What Do Riders Think? Eight Half-Shell Helmets Reviewed by Vital MTB Members 11

With dozens of trail helmets to choose from, how do you find the best one? Vital MTB members weigh in on eight popular options.

What Do Riders Think? Eight Half-Shell Helmets Reviewed by Vital MTB Members

There's power in numbers, and collectively Vital MTB readers put in more trail miles and try out more products than our team of professional reviewers ever could. With over 1,200 reviews and 14,000 products in the Vital MTB Product Guide, it's a great place to find real-world opinions and compare product specs. Here are eight highly-rated half-shell helmets and product impressions from riders just like you:


6D ATB-1T EVO Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • Omni-Directional Suspension technology
  • Coverage
  • Adjustable visor
  • Anti-bacterial liner
  • Comfort
  • Fidlock chinstrap closure
  • Goggle/sunglass compatible
  • A little bulky
  • Heavy
  • Price

Certifications: EN 1078, CPSC 16CFR 1203

Weight: 496g

Key Impressions

"I recently went down with the XC helmet, cracking the shell which prompted me looking into a new helmet. I looked into most of the MIPS helmets and while that is a step forward from non-MIPS, I just felt that the ODS system from 6D made sense and provided more protection than MIPS.

It is a little warmer than my XC S-works helmet but it's been in the 90's with ~150% humidity so there's that. It certainly gives me added confidence on the trail knowing that if my head hits the ground or tree or low flying planes it'll be okay. I love the colors and adjustability of the straps and pads that were included. And it's not noticeably heavier than my XC helmet so I wouldn't let that deter you from buying." - WolfpackFBNS

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Shop the 6D ATB-1T EVO at Jenson USA, starting at $179.00


Bell Sixer MIPS Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • MIPS technology
  • Excellent sweat management
  • X-static padding
  • Great ventilation
  • Adjustable visor
  • Camera/light mount
  • Price
  • Can feel a little snug/tight on the head

Certifications: CE, EN 1078, CPSC

Weight: 410g

Key Impressions

"This is the first helmet I've found that successfully keeps sweat out of my eyes (and off of my glasses) with no assistance. Bell nailed the ventilation, and the "Sweat Guide" padding actually does what it's supposed to do - wicks sweat out away from your forehead to a point where it can drip harmlessly in front of your glasses. The fit does feel a little more tight, especially on the sides of the head, than other helmets of a comparable size. Stashing sunglasses with the arms in the vents works OK - secure enough for fire-road climbing, but not so secure that I'd trust them there on singletrack. 

Overall, I've got no real complaints. The 2018 colors weren't fantastic, but the 2019 options are looking better, so it seems Bell's on top of that. The Sixer is the best helmet I've ever tried for ventilation and sweat management, and it checks just about all the other boxes for a modern half-shell as well." - anotherbikerguy

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Shop the Bell Sixer MIPS at Jenson USA, starting at $89.99


Fly Racing Freestone Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • Lightweight
  • Lots of cooling vents
  • Coverage
  • Adjustable visor
  • Price
  • Weak dial retention system
  • Awkward visor adjustment
  • Matte finish scratches easily
  • No camera/light mount

Certifications: CPSC 1203, EN 1078-1997 +A1-2005

Weight: 317g

Key Impressions

"The helmet has lots of vents (19) and is super light. The dial system retention and adjustable chin strap offer lots of adjustability. I chose my helmet size based on Fly's fitting chart, but you might want to go down a size. For reference I wear a fitted hat of 7 3/8 and my head circumference is 23", which puts me right at the start of large.

One complaint on the fit of the helmet is the related to the dial. As you dial in you start to get a bit of "float", the helmet lifts a bit as you tighten it up. Almost every time I ride I find my self dial in and then pull the helmet down and then dialing a couple of more clicks to get it just right.

On the trail the helmet feels great! The vents keep your head super cool and I haven't gotten the sweat dripping down my face like I have with other helmets. Overall this is a great helmet with a lot of good features at a good price. I imagine I will be rocking this helmet for a few years to come." - awol12

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Shop the Fly Racing Freestone at Jenson USA, starting at $109.95


Giro Montaro MIPS Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • MIPS technology
  • Camera/light mount
  • Goggle compatible
  • Adjustable visor
  • Anti-microbal padding
  • Comfortable fit
  • Breathes decently well
  • Pads soak up sweat well
  • Rear adjustment dial is a bit small
  • Visor screws are cheap

Certifications: Unknown

Weight: 375g

Key Impressions

"It’s a no brainer for fit and function. I looked for quite sometime to find a helmet that fit this well." - cvaloma

"This is an awesome helmet, probably the best I've ever owned. The adjustment knob is easy to use and hasn't had any issues in the two years that I've used this helmet. It's extremely comfortable and the ventilation holes work great. The only downside is that the visor screws are made of plastic and have both come out (and lost) with normal use, no crashes. I was easily able to find black metal screws that fit perfectly. Also, I've had to replace the foam padding because it's pretty thin and gets easily saturated with sweat and eventually stops absorbing as well. It's easy and cheap to replace though." - gerg_h

"I was immediately impressed with the fit (size large) which I will characterize as being similar to a new trucker cap. Crisp, with no pressure points and easy to adjust to a pleasant state. Bell helmets have always worked better for those with more narrow heads while Giro was the domain of the larger bowling ball types. The Montaro is elegantly simple in it's design. The pads work exceptionally well soaking up the waterfall of sweat I generate. I can simply lean over to one side and push on the helmet to drain them which is a huge plus in the humid conditions here in Georgia. A spare pair of pads can be purchased on the cheap and I simply alternate them every other ride. My sunglasses' (Oakley Valves, but other ones seem to work just as well) temples fit perfectly into the anterior vents just above the visor and rest neatly there. They do not bounce around and I've never had them fall off unexpectedly. I can easily grab them and place them on one-handed and return them in the same manner without stopping. This simply rules." - hbelly13

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Shop the Giro Montaro MIPS at Jenson USA, starting at $99.95


iXS Trail RS Evo Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • Coverage
  • Breathes half decent
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to adjust
  • Comfortable fit
  • Adjustable visor
  • Poor sweat management
  • No camera/light mount

Certifications: EN 1078, CPSC

Weight: 320g

Key Impressions

"This is my second Trail RS helmet. I bought one and was a huge fan, so when I dropped my first one and damaged it I went out and bought another one. This is one of the more comfortable helmets I have owned. I went from the original Bell Super (which fit me like crap and was too hot) to a Bell Stoker (this fit good but was vented like garbage) to the Trail RS. So based on my recent helmet history this is the cat's pajamas. It fits my head shape very well and is comfortable for all day adventures. The retention adjustment is easy to use on the fly and has been trouble free. My only beef with this helmet is that it doesn't deal with brow sweat well at all. I sweat a fair bit and the sweat just runs down my face. I rarely ride with glasses, but when I tried the glasses just got covered in sweat. I find the only way to help mange the sweat is to lean over and push the helmet into my head to kind of wring out the front pad when I stop." - Amart1500

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Shop the iXS Trail RS Evo at Jenson USA, starting at $69.99


Kali Interceptor Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • Breathes very well
  • Outstanding comfort
  • Adjustable visor
  • Camera/light mount
  • Armourgel padding
  • Antimicrobial pads
  • Visor durability
  • Pads don't hold up to washing
  • Price

Certifications: EN 1078, CPSC

Weight: 390g

Key Impressions

"I've worn this helmet now for two full years, about 230 ride days. Luckily, I've never had a big crash, but I've had little ones here and there and the helmet has held up well for what I've put it through. The fit is great. The boa lets you adjust for a great fit on your head