Riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can be an exhilarating experience as you traverse rough terrain and take in beautiful outdoor scenery. However, ATV riding also comes with risks like rollovers, collisions, and falls that can result in serious head injuries. Wearing a quality ATV helmet is absolutely essential to protect your head and potentially save your life in the event of an accident.
Choosing the right ATV helmet may seem overwhelming given the many brands, features, and options available. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when selecting an ATV helmet so you can find the best one suited for your needs.
Determine the Intended Use
Table of Contents
- Determine the Intended Use
- Select the Appropriate Size
- Analyze the Weight
- Ventilation is Key
- Assess Safety Ratings
- Full Face vs. Open Face
- Comfort Features
- Graphics and Color Options
- Budget for Quality
- Try Before You Buy
- Care and Maintenance
- Accessorize for Added Function
- Riding with Passengers and Kids
- Trust the Experts
- The Evolution of ATV Helmet Technology
- Onboard Tech Integration
The way you plan to use your ATV will have a significant impact on the type of helmet you should choose. Helmets designed for recreational trail or sport riding tend to be lightweight and comfortable for longer wear. They offer ventilation and visors to manage dust and sunlight. Motocross helmets are engineered for extreme sports with more rigid construction and extended chin and face protection. Think about when, where, and how you will use your ATV to narrow down helmet styles.
Select the Appropriate Size
An ill-fitting ATV helmet diminishes safety and comfort. Helmet sizes are based on the circumference of your head, not hat size. Wrap a flexible measuring tape around your head about 1 inch above your eyebrows and ears. Compare the measurement in inches to the sizing chart for the brand of helmet you are considering. The helmet should fit snugly all around without pinching. Consider an intermediate size if your measurement falls between standard sizes. Trying on helmets in person is ideal to ensure a proper fit.
Analyze the Weight
The weight of an ATV helmet affects comfort and safety. Heavier helmets tend to offer more features and durability, while lighter options promote maneuverability and less neck fatigue. For recreational riders, a mid-weight helmet of around 3 pounds is commonly preferred.Motocross racers may opt for lighter 1.5 to 2 pound helmets for competitive needs, while off-road and mountain riders tend to choose slightly heavier helmets for maximum protection. Evaluate the expected conditions and your needs to choose the right weight.
Ventilation is Key
Proper ventilation literally keeps your head cool and comfortable in a helmet. The last thing you want is an ATV helmet that causes overheating, foggy visors, and sweat dripping into your eyes. Advanced helmets have intake and exhaust vents strategically placed to maximize airflow. Look for ventilation channels in the EPS foam liner as well as adjustable chin, brow, and head vents. The more riding you plan to do in warm weather, the more critical it is to select a well-ventilated ATV helmet.
Assess Safety Ratings
All ATV helmets sold in the United States must meet minimum standards set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). However, independent agencies like the Snell Memorial Foundation conduct more rigorous safety testing. Opt for an ATV helmet certified by Snell to ensure the highest level of safety and performance. The non-profit ECE 22.05 standard is also respected worldwide for helmet safety requirements. Avoid cheap helmets that only meet DOT standards or have no certification. Investing in a quality helmet reduces injury risk.
Full Face vs. Open Face
ATV helmets come in two basic styles – full face and open face. Full face helmets offer the most complete protection for your head, face, and neck. The chin bar adds protection against frontal impacts while the visor shields your face from debris. Open face helmets are lighter and cooler but leave your face exposed. They may be paired with goggles for eye protection. Consider your riding style, terrain, and risk factors before deciding between full or open face ATV helmet
The pleasure of riding your ATV will be greatly enhanced by a helmet you find comfortable. Padding material and thickness play a big role in comfort. Helmets with removable and washable interior linings are ideal to maintain freshness. Other comfort features include padded chin straps, moisture wicking material, sizing pads for customization, drop-down sun visors, and integrated Bluetooth systems. Prioritize the comfort amenities that will allow you to enjoy hours of riding.
Graphics and Color Options
While the safety, fit, and features of an ATV helmet take priority, you still want one with an appealing look. Most ATV helmets are available in a range of colors and graphic designs to match your taste and ATV. Bold colors and reflective elements help you stand out and enhance safety on the trails. Select a color and graphic that energizes your passion for the ride!
Budget for Quality
ATV helmets vary widely in cost from about $50 on the low end to over $500 for premium designs. While it may be tempting to go cheap, you do not want to compromise quality for savings when it comes to protecting your head. Expect to spend $150 to $300+ for a feature-packed ATV helmet from a trusted brand that meets rigorous safety certifications. View an ATV helmet as a worthwhile investment in your health and safet
With this guide’s insights, you now have the knowledge to shop for and select the ideal ATV helmet for your specific needs and budget. Prioritize safety first, then shop around for the ultimate combination of fit, comfort, features and style. The right helmet will provide peace of mind every time you hit the trails on your all-terrain vehicle. Stay safe and enjoy the ride!
