And because it’s heavy, it easily fatigues your head. 
  • Fiberglass Shell – It’s achieved when you layer fibers on top of one another until such a time you come up with consistent and stable surface pattern. It takes great amount of impact to cause it to crack and if impact makes its way through it, the interior foam has ample time to reduce the impact by evenly distributing it on its surface. Although the moment this type of ATV helmet cracks, its resiliency is reduced to half of its original capacity. Usually, when an ATV helmet’s damaged, you no longer have to use it because its safety level is compromised.
  • Advanced Fiberglass Shell – It’s almost the same as a fiberglass shell except the fact that it’s a hybrid due to a combination of either pre-injected resin or other compounds to make it more durable than an ordinary fiberglass. The good thing about it is it’s 80% lighter than the former.
  • Kevlar and Carbon Fiber Shell – It leads the hierarchy of ATV helmet materials. This is because both Kevlar and carbon fibers are known to be the strongest helmet components in terms of withstanding too much impact, even before the Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS) inside gets to completely absorb it.

4.  Helmet Price

Overview

ATV Helmet Style Price
Open-face Helmet $70 range
Full-face Helmet $100 range
Off-road Helmet $139 or higher range

When it comes to price, the material of an ATV helmet is a huge determinant. If an ATV helmet is made from Kevlar or carbon fibers, the price will be high because such materials are known to be extremely resilient to impact, which also makes them very expensive to obtain. Of course, part of the material is also the design. Many ATV helmets have a UV protection with the bonus of exuding a striking neon color for easy notice, especially during an emergency.

While most people equate expensive helmet prices with additional features as well, it’s not always applicable. For example, you may discover that an ATV helmet made from Kevlar doesn’t need thicker or multiple layers of foam. Nevertheless, it remains to be more expensive than an advanced fiberglass variant because of its extreme durability alone. This proves that less is sometimes more. However, there are still other ATV helmets that are both very useful and affordable.   

5.  Head Shape

An example of a long oval shape

Next factor to keep in mind would be the shape of your head. Even though you become successful in finding your ATV helmet size, there’s still a chance you’ll have trouble fitting the helmet into your head. Many people may not be aware of it but there are three types of head shape.

  • Intermediate Oval – This head shape is similar to a round head but the only difference is the slightly elongated parts. The front and back appearances are quite long. Most helmets are made to follow this kind of shape.
  • Long Oval – This head shape is oblong by nature that’s evidently long on the front and back areas.
  • RoundNeither intermediate nor long oval. The front and back areas are short.

6.  Skin Test

Finally, you’ll know your ATV helmet is really for you when your skin approves of it. Take note, there are others who have allergic reactions to certain chemicals which can’t be identified quickly if you don’t perform the skin test.

The skin test is done by putting on the ATV helmet for a particular period of about 5 minutes. This is usually the time it takes for your skin to react to your ATV helmet through the heat and sweat that’s produced upon surface contact. Although other off-roaders say that you may wear the ATV helmet for 10-15 minutes at a maximum, to find more obvious signs of skin allergies like skin redness and itchiness.

Conclusion

These are the things you should always consider when picking an ATV helmet. By carefully choosing an ATV helmet, you’re not only removing yourself from harm’s way but you’re also practicing responsible ATV usage, for others and new generations to emulate. Tell us what you think by commenting below.

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