With any sport accidents can and do happen. In the event of a crash, your helmet is designed to absorb the brunt of the impact and protect your skull and brain from damage.
An impact typically results in a crushing or cracking of the helmet, and your helmet should be replaced after a significant impact.
Helmets have varying levels of coverage, ventilation, adjustments, and features that all affect their level of comfort and protection while riding.
A helmet is the most important piece of protective gear you can wear while mountain biking.
You definitely do not want to skip out on having quality head protection while mountain biking. The ride is usually bumpy and fully of rocks. One wrong fall and it could be a serious regret.
We took a look at some of the industry’s best mountain bikes helmets under $300 and here are our Top Picks.
Our 5 Best Mountain Bike Helmets Under $300
No. Of Vents
|POC Tectal Race SPIN Mountain Bike Helmet|
|Leatt DBX 3 Mountain Bike Helmet|
|Bell Hela MIPS Joy Ride Mountain Bike Helmet|
|Smith Rover MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet|
|Troy Lee Designs A2 Pinstripe Mountain Bike Helmet|
1. POC Tectal Race SPIN Mountain Bike Helmet – Our Top Choice
The POC Tectal Race SPIN achieves impressive head coverage. It also has an integrated rotational force impact system, called SPIN, into the pads of the helmet for additional head protection. The adjustment system has a great fit as well.
It also comes with additional features such as an adjustable visor and goggle clip. The shell is designed to cover more of the temples and back of the head than other traditional mountain bike helmets. The shell dips lower on the temples and wraps around the back of the cranium.
It is lined with EPS foam liner, a strong woven material that is molded into the foam to add structure and durability. The SPIN technology allows the outer layer of the helmet to rotate slightly, mimicking the way the skull protects the brain.
SPIN, unlike other systems, adds no weight or thickness to the lining of the helmet since the technology is integrated into the pads. The pads both absorb the impact while also deflecting it. It is also equipped with a Recco reflector for search and rescue purposes.
This helmet has a great fit, although slightly on the narrow side for people with a wider head. The size adjustment dial works well to cinch the helmet down snugly and securely around the back of your head.
Additional features for the POC Tectal Race SPIN Mountain Bike Helmet
Ventilation allows for proper airflow to keep you cool. Several adjustable features allow you to customize the fit of your helmet for better performance. The most frequently used adjustment is the size adjustment dial located at the back of the head.
This dial is large and easy to use one-handed, even while wearing biking gloves. It allows for quick adjustment to tighten or loosen the fit to your preferences. The straps are also adjustable. There is a Y shaped plastic yoke that splits the straps and holds them securely in place.
The chin strap is attached to the center of the yokes with webbing. It latches under your chin with a standard plastic buckle. The visor is also adjustable for goggle compatibility. A small screw in the center of the visor holds it in place. You need to loosen it before adjusting the visor.
This helmet has 16 vents and provides some of the best ventilation on the market. Nine large vents on the front of the helmet help keep the air moving on your forehead, three vents on the top, and five on the back of the head allow the air to exhaust and your head to breathe.
2. Leatt DBX 3.0 All Mountain Bike Helmet – The Helmet with Great Ventilation
The Leatt DBX 3.0 comes with it’s own rotational impact protection system known as Turbine 360. The chin strap includes a magnetic buckle that makes one-handed buckling and unbuckling a breeze. The helmet is well ventilated and has a very easy to use retention system.
The DBX 3.0 sits high on the head but still offers good rear head coverage. The temporal area could be a bit more protected. An adjustable visor rounds out the features and adds to this helmet’s versatility with goggle compatibility.
The Turbine 360 aims to reduce rotational forces on the brain in the event of an impact, while also absorbing the forces of that impact. It uses multiple 3D molded rings that are made from an energy absorbing material.
These small blue rings are distributed throughout the inner shell of the helmet and padding. The Turbines are designed to work as both a slip plane and an energy absorber.
More On the Leatt DBX 3.0 All Mountain Bike Helmet
The fit was generally comfortable, with well-placed padding. It includes an easily adjustable retention system that incorporates one large dial for one-handed adjustments. This dial adjusts the tension on the system evenly from both sides, and snugs up against the occipital lobe.
The chin strap also has several inches of adjustment, but the straps around the ears and the strap splitter/yoke can be somewhat of a pain to adjust. The straps seem to constantly come into contact with the ears.
The ventilation utilizes 18 vents that are arranged with two long channels that allow air to flow from front to back. These channels also split the inner padding of the helmet, so there are gaps between the pads on either side of the head and those in the center.
