Affordable helmets that protect your wallet as much as your head

Sports Apparel

When choosing a helmet, you should never sacrifice safety for the sake of saving a few dollars. It’s best to avoid any helmet that doesn’t meet proper safety standards, no matter how attractive the price may be.

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Best budget-friendly helmets for all kinds of activities

Whatever kind of wheeled activity you participate in, it is important to wear a helmet to protect your noggin. But not all helmets are created equally nor are they all intended for the same activities. When choosing a helmet, you can’t just look at cost. You’ll also need to take certifications and safety features into account. Comfort and style should play a role too. If you don’t like the way a helmet looks or feels when worn, then you might not wear it, and it can’t protect you if it isn’t on your head.

What to consider when buying an affordable helmet

Activity

The most important thing to remember when buying a helmet is that not all activities require the same type of helmet. This is because the expected number of impacts varies greatly, as does the force and directional movement that may be applied to a helmet in the event of a crash. 

For example, skateboarders tend to fall somewhat regularly when practicing tricks, but they usually aren’t going at high speeds. Skateboarding helmets are built with this in mind and are designed to handle multiple low-force impacts or a single high-force impact. Conversely, cyclists don’t fall nearly as often, but when they do, it’s usually at higher speeds. With this in mind, bike helmets manufacturers build their helmets to withstand a single, high-energy impact.

However, some manufacturers design their helmets for more than one activity, in which case it will be reflected in the product description.

Safety standards

Any helmet you’re considering should have certain safety certifications. When it comes to skateboarding, it is recommended you only buy a helmet that meets ASTM safety standards. These can withstand one high-energy impact, as well as multiple repeated low-force impacts. For cycling, CPSC standards compliance is sufficient, as these are rated to withstand a single, high-energy impact. You’ll get the highest level or protection by choosing a helmet that complies with both ASTM and CPSC standards.

Motorcycle helmets can hold multiple safety certifications. For motorcycling in the United States, it is recommended to use a DOT-approved helmet. These are the only kind legal for street use in states with helmet laws. If your state doesn’t have a helmet law but you still wear one for safety purposes, you can also choose one that is ECE approved. This is the European safety certification for motorcycle helmets, and the testing is actually more rigorous than for DOT approval.

Another common certification for motorcycle helmets is SNELL. The tests to achieve this certification are the most rigorous of all, which makes SNELL-rated motorcycle helmets some of the safest.  

MIPS

MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is a relatively new technology designed to reduce the rotational forces transferred to the wearer’s head and neck in crashes. There are MIPS-equipped helmets for biking, skating and motorcycling. However, it’s not common in budget-friendly models.

Fit

The fit of a helmet is also important to consider when selecting your model. A poorly fitting helmet can be ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Helmets should feel snug, without much side-to-side or up and down movement, but not so tight that they create pressure points or feel uncomfortable. You can learn more about the proper fit for helmets by checking out the road bike helmet guide at BestReviews.

The best affordable helmets

Best affordable motorcycle helmets

LS2 Helmets Full Face Rapid Street Helmet

LS2 Helmets Full Face Rapid Street Helmet

The LS2 Rapid is a lightweight, aerodynamic helmet that features removable and washable padding. It comes in a variety of solid colors and several eye-catching designs, including poppy flowers, tech and zombie clowns. It has an effective ventilation system to keep you cool, and the visor is both scratch and UV resistant.

Sold by Amazon

FreedConn BM12 Helmet

FreedConn BM12 Helmet

One of the most affordable Bluetooth-equipped options that is still a quality helmet, the FreedConn BM12 is a good choice for those who like to listen to music while riding or communicate with others. It has an ABS injection-molded shell with an EPS foam buffer layer and soft microfiber material on the inside.

Sold by Amazon

Best affordable motorcycle helmets for kids

HJC Helmets CL-Y Youth Helmet

HJC Helmets CL-Y Youth Helmet

The HJH CL-Y will appeal to kids who want a classically styled helmet that probably looks similar to what their parents use. It has adjustable forehead and chin bar vents to customize the amount of airflow, which makes it suitable for warm and cool weather riding.

