Types of Helmets

You will probably want a specific helmet for the type of offroad vehicle you have and chances are, if you try one type of offroad vehicle you’ll want to try them all.

The Half Helmet

If you’ve seen people driving a UTV up a rocky trail sporting a mountain bike helmet and thought “What a good idea! It looks so lightweight and probably keeps your head much cooler but I wonder if they are really protecting themselves from much more than falling out of a parked vehicle.” then a half helmet could be a great option.

Or maybe your on-road vehicle is a Harley and you want a helmet that looks good on your bike and on your UTV.

A half helmet could also be paired with a nice headset like the Sena SPH-10 for Bluetooth connectivity/communication as a half helmet frees up your ears. Keep in mind though, with this small amount of coverage area you are not going to be as protected as some of the other categories of helmets.

Best Value Half Helmet ($40+): VCAN V5 Half Helmet 

Best Mid-Range Half Helmet ($80+): Vega Warrior Half Helmet

Best Tricked Out Half Helmet ($215+): Bell Rogue Half Helmet

The 3/4 Helmet

When I see these helmets I definitely think of my childhood in the ’80s rocking my black 3/4 helmet while cruising around on my Yamaha three-wheeler and I also get an image of Peter Fonda wearing his American flag style 3/4 helmet in Easy Rider. This open-faced helmet style is tried and tested and has definitely withstood the test of time. 

Some of the benefits are that they are lightweight and also it’s much easier to talk to passengers without electronic communications. On the downside, 3/4 helmets have less protection for your face and chin.

If you are just putting around with a few passengers maybe this isn’t a big deal but if you are wanting to hit some risky hills or fast speeds you might want to re-think this style of helmet.

Highest rated value 3/4 helmet ($60+): Daytona Cruiser

Best “old school” 3/4 Helmet ($100+): Bell Custom 500

Best High End 3/4 Helmet ($260+): Shark Drak

The Offroad Helmet

This is essentially your dirt bike style helmet with a chin bar built-in and designed for use with a goggle accessory.

Some of the goggle accessories will let you take some mud to the face and have a way to conveyer but it off to the side with a product called roll off film. (Click here to see what I’m talking about on Amazon)

The downside to goggles is that after a long period of riding they can start to fog up and collect dust and dirt up underneath.

Best Value Offroad/Dirtbike Helmet ($50+): AHR MX

Best Offroad/Dirtbike Helmet ($130+): Fox V1

Best High Dollar/Highly Rated Offroad/Dirtbike Helmet ($350+): Shoei VFX-W

The Dual Sport Helmet

This style helmet is essentially a mix between a full face (street bike) helmet and an off-road (dirt bike) helmet.

These types of helmets will have the face shield built-in which can be very convenient giving you built-in eye protection. It typically has more face coverage like the chin bar (typically seen on a Motocross helmet) which can be a great safety feature that some of the other helmets just don’t offer.

Over longer run times it can build up a small layer of dust on the inside of the face shields but nothing a small wet wipe can’t handle. The dual-sport design will let you still run goggles if you would rather go that route.

Best Value Dual Sport Helmet ($80+): 1Storm Dual Sport

Best Dual Sport Helmet ($270+): Scorpion EXO-AT950

Best High Dollar Dual Sport Helmet ($520+): Arai XD-4

The Modular Helmet

The modular helmet is basically a mix between a dual-sport helmet and a 3/4 helmet. They are also referred to as a “Flip-up” helmet allowing this helmet to convert from a full-faced helmet into more of an open-faced helmet with a henge mechanism.

The ability to move the chin bar allows the rider a break like when their vehicle is warming up, needing to communicate rather quickly or in-between rides but don’t want the hassle of taking their helmet on and off.

Most include a built-in visor like the bill of a baseball cap, a face shield that rotates up and down, and a separate flip-down internal sun shield. Because of all of these amenities, modular helmets tend to be a heavier option.

Best Value Modular Helmet ($50+): MOFANS Modular

Best Modular Helmet ($270+): Scorpion EXO-AT950

Best High Dollar Modular Helmet ($700+): Shoei Neotec II

The Full Face Street Bike Helmet

A full-faced street bike helmet is not a good choice for an off-road application but it’s better than nothing. I think if it like taking your everyday car out to the sand or to the mountains filled with rocky terrain. Even if it felt like a success, your car may never drive the same again.

