Bikes July 4, 2019 For a product that appears to be so simple, deciding which helmet to spend your money on can quickly an become overwhelming endeavor. To clear up the confusion, here is an essential guide to mountain bike helmets, along with some of our personal favorites.See at-a-glance reviews of five of our top-rated helmets below, or scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of these and other high-ranking options.Related Posts:Best front bike lights so you can seeBest road bikesBest Cycling Gloves for Comfort and Protection on Your Ride1. Giro Montaro MIPSBest for: Riding with gogglesThe Montaro is a high-end, trail-ready helmet. Anti-odor pads minimize dreaded helmet stink, and large vents help keep you cool on hot days. The MIPS liner offers additional protection against concussions, and Giro’s Roc Loc retention system is a snap to use.Giro also added its P.O.V. Plus visor adjustment system, which allows you to reposition the visor to accommodate goggles, and strap grippers on the back of the helmet help keep goggles in place while bouncing over rough terrain.The integrated camera mount has a breakaway design to let you easily—and safely—film the action.2. SPECIALIZED Ambush MIPS Helmet with ANGIBest for: Riders who want an added level of safetySpecialized’s Ambush trail helmet now has the company’s ANGi electronic crash sensor, and the MIPS SL pad system. The Ambush offers clean styling, goggle compatibility, an easily adjustable visor, and excellent airflow in a surprisingly light package.The head shape is slightly oval, and generous padding in the front part of the helmet makes for a comfortable experience. The integrated fit system is one of the most comfortable around and provides a secure fit.The webbing is thin and supple, and the fixed splitters provide no-fuss fit (note they’re not adjustable and they don’t work for every rider). We have mixed opinions about anchoring the webbing to the rim of the helmet, as it is on the Ambush. This position does keep much of the webbing away from the rider’s face, which helps with comfort. But it also seems to make the helmet more likely to rock over the crown of the rider’s head than helmets with straps that run inside the rim. As always, try it on to be sure you’re getting a comfortable, and safe, fit.3. Mavic XA ProBest for: Screening out bugs and branchesThe XA Pro is one of the most unique-looking helmets we’ve had through the office. There’s no MIPS in this helmet or any other rotational force mitigation system, but it does use EPS 4D foam claimed to offer 30 percent better shock absorption than standard EPS.The stubby visor is of little use for anything other than style, but the screens over the front vents do keep out bugs and branches. Hot air escapes well through the large vents, though there’s not much sensation of air rushing through the helmet and over the top of the rider’s head when speeds pick up—perhaps because there’s no internal channeling. The fit is slightly round, and the combination of fabric and foam padding provide decent comfort.4. POC Octal X SpinBest for: XC RacingThe Octal X SPIN is the newest iteration of P.O.C.’s Octal X, which was the first trail-specific version of the already popular Octal road cycling helmet.Although P.O.C. designed this helmet for XC racing, it’s a great option for anyone who enjoys trail riding and wants some added protection for the unique types of impacts that are likely to happen in the woods.Along with a polycarbonate shell that is fully wrapped around the helmet’s rim to cover more of the foam, like what you typically see in a trail-oriented helmet, P.O.C. includes its new SPIN technology. SPIN stands for Shearing Pads Inside, which is a silicone pad system that is specifically designed to protect your head against oblique impacts.This system sits directly against the head and can shear in any direction, reducing forces transmitted to the brain in an angled impact, similar to MIPS.5. Troy Lee Designs Adult A2 MIPS Mountain Bike HelmetBest for: Matching to your favorite outfitBuilding off the popularity of the A1, the Troy Lee Designs Adult A2 MIPS adds the protective qualities of the MIPS liner and increases ventilation by a massive 25 percent over the A1.Made for trail days that don’t require the added protection of a full-face helmet, the A2 still provides extended coverage for the back of your head and temples.It also features a visor, a removable and washable liner to guard against stinky pads, and a three-position retention system to dial in the