The Best Mountain Bike Helmets in 2022

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Female mountain biker riding down rock slab on trail in Vermont
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If there’s one single most important piece of mountain bike gear, it’s a helmet. You would never even consider riding your bike without wearing your helmet, right? ? The best mountain bike helmets are carefully designed to protect your head and brain and even your face from injury in the event of a crash. Helmet technology has advanced massively over the past few years (perhaps you have heard of MIPS?) and gone are the days where we have to endure heavy buckets on our heads with little to no ventilation. So really, there’s no excuse not to wear one or upgrade to a newer and safer model.

If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I’ve rounded up the best mountain bike helmets for 2022, so you can be sure you’re well protected when you hit the trails.

Protect your brain with these best mountain bike helmets that are safety-certified and stylish


Best Overall Mountain Bike Helmet

1. Bell Super DH MIPS ($325)

  • GREAT FOR: All types of riding from enduro to downhill
  • KEY FEATURE: Removable chin bar
  • WHAT I LOVE: Super versatile, comfortable, full-face protection
  • WHAT I DON’T: Expensive

The Bell Super DH MIPS helmet has been my go-to mountain bike helmet for the past few years. The main feature I love about it is the removable chin bar design. If I’m just going out for a mellow, pedally ride, I’ll wear it as a ‘normal’ half-lid helmet. If I’m taking things up a notch on more challenging, technical downhill trails, I’ll snap on the chin bar to transform it into a full-face, full-protection helmet.

Because it’s essentially two helmets in one, the Bell Super DH makes traveling – whether on a road trip or abroad – a lot easier to pack for.

Other great features include two different pad thickness options for the chin bar to get a perfect fit, a MIPS certification, and a fit adjustment dial at the back.

Check Bell Super DH Prices

Becky balancing on mountain bike wearing mountain bike gear
Bell DH as a half-lid
Mountain biker with a full-face helmet riding past huge agave plant on downhill trail in Oaxaca, Mexico
Bell DH as a full-face

Best Half-Lid Mountain Bike Helmet

2. POC Kortal Race MIPS ($250)

  • GREAT FOR: Enduro riding
  • KEY FEATURE: Full head coverage
  • WHAT I LOVE: Great ventilation, stylish look, digitally connect medical information
  • WHAT I DON’T: Expensive, POC can fit weird for some people

I really love the look and design of POC gear and I think they make some of the best mountain bike helmets around. If they offered a full-face helmet with a removable chin bar like the Bell Super DH above, I’d be all over it! Alas, they don’t….

But their POC Kortal Race MIPS helmet is badass. It has exceptional coverage and protection all around the head and it’s MIPS certified to protect against rotational forces during a crash.

The Kortal Race MIPS is also designed to work with Twiceme Technology, which allows you to wirelessly connect your medical info so first responders can quickly gain access in case of an emergency.

If the $250 price tag is a bit high for you, the regular Kortal helmet is a great choice without some of the bells and whistles.

Check POC Kortal Prices

Female mountain biker going of low wooden drop on mountain bike wearing POC Kortal MIPS helmet
The POC Kortal MIPS helmet provides great coverage all around the head

Best Full-Face Mountain Bike Helmet

3. POC Coron Air Spin ($275)

  • GREAT FOR: Downhill, bike parks
  • KEY FEATURE: Full face coverage
  • WHAT I LOVE: Sleek and stylish look, POC’s reputation for safety and innovation
  • WHAT I DON’T: Doesn’t come with different size cheek pads, POC fit can be weird for some people

If you’re looking for a dedicated full-face, the POC Coron Air SPIN is one of the best full-face mountain bike helmets out there. Not only does it have a sleek and stylish design, but POC is one of the industry leaders when it comes to safety and innovation. Their mission statement is to “Protect lives and reduce the consequences of accidents for athletes and anyone inspired to be one”.

The Coron Air SPIN is made from a burly fiberglass shell and it has a multi-impact EPP liner that absorbs big hits. The visor is also designed to break away on impact to prevent neck injury and the interior pads are removable for easy washing. The only downside is that unlike the Bell Air DH full-face, this one doesn’t come with different size cheek pads.

The Coron Air SPIN is designed to work seamlessly with the Ora Goggles.

Check POC Coron Air SPIN Prices

Best Budget-Friendly Helmet

4. Giro Fixture MIPS ($80)

  • GREAT FOR: Everyday riding, but nothing too technical
  • KEY FEATURE: MIPS certified
  • WHAT I LOVE: Great budget-friendly option
  • WHAT I DON’T: Not as innovative as other helmets on this list, only one size

If you’re just getting into mountain biking and you aren’t ready to drop a few hundred dollars on an expensive helmet, the Giro Fixture is a great choice. It’s still MIPS certified (meaning it has the technology to help protect your head in the case you get tossed off your bike), but it doesn’t come with the price tag of other high-end helmets.