Sold by Amazon

ILM Youth Kids Motocross Helmet 

ILM Youth Kids Motocross Helmet 

Not only is this helmet affordably priced, but it even comes with a pair of gloves and UV-blocking goggles. It’s intended for off-road use, has an adjustable sun visor and offers a wide field of view, so kids can stay aware of what is happening around them.

Sold by Amazon

Best affordable bike helmets

Giro Register MIPS Cycling Helmet

Giro Register MIPS Cycling Helmet

If you ride in hot climates, you’ll definitely appreciate the 22 vents spread across the Giro Register. This cycling helmet is MIPS-equipped for maximum safety and has reflective accents for nighttime riding. Additionally, it features an adjustable fit system that helps you secure it snugly yet comfortably in place.

Sold by Amazon

Schwinn Intercept Bike Helmet

Schwinn Intercept Bike Helmet

The Intercept is about as affordable and basic as they come. It doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles but offers reliable performance, is lightweight and comfortable. Plus, it comes in several colors in both youth and adult options.

Sold by Amazon

Best affordable mountain biking helmets

Bell Sanction Adult Full Face Bike Helmet

Bell Sanction Adult Full Face Bike Helmet

If you want full-face protection while mountain biking or BMXing in a small and lightweight package, the Bell Sanction is the way to go. It has a thin profile and weighs just 850 grams, so it won’t feel unwieldy when worn.

Sold by Amazon

Bell Servo Adult BMX Helmet

Bell Servo Adult BMX Helmet

Though not quite as light or thin as the Bell Sanction, the Servo is notably more affordable. Part of the extra weight can be attributed to its plush cheek padding and neck roll for added comfort and protection, both of which are removable for washing.

Sold by Amazon

Best affordable bike helmets for kids

Bell Nomad Jr. MIPS Youth Bike Helmet

Bell Nomad Jr. MIPS Youth Bike Helmet

Thanks to its minimalist build, the Nomad Jr. is ideal for children who don’t like to wear helmets because they think they are bulky and don’t look cool. Despite its low-profile design, it offers a high level of safety and is MIPS-equipped. A handy ErgoFit dial allows the wearer to quickly adjust it for the perfect fit.

Sold by Amazon

Bell Revolution MIPS Youth Bike Helmet

Bell Revolution MIPS Youth Bike Helmet

The Revolution is available in youth and adult models, so you and your child can wear matching bike helmets for some photo-worthy rides. It covers more of the back of the head than many other street biking helmets, which means it’s also suitable for non-extreme trail riding, and it offers a good amount of adjustment to fit different head sizes.

Sold by Amazon

Best affordable helmets for skateboarding

Triple Eight THE Certified Sweatsaver Helmet

Triple Eight THE Certified Sweatsaver Helmet

A versatile option, this helmet meets both CPSC and ASTM safety standards, so you can use it for both cycling and skating. It has a stylish urban look and comes with two sizes of liners to help you achieve the perfect fit.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Retrospec Dakota Multisport Helmet

Retrospec Dakota Multisport Helmet

With more and larger vents than many other skateboarding helmets, the Dakota is a smart choice for those living in hot climates. It meets CPSC, ASTM and EN safety standards, so you can use it for everything from cycling to skating to snowboarding, and it comes in a wide range of attractive colors.

Sold by Amazon

Best affordable helmets for kids skateboarding

Triple Eight LIL 8 Kids Helmet

Triple Eight LIL 8 Kids Helmet

The LIL 8 is a reasonably priced option from one of the top names in the industry. It’s designed for children up to five years old and offers all the features you could want, including a pinch-free adjustable fit system, dual certifications for skating and cycling use and two sets of washable pads.

Sold by Amazon

Schwinn Burst Bike Helmet

Schwinn Burst Bike Helmet

Though it may be labeled as a bike helmet, the Schwinn Burst is styled more like a skating helmet and meets certification standards for both activities and comes in three fun styles.

Sold by Amazon

 

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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