Whether you call it a quad, ATV, or four wheeler, we can all agree they are fun to ride and make great hunting vehicles as well, since they can get into areas a truck just simply can’t. One thing to always keep in mind though, with any type of exposed transportation vehicle, you should always wear a helmet even if you’re not using full riding gear. If you are using your ATV for hunting, you are less likely to end up needing it, but you should still wear it to protect yourself in case you decide to gas it down the straightaways a few times or come around a corner to a downed tree or other obstacle. Why are we even talking about things you already know? Well you can get away with a much cheaper atv helmet if your primary use will be hunting, farm work, etc… If, on the other hand, you are riding for fun and doing a lot of higher speed trail riding all day, then there’s a few features to look for in your helmet that are an absolute must. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot either! You never know when you may end up in trouble and if that happens you want as much protection as you can get for your head, but helmets can get expensive. That’s why we have put together this list of the top 10 off road helmets that you can buy for under $100.
The Stealth Flyte comes in towards the top of our price range, but is worth every penny. First off, the liner is completely removable and machine washable. It also comes treated with an anti-bacterial coating to prevent helmet funk. This will also make cleaning the helmet easier in the case of a spill. One of the things I hate most is taking a spill and going into the water then having to try to scrub out my pads when they are not removable. This usually ends up leaving me frustrated and my helmet full of mud, but with this helmet that can all be avoided. If you are planning on riding in mud, however, I would avoid the white option and go with black since the white can easily stain leaving you with a blotchy, brown helmet.
The Stealth Flyte lives up to its name with the aerodynamics. This helmet is great for rider who like going fast since it is not going to throw your head around with the wind. This is especially good for motocross riders. Like most off road helmets it does not come with a face shield, but does have cutouts for goggles. The Stealth Flyte does not have a non-slip strap holder for your goggles, but it does have a ring that goes all the way around the helmet to hold the strap in place. It’s not as good of an option, but should still be fine for holding your googles in place.
From a safety standpoint the Stealth Flyte is a great choice. It meets all US and European standards. It also comes with a one year warranty against manufacturer defects, so you can be sure it is going to hold up, or be replaced.
The build quality of the Stealth Flyte is excellent, but it does come at the cost of weight. The Flyte weighs in at almost five pounds, a bit on the hefty side for an ATV helmet. This can be an issue for smaller riders, but for more experienced and larger riders the extra weight will be negligible. If it bothers you at first keep riding with it for a couple of weeks at least. By that point you should easily adjust to the extra weight and won’t even notice it anymore. It is available in black and white as well as red and blue graphics options, but only the black and white options are within out price range with the red and blue graphics options costing a good bit more.
Raider Ambush MX
The Raider Ambush MX comes in a little cheaper than the Stealth Flyte, and is another great helmet within our chosen budget. The Raider is DOT approved, so you know it will keep you safe in a wreck. The build quality of the Raider Ambush is very good as well and it weighs in at a little less than the Stealth Flyte at four pounds.
The Raider Ambush MX comes with six different graphics options including a Mossy Oak option and a camouflage option. The Mossy Oak option comes with a non-slip strap holder for your goggles which can make keeping them on right a little easier. It also comes in five sizes from small to 2X-large, but tends to runs small, so you may need to order a size up. For cleaning, the liner is fully removable and machine washable making maintenance fast and easy.
This helmet allows for plenty of airflow to keep the rider cool, but it can get cold in the winter because of this. You can always wear a balaclava though, so this isn’t a huge con. As for hot weather riding, this is great since the airflow will keep you cool and dry and help keep the helmet from smelling prematurely. The visor is adjustable, so you can find a setting that is most comfortable for you and set it how you like.
This is another helmet that comes in a camouflage option, but also has several other graphics option available. It comes in sizes from extra small all the way up to 4X-large, though not all graphics options are available in all sizes. Sizing usually runs one size small, so just measure your head and move up one size. This should ensure a good fit that is snug, but not tight. Another issue with this particular helmet is the price range. While most configurations of this helmet come in at under $100 some options can cost a bit more, pushing this over budget for some. An example of this is the camouflage graphics in a 2X-large which goes well beyond our $100 budget.