That being said, you do get what you pay for. This helmet won’t be as well-designed or have some of the nice features that other helmets on this list have like a fully wrapped shell to protect the foam underneath nor does it have multiple sizes to choose from to get a snug, secure fit.

Check Giro Fixture Prices

Best lightweight XC helmet

3. POC octal MIPS ($200)

  • GREAT FOR: Cross-country
  • KEY FEATURE: Lightweight
  • WHAT I LOVE: Excellent ventilation
  • WHAT I DON’T: No visor

If you’re a cross-country charger and weight and ventilation are your biggest concerns when choosing a mountain bike helmet, then the POC Octal MIPS might just be up your alley.

This helmet still provides great coverage all around your head like other POC helmets, but its large vents and lack of visor make it optimal for speed and efficiency.

The EPS foam liner ensures that your brain is well-protected in the event of a crash and the MIPS technology adds extra security. Another cool feature of this helmet is the built-in eye garage to hold your sunglasses.

Check POC Octal Prices

Best Ventilated helmet

3. Smith forefront 2 MIPS ($240)

  • GREAT FOR: Cross-country
  • KEY FEATURE: 20 different vents
  • WHAT I LOVE: Comes in lots of color options, the tubular vent structure looks really cool
  • WHAT I DON’T: Some women find that the MIPS liner and rear ratchet pull their hair

Another popular mountain bike helmet option is the Smith Forefront 2. This lid is MIPS certified and it has a whopping 20 vents to help keep you cool on those sweaty climbs. Smith has designed a proprietary blend of EPS foam and tubular structures that look like honeycomb to even further enhance ventilation and reduce overall weight.

If your main concern when it comes to choosing the best mountain bike helmet is ventilation, the Smith Forefront 2 could be a great fit for you. Some women have noted that the MIPS liner for this helmet and the rear ratchet dial pulls on their hair, so that’s something to take into consideration if you have long hair.

If you like the look of Smith’s tubular design but don’t want to shell out $200+ on a helmet, check out the Smith Session which is still MIPS certified and a great entry-level choice.

Check Smith Forefront 2 Prices

Female mountain bike coach wearing Smith Forefront Helmet while coaching how to go off a low wooden drop
Lindsey wearing the Smith Forefront 2 Helmet – I really like the color choices!

More Great Options


Troy Lee Designs A2 mountain bike helmet

Troy lee designs A2 ($189)

The A2 is MIPS certified and has extended coverage around the back and sides. The large vents promote cooling and airflow on warm days and the adjustable visor fends off low-hanging branches and the glaring sun.

Bell Sixer Mountain Bike Helmet

Bell Sixer ($170)

The Bell Sixer has multiple sweat guides to pull moisture away from your brows and it has a ton of ventilation to keep you cool on hot days. It’s also equipped with MIPS technology as well as strap grippers in the back to keep your goggles in place and an integrated breakaway camera mount.

Giro Switchblade ($280)

The Giro Switchblade has a removable chin bar so you can adapt your helmet to your ride It’s also MIPS certified and it comes with two interchangeable visors – one with an integrated POV camera mount underneath the visor and one without it.

Giro Manifest ($260)

If you’re looking for a lightweight helmet with enhanced protection and large vents for amazing airflow, the Giro Manifest is worth the money. It also comes with quick-dry padding, integrated sunglass grippers, and has a magnetic buckle for easy clipping in and out.


Tips for choosing a mountain bike helmet

If you’ve shopped around online for a helmet or walked into a bike shop, you know that there are a lot of models and options out there. With so many brands to choose from and sleek styles vying for your attention, it can be overwhelming to make a decision on which helmet to get.

So to help you find the perfect lid, here are a few things to know before investing in a new mountain bike helmet.

Define your style of riding

Just like there are a variety of mountain bikes for different types of terrain, there are different mountain bike helmets for different styles of riding:

  • Mountain bikers that do mostly long cross-country rides without much risk of high-stakes crashes will probably want a helmet that is lightweight and has tons of ventilation.
  • Enduro or trail riders who enjoy riding a little bit of everything including techy rock gardens and drops will want a helmet that is a little more burly and provides lots of coverage and protection and has MIPS or a similar technology to disperse rotational forces.
  • Mountain bikers who spend more of their time at the bike park doing downhill runs will need a full face helmet or at least one that has a removable chin bar
Female mountain biker riding down trail at speed wearing full face helmet and goggles
Think about what kind of riding you’ll be doing most before buying a helmet

Measure your head

Choosing the right helmet size is the single more important factor when it comes to buying a helmet. Helmets that are too big will slip and slide around on your head and may even cause a crash if it slips down over your eyes. On the other hand, helmets that are too small will sit too high on your head and not provide the protection where it’s needed.

