If you do any kind of off-road racing over dunes and hills at high speeds, protecting your head should be a prime concern. You use durable protective gear like skid plates, steel bumpers, and other items to reduce damage to your truck, so what about yourself? Before you open your wallet, make sure you understand how to choose the best helmet.
How Much Do Good Helmets Cost?
Helmets suitable for off-roading are priced anywhere from $25 up to tens of thousands of dollars. Why the huge range in prices? The vast difference in construction materials, helmet design, and safety ratings. A $25 helmet made from plastic is going to shatter on impact, offering you little more than if you were roller blading or skateboarding.
On the other hand, that $10,000 helmet will crumple rather than shatter; it will give you the highest level of protection against serious external and internal impacts, crush protection, face protection, and resistance against fire, chemicals, and other dangers. Generally, the best helmets for the most reasonable prices start at around $1,000.
What Materials Are Best?
Helmets for adventures such as off-road racing are made from some type of hard outer shell fit with softer inner foam padding.
^^^^Plastic and Low-Density foam - These materials are the lease expensive and least protective materials used to make helmets. You would be smart to avoid helmets made of these materials.
^^^^Fiberglass and High-Density Foam - Most mid-range priced helmets are made from fiberglass or fiberglass composite; they use various types of high-density foam liners. Both of these materials are more impact-resistant, offering a greater degree of protection. Fiber and fiber composite material crushes instead of breaking. When combined with the right foam lining, this prevents the force of the impact from reaching the wearer.
^^^^Carbon Fiber and Kevlar - These are the strongest and most impact-resistant outer materials used for helmets today.
What About Safety Ratings?
There are a number of sanctioning organizations that rate and approve helmets, including the FIA, NHRA, SCCA, and others. It is a good idea to look at all the various helmet qualities and testing methods used to determine safety, then choose a helmet that will protect you from the safety concerns you will likely to encounter on the trails.
How Should Your Helmet Fit?
Even the best-designed helmet made from the most expensive materials will not protect you while you are off-roading if it does not fit properly. Many drivers purchase helmets that are too big for them, reducing effectiveness and increasing the chance of ejection during an impact. Multi-piece foam liners provide the best fit by using different types of density foam throughout the interior of the helmet.
Since there is no standard size chart between manufacturers, choose your head covering based on actual fit rather than numerical size. A properly fitting helmet should be snug enough that it does not move and there is light pressure on your cheeks. You should notice a bit of skin movement as you move the helmet on your head. Visor style and opening size should provide you with a clear view from the helmet and be large enough to accommodate prescription glasses if you wear them.
As you can see, there is much to consider when buying a helmet for off-roading. Construction materials, safety rating, cost, and appropriate fit are all critical factors in getting the best protection. Although it is unlikely you can afford the cream of the crop unless you are a professional off-roader, invest wisely to get the most for your money.
Don’t skimp on head protection any more than you would skimp when choosing other components concerning safety with your off-road truck such as wheels, tires and custom winch bumpers. Choose the best helmet you can possibly afford!