The cut out has a non-slip rubber seal around the edges and comes with a strap holder like the Raider. It is a bit lighter than the Raider or the Stealth, weighing in at just over three pounds this is one of the lightest helmets on this list. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because this helmet is light that it won’t protect you in a crash. This helmet meets DOT standards, so you know you can trust it when you are out on the trails. The pads are made of nylon and are removable. The pads are hypo-allergenic which may be a big plus to some riders with sensitive allergies. The ears also have cutouts for headphones or a Bluetooth system if you want to use one, but I wouldn’t recommend it on an ATV. Too unpredictable what can happen.
Airflow is a big plus with this helmet. It has several large vents to allow fresh air to slow in and allow hot, humid air out. The shell is made of a poly carbonate plastic and should hold up well to abuse on the trails.
The AFX FX-17 is right at the top of our budget, but it is a great helmet for the price. It is lighter than most other helmets on this list, but is still just as strong and will do an excellent job of keeping you safe when you are out riding.
Core Helmets Hunter MX-1
This is one specifically made for hunters and people who are not looking for speed so much as safety. This is made immediately obvious by the bright orange of this helmet, but it is also available in black and camouflage. The MX-1 is finished with automotive grade paint. Rather than print on graphics like some other helmets. It also has a clear coat finish to protect the paint job. The exception to the clear coat is the flat black, it is painted, but lacks a protective clear coat. This should keep you helmet looking good for years to come provided you take proper care of that finish.
The Hunter MX-1 only has a single front vent, but has six rear vents to allow hot air to easily escape keeping the rider cool and comfortable. The pads are removable, but not treated with an anti-bacterial coating, so you will need to wash it more than some of the others mentioned here that are coated. The ear pads have inserts for installing a Bluetooth system or headphones. Normally I advise again headphones on an ATV or dirt bike, but since this helmet is aimed towards hunters and others who will be using their ATV for transportation rather than trail riding communication can be a big deal. This is a great option for them since it will make installing the system that much easier.
The Hunter MX-1 exceeds DOT standards and is made with an injection molded outer shell and a high density polystyrene inner liner. This will help protect the rider in the event of a wreck by dispersing the impact throughout the helmet, rather than isolating it to one point. The MX-1 is one of the heavier helmets on our list weighing in at just over five pounds.
The visor is removable and can be set to one of three different positions. This will let you select the position that works best for you. The aerodynamics of this helmet are not quite as good as some of the motocross helmets, but that goes back to the target audience of this helmet. If you get going too fast with this helmet you may feel the wind trying to toss you around a bit, but it shouldn’t be noticeable until you get up to higher speeds.
The CKX Pursuit right away screams motocross. It comes with aggressive, bright green on black graphics and looks awesome, but when you are selecting a helmet looks should be one of the last things you should consider. The CKX Pursuit, however, lives up to the expectations set forth by it’s aggressive styling. It is DOT certified and has an injection molded plastic outer shell and a removable interior liner. The Pursuit also comes with a non-slip strap holder like most of the others on this list.
The CKX weighs in at right around four pounds, so it should not be overly heavy. This helmet runs a bit small though, so order a size up from what you think you need. The graphics are aggressive featuring dual crossed pistons on the sides and back of the helmet. Replacement visors are also available if yours happens to get broken. This is good since some budget helmet manufacturers do not sell part separate and would require you to either try to make one from a different model fit or go without.
With the O’Neal Hurricane we are getting back into motocross style helmets that are designed with speed and aerodynamics in mind. O’Neal has been around for around 40 years, so they know how to make a good helmet and this is the perfect example. It is a comfortable, aerodynamic helmet that is going to keep you safe when you need it to.
The O’Neal Hurricane is one of the heaviest helmets on this list weighing in at six pounds. This may not seem like much, but consider the force of being thrown around by a dirt bike or quad and you will see how much of a difference this can make. While the Hurricane is heavy, it is also a very well built helmet that feels solid in your hands. You can tell this is a helmet that will stand up to the needs of the trail. The shell is made of polycarbonate and should stand up well to years in the sun. This helmet is DOT certified, so it can be used on public trails.
The interior liner is removable and is made of a moisture wicking fabric to keep you dry and cool on hot days out on the trails. This is also going to be nice riding in a high humidity area like the southeast. The liner is also machine washable making it easy to keep clean and fresh. After all, no one wants to be riding in a smelly helmet, especially if it is a borrowed helmet.