Consider the visor is not designed for heavy offroad use as the visor gear mechanisms will get jammed up with dirt and get gritty and crunchy sounding until it finally ceases to work and you lose the option of using the visor.

A full-face helmet also tends to be heavier and another drawback is that you can’t run goggles with them because the opening isn’t in the same contour of the goggles to create a seal. The opening is enlarged to give you more up and down vision.

Best Value Full Face Helmet ($60+): ILM Full Face

Best Full Face Helmet ($130+): HJC CL-17

Best High Dollar Full Face Helmet ($500+): Shoei Rf-1200

The Best UTV Helmet

For UTV riding you will want a smooth back helmet when riding against a seat/headrest and if you have a lower aftermarket roll cage you’ll want a lower profile helmet for more room to move around in.

An open face helmet without a chin bar makes it easier to communicate directly with other passengers, but consider the drawback that your chin won’t be protected.

Since a lot of UTV riders are coming in from another motorsport, they tend to get a helmet that will work in both arenas. Like getting an offroad helmet for your dirt bike, quad, and UTV adventures.

Ideally, for a UTV you will want a helmet that has a built-in face shield vs going with a dirt bike helmet where you will have to wear goggles. Key features to look for in a UTV Helmet are to find a lightweight helmet that is around the 3 lb range, has built-in vents to increase airflow and has safety design absorbing features specific for varying speeds.

Our Favorite 3/4 UTV Helmet ($100+): TORC T50 “American Flag Style”

Our Favorite Modular UTV Helmet ($270+): Scorpion EXO-AT950

Best Value Youth Offroad Helmet ($46+): XFMT Youth Helmet, Goggles, & Gloves

Bluetooth Helmet Comms

Ever wish you could talk to your fellow riders with the clarity and ease that screaming over your exhaust just can’t provide? Well, now that we are living in the age of Bluetooth wireless devices you can. Want to talk to fellow passengers or nearby riders?

How about utilizing your cell phone to make calls or get GPS instructions? Or maybe you just want to crank up some tunes or even share that music listening experience with a group of riders/passengers while you fly through the mountains?

Most of the devices in this space just clip on the side of your helmet near the bottom and then you have to route the wires behind your padding inserts and find homes for the speakers and mic.

Some companies offer helmets that have these communications systems built-in which is great for aesthetic purposes as there isn’t a small external device or wires that need to be run.

The next section is for the tech you can add onto your existing helmet but here are a couple of the helmets with the tech built-in:

Best Bluetooth Half Helmet ($279+): Sena Cavalry

Best Bluetooth Modular Helmet ($200+): FreedConn Modular

Bluetooth Add-ons

The Bare Essentials

So you don’t feel like being a Chatty Cathy on a party-line but you like the idea of connecting to your phone to jam some tunes? You can pick up a Cardo Scala Rider Q-solo for just under $100.

The Comm System with Video

Sena offers a Bluetooth helmet communications system for just under $300 that has a built-in 2k action camera so you can capture you ride experience on top of all the other benefits we’ve mentioned. You can use your smartphone to preview the shot to make sure you’re getting the video camera angle you think your getting.

The Ultimate in Group Chat

If you want to ability to talk with a virtually unlimited amount of other riders then look into the Sena 30K which you can pick up a dual pack on Amazon for around the $450 mark. It utilizes a mesh network that creates a rider group where people can jump in and out with ease. As opposed to a standard Bluetooth connection where if a rider goes out of range it’s like pulling out a Christmas light and losing the whole chain. So, if group talk is your thing I highly recommend the mesh network technology.

Replacing Your Helmet

Most manufacturers recommend you replace a helmet after 5 years of use or after a significant crash. 

DOT Approved

Make sure you are using a DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmet. That means that you are not using a bicycle, football, rock climbing helmet or something designed for a completely different type of sport that you just happen to have already. 

Be smart, protect your noggin. Some of these offroad vehicles can travel 50-80+ mph. Besides, a lot of states actually require a helmet that is DOT approved to be legal and chances are you want to drive your off-road vehicle on some type of government-owned land.