perfect fit. And since style counts, Troy Lee Designs offers the A2 in 21 different color schemes.6. Giro Syntax MIPS HelmetBest for: Riding on and off-roadIn the not-so-distant past, a cheaper helmet looked like a cheap helmet. Straps were tougher to adjust, retention systems were subpar, and there was noticeably less ventilation. In short, they were clunky. The Giro Syntax, on the other hand, is far from clunky.It boasts 25 large vents and a polycarbonate shell bonded to an EPS foam liner. Add in the proprietary Roc Loc Air 5 MIPS retention system, and this helmet looks, feels, and performs quite well.The ventilation is more than adequate to keep you from overheating, and despite the extra coverage in the back, it doesn’t feel excessive for road riding. Additionally, off-road riders who don’t like the full coverage of traditional trail helmets might enjoy this helmet.7. Bell Spark MIPS HelmetBest for: Budget conscious trail ridersBell introduces this entry-level mountain bike helmet at a lower price than its previous comparable models. Meant to be as a beginner and budget-friendly as possible, the Spark is made with a single layer of EPS foam and uses a MIPS system.It comes in two universal sizes adult and youth/women’s (same size range but different colors). The fixed visor is functional, and the low position minimizes adjustment distractions.Built to be affordable and straightforward but long-lasting, the helmet’s contact points (also where the chin strap attaches) are reinforced with rubber bumpers to protect the exposed EPS foam from cracking or wearing down where it touches the ground.8. Bell Super 3R MIPS HelmetBest for: Trail riders who occasionally session the bike parkBuilt for rides with major terrain changes, the Bell Super 3R MIPS features a removable chin bar that lets you easily switch between a half-lid mountain bike helmet and a full-face helmet. The helmet itself is super comfy in full-face mode, big, soft pads cushion your face without squishing your cheeks like some other similar helmets. And as a half-lid, it feels snug and fairly well-ventilated.Plus, the MIPS system offers extra peace of mind in the event of a crash. The biggest drawback is that carrying the chin bar around isn’t the most convenient it would be great if it came with a way to securely attach it to a pack. But all in all, it’s a great helmet no matter which mode you wear it in.9. Troy Lee Designs Stage Full Face Mountain Bike HelmetBest for: VentilationThe Mountain Bike Helmet by Troy Lee Designs is the featherweight full-face helmet you won’t need to take off as soon as the descending is over. Ours weighed 691 grams, although the exact weight will change as you swap out interchangeable liners and cheek pads of varying thickness.The foam liner attaches to the helmet via Velcro patches on the MIPS lining; behind it, there’s EPS and E.P.P. foam for high- and low-speed-crash protection.Numerous air intakes and exhaust ports promote airflow, keeping your head cool on climbs, and the magnetic buckle is easy to manipulate with thick gloves on. Enduro enthusiasts and trailhead Darth Vader impressionists: We’ve found your helmet.10. 100% Status HelmetBest for: Budget-conscious park ridersThe Status is a midrange, full-face helmet that’s suitable for downhill, all-mountain, and BMX riding, borrowing a lot of the technology from 100 Percent’s high-end helmets and coming in at a fraction of the price.There is no MIPS liner, but the fiberglass and EPS construction make it light and strong enough to pass ASTM downhill and BMX testing standards, which are more stringent than the baseline CPSC test.Multiple vents, removable and washable padding, a padded chin bar, and an adjustable visor are bonus features on this high-quality yet budget-friendly helmet.MIPS and Other Safety SystemsWe can’t talk about impact-absorbing systems without mentioning safety standards. While other voluntary testing standards are floating around, the mandatory standard is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) label, required for all helmets sold in the U.S.A.How We Picked These HelmetsEvery helmet on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers and use our own experience riding in these helmets to determine the best options.Our team of experienced testers spent many hours wearing these helmets on the trail, and at the bike park. We evaluated them on performance, value, fit, comfort, ventilation, adjustability, and aesthetics to come up with the models that best serve every kind of mountain biker.