Snowmobile helmets are a necessary piece of gear. They will not only protect your head in an
impact, but they also retain heat to keep you warm. As the sport of snowmobiling has progressed and
evolved, so has the helmets that are made for the sport. Before you purchase a snowmobile helmet,
it's important to know which type of helmet matches your style of riding. It's also
important to know what features and safety ratings to look for. Check out the guide to help you
choose the absolute best snowmobile helmet for you.
Over the years, snowmobile helmets have evolved into a few different styles to match the
different styles of riding that have developed. Each type of helmet has its own advantages and
disadvantages. As a rider, you need to determine which type matches your style of riding the
For the most protection in a crash and from the cold, a full face
snowmobile helmet is the best option. Because the helmet covers the entirety of your head and has
very few moving parts, it has low amounts of wind noise and buffeting. The full face helmet will
work for a variety of different situations, but is the preferred choice for many trail riders.
The modular snowmobile helmet basically has the same traits as the
full face, but with the added advantage of having the ability to lift the chin bar while stopped.
This ability is very convenient for riders who stop often and want quick access to their faces. The
added moving parts of the helmet decrease the amount of absolute protection provided by the helmet,
though it is still very acceptable.
For more active riders, like Snocross and mountain riders,
the Motocross or Snocross style of helmet is the best option. Instead of a face shield, the rider
uses separate goggles. This allows the rider to have a greater field of vision as the goggles sit
closer to the face. A MX style helmet also has far more ventilation capabilities for the rider.
This is important because those styles of riding require the rider to be much more active, which
can cause them to perspire more. The open face and the visor will add more wind buffeting at high
Dual Sport Style
The dual sport style of snowmobile helmet is perfect for
riders who love the shape of the MX helmet but would rather have a face shield instead of goggles.
The shape of the helmet still allows for a good field of vision and decent ventilation. The shield
is easier to use than goggles and is also easier to maintain.
One of the major differences between a snowmobile helmet and a motorcycle helmet is the type of
shield that is used in each. A motorcycle helmet is a single pane shield that is "harder"
for more impact protection. A snowmobile shield needs to be a dual pane shield. A single pane
shield on a motorcycle helmet just will not work in cold winter temperatures. The same goes for
A dual pane shield is a necessary component of a snowmobile
helmet. The two separate panes help to minimize the amount of fogging on the shield in cold
temperatures. A dual pane shield works the same way that a dual pane window does. The two shields
are separated by a thin layer of gas. The layer of gas acts as an insulator and helps to prevent
heat transfer, which creates condensation on the shield in cold temperatures.
Framed vs. Frameless
In the past, all dual pane shields needed to have the
plastic frame around the outside to seal the two panes. With better sealing technology, the dual
pane shield can be made without a frame. There is no benefit to having one or the other, besides
the fact that the frameless shield can have a cleaner, more aesthetic appearance.
Heated Electric Shield
Though the dual pane shield works exponentially
better than a single pane shield, there are times when even that is not enough to prevent fog
build-up. The only way to completely eliminate fogging is to have a heated electric shield and
even that can fail in cold enough temperatures. A heated shield has electric heating elements
that run along the outside rim of the shield. These are powered by a cord that is plugged into
your snowmobile's electrical system. Many full face and modular snowmobile helmets have an
electric shield option available.
In addition to the dual pane shield, snowmobile helmets also have breath guards to help prevent
fogging. A breath guard should seal tightly over your nose and around your face to help deflect
your breath down and out the bottom of the helmet. With your breath going out the bottom of the
helmet, it cannot condense on to the shield. Many breath guards have a flexible metal strip along
the nose that the rider can use to form the top of the breath guard around the nose for a tight
seal. Breath guards can be removed and installed by either using Velcro or snaps. For MX style
snowmobile helmets, a breath guard will also help to prevent the cold air from hitting bare
You may not think that ample airflow in a snowmobile helmet is a good thing, but it certainly
is. The ventilation helps to clear the moisture out of the helmet that can build up inside from the
rider's breath. Helmets that have adjustable vents are the optimal choice for snowmobiling as
you can set the amount of airflow to what you need.
Just like with any other motorsports helmet, the safety rating of a snowmobile helmet is very
important. DOT, SNELL and ECE are all separate safety rating systems that test helmets for Impact
(shock absorbing capacity), Penetration (ability to withstand a blow from a sharp object),
Retention (chin strap's ability to stay fastened), and Peripheral vision.
DOT- All snowmobile helmets should at least carry the minimum of a DOT
standard. For some areas, it may be required. The Federal Government's Department of
Transportation sets the minimum standard for which helmets must meet to become DOT certified.
Snell- As an independent not-for-profit group, Snell sets a higher standard
for helmets to meet in order to be certified. Snell does all of the testing to ensure that the
helmets being produced actually meet the standards that they set.
ECE- The ECE helmet standards are set by the Economic Commission for Europe
and are in most ways very similar to the DOT standards. They do add a few more criteria that
needs to be met and they also require the helmets to be sampled to ensure that the standards are