Lightweight polycarbonate shell with dual-density EPS padding. Can be used as a dual-sport, full-face, or open-face helmet. Heated face shield stays clear in all conditions. Flip-down sun visor. Washable liner and cheek pads.
Shield seal is occasionally not airtight. Some wind noise.
Stylish, aerodynamic ABS shell. Flip-up shield is easy to open. Good ventilation. Plain and twin pane shields and dropdown sun visor. Breath box included. Removable, washable liner. Great value for the money.
Some find the breath box tight and not particularly efficient.
Uses a swiveling face shield that comes down to provide extra wind and debris protection. Available in several sizes for older teenagers and adults. Can be used as a full motorcycle helmet. Comes with facial padding for extra comfort.
Some advertised sizes are one size too large or small.
Panoramic shield gives terrific field of view and has adjustable heating. Sun visor is also heated. Highly effective noise reduction system. Quick-release magnetic power connector. Neck curtain and rear safety light included.
It’s expensive and can take a while to get used to.
Polycarbonate shell is tough and light. Stays warm and has adjustable ventilation. Liner is removable, washable, and replaceable. Accepts speakers and most Bluetooth systems. Popular D-ring strap closure. 5-year warranty.
Shield mechanism could be better. No sun visor.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A good snowmobile helmet is one that’s specifically designed for the purpose. It’s important that it has the features you need to maximize safety and comfort in extreme conditions. However, you need to be careful when shopping. There are a number of cheap ATV and MX helmets sold for snowmobile use, and while they’re better than nothing, they’re far from ideal.
How do you tell the difference between a top-quality snowmobile helmet and a poor substitute? With hundreds of models to choose from, it’s not an easy task. Of course, that’s the kind of challenge that BestReviews thrives on, so we’ve been putting the latest snowmobile headgear through its paces to bring you the answers you need.
As a result of our extensive research, we’ve been able to make a number of recommendations. They offer high performance for a variety of budgets. We’ve also put together a comprehensive buying guide that looks into construction, wearability, and a few other features you might want to think about.
Every snowmobile helmet is required to reach certain safety standards. There are no “bad” ones, but the style of helmet is more than just personal preference. It can also have a major impact on performance and comfort.
Snocross helmets: These are the most basic. The open-face design is best suited to sporting riders who find fully enclosed helmets too hot. The drawbacks are wind noise, the need to wear separate goggles, a certain amount of head buffeting because the aerodynamics aren’t ideal, and, of course, greater exposure to the cold.
Dual sport snowmobile helmets: These are snocross- or motocross-style models but with a tight-fitting face shield for better comfort. A breath box (a cover over the nose and mouth) directs air away from the shield to reduce fogging. Though not quite as aerodynamic as a full face helmet, it’s unlikely to make much difference at snowmobile speeds.
Full face snowmobile helmets: These are among the most comfortable and quiet thanks to the aerodynamic shape. Good ones can be worn all day without excessive fatigue because they don’t get the buffeting suffered by more aggressive designs. Heat buildup can be a problem, but the ventilation system usually combats this effectively.
Modular snowmobile helmets: Sometimes called three-quarter (3/4) helmets, these look like a full face model when closed, but the whole front portion — not just the face shield — flips up. It’s nice to be able to get that section away from your face when you stop. These are also widely favored by EMTs because they provide good access to airways without the need to remove the helmet completely.
Want to record your snowmobile action? Some helmets now come with mounts that accept many different action cameras.
Shell: The helmet shell is usually made of either ABS plastic or polycarbonate. Both are very strong and have been used for motorcycle helmets for years. Polycarbonate is a little lighter and has slightly higher impact resistance. You may see “polycarbonate composite” or “polycarbonate alloy” in descriptions, which sounds impressive but really just indicates the addition of acrylic to make production easier. It doesn’t have any real effect on the strength of the helmet.
Carbon fiber is a high-end alternative. It’s extremely light and immensely strong (it’s widely used in auto racing helmets and motorcycle helmets), but it’s expensive.
Padding: Impact absorption is handled by expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. Better snowmobile helmets incorporate two or more different densities of foam to progressively cushion impact.
Some snowmobile helmets have padding that’s specifically sculpted to account for glasses. If you want to listen to music or communicate with other riders, check for pockets in the padding that accommodate speakers. Wearing earbuds is an option, but they can be uncomfortable.
Face shield: The face shield should be dual pane (two layers with an air gap in between), which retains heat better and helps reduce fogging. Fog- and scratch-resistant coatings are frequently applied. High-end snowmobile helmets have heated face shields. How easy the face shield is to open is also a consideration, especially when you’re wearing gloves.
