Downhill mountain bike helmets are designed to handle challenging terrain, speed, and ‘roost‘ of various kinds.
Though mountain biking is a fun sport, it can be dangerous which is why you need to be equipped with the right gear.
When looking for a helmet that’s tough enough to protect you from a misjudged turn on a rocky mountain path, then look no further than the downhill mountain bike helmets in our selection below.
These helmets are made to withstand the rigors of hurtling down steep inclines and are fully certified by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard F1952.
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Best Downhill Helmets Comparison Table
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|Brand / Image||Certifications||Size Range||MIPS||Weight|
|54 – 63 cm||Yes||690 grams,
|TLD D3 Fiberlite
|52 – 65 cm||No||1225 grams,
|Bell Full-9 Fusion
|51 – 63 cm||Yes||1080 grams,
|iXS Trigger MIPS
|49 – 62 cm||Yes||657 grams (ML)
595 grams (SM)
|Smith Mainline MIPS
|51 – 65 cm||Yes||770 grams,
|Fox Rampage Pro
|55 – 62 cm||Fluid Inside||1230 grams,
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Downhill Mountain Bike Helmet Usage
The most popular type of mountain biking involves racing over long distances through mountainous areas. Riders often compete against each other or teams of up to four people.
Downhill mountain biking is, as the name suggests, a race down steep inclines which often includes jumps and drops following a marked course. Downhill mountain bike helmets are the order of the day as are various types of arm, leg, and padded body armor. Quite often the trip back up the hill is via motor vehicle or ski-lift rather than cycling.
Enduro mountain biking is all about timed downhills at breakneck speeds, followed by a somewhat leisurely ride back up to the top again, which is not always timed. Downhill mountain bike helmets are highly recommended for enduro mountain biking, though many consider a convertible mtb helmet to be far more suitable.
Trail mountain biking, generally speaking, is less competitive than Downhill and Enduro biking. It is a great way for newcomers to get used to the basics of mountain biking with trails having various levels of difficulty. The most difficult trails can become more challenging and it is at this point that a rider might start to consider wearing a full face helmet.
What To Look For In A DH MTB Helmet
When buying a new downhill helmet you should consider the following :
- Durability – most ASTM F1952 certified DH MTB helmets are going to be made from the most durable components, so choosing a durable helmet should not be too difficult. Nowadays, helmets will be made from fiberglass, carbon fiber, or polycarbonate composites.
- Ventilation – ensure there are plenty of ventilation holes around the top and sides of the helmet as well as at the back so that warmer air can escape, providing an even airflow. This will help keep you cool enough to endure long rides.
- The Fit – a good, snug fit is essential as is being comfortable. You want to avoid any pressure points where your temples or neck could get sore over time. Also, ensure that the chin strap is long enough to keep your helmet secure without being too loose.
- Weight – while most downhill helmets are going to be of similar weight, if possible, try to find one that is light enough that your head and shoulders will not be strained by the weight. A lighter weight helmet means less fatigue, better handling and more control over the bike.
- Certification – standard open-face mountain bike helmets will be CPSC certified just like a regular bicycle helmet. Downhill mountain bike helmets need greater impact protection for the head and face and be able to meet more stringent test requirements. You should be looking for ASTM F1952 certification.
- Price – though price will play an important part in your budgetary decision making, do not forego your own safety for the sake of saving a dollar or two.
What is ASTM F1952?
ASTM F1952, the “Standard Specification for Helmets Used for Downhill Mountain Bicycle Racing“, covers such things as:
- Design requirements including minimum size, shape, material composition, construction methods, etc.
- Performance criteria covering impact resistance, ballistic protection, energy absorption, retention capability, etc.
- Certification procedures involving testing laboratories, test equipment, and acceptance standards.
- Requirements concerning labeling, advertising, packaging, shipping, storage, maintenance, repair, and disposal.
This standard was developed by the American Society for Test & Material International, and the latest version was published in 2015.
WARNING: Not all full face mountain bike helmets are ASTM F1952 certified.
