Best Helmets for Longboarding in 2017?
Longboarders are twice as likely as skateboarders to suffer a head injury. Some of this disparity is a result of achieving greater speeds, though some of it is likely also attributable to skateboarders being more accustomed to falling. Regardless, longboarders should seek out, purchase and wear the best longboarding helmet they can afford that is suited to their riding style.
All helmets are not made equally, and few are designed specifically for longboarding. Many longboarders opt for bicycling helmets, while others choose skateboarding helmets. The usefulness of any helmet is limited to the way in which the user rides. For more information on what to look for in a longboard helmet, see our Buying Guide below. First, though, let’s look at some of the finest helmets for longboarding available on the market.
TSG Pass Helmet
TSG’s Pass helmet is a full-face helmet with a light fiberglass shell with EPS lining. It is designed with a wide viewing area, enabling unobstructed peripheral vision. It is ASTM F1952 and EN1078 rated, as well as being certified by the International Downhill Federation.
Venting and a lens film are meant to prevent dangerous fogging — a serious problem for helmets. Two lenses are included, one clear and the other electric silver. Both lenses block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. The cheek pads are adjustable, and their liners are removable and washable, and the Pass is available in a variety of solid colors and different sizes.
- Full-face construction keeps the pretty on
- Wide peripheral angle makes a safer helmet
- Two included shields are a nice bonus
- The TSG Pass costs more than some comparable helmets
- Single impact foam liner – one and done for crashes
Triple 8 Downhill Racer
The Triple 8 Downhill Racer, as its name implies, is designed specifically with the downhill speed demon in mind. The shell is hand-laid fiberglass, while the flip-up shield is shatter resistant, and its EPS liner is velvet-lined. The Racer is ASTM F1952, CPSC and EN1078 certified.
Color choices are limited to black or white, and sizes are limited to small/medium or large/x-large. A second set of included cheek pads of a different size are intended to make up the difference in sizing possibilities. Like all EPS lined helmets, it should be replaced after a single impact, whether visibly crushed or not.
- Full-face protection
- Highly certified to give great protection
- Aerodynamic and lightweight construction
- Lack of ventilation can cause fogging
- Few color/sizing options
Triple 8 Sweatsaver
The Triple 8 Sweatsaver helmet is made from ABS, and has a sweat-absorbing lining that is soft and comfortable. The ABS shell is coated in rubber, giving the helmet a unique look and adding some abrasion resistance. Triple 8 offers the Sweatsaver in five sizes and a variety of colors, and the lining is removable and swappable for customization.
The Sweatsaver is a multi-impact helmet, meaning it can take the abuse of skateboarding and remain intact. On the downside, the Sweatsaver carries no safety certifications, not even the ASTM’s skateboarding certification. It can serve low-speed longboarders well, but speedsters should look elsewhere.
- Can take multiple impacts with no ill effects
- Plenty of color and size options
- Sweat-absorbing lining is comfortable and really works
- No safety certifications
- Sizes run small – signaling a helmet designed for kids
The Pro-Tec Classic is one of the tried-and-true helmets in skateboarding. It has a polyethylene shell with a two-stage foam liner and a fabric lining that wicks sweat to keep the rider’s face dry. It is available in a wide variety of color options and sizes, and has 11 large holes that vent heat away from the rider’s head. It is a multiple-impact helmet, and can take repeated light dings.
The Pro-Tec Classic is not certified by any standards agencies and, because its foam liner is not EPS, it may not protect the skulls of longboarders who are going fast when they crash. Longboarders who will be riding at moderate downhill speeds may wish to look at the Pro-Tec Classic Certified, available here.
- Multiple-impact capable
- Ample venting to prevent heat build up
- Large variety of colorways for individuality
- Not certified for impact resistance
- Only suitable for slow-speed crashes
Flybar, the maker of high-quality pogo sticks, produces a high-quality helmet that is suitable for various types of longboarding. The Flybar Multi-Sport helmet has a solid ABS outer shell with a crushable EPS lining. It is CPSC-certified and is ASTM 1492 and 16 CFR 1203 certified for skateboarding and bicycles, respectively. This helmet is heavily vented, which keeps the head cool once at speed, and has an adjustable dial for a perfect fit. It is available in several solid colors and sizes. A couple of print designs are also available, if you want a guy pogoing on your helmet.
For longboarding purposes, these helmets are suitable for riders who go fast, but not for the fastest downhill longboarders. The EPS lining will keep concussions at bay at high speeds, but provide little protection at lower speeds. And, once it hits the concrete, it must be replaced, as the EPS liner will not rebound.
- Skate helmet looks with bike helmet protection
- Good protection for higher-speed crashes
- Adjustable dial to make the fit perfect
- EPS liner can only crush once, necessitating replacement
- Only three available sizes
Predator DH6 Rasta
Vancouver-based Predator is a skater-owned company that makes a variety of helmets for skateboarding, longboarding, and white-water activities. The Predator DH6 is the company’s premier downhill helmet. It has a fiberglass shell, EPS foam lining and is CPSC and EN1078 certified. The helmet comes with both clear and tinted visors, which can be changed without a tool.