This helmet is available is sizes from extra small to 2X-Large, however sizing seems to run one size small, so you should take this into consideration before ordering it. The selection on Amazon is somewhat limited, but they do offer other models for a similar price. The differences between most of these models is simply the graphics, but some do have additional safety certifications even going all the way up to Snell Foundation Certified.
M2R FMF off Road helmet
This is another helmet that is close to the limit of our price range, but it offer features others on this list don’t. Namely, the shell is not plastic, but is instead made of carbon fiber, Kevlar, and fiberglass making it extremely strong, but still light weight. The m2R weighs in at just over four pounds. The M2R is one of the only helmets on this list that is Snell Foundation Certified. It meets and exceeds worldwide standards including DOT and European standards. This is due in part to the fact that the fiberglass is laid in a cross pattern to maximize shock distribution and penetration resistance. Despite the price point this helmet is actually race ready making it the only helmet on this list that can claim to be safe enough for motocross racing.
Air flow is exceptional on the M2R thanks to its system of air channels that are built into the helmet rather than relying on air flowing between the pads. This allows for maximum cooling while you are riding making it one of the most comfortable helmets to make this list. In addition to having built in air channels for better cooling the pads are also removable and machine washable, so keeping this helmet clean and in good shape will be easy. The pads are also hypoallergenic, so this is a great option for those with sensitive allergies which can be irritated by the mesh fabric used in most helmets.
Sound deadening is not great on this helmet. This and it’s color scheme are it’s main issues. For most riders the noise is not going to be a huge issue. Personally I like to be able to hear my bike so I can tell of something is wrong which is much more likely on the trails than riding on the street. The other issue, the graphics, is more of a personal issue, but I am not a big fan of the yellow myself. The good thing here is that this is nothing that can’t easily be fixed with some prep work and a little bit of time spent painting.
Fox Racing V1 Motocross Helmet
Fox Racing is a name anyone who has even touched on motocross has heard of. They are one of the largest gear manufacturers in the business and their quality reflects this. The V1 is reasonably priced, coming in well below our budget. It comes in eight different graphics options and sizes from extra small all the way up to 2X-large giving you a wide selection with this option. While the helmet itself comes in multiple sizes the shell only comes in three sizes, small, medium, and large, but it is further divided by the interior lining and the pads.
As I mentioned, this helmet comes in eight different graphics options, but the only real difference between them is the colors. The actual graphics stay the same. Despite them all being basically the same this is a great looking helmet. Personally my favorite is the Flo Green option with black graphics.
Airflow is not going to be a problem with this helmet as it has nine intake ports and four exhaust ports for maximum airflow and comfort. This helmet does not have any type of retainer for your goggles, but they should be fine anyway. Sizing is also going to be spot on with this helmet unlike some of the cheaper brands which tend to run small.
The shell is made with injection molded polycarbonate like several of the others in this list. The V1 does not have the coveted Snell Foundation Certification, but it does hold DOT certification, so it will keep you legal while riding on public lands. The weight is not bad at right at four pounds. Despite not having a Snell certification you can rest assured that this helmet is going to keep you safe. Hundreds of professional motocross riders would not trust Fox if they did not make top quality gear.
One often overlooked advantage of buying a helmet from a large manufacturer like Fox Racing is that if you lose a pad or break your visor, whatever happens that you need replacement parts, they are easy to come by.
Here we have another helmet from one of the top manufacturers around, Bell. Looking at the Bell it is clear right away that airflow won’t be an issue, but how does the helmet itself hold up? The construction is good and solid, so it will hold up to years of hard use. The pads are removable and machine washable as well, so you don’t have to scrub out the inside of your pads to keep it clean. The visor is adjustable to allow you to set it how you like. The face cutout is also large enough to accommodate most goggles, so you don’t have to worry about them being too large for the helmet. Sizing actually runs a little large on this helmet which is the opposite of what we have come to expect fro budget helmets.
This helmet is not DOT certified, so you cannot legally use it on public lands, but it is strong enough to be use for light use and can make a good hunting helmet. The helmet is CPSC compliant, however. This means that it is still going to stand up to the abuse of regular use and protect the rider in the event of a crash. I would not recommend this helmet for trail use, however, as you are far more likely to hit a rock or something at high speeds trail riding than you are riding out to a hunting spot.