Below, we showcase 6 of the best downhill mountain bike helmets that are currently available. These six helmets are also the most popular and highest-rated downhill helmets.
RELATED: Mountain Bike Helmets with MIPS
Best Downhill Mountain Bike Helmets
1. Troy Lee Designs Stage Mountain Bike Helmet with MIPS
The Troy Lee Designs Stage helmet ticks all the boxes of what you should be looking for in a downhill mtb helmet – lightweight, superior ventilation, and MIPS technology!
The TLD Stage boasts a polylite shell with fiber reinforcement and polyacrilite injected chin bar. In English, that means, it has a fiber-reinforced polycarbonate shell.
As for polyacrilite, they probably mean polyacrylate which is a polymer that is known for its elasticity and resistance to breakage.
So, that’s all good news, as is the exoskeleton structure which adds additional strength to the shell of the helmet.
Built-in to the shell’s frame are 25 well-placed vents, eleven of which are high-flow intakes which then pass the incoming air through deep-max internal channeling to 14 exhaust ports at the rear.
Included in those 25 vents are huge vents in the EPP lined chin bar as well as vents behind the ears to ensure your whole head is cool and comfortable when you need it most. The vents by the ears also make it easier to converse with other riders.
The Troy Lee Designs Stage mountain bike helmet is available from BackCountry.
On the inside of your polylite shell, you have dual-density EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) and EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) foam to provide a double level of protection to your head in the case of an accident.
Add to that, you have the MIPS Brain Protection System‘s slip-pane technology which is designed to reduce rotational energy and to protect your brain from angled impacts.
To keep your head cool and more comfortable, there is contoured 3D XT2 cheek pads and a washable, moisture-wicking X-Static liner. The X-Static liner is quick-drying and helps to reduce odors.
The Troy Lee Designs Stage also comes with extra pads that you can use to optimize the fit to suit your own head size and shape. Includes 2 x liners, 3 x cheek pad sets, and 2 x neck rolls.
Some additional features of note are the visor which can be adjusted up and down by 40mm (just over 1.5 inches); and, the chin strap is buckled by means of a magnetic Fidlock which allows for one-handed use even when wearing gloves.
There’s not much to not like about the Troy Lee Designs Stage downhill mountain bike helmet. It’s lightweight, well-ventilated, and safety certified to the back teeth, CPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952-DH, ASTM 2032-BMX, and AS/NZS 2063-2008.
- Well ventilated
- MIPS protection
- break-away visor screws
- Cheek pads might not be comfortable for some riders.
- Chin straps may also be uncomfortable for some.
2. Troy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite Silhouette Helmet
Next up from Troy Lee Designs is the D3 Fiberlite Silhouette which is a top-quality helmet, as you would expect, that shares similar features to the pricier D3 Carbon and Composite helmets.
The D3 Fiberlite’s aerodynamically designed shell is made of fiberglass and development has been refined through wind-tunnel testing.
The twenty vents of the airflow system, 14 for intake and 6 for exhaust, have been injection molded into the fiberglass shell, and channel air through deep channeling for optimal airflow.
All of the vents holes, including the ones in the chin bar, are mesh-lined to block insects from entering.
The EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam liner is thicker with dual density padding to give a comfortable, plush, padded feel against your head.
The heavy padding gives it an appearance not unlike a motorcycle helmet and is not as well ventilated as riders may like in warmer climates. This is immediately noticeable when you stop and the comfortable padding becomes rather uncomfortable.
The Troy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite Helmet is available from BackCountry.
On a positive note, the moisture-wicking interior padding is removable and washable, and the 3D cheek pads are ‘quick-release’ to allow for emergency helmet removal.
There are purpose-built internal cavities for audio integration which you may choose to use as the amount of soft, cushy padding can make hearing difficult.
The Troy Lee Designs D3 Fiberlite Silhouette is an extremely comfortable helmet, however, it is not as breathable as I would like which is important when trying to maintain focus on a downhill run.
At 1225 grams, it is noticeably heavier than the TLD Stage. Though it is properly downhill certified, it has no MIPS or alternate slip-pane technology.
