Table of Contents
- What to Look for in a Good Helmet
- Top 5 Helmets for 2017
- Happy Riding and Stay Safe!
For a lot of people who live far enough North to get snow, snowmobiling is not only a serious hobby, but almost a way of life. So, with the seemingly global need for speed, snow mobiles are getting faster and faster, which is making them more and more dangerous. With all of these advances in speed, there have also been huge strides made in keeping snowmobilers safe; particularly with head protection in the form of helmets.
Now, as with most things, choosing a helmet for snowmobiling can be as cheap or expensive as you chose to make it. If you have a large budget, you may want to go with an expensive and high end helmet. However, if you don’t have a million dollars to spend but still want to have some fun and stay safe this winter, there are many options for you. First, though, you need to know exactly what to look for so that you can get the best bang for your buck.
What to Look for in a Good Helmet
Basic Types of Helmets
The Basic Full Face helmet is the most simple and usually the most inexpensive type of helmet. This type of helmet has a face shield that is immobile, giving its wearer great protection for the wind. Popular with snowmobilers who like to go travel at high speeds out in the open, all in the freezing cold. With no movable parts, there is very little to brake on this helmet which makes it great for riding through the backcountry. However, it must be taken into consideration that, as there are no moving parts, the whole helmet must be removed to wipe the inside of the face shield. Also, when you’re taking a break from the trails if you want to get a little bit of fresh air you again have to remove the entire helmet. This can make for some very cold ears in sub-zero temperature.
This type of helmet is a lot like the Basic Full Face helmet, except that the visor opens and closes. The opening visor is great for those who wear glasses, or for anyone who wants to keep their cozy helmet on and get a fresh breath of air. These helmets are great for pretty much all of the conditions as the basic helmet, but with the added benefits of the moving visor. The Modular helmet can also be somewhat cost effective.
Being the highest tier of helmets, Open Face Snowmobile helmets are often the most expensive. However, if you are a fan of dirt biking, these can be retro-fitted to be multi-faceted. They also have a great field of vision with the large opening in the front, all while being incredibly stylish. When out perusing the frozen terrain, make sure to wear something covering your face, as that wide open front opening also lets in a lot of wind as opposed to the more closed style of the basic and modular helmets. Also, make sure that you don’t cheap out on the goggles as they are almost as important as the helmet. The breath box and chin curtain are also something to pay close attention to. If they are too loose, snow can become trapped and the wind can whistle right through. This can all lead to some very chilly conditions. These types of helmets are great for snocross competitions, extreme riding (i.e. trick riding), and off trail riding.
You could buy the most expensive and highly reviewed helmet on the market, but if it doesn’t fit properly not only will it be uncomfortable and torturous to wear, but there is also the potential for it to cause more damage than good in a fall or accident. So, fitting your helmet is a very important first step.
First of all, while buying online can save money, time and hassle, make sure they have a good return policy. Helmet sizes aren’t really well regulated, so you could fit a large size in one brand or style of helmet, and require a XXL in another. So, make sure you try EVERYTHING on! Even the size charts online sometimes aren’t correct, so you need to know that if you purchase the wrong size, which you very well may, that you can return it easily.
Secondly, give your head a measure. Measure the circumference of your skull approximately two inches above your ears. This is where most people’s heads are the widest. Most helmets come with a general guideline as to what size should fit you. Remember, this isn’t the same as being sized for a ball cap, as fibreglass doesn’t really stretch the way that fabric can. This will help give you a starting point. Remember, you will likely be wearing some sort of warm hat or balaclava under your helmet, so don’t purchase it too tightly. It’s usually a good idea to bring your hat, or whatever you will be wearing for warmth, when you go to purchase your helmet, as this will give you the best idea of a size that will be comfortable. No one wants their head in a vice while they’re out enjoying a long snowmobile ride. In addition to this, make sure that you do up the chin strap. As everyone’s heads are a slightly different shape and helmets are somewhat standardized, make sure that the helmet can’t come off with the strap secured. This will prevent your helmet from flying off if you get into an accident, because a helmet lying on the ground five feet away from where you’ve rolled to a stop isn’t doing much to protect your brains.
Within the basic types of helmets, there are many styles and variations. There are certain parts that you can upgrade, downgrade, and swap out according to your needs and preferences. Some of the features, however, can be completely essential for your climate.
When you are out in the freezing cold, this almost seems like the last thing anyone would want. It can make you cold just thinking about it: a frigid wind blowing across your face while flying through the snow. Brr! However, even though the ventilation system will allow cool air into your helmet, it will also help get the warm, moist air from your breathe out. This prevents fog and moisture from building up inside your helmet, which is especially important if you have a basic full face helmet. With these you will have to remove the whole helmet every time your face shield fogs up to wipe it out. Having to remove your helmet multiple times in one trip will be a lot more colder than any amount of cold air getting in through the vent.
The breath guard on a helmet is usually a flexible piece of metal that conforms over the wearer’s nose. The whole purpose of this is to force your breath down and away from the your face shield, thus preventing a lot of condensation from forming. With an MX style helmet they are also great to prevent the cold wind from hitting your bare skin. The breath guard in a helmet is usually removable, so you can replace them as needed, or even upgrade.