The magnetic buckle will attract rocks and dirt if set on the ground. To avoid the hassle of cleaning it frequently, simply hang the helmet on your handlebars.
3. Bell Hela Joy Ride MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet – Versatile and Adjustable Helmet
The Bell Hela Joy Ride offers a comfortable fit with functional and easy to use adjustments for the size, straps, and visor. It offers great protection, with a deep fit. It also incorporates a MIPS protection system.
The deep fit and design of the helmet provide more coverage lower down on the temples and across the back of the head. More coverage means more protection. The MIPS system is a thin layer of plastic that works as a slip-plane that sits between the EPS foam of the main body of the helmet and the pads.
A Float Fit size adjustment system on the back of the helmet has a dial that allows the helmet’s fit to be tightened or loosen evenly from both sides. This size adjustment system can also be moved up and down on a small ladder within the helmet to further customize the fit.
The chin strap system is relatively basic, but functional. It incorporates a plastic strap splitter that holds the straps flat under the ear. The inner padding of the helmet is on the thinner side, but well placed and adds to the comfort of this helmet.
Keep Reading for the Bell Hela Joy Ride MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
Bell has also incorporated their “Sweat Guide” pad design, which is a small tab of padding that extends further out in front on the shell. This system is intended to draw sweat further forward so that it drips in front of your sunglass lenses instead of on them.
The Hela Joy Ride has 15 vents, 5 of which are located on the front of the helmet. The other 10 vents are located on the top, sides, and back. The ventilation system works reasonably well, but it could stand to allow a little more airflow.
A strap splitter also allows for the straps around the ears to be adjusted to the ideal location and avoid contact with the rider’s ears. The strap splitter doesn’t have a locking feature, so it can be moved accidentally and may occasionally need to be repositioned.
The range of adjustment of the visor is quite large, and when it’s in the fully up position, there is plenty of room for goggles to rest on the helmet when not in use. The visor is attached by the temples and pivots from those points.
4. Smith Rover MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet – Great Durability
The Smith Rover offers great protection with Koroyd material, in addition to a MIPS system. This helmet has a light, airy feel and it utilizes an excellent ventilation system. There are 18 total optimized vents, as well as a VaporFit adjustable protection system.
The MIPS technology focuses on protecting the brain during rotational impacts. Overall, this helmet is made of durable material and will last the distance. There could be a bit more padding incorporated into this helmet, but it gets the job done.
The visor is not adjustable, so wearing goggles can be a bit tricky. You will find that they continuously slip down. However, this isn’t a big deal if you don’t plan on wearing goggles.
The Rover fits a bit on the rounder side of things, meaning it’s a little wider from side to side than average. The Vaporfit helps keep the helmet comfortably situated on the head.
Additional features for the Smith Rover MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
A dial in the back makes snugging the helmet onto your head quick and easy, and like most head retention systems, it has a few positions to accommodate different shaped heads. The helmet stays in place and doesn’t bounce around too much.
The MIPS system is a slip plane that sits inside of the helmet that helps minimize negative effects of rotational impacts. If your head hits the ground at a funny angle in a crash, it can cause your head to momentarily rotate very quickly, which is bad for your brain.
MIPS is designed to minimize that rotation, and thus reduce your chance of a brain injury. The Rover also has two panels, on either side, that are made of Koroyd, which is essentially a bunch of little straws stuck together into a web.
The idea behind both EPS and Koroyd is that they crush in an impact, thus dissipating the energy that otherwise would be going into your skull. The main upside of Koroyd is that it offers similar crash protection to EPS, but the straws allow air to pass through, making it a more breathable helmet.
This helmet is quite breathable. The straps are adjustable for customization to different head shapes. Padding on the inside is relatively minimal, but ergonomically placed to be comfortable and sweat absorbing.
5. Troy Lee Designs A2 Pinstripe MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet – Optimal Protection
The A2 helmet combines EPP for slow speed impacts, and EPS for high speed impacts in one package. This helmet has full head coverage, as well as a MIPS protection system. It also includes an improved retention system for adjusting the fit.
This helmet is secured with the X-Statice padding system. There are three height levels for the retention system that allows this helmet to sit down on the back, side, and front of head. This provides equal pressure around the skull.
The visor can get in the way of goggle use, making it hard to slipp the goggles on the helmet. It won’t adjust high enough. There are 13 large vents that allow airflow to continuously circulate.
The A2 has an in-molded liner with a dual-density layering system. The outer rigid EPS foam protects against high-speed impacts, while an under-layer of more compliant EPP foam is molded in place to protect against slow-speed impacts.