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A good sturdy helmet, nonetheless, and at a good price for anyone just entering the full face downhill helmet market.
Fully certified for CPSC 1203, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952-DH, ASTM 2032–BMX.
- Reasonably priced
- Very comfortable
- Adjustable, Innovative break-away visor
- Average ventilation
- Hot when not moving
- A bit on the heavy side
- No MIPS
3. BELL Full-9 Fusion MIPS Helmet
We can always count on Bell to take a legendary helmet like the Full-9 and make it better! The Bell Full-9 Fusion has been built on the success of the Full-9 but replacing the carbon shell with a fiberglass shell along with a wider field of view.
The Bell Full-9 Fusion is a world-class helmet in every way. Naturally, it is equipped with MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) which can protect your head by reducing rotational forces that can result from certain impacts utilizing its slip-plane technology.
The plush interior is soft and cradles your head in the comfortable nest-like padding. The quick-drying X-Static padding is woven with silver fibers to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungus.
The Bell Full-9 Fusion MIPS helmet is available from BackCountry.
Despite the 10 vents and 3 brow ports, the helmet tends to be on the warm side on a hot day. Though, the 3 brow ports do manage to suck in the air and push it into the internal channel for enough cooling on a not so hot day.
Also, the vents on the EPP-lined chin bar are rather small and your hot breath will become noticeable when laboring your way uphill. Could be worth looking into a convertible helmet for those hot days.
The flying-bridge visor can easily be adjusted, even while wearing gloves, and will always remain out of the rider’s field of view. The larger opening at the front of the helmet gives a wider field of view and can accommodate all major goggle brands.
It comes standard with an integrated breakaway camera mount which is designed to break off upon impact. As you would expect, the Bell Full-9 Fusion has all the necessary certifications for mountain biking, enduro, or BMX.
- Extremely plush interior
- Flying bridge visor
- Innovative break-away camera mount
- MIPS equipped
- X-Static Padding
- Ventilation could be improved
- Uncomfortable on hot days
4. iXS Trigger MIPS Full Face Helmet
Many full face helmets, including removable chin-bar helmets, can get a bit on the heavy side, but not always. The iXS Trigger MIPS full face helmet is a lightweight compared to the other helmets on this page, yet it’s well-suited to handle a heavy workload.
Carrying ASTM F1952 certification for downhill use, as well as CPSC and EN1078 certification for regular bicycle use, it also has a MIPS liner for added safety which could be useful on some downhill runs.
Sporting a lightweight, durable in-mold shell fused with an EPS liner together with several strategically placed air vents and internal channels provides superior airflow through the helmet. The iXS Trigger is specifically aimed at competitive riders either for training or in competition.
The iXS Trigger MIPS Full Face Helmet is available from BackCountry.
The moisture-wicking liner pads are removable and washable so you can keep your helmet fresh and comfortable for your next ride.
The iXS Trigger MIPS helmet has a large open front which provides a wider field of vision for improved focus while shredding the most demanding trails.
The visor is adjustable to 2 levels and sits up high so as to not obscure your vision with plenty of room to rest your goggles. The ErgoFit size dial fit system can adjust the helmet both horizontally and vertically for a snug, comfortable fit.
The chin strap is secured with a Fidlock magnetic buckle system which is strong enough to keep the helmet firmly attached to your head, yet able to be fastened and unfastened single-handedly.
Weighing in at around 657 grams (ML) and 595 grams (SM), this is a great helmet for those looking for a safe, downhill certified full face helmet, without the neck strain of a heavier helmet.
Sizes: XS = 49-54cm (19.1 – 21.1in), SM = 54-58cm (21.1 – 22.6in), ML = 58-62cm (22.6 – 24.2in)
- Patented all-in-one In-mold technology
- Vortex aeration system
- Large air vents
- MIPS brain protection system
- Fidlock magnetic buckle system
- Horizontal and Vertical adjustment
- Downhill certified
IMPORTANT: How to Know Your Helmet Size
5. Smith Optics Mainline MIPS Helmet
The Smith Mainline MIPS helmet is definitely a head-turning, eye-catching entrance by Smith into the world of full face downhill certified helmets.
