When looking for the ideal helmet for your child, you’ll want to consider a variety of both safety and comfort factors. After all, if a helmet is uncomfortable, your kid won’t want to wear it. The table below lists some of the most important features of our top helmet picks and shows how each helmet stacks up against the competition.
It can be tricky to find a helmet that fits smaller heads, but parents love that the Giro Scamp offers the latest safety technology and fun designs in a size that fits children from twelve months up to age five. The only downsides to this helmet were a few minor convenience issues.
Optional MIPS Technology The Giro Scamp MIPS incorporates a Multidirectional Impact Protection System to allow the helmet to absorb more impact from a nondirect hit. This technology adds an extra layer of protection to the helmet.There is some debate in the cycling community about the effectiveness of MIPS, with some saying the extra cost outweighs any measurable benefits. Giro offers the Scamp in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions, allowing parents to decide whether or not it’s worth the higher price tag.
Flat Back The back of the helmet has a low profile, making it ideal for younger children riding in a seat on the back of a parent’s bike or in a bike trailer.
Room for a Ponytail Leaving long hair down while wearing a helmet can lead to overheating in warm summer months. The Giro Scamp is equipped with a vent at the back of the head to allow for ponytails.
Adjustable Size Kids grow a lot between one and five years of age, and we like that the Giro Scamp can grow with them. Its adjustable Roc Loc Jr. system can expand and contract the interior of the helmet for a snug fit from trailer to training wheels.
Pinch-Guard Buckle It’s easy for little chins to accidentally get caught in a standard quick-clip buckle, but the Giro Scamp’s chin strap features a buckle guard for a pain-free start to every ride.
What We Don’t Like
Not Enough Vents Most children’s helmets have fifteen or more vents to allow for air circulation, but the Giro Scamp has only eight, which could leave your little one feeling sweaty.
Slippery Strap Parents’ main complaint about the Giro Scamp was that the chin strap would loosen during the ride, and they had to tighten it frequently.
#2. Razor V-17 Youth Multi-Sport Helmet
With a cool shape that will make your kid feel like an X-Games pro, the Razor V-17 is stylish and comfortable, and it offers more protection than a typical bike helmet. It’s also inexpensive and comes in a wide range of colors, but depending on your child’s head shape, it might not be the best fit.
Multi-Sport Functionality This helmet is designed for biking, skateboarding, and scooters—you can even use it as a ski helmet or for other snow sports. It’s an all-in-one helmet, so you don’t have to mess around with multiple helmets for different activities.
Whole Head Coverage Most bike helmets only come down about halfway on the back of the head, but the Razor V-17’s multi-sport design covers the entire back of the head, giving your child full protection.
Comfort and Style Parents say their children prefer this helmet over other bike helmets due to its comfort and trendy design. The seventeen vents help keep riders cool, and the variety of designs appeal to all different ages and personalities.
Affordable Price At around $20, the Razor V-17 gives your kid great protection at an affordable price.
Excellent Impact Absorption The Razor V-17 touts high ratings for impact absorption.
What We Don’t Like
Heavy Because the V-17 is a multi-sport helmet, it’s heavier than other standard bike helmets.
Difficult to Fit The only way to adjust how the V-17 fits is with pads and the chin strap, and reviewers say that it’s tricky to get a snug fit.
Lacking a Visor No visor means less eye protection from the sun and less face protection in case of a crash.
#3. Bell Sidetrack Helmet
The Bell Sidetrack has a trendy, mountain-bike style design, and safety experts give it top ratings for crash protection. It’s priced reasonably, and its extra comfort features put it near the top of our list for best kids’ bike helmets, but there’s a trick to getting it to fit properly.
Visor The Sidetrack has a sturdy snap-on visor that provides excellent sun and rain protection.
MIPS option The youth version of the Bell Sidetrack comes in a MIPS version (that’s a Multidirectional Impact Protection System), but it costs about $20 more than the non-MIPS helmet.