Additional features for the Troy Lee Designs A2 Pinstripe MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
The A2’s headband can be adjusted before or after the temples, or up or down at the rear to ensure a snug fit as well as an optimum angle. The band retains the ratchet dial, which is a plus if you wear gloves or have large fingers.
This helmet promotes cooling airflow and encourages constant air movement across your head. A removable, soft and plushy X-Static Pure Silver liner sits comfortably against your head, which allows you to dry rather quickly. This helps to prevent a sweaty stink from building up.
The visor’s alloy bolts are designed to snap during a crash, preventing the visor from transferring additional rotational forces through to the helmet. It has a pretty universal fit, with thin and flexible straps.
The fit of the helmet can be further adjusted with the included Fit Kit, which spaces out the pads to better suit your head’s shape.
Choosing The Right Mountain Bike Helmet Under $300
There are several factors to consider when looking at choosing the right mountain bike helmet.
The biggest factor is protection and ensuring it properly fits your head shape.
We break down some to the features that we believe to be key in a quality mountain bike helmet.
It is worth it to invest in proper head protection when mountain biking. You will be surrounded by rocks and bumpy terrain. Fit and retention systems continue to improve, and safety advances like the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) aim to reduce the chances of a serious injury.
In general, modern bicycle helmets are constructed with an EPS foam liner that is molded inside of a more durable plastic shell. The foam absorbs the impact while the shell distributes the force over a larger area.
The more comfortable your helmet is, the less distracting it is, allowing you to devote all of your attention to the trail ahead of you. The less you notice them, the better.
The thickness, quality, and covering of the internal foam pads play a large role in the overall comfort of a helmet. A great option are lightweight open cell foam pads covered in moisture wicking fabric to pad between the hard polystyrene foam and the rider’s head.
The most comfortable helmets have well-designed padding that covers all of the contact points between the polystyrene and the head. Helmets with slightly denser padding tend to be more comfortable as well.
Adjustable features like the retention system and chin straps also play a role in how the helmet fits and its level of comfort. How well a helmet’s ventilation system works is another aspect to consider for comfort.
You want the adjustment systems to be easy to use, functional, and enhance performance. Most mountain bike helmets have a retention system, sometimes called a fit or size adjustment, used to adjust the fit perfectly to the user’s head.
These are typically in the form of a two-sided plastic band in the back of the helmet with a dial in the middle that adjusts the tension of the band against the underside of the back of the skull. This adjustment tightens to hug the head snugly for a secure fit.
Some models have a small wheel that tightens or loosens the retention system evenly on both sides. The size and shape of these wheels vary considerably, as does their ease of use.
Another important fit adjustment is the chin strap, including the two yokes by the ears. This adjustment is important to the user’s comfort and keeps the helmet secure in the event of a crash. It is necessary to get the chin strap tight enough to stay on your head, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable.
The yoke shape controls the strap position by your ears. It’s best if the straps do not make contact with the ears for the sake of comfort.
Ventilation performance isn’t directly related to how many vents a helmet has. You want to make sure you choose a helmet that allows plenty of air to circulate throughout. Your head generates a lot of heat, especially when being active.
You don’t want to overheat on the trail or constantly be wiping sweat from your forehead, so be sure to seriously consider the ventilation system when shopping for helmets.
Many helmets have features that enhance the fit, protection, and user’s comfort. One of the primary additional features many helmets offer is the visor.
The primary function of a visor is to shield your eyes from the sun, but they also serve as protection from rain and can help to deflect lighter inconsequential trailside obstacles. They vary in size and shape as well as in attachment method and adjustability.
Some visors are adjustable and can be pushed up to accommodate goggles. Others are static and are fixed in the down position.
You want to choose a helmet that holds up to daily wear and tear well. Obviously, you want it to be able to protect you in a crash, but you also should be getting years of use out of your helmet before signs of regular use.
Helmets that have outer shells that wrap entirely around the lower edge of the delicate polystyrene foam have better resistance to dings and dents from daily use.
Our Final Review For Best Mountain Bike Helmet Under $300
Overall, you want to factor protection above anything else when choosing your mountain bike helmet. It cannot be stressed enough that this feature is extremely important, and in some cases could save your life.
Comfort is also another extremely important factor that should not be overlooked. You want to enjoy your rides, not constantly be messing about with the adjustments on your helmet. Be sure to choose a helmet that fits you well and allows you to solely focus on the trail.
Whether you are planning on going for simple joy rides or tearing up some gnarly terrain, don’t skip out on a bike helmet. Make sure it’s durable and will last you plenty of years of use. In the case of a fall, your helmet will split as it absorbs the force and should be replaced immediately before riding again.