Head to any bike shop or online store, and you’ll find there are more helmets than you can make sense of. Road bike helmets, skate-style helmets, MIPS, go-pro mounts, and usually in a corner somewhere: one token women’s mountain bike helmet. What should you really look for?
We’ve cut through all the noise and identified our 7 favorite mountain bike helmets for women. Some of these are women-specific lids, but most are unisex helmets that just look good (and work well). Because unlike a saddle, for instance, there’s really no need to have a women’s specific helmet.
It’s also important to note that these are half-shell mountain bike helmets (as opposed to full-face mountain bike helmets). For trail riding, a half-shell helmet is what you want. Modern half-shell mountain bike helmets offer more head coverage than older cross-country style helmets. Of course, you can still use these helmets for cross-country riding, bike commuting, etc.
This is my favorite mountain bike helmet and the one I wear almost daily. Comfortable even on long rides, the POC Tectal offers superior rear-of-the-head protection while remaining comfortable.
It has an integrated visor that can raise to accommodate goggles, an enviable strap system, and comes in fun, bright colors. We also dig that it had Recco technology, so if you get lost or hurt while out riding, help can find you.
Read Review: POC Tectal
Price (MSRP): $189.95
Any time the temperature exceeds 80 degrees, I reach for the Smith Rover. Compared to most of the other helmets on this list, the Rover has less rear coverage. The minimalistic design, along with plentiful ventilation, makes this helmet comfortable in nearly any conditions.
We also appreciate the simplicity of the helmet — it doesn’t have a GoPro mount or helmet clips, but it does offer comfort and safety at a reasonable price. In addition to MIPS, the helmet has Koroyd honeycomb panels on the sides for maximum head protection.
Smith recently discontinued this helmet, so get it while the getting (and the clearance prices) are good.
Read Review: Smith Rover
Giro Montara MIPS
We’ll admit it: our favorite thing about the Giro Montara is that it looks sooo good. It comes in a variety of stunning colors and has a profile that is flattering rather than bulky.
Fortunately, it is functional as well as beautiful. The Montara has all the bells and whistles: MIPS technology, goggle straps, a GoPro mount, adjustable visor, and Roc Loc adjustment system.
The Fox Flux has an edgy look for women who like to shred. We like the helmet for its affordable price tag and excellent ventilation. It has 20 air vents that keep your noggin from getting overly sweaty and is one of the only mountain bike helmets with a visor that can be removed completely.
Bell Super 3 MIPS
For ladies who like to dress to impress, the Bell Super 3 MIPS is a top pick. It comes in feminine colors but is prepared for aggressive riding. An optional chin-bar can be attached to convert the helmet to a full-face helmet.
Read Review: Bell Super 3
Price (MSRP): $154.95
The POC Trabec is the little sister of the Tectal (listed above). I’ve owned and ridden with both, and prefer the Tectal, but the Trabec offers many of the same features at a cheaper price-point.
It also has the MIPS option, which the Tectal doesn’t, so if that’s important to you, the Trabec is the obvious choice.
Read Review: POC Trabec
Price (MSRP): $119.95
Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS
The Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS helmet does not come in particularly feminine colors, but it’s a nice enough helmet we’ve included it anyway. The A1 boasts MIPS technology, excellent ventilation, and a lightweight design.
Price (MSRP): $139.00
- $139 at CompetitiveCyclist.com
Comparison Chart: Women’s Mountain Bike Helmets
|Helmet||MSRP||Size||Weight||MIPS?||# of Vents||Extras?|
|POC Tectal||$190||XS/S: 51-54cm|
|340 g||No||15||Adjustable visor|
|Smith Rover||$150 / $96||S: 51-55 cm|
M: 55-59 cm
L: 59-62 cm
|Giro Montara MIPS||$150||S; 51-55 cm|
M: 55-59 cm
|375 g||Yes||16||Adjustable visor|
|Fox Flux||$100||XS/S: 54.6 – 55.4cm|
S/M: 55.6 – 55.7cm
L/XL: 59.2 – 60.5cm
|Bell Super 3 MIPS||$171||S; 52 – 56 |
M: 55 – 59
L: 58 – 62
|452 g||Yes||23||Adjustable visor|
Optional chin bar
|POC Trabec||$155 / $120||XS/S: 51-54cm|
|Troy Lee A1 MIPS||$139||XS: 50-54cm|
|366 g||Yes||16||Adjustable visor|
How to Choose a Mountain Bike Helmet
Not sure how to pick the right helmet for you? Read on for things to look for in a mountain bike helmet.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend too much time worrying about which helmet is “safest.” All helmets sold in the United States have the CPSC certification which sets a minimum level of protection. Beyond that, we know that there are some things that most likely will improve the safety of a helmet–the amount of rear-coverage, the quality of the fit–but there is limited unbiased laboratory testing telling us which helmets are best.
MIPS vs Non-MIPS
On the topic of safety, there is a lot of talk about MIPS. What is MIPS, you might ask? It stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. Without getting into the knitty-gritty it is essentially a liner inside the helmet that creates a low-friction slip-plane.
There is limited evidence that it is actually safer than a non-MIPS helmet. While I personally like the added “theoretical” protection of the MIPS, it does add expense, so only opt for it if you aren’t on a tight budget.
Get the right fit
To make sure that your helmet is both safe and comfortable, you need to make sure first that you’re buying the right size helmet. Most of the helmets on this list come in 3 sizes (S, M, L), although those sizes have different meanings across brands.
In order to pick the right size helmet, you’ll want to measure your head. Really–stop being lazy and get out the measuring tape. With a flexible tape, measure the circumference of your head right above your eyebrows. Make sure to get the measurement in centimeters as that is how most manufacturers size their helmets.
You can then compare this to the size chart each manufacturer provides. For your convenience, we’ve included the sizes for each helmet in our comparison chart above.
One reason it is worth buying a NICE helmet (any of the helmets on this list qualify) is the increases in ventilation. Cheaper helmets are notoriously sweaty and uncomfortable. Generally speaking, the more ventilation holes there are and the larger they are, the better the airflow.
Adjustment and straps
Another reason to throw out a little extra cash is to get a helmet with a comfortable and secure adjustment system. All the helmets on this list have a rear-fit-dial that helps get the perfect fit for your head. We also really dig helmets, like the POC Tectal, that have clean, dummy-proof side straps.
The lighter a helmet is, the more comfortable it is going to be on long rides. Although 100 grams may not feel like a lot in the store (in fact, it might be imperceptible), a few hours into an all day epic, there really is a difference. Again, we’ve included weight in our comparison chart to help you choose.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a nice helmet. Skip some of the extras like MIPS, a helmet mount, adjustable visor, goggle clips. Instead, focus on finding a helmet that is lightweight, has good ventilation, and that is easily adjustable. On the other hand, if budget isn’t an issue–add all those nice-to-haves back in.
Considerations for long hair
This isn’t important for everybody, but if you have long hair and like to wear a ponytail while riding, you might want to look for a women’s specific helmet that actually fits a ponytail. In our experience, the helmets with MIPS liners also have a tendency to snag long hair which can be rather painful and make a mess of your ‘do.