The sturdy, modern design is feature-packed with the rider’s safety and comfort foremost in the design process.
The Aerocore technology used in the construction of the polycarbonate shell combines with MIPS and an EPS foam liner to provide the ultimate in safety, ventilation, and rider’s comfort.
The Aerocore tubes (koroyd) provides impact resistance in conjunction with the EPS foam, while the MIPS liner provides the slip-plane technology that can reduce rotational forces during an impact.
The Aerocore technology increases air-flow throughout the helmet in conjunction with the 21 vents of the AirEvac system, which also aids in preventing goggle fogging.
On the chin bar, the vents have been intentionally left open to allow better air-flow while laboring on an uphill ride.
The Smith Mainline MIPS helmet is available online directly from Smith Optics.
To achieve the perfect fit, Smith recommends experimenting with the provided padding to find the fit that suits your head size and shape.
In the box, you will find 3 sets of cheek pads, 2 sets of crown liners, and 2 neck rolls, all of which are in different sizes so that you can find the perfect combination that suits you.
All of the anti-odor pads are removable and washable.
The chin strap has a D-ring fastener to keep your helmet firmly attached to your head. The front visor is adjustable to either an up or down position.
Overall, the Smith Mainline MIPS helmet is good-looking, lightweight (approximately 780 – 800g for Medium size), and fully certified for downhill or regular cycling – EN 1078, CPSC 1203, ASTM F1952.
- Rich in safety features
- Good air-flow thru chin bar
- MIPS tends to squeak a little
6. Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon Helmet
The shell of the Fox Racing RPC helmet is made from carbon fiber and FRP resins using a Multi-composite technology to create a lightweight yet strong shell to protect your head.
Featuring superior ventilation and rotational management systems to provide the rider with comfort along with an exceptional safe riding experience.
On the inside, a dual-density EPS foam liner provides the first line of defense as a form of crumple zone.
Next in line is the Fluid Inside liner which is a rotational impact technology that not only acts as additional padding, but will rotate slightly to disperse energy from rotational impacts.
Then, for the rider’s comfort is the removable and washable X-Static moisture-wicking, antimicrobial comfort liner.
The Fox Racing Rampage Pro Carbon helmet is available from BackCountry.
The Rampage Pro Carbon helmet is very well ventilated with a total of 19 vents with injected mesh screens. Fifteen large intake vents and four exhaust ports keep the air-flowing for cool heads on a hot day.
The visor is fixed firmly in place as it utilizes Fox’s MVRS (Magnetic Visor Release System). Extra strong magnets will keep the visor firmly attached whilst traversing the roughest terrain but can detach easily in the case of a fall thereby saving your head from sudden twists during an accident.
The helmet is held securely in place with a stainless steel D-ring closure on the chin strap. Completely certified for both downhill and bicycle – CPSC, EN 1078, ASTM 1952-15, and AS/NZS 2063.
- Well ventilated
- Fluid Inside rotational impact technology
- Moisture-wicking removable padding
- MVRS Visor
- Sizes run small! (If you want a Large, maybe try an XL. If you need a Medium, give an L a try.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do full face MTB helmets get hot?
A. When looking to buy a full face mountain bike helmet, one of the things you need to consider is the environment where you will be riding, which includes the weather. Regardless of whether you live in a cool or warm climate, you need to choose a helmet with plenty of ventilation, more so when riding in a warmer climate.
In a cooler climate, a full face helmet is the best choice for aggressive riders. In a warmer climate, you might like to consider a helmet with a removable chin-bar, that way you get the benefits of both full face and open-face.
Q. Is a full face helmet safer?
A. Don’t judge a helmet by its looks. Judge a helmet by the certification tag inside the helmet. If that tag shows it to be ASTM F1952 certified, then you can be assured that the helmet has been tested to the rigorous standards expected of a true downhill mountain bike helmet. ASTM F1952 testing includes stress testing on the chin-bar. However, it is important to note that not all full face mountain bike helmets are certified to ASTM F1952 standards.