Sun visor: Many snowmobile helmets also incorporate a drop-down tinted sun visor, which is very useful in the dazzling conditions when sunlight reflects off snow. However, some people who wear glasses find that they can interfere with a visor, so it’s worth checking owner feedback.
Liner: Helmet liners are usually removable for washing and are frequently antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, too.
Ventilation: You can get hot inside your helmet, so ventilation is as important as antifogging. You can’t just raise the face shield, because that will affect your vision. A ventilation system allows air to flow through the interior of the helmet to dry perspiration and keep your head cool.
Strap: The strap may secure with a ratchet or the more traditional D ring. It’s very much a matter of personal preference. Fidlock is a clever magnetic closure, but it is only available on a very limited number of snowmobile helmets.
All snowmobile helmets for sale in the United States should meet the DOT safety standard and be marked as such. Snell (independent) and ECE (the European standard) are equally stringent tests, but only the DOT mark is mandatory.
Balaclava: Self Pro Balaclava
Designed to stop cold drafts around your neck and collar, this balaclava is comfortably soft, moisture wicking, and breathable. It can be worn in a number of ways, so it’s great whether on or off the snowmobile. It’s machine washable, too.
Intercom: FODSPORTS M1-S Pro Helmet Communication System
Stay in touch with up to eight other riders using this inexpensive, lightweight Bluetooth system that offers a range of up to 500 yards and can be used for music or phone calls. It’s easy to set up, has great sound quality, and can run for 20 hours between charges.
Action cam: GoPro Hero+
If you want to capture all that snowy action, you need a good camera. GoPro is widely recognized as the leading brand when it comes to action cameras. The Hero+ offers a host of top features (including 1080p video and 8 MP stills), it mounts to the helmet or snowmobile, and it can stand up to the toughest environments.
Some cheap snowmobile helmets come in a limited range of sizes. Don’t make do. A poorly fitting helmet will compromise your safety.
Inexpensive: The cheapest snowmobile helmets can be found for under $60, but they are really just multipurpose ATV/motocross/snow models and not specifically designed for cold conditions. True entry-level snowmobile helmets start at around $100.
Mid-range: You have lots of choices between $100 and $250, including all of the styles and a wide range of features. Most enthusiasts who ride for leisure on weekends and vacations can find what they need in this price bracket.
Expensive: Keen adventurers and sporting riders might be prepared to invest more, and there are several advanced models in the $250 to $400 range. The most expensive snowmobile helmet we looked at is a superb piece of equipment, but it costs $600.
There are plenty of snowmobile helmets out there, so if you don’t see what you need in our matrix, we have a few more for you. Among the most affordable models is the HJC Helmets CS-R3SN Full Face Snow Helmet, which features an antifogging dual lens shield, clever ventilation, and a comfortable interior. The polycarbonate composite shell is finished in matte black.
Bell Helmets is an iconic brand, so it’s a bit of a surprise to find its Bell Qualifier Snowmobile Helmet at such a budget price. It has the quality and comfort you’d expect and well-considered touches like integrated speaker pockets, breath box with adjustable nose, and padded wind collar.
The GMax MD-04S Modular Snowmobile Helmet is a popular mid-range model. The lightweight shell supports the essential dual pane shield, offers good venting, and has an chin bar that’s easy to use with one hand.
Q. Does the law say I must wear a snowmobile helmet?
A. It depends where you live. It’s often not necessary on private land, but many states say riders under 18 must wear one. A helmet may be mandatory on public trails, too. Each state makes its own regulations, so you’ll need to check locally.
That said, we wonder why you wouldn’t wear one? It’s the sensible thing to do for both safety and personal comfort. Head injuries can prove fatal, even at relatively low speeds, and hazards can easily be hidden by snow.
Q. Can I wear my motorcycle helmet for riding a snowmobile?
A. You can. Materials and structure are very similar, but there are drawbacks. Mostly it’s about temperature. Although motorcycle helmets can be used in very cold conditions, they’re not specifically designed for it. Fogging of the face shield is a particular problem. Full face snowmobile helmets have double pane shields and breath boxes that direct air away. Motorcycle helmets often don’t, though the pinlock system available with some is a big help.
Incidentally, as long as your snowmobile helmet meets the minimum safety standard (in the United States, that’s set by the Department of Transportation), then it’s legal for road use on a motorcycle.
Q. How do I measure myself for a snowmobile helmet?
A. Use a cloth tape and measure around your head at the widest point, usually about 1/2 inch above your eyebrows. It’s easiest if you get someone to help you. The manufacturer should provide a chart so you can choose the right size based on that measurement.
It’s important to use each maker’s chart, because not everyone’s sizing is the same. For example, one we looked at has medium helmets at 22 1/2 to 22 7/8 inches, while another has it at 22 3/8 to 22 3/4 inches.
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