Choose a helmet that is sized according to the circumference of your head. To take this measurement, place a fabric tape measurer just above your ears and about 1″ above your eyebrows. Keep the tape level and measure around the largest part of your head. This will give you a general measurement for helmet size. You can then make further micro-adjustments to the fit with a dial at the back of almost all mountain bike helmets (if a helmet doesn’t have this fit dial, I don’t recommend buying it).

Determine your budget

Mountain bike helmets cover a range of prices from less than $50 to well over $300. Most fall somewhere in the middle. While I don’t recommend buying the cheapest helmet, you don’t need to shell out hundreds of dollars for the most expensive option either. But that being said, a helmet can literally save your life, so consider this gear purchase one of the most important ones that you can make.


Mountain Bike Helmet Features

The best mountain bike helmets offer a range of features that help improve comfort and performance. Some of these features include:

Sunglasses or google compatibility

Many brands design their helmets to be compatible with specific sunglasses or goggles. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear non-compatible eyewear with your helmet, but if you want a seamless fit or are worried about your sunglasses digging into your face, you may want to shop for both a helmet and sunglasses together. For example, the POC Kortal Helmet is compatible with the POC Devour Sunglasses and Ora Goggles.

Visor versatility

Most visors on mountain bike helmets can be shifted up and down to shield your eyes from the sun. Some brands make their visors even more adjustable by having set positions (usually 3 or 4) or even allowing you to completely remove the visor when it’s not needed. Visors also differ in shape and size. Large visors tend to be more popular because they provide more protection against the sun and low-hanging branches.

Ventilation

Every mountain bike helmet is going to come with vents, but the number of vents and how they’re designed will differ between helmets and brands. The Smith Forefront 2 is one of the best-ventilated helmets on this list. However, keep in mind that the more vents a helmet has, the less material it has to keep your brain protected.

Camera or accessory mounts

More and more helmets are being designed with integrated camera and/or accessory mounts on the visor or shell (Giro seems to be taking the lead on this). If you will be shooting lots of footage or you enjoy night riding and want a light mount on your helmet, this could be a feature to look into.

Removable chin bar

Helmets that have a removable chin bar are super convenient and versatile because they give you the option of having more protection while still allowing you to pedal the mellower stuff with a more comfortable half lid. If you think you’ll be diving into some bike park riding or more challenging terrain, it could be a good idea to invest in a breakaway helmet like the Bell Super DH.


Mountain Bike helmet safety Ratings

All mountain bike helmets manufactured after 1999 are required to meet a bicycle helmet standard that was set to protect riders from skull fractures and brain injuries. However, helmets are certified to protect users only from straight-on impacts, which doesn’t always happen on a bike. Crashes often result in angled, or oblique, impacts. Therefore, many brands opt to design their helmets with even more protection with technology like MIPS. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. It’s basically a low-friction liner inside the helmet that allows the helmet to rotate independently around your head. This is super beneficial during a crash occurring at an angle because the liner helps lessen the rotational forces transmitted through the helmet.

Some brands have created their own MIPS-like technology. For example, POC uses SPIN (Shearing Pad Inside) which fundamentally does the same thing as MIPS but instead of a liner, they use silicone pads.

Spherical Technology is a newer technology by MIPS. With MIPS Spherical, there are 2 layers of EPS foam with a slip-plane between the two instead of one single plastic MIPS liner. These layers of foam rotate independently, like a ball and socket joint, and work together to redirect forces during impact. The Giro Manifest is designed with Spherical Technology.

Helmet material matters, too. Most helmets are made with an EPS (expanded polystyrene) or EPP (expanded Polypropylene) foam liner and a PC (polycarbonate) shell. EPP is a bit stronger and more durable than EPS. Some helmets will also have other materials added for protection like carbon or a fiberglass shell.


When to replace your mountain bike helmet

If your helmet was made before 1999 when safety standards started to be required, it’s definitely time for a new one! Hopefully, you’re not riding around with one that is that old… ?

If you have a bad crash and your helmet gets damaged, that’s also a clear reason to get a new one.

As for replacing your helmet, there’s no set rule as to when you should upgrade your lid. Most helmets have a lifespan of 3-8 years, but it really depends on how often you use it, what abuse you put it through, whether it’s been sitting in hot or cold storage, and even how dated the technology is. For example, is it MIPS certified? If anything looks questionable, it’s a good idea to err on the side of safety and invest in a new brain-saving helmet. I like to replace mine every 1-3 years.

Mountain biker riding down switchback trail in high desert of California

What is the best mountain bike helmet you’ve owned? Why do you love it? Give us some tips and insights in the comments below!

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Check out the best mountain bike helmets and learn what key features to look for when choosing a noggin-protecting helmet for the trail.
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