Before you can decide on which ATV helmet to ride for recreational ATV riding, it’s essential to understand more about what type of helmet for ATV riding you should choose.
In this post, I discuss the 7 most common types of ATV helmets and my recommendation for the best type of ATV helmet for trail riding.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what type of ATV helmet you should wear when ATV riding. While it may seem that any helmet will do, it’s important that you choose the right ATV helmet for your chosen type of recreational riding as well as the safest helmet available.
Before I explain the types of ATV helmets and their proper use, let’s talk about the types of helmets NOT to choose for ATV riding.
7 Types of ATV Helmets
You will often see ATV helmets referred to as off-road helmets, adventure helmets, motocross helmets, dual-sport helmets, or simply, motorcycle helmets.
How are you supposed to know which type of ATV helmet to choose? Let’s dive in and answer that!
Full Face Helmet– This is your typical and most commonly seen type of motorcycle helmet. It has a chin bar and visor for visibility and covers the entire head and face. For the purposes of ATV riding, I found the ventilation and features of the motocross or dual-sport to be better suited for ATV/UTV riding.
¾ Open Face Helmet- Just as the name implies, these helmets have an open face and cover ¾ of your head. They can be paired with ATV goggles and offer more ventilation and make communication with passengers in your ATV a bit easier, but unless you are planning to ride your ATV on a dirtless, dustless road, at a going to church grandma speed, I would choose another helmet.
Half-helmet– These are here for completeness sake, but these minimal vintage throwback helmets offer little in terms of safety and I don’t recommend them.
Dirt bike helmets or motocross helmets are often a great choice for ATV/UTV riding. In fact, I am pictured here wearing my GMAX motocross helmet paired with goggles and it works. It is certainly one of the most economical options and can also be a safe option.
However, after researching for this ATV buying guide, I am convinced that this combo doesn’t quite meet the criteria for the “best ATV helmet”. My reasoning has mostly to do with comfort and versatility.
I find the goggles to be quite uncomfortable after a while on the trail and wearing them with sunglasses even more of a challenge. So while this combination will work and is a very economical choice, I’m requesting a dual-sport helmet on my Christmas/birthday list!
Dual-Sport Adventure Helmets with full face shields and visors– These last three categories would all be great choices for an ATV/UTV helmet. The dual-sport adventure helmet market has traditionally been what motocross and street bike owners choose if they don’t want to buy a different helmet for each sport, ergo, DUAL-sport.
These helmets can be worn on the motocross dirt track AND on the street for touring. Since ATV/UTV specific helmets are just now beginning to be created, these Adventure helmets have filled the gap.
They offer the safety and comfort of a motocross helmet but extend the comfort and versatility by replacing the need for goggles with flip-down visors and sun shields.
Many of the dual-sport helmets we reviewed also offer incredibly advanced features in terms of the lining of the helmets, the ability to integrate with Bluetooth communication systems, and anti-fogging technologies. We will review all these in further detail below.
Our #1 Pick for the best type of ATV helmet is the ARAI XD4 Helmet Dual-Sport Helmet if you want a helmet that has it all!
Modular Helmets- Modular helmets are another great adventure helmet option for the ATV rider. In fact, I am torn between which of these final three ATV helmet categories is my favorite. The modular helmet offers the best of both worlds. You still have the features of the dual-sport helmet such as the flip-down visors with multiple d-tents and shields eliminating the need for goggles, but you also now have the ability to raise the chin bar and full-face portion of the helmet to ease communication and air ventilation. (And you also look really cool too, Transformers anyone?) A modular adventure helmet offers the safety of a full-face dual-sport or motocross helmet while riding at high speeds, but the comfort and communication versatility of the ¾ open-face helmet when needed.
Forced Air Helmets– Finally, these are definitely the coolest helmets I have ever seen. We have now graduated from a Transformer to a full on Darth Vader breathing system! You and your off-road vehicle are one!! In fact, these forced air helmets are considered the first truly SxS UTV designated helmets on the market. Essentially, you now have the ability to install a clean forced air system that keeps fresh air flowing into the helmet while keeping dust and debris out. Combine this with the premium dust skirt and there is no trail too sandy to tackle. These amazing helmets actually have an amazingly reasonable price point given their features coming in at just over $300.
Can You Wear a Bicycle Helmet on an ATV?
The short answer to this is NO!
While off-road vehicle helmet requirements will vary by state, it is very likely that only DOT-approved helmets will be legal in any given state.
There are currently three major ranking systems being used to evaluate the safety of helmets.
- DOT Certification- U.S. Department of Transportation standards
- ECE Certification- Economic Commission for Europe used by more than 50 countries
- Snell Certification- This is a private not-for-profit organization which evaluates helmets for motorcycles, auto racing, bicycles, and other protective headgear. Snell requires an extra measure of effort on the part of the helmet manufacturer and represents the best of the best in helmet safety ratings.
More Recommended Reading For ATV Helmets
- What is the Best ATV Helmet on the Market in 2022?
- How To Properly Fit an ATV Helmet
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Don’t forget to perform an ATV pre-ride inspection every time you head out. Here’s a FREE checklist to help you out.