The shield of a snowmobile helmet is generally dual layered. This help to further prevent condensation from building up. This is especially important with a basic full face helmet. Again, when it’s super cold out no one wants to take their warm helmet off. The dual layered shields work much like a dual paned window, with a thin layer of gas in between which acts as an insulator, preventing the buildup of condensation.
Framed or Frameless?
The dual layered shields, historically, have been held together by a piece of plastic. This created a frame effect. Now with new technology, manufacturers are able to create the same dual layered shields without the plastic framing for an overall sleeker look. Whichever you choose doesn’t really make a difference.
Heated Electric Shield:
Sometimes even dual layered technology can’t keep a face shield fog free in frigid temperatures. Manufacturers have found a way to combat this by making their shields heated. Many helmets have this as an option as well. However, when the temperature REALLY drops even a heated face shield can’t save you from the dreaded fog.
When it comes to your safety, it’s never a good idea to cheap out. That being said, there are many effective and safe helmets that are also cost effective, however, buying a helmet with no safety ratings just because it is cheap can lead to some very serious consequences. After all, when you hit the ground after an accident, the last thing you want is the helmet that’s supposed to be protecting you crumpling. There are certain safety ratings that are a must when purchasing a helmet. These show that the helmet has been tested for impact, penetration, retention, and peripheral vision. It’s better to let professionals test these things and for you to know that they’re safe, rather than you finding out after an accident that they’re not.
This is the bare minimum for snowmobile helmet safety ratings. If the helmet you are thinking of purchasing doesn’t at least have DOT standard, think twice and don’t buy it. Some places actually require this, and if you are caught out snowmobiling in a helmet that doesn’t have this you can be in a lot of trouble. Generally these standards are set by the Federal Government.
Snell, being an independent non-profit group, sets a much higher standard. Snell does all of it’s own testing, and is not affiliated with any one brand. This ensures that a fair rating is given every time, and that they can keep you as safe as possible.
These helmet standards are set by the Economic Commission for Europe. They are very similar to the DOT standards, in that their standards are set by the government. However, the ECE standards do go above and beyond the DOT standards, and require products to be sampled. This makes sure that the consumer is going to be as safe as possible in these helmets.
So, now that you know what to look for in a helmet, it’s time to chose the actual helmet. While there are many to chose from on the market, keep reading for the best consumer reviewed helmets for 2017.
Meeting and exceeding DOT standards, the HJC Solid Men’s CS-R2 Snow Racing helmet proves to not only be safe, but also incredibly stylish. The outer shell is made of advanced polycarbonate, and the liner inside is fully removable. This is great for keeping it clean. The face shield is also not only dual layered, but it also comes with a heating option. This is great for when you are out snowmobiling in the freezing cold. It allows you to take all of the needed measures to prevent your face shield’s lenses from fogging up, which can be a real pain in the cold. The adjustable breathguard also helps greatly with this. The CS-R2 also solves all of the ventilation worries you may have. With it’s ACS (Advanced Channeling System) allows you to adjust the amount of ventilation in your helmet for different temperatures or your own personal preference.
Available in multiple different sizes, the Typhoon is almost guaranteed to have the right size for you. It also comes with two different face shields, one with and one without heat, making it a phenomenal helmet for both fit and comfort. It also has an adjustable ventilation system, which allows the wearer to compensate for whatever weather is thrown at them. It also meets all of the DOT safety standards, making it a very versatile and safe helmet.
Easily transferable from snocross to motocross, the Viper is a very versatile helmet. However, it is better suited for competitions rather than out trekking the backcountry. The Viper does not feature a dual layered face shield, but does have an inner visor that can double as sunglasses. With a single glove-friendly button to flip up the modular visor and a single lever to remove the inner visor it is not only a stylish helmet, but also very simple to use. It is also missing a breath guard, which makes it somewhat ineffective helmet for those going out on long rides through the cold. This DOT approved helmet is great for warmer weather, as well as those who plan on competing.
Another great example of a snocross helmet, the Typhoon is a great DOT certified yet budget conscious helmet to choose. There are multiple colours of goggles to choose from with this combo, and with the removable breath guard and thick liner, the Typhoon is fantastic in both cold weather, as well as in competitions. The goggles, included with the helmet, also feature dual lenses and a an additional clear lens for those who go all day and into the night out on the trails.
Available in many fun and exciting colours, the 509 Tactical Snowmobile Helmet tops the chart. In safety it’s both DOT and ECE certified, which is good because this helmet is made for both snocross and speed! Like most snocross helmets, it lacks any attached face-shield. However, it is custom made to fit the 509 X5 Goggles (not included in helmet purchase). With it’s removable breath guard and fully adjustable ventilation system, the 509 is a great and versatile helmet which is great for not only competitions, but also for ripping around the backcountry.
So, now that you have the background knowledge and an idea of what is on the market, it’s time to get on out there! Now you can accurately choose a helmet to have fun and stay safe during this great winter pastime.