Try Before You Buy
The best way to assess fit, comfort, weight, and feel of an ATV helmet is to try it on in person before buying. Visit power sport shops, specialty ATV stores, and motorcycle dealers to test various brands and models. Size charts are a starting point for determining your approximate size, but every helmet fits differently. Move your head side to side and up and down while wearing the helmet to check for pressure points and movement. Testing options in person also allows you to compare features like ventilation, visors, and noise levels. Ordering helmets online without trying them on first is very risky and could result in an ill-fitting helmet. Find retailers where you can demo helmets to make the most informed decision
Care and Maintenance
Investing in a quality ATV helmet is just the first step – properly caring for your helmet will help maintain its safety and longevity. Avoid storing your helmet in direct sunlight or extreme cold. For cleaning, use mild soap and water to wipe down the exterior shell and comfort linings. Avoid harsh chemicals or cleaners. Periodically inspect for any cracks or damage to the shell or foam that could compromise its integrity. Replace the helmet immediately if any concerning imperfections are detected. Plan to replace your helmet every five years due to deterioration of materials over time even with minimal use. Proper care promotes optimal protection.
Accessorize for Added Function
Beyond the helmet itself, accessories allow you to customize and enhance your ATV riding experience. Tinted visors help manage glare and prevent eye fatigue in bright conditions. Breath deflectors improve airflow by diverting breathing exhaust away from the visor. Bluetooth headsets integrate with the helmet to allow hands-free calling, music streaming, and GPS communication. Mounted cameras provide first-person video recording from your rides. There are also accessories for drinking, goggles, hearing protection, and storage. Choose accessories that truly serve a purpose for the way you ride.
Riding with Passengers and Kids
If you ride with a passenger or child, they also require a properly fitted ATV helmet for protection. Adult passengers can wear any DOT-approved helmet in their size. For kids, look for youth-sized helmets offering a child-friendly design. Consider their age, size, riding conditions, and state laws for further youth helmet requirements. Getting them started with safe helmets designed for children will instill good lifelong riding habits. Riding tandem on an ATV increases risks, so outfitting all passengers in appropriate protective gear is crucial.
Trust the Experts
Speaking with ATV sales staff, safety experts, and experienced riders for their helmet recommendations is invaluable. They can point you towards trusted brands, top models, and must-have features to consider for your needs. Local ATV and motorcycle shops are go-to resources, as they stay on top of the newest helmets and industry advances. Online forums where avid riders evaluate and discuss gear are also helpful for unbiased feedback. Leverage these experts so you can make the most informed decision for your helmet purchase.
Finding the ideal ATV helmet takes research, patience, and diligence to ensure safety, comfort, and performance. Approach this key purchasing decision with the same care and preparedness you take before a big ride. With the must-know factors covered in this guide, you are ready to shop confidently for an ATV helmet that perfectly suits your needs and excites your passion for off-road adventures!
The Evolution of ATV Helmet Technology
ATV riding has surged in popularity over the last three decades, prompting impressive evolutions in helmet technology to meet the demand. Early ATV helmets were simply adapted from older motorcycle designs and lacked sophisticated features. Through ongoing innovation, today’s helmets now deliver unprecedented protection, comfort, and performance capabilities specifically engineered for ATV use.
The outer shell of ATV helmets was historically made from basic plastic or fiberglass. Modern helmets utilize lighter yet stronger materials like carbon fiber, composite blends, polycarbonates, and Kevlar. These advanced shells better distribute impact forces and resist penetration to protect the head.
Interior liner pads originally just consisted of simple foam. Current designs incorporate multi-layer EPS and EPP foam liners molded for energy displacement in key areas. Some liners also feature special crumple zones to progressively compress and absorb heavy impacts.
The earliest ATV helmets relied on basic chin straps to stay on. Now many models utilize integrated retention systems with multiple adjustment points for customized 360-degree stability. This prevents the helmet from shifting in a crash. Quick-release buckles allow easy securing and removal
Poor ventilation used to lead to major visor fogging and overheating inside ATV helmets. Through specialized channeling between the shell and liner, fresh air now effectively flows in and hot air exhausts out. Vents are strategically placed based on wind dynamics in motion.
Simple clear plastic visors gave way to optically-correct anti-fog and anti-scratch curved shields. Switchable smoked and tinted visors help manage glare. Many visors now have hydrophobic coatings to repel water and mud. Some ATV helmets feature modular visors that adapt for goggles or full face protection.
Vintage ATV helmets sported basic color schemes and pinstriping. Helmets today offer cutting-edge graphic designs, customization services, and integrated LED lighting effects for stunning visual appeal. Riders can select designs that perfectly match their ATV
Bulky old ATV helmets have slimmed down thanks to the use of composite materials and optimized construction techniques. Lighter helmets reduce fatigue and improve mobility for active riding. But durability is never sacrificed for weight saving
Onboard Tech Integration
Helmet technology continues to push innovation with built-in features like Bluetooth for audio, communication, and data. Some premium designs integrate heads-up displays, action cameras, and active noise cancellation for heightened capabilities.
Today’s ATV helmets represent major advancements from their early predecessors. With ongoing research and testing, helmets will only continue improving to maximize rider protection as the popularity of ATV riding continues growing worldwide.