There is only one shell size available and, rather than choose a size, users must install the proper pads to make the helmet fit. The pads are included with purchase, as is a carry bag. Like all EPS helmets, the DH6 is only designed to absorb one blow, though it can withstand a serious impact. It also provides diminished protection at slow speeds.
- Can take the hardest of longboarding impacts
- Wide viewing angles engage peripheral vision
- Internal ventilation system reduces fogging and cools the rider
- Only one size shell is available – pads interchange for sizing
- EPS liner can take only one crash and then must be replaced
Sector 9 Drift
Longtime longboard manufacturer Sector 9 has been in the business since the beginning. The Sector 9 Drift downhill longboarding helmet is full-faced, and is CPSC and CE certified. It has a wide viewing area, and comes with a mirror-tinted, ratcheting visor. Because its lining is not EPS foam, it can take repeated crashes without sacrificing safety. There are several colors available, such as this white Sector 9 Drift. There is only one size, and interchangeable pads account for fitting.
Of course, the caveat to being able to take more than one hit is that it will not protect the brain in the event of high-speed impact. The Drift can absorb lighter blows that are still beyond what a light skateboard helmet can survive, but it is not for high-speed runs. If you are approaching the speed limit on the hill you are bombing, a more highly rated and certified helmet is necessary.
- Provides full-face protection
- Can survive repeated light impacts
- Wide viewing angle, doesn’t block peripheral visio
- Not for the highest-speed longboarders on the hill
For riders who just cruise around on the streets, longboard helmets may not seem worth the investment. A head injury can take you out in more ways than one, though. A quality helmet can keep you in the game.
Some helmets may look the part, but may not be capable of protecting your skull during even a slow-speed fall. Others can keep the fastest downhill riders safe from head injury, even at world-record speeds. Check out Kyle Wester’s world-record run on YouTube, and notice the helmet. It’s the only way to go.
The first thing to think about when searching for a longboarding helmet is what your intended skating discipline is going to be. If you are just going to be cruising around, keeping the speed to what you can attain from pushing alone, a simple skateboarding helmet should suffice.
If downhill skating is at all on the agenda, a bicycle helmet would probably be a wiser investment. If you will be reaching downhill speeds that might involve speed wobbles, or if free riding is in the plans, a full-face helmet is the only thing that will provide the type of protection you will need.
A helmet should have a foam lining, and some of the more impact-resistant linings, such as an expanded polystyrene (EPS) lining, may not be used more than once.
EPS is designed to crush, allowing the brain and skull to decelerate less suddenly than they would in an unprotected impact. When an unprotected skull hits concrete, the brain continues to move before smashing into the cranium — the cause of a concussion.
Therefore, brain damage can occur without a skull fracture. Manufacturers can tune the EPS lining to absorb different levels of impact. Some manufacturers are making EPS-type foams that have some rebound and can take multiple impacts, but unless specifically stated, assume an EPS lining can take only one hit, no matter how small.
Less dense foams like those used in skateboard helmets rebound easily, allowing for multiple impacts. These foams provide less protection in high-speed impacts, but actually provide better protection at low speeds.
This is because the EPS liner will not yet have begun to crush when these lower-velocity impacts are already over. Longboarders who do not bomb hills should consider these multiple-impact helmets.
Just because a helmet looks stout, that doesn’t mean it can take the kind of licks a longboard crash can inflict on helmet and rider. Fortunately, there are organizations that put these products to the test. On a voluntary basis, manufacturers send these organizations helmets to be smashed, bashed and demolished, all in an effort to inform us, the public.
The American Society for Testing and Materials has a set of standards for helmets to be used in certain extreme sports. If a helmet survives a certain battery of tests, it will receive the ASTM F1492 rating, reserved for skateboarding helmets.
When faster speeds are in play, a downhill mountain bike helmet, rating ASTM F1952, is in order. The next level of security comes with a rating of ASTM F2032, which is meant for BMX helmets.
In Europe, all helmets must meet a minimum requirement for a CE marking, showing they conform to agreed-upon safety standards. A CE marking means that a helmet meets minimum safety requirements. Some helmets meeting higher standards may be marked with CE ratings, such as EN1078 (bicycle and skateboard).
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) rates helmets for their usefulness in bicycling. Many helmets, though, meet the requirements for multiple certifications, of which CPSC will be one.
For longboarders who intend to go only moderate rates of speed, a CE rating coupled with a CPSC rating will usually suffice.
The most important thing a longboard rider can do to ensure a safe skull is to be honest about the type of riding he or she does. Do you go blazing speeds down hills? If not, then a full-face helmet is not for you. Longboarders that like to bomb hills but who do not get to crazy, speed-wobble inducing speeds can suffice with an open-face bicycle helmet. And those who simply cruise and carve will do fine with a multi-impact skateboarding helmet.
Then again, if you go cruising around in a downhill longboarding helmet and make one mistake, the helmet could be trashed without ever serving its real purpose. Know what type of helmet you have and whether it can do what you ask of it. When in doubt, throw it out, and put a lid on your wig that you know will save you when the time comes. If you think you don’t need it, check out what happens when you smack things at high speed.