Covered MIPS Anchors The padding is strategically placed to cover the MIPS anchors, which prevents a child’s hair from getting caught in them.
Tri-Glide Strap Sliders The Sidetrack’s tri-glide sliders keep straps securely in place much better than the traditional sliders found on many other models, and they’re also easy to adjust if needed.
Extended Rear Coverage We like that the Sidetrack still looks like a classic bike helmet but has more coverage for the rear of the head than traditional bike helmets do.
1-Year Warranty If your helmet is defective, you can contact Bell customer service within one year and get a replacement helmet.
What We Don’t Like
Hard-to-Reach Dial The placement of the dial on the interior of the helmet’s cage makes it difficult to reach when you’re trying to adjust it on your child’s head. We recommend getting it as close to a good fit as possible while it’s on their head, then taking the helmet off to make any additional adjustments.
Excess Strap The Bell Sidetrack has quite a bit of excess strap that can bunch up next to the face. It won’t affect the safety of the helmet, but kids might find it annoying. We recommend cutting off the extra strap and melting or taping the ends to prevent fraying.
When it comes to looking awesome, the Krash Black Gator multi-sport helmet takes the prize. Any kid will be eager to wear a helmet that’s sprouting a Mohawk. But it’s not just about looks—the Krash is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and it has vents to keep your child feeling—and looking—very cool. Just be careful when storing it, as some parents say the silicone spikes can easily get bent out of shape.
What is EPS? EPS stands for Expanded Polystyrene. It’s the same kind of foam used to make disposable picnic coolers. A higher-quality EPS is often used to make bike helmets because it’s both rigid and lightweight.
What is MIPS? MIPS stands for Multidirectional Impact Protection System. Swedish scientists developed MIPS technology for bike helmets to reduce stress on the skull from rotational impacts. It cradles the head in a second inner shell that attaches to the outer helmet shell with elastic bands to absorb impact and allow the head to rotate in a controlled way during a crash. The biomedical team who developed MIPS actually based its design on the way the brain is naturally protected inside the skull.
How can I tell if my child’s bike helmet fits correctly? The helmet should be snug on their head and come just to the top of their ears. If your child’s eyebrows move when you shift the helmet on their head, that’s a good indicator that it’s snug enough. The strap should be tight against their chin when they open their mouth all the way but loose when their mouth is closed. The helmet should rest on the forehead about two adult finger widths above the eyebrows.
What’s the difference between traditional helmets and multi-use helmets? A traditional bike helmet is lighter and has more vents than a multi-use (skater style) helmet, so kids often find them more comfortable. But multi-use helmets are usually dual-certified, so they can be used for biking, riding a scooter, skateboarding, and more. Plus, they often provide a better fit for kids with oddly shaped heads. Multi-use helmets can offer more protection for the back of the head as well.
What is the difference between in-mold and hardshell construction? All helmets have an inner EPS (foam core) layer and an outer plastic shell. Bike helmets are usually made with in-mold construction, where the EPS is fused to a thin plastic shell, keeping the shell from cracking or separating from the helmet. With hardshell construction, the plastic shell is thicker, so it can’t be fused to the EPS. Instead, it’s glued to the foam core. ASTM standards require multi-use helmets to be more durable than bike helmets, which is why multi-use helmets are usually hardshell.
What’s the difference between CPSC and ASTM certification? The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) is a US government organization that certifies US bike helmets for safety based on a specific set of cycling safety standards. The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) is an independent, international nonprofit organization that tests and certifies multi-sport helmets for everything from horseback riding to snowboarding to mountain biking. For bike helmets, look for a helmet that’s at least CPSC certified.
To research the best bike helmets for kids, we studied the products available on the market, checked out what others were saying about them, and looked for products that consistently received favorable reviews and high ratings. Learn more about our methodology.
*Amazon.com list price as of 04/02/20 12:20 p.m MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of this date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any prices and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links. Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.
Written by Kasey Tross
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more