The Bell Servo is a light helmet, weighing only three pounds. This makes it an ideal helmet for other sports as well such as skateboarding and BMX. This is a great general use helmet thanks to this and should be considered if you need a helmet that can be used for multiple purposes for a cheap price.
IV2 is one of those small brands few people have heard of. They are not a large helmet manufacturer and use the same parts as other budget manufacturers by a shared supplier. This is not a bad thing though, since this means parts are easy to come by and are generally cheap to replace.
The IV2 Radioactive is one of the best looking helmets I have seen, but I am a bit of a Fallout fanboy, so the “Radioactive” element really makes this one stand out for me. As for the safety aspects of this helmet, it is DOT approved and I can personally attest to the effectiveness of IV2 brand helmets> I was wearing one when I was cut off by a driver running a red light and it saved me. I hit the ground at about 55 miles per hour and, thanks to my IV2 helmet, walked away. It was a slow walk, but I’d rather be walking slow than not walking at all.
The shell is made with ABS plastic and is injection molded for maximum strength. It also has a removable visor, but the visor is fixed while on the helmet. The cheek pads are removable, but the head liner is not, so you will not be able to machine was the liner. This will make cleaning your helmet a little more involved, but should not be a deal breaker.
The Radioactive has goggle strap holders, so you don’t have to worry about your strap coming loose and your goggles sliding off. The Radioactive also weighs in at an average four pounds. This is par for the course with ATV helmets and should be comfortable for most riders. As a bonus, this helmet includes a microfiber helmet bag for keeping your helmet from getting damaged while it’s in storage. While this is not a huge deal, most quality helmets come with one, for a budget helmet it is a nice addition and will help keep your helmet is good shape for much longer.
Honorable Mention: Best Youth Helmet
TMS Youth Motocross Helmet
Most of the helmets on this list are for adults, or at least teenagers. I felt we should do an honorable mention of one of the best budget youth helmets since some of you may have bought your child an ATV or dirt bike for the holidays. Youth helmets are made to the same standards as their larger counterparts, but generally cost less simply because they are smaller.
This helmet from TMS is a perfect example of a youth helmet, it meets the same standards as an adult helmet, but is sized small enough for kids under 14. the price is right for a helmet that is likely to be outgrown in a couple of years anyway.
This is a DOT approved helmet which is good since a good percentage of riders in this age group are just lerning to ride and are going to be getting very familiar with the ground, fences, trees, etc. I remember when I first started riding. I hit my dads fence more times than I care to think about and my helmet saved me more than once. The TMS uses a composite shell for strength and has removable pads making it easy to clean.
The sizing of this helmet is obviously aimed towards younger children and it manages to hit that mark. While only three sizes are available they are appropriate for ages 3 all the way up to 12 depending on which you buy. The weight shouldn’t be an issue for anyone except maybe small children since the helmet only weighs around three pounds.
The biggest con for this helmet is the fact that it uses a D ring style strap which can be difficult for children to work. This can also make it difficult if they are wearing gloves, but fastening a D ring strap is a skill every rider needs to develop anyway, so think of it less as a con and more as a teaching motivator.
We have covered the top 10 ATV and dirt bike helmets for under $100 and one honorable mention for youth helmets. This list is far from exhaustive, however and there are still plenty of other helmets out there as well that may not have made this list for one reason or another. In the end the most important factor is safety, so just be sure to find a helmet that is going to hold up in the event of a crash. Whenever possible go for a DOT certified helmet, or even better, one that has a Snell Foundation Certification. These are going to offer the most protection, but most of the time helmets that meet this criteria will be well beyond our budget.
The next thing to consider is comfort. The safest helmet in the world won’t do you any good if it is too uncomfortable to wear. There are several factors that will come into play here such as ventilation, padding, proper sizing, and the pad material. Some of the mesh materials used in cheaper helmets can cause allergic reactions in some riders or itching in others. If you are susceptible to this you should look for a helmet with a hypoallergenic liner to keep you comfortable.
The last thing to consider is the looks of the helmet. While you can always change this with a little time and paint it is always a good feeling to find a helmet you like. Try to avoid buying one you wouldn’t want to be seen in if you are going to be embarrassed to wear it. Remember, it won’t do you any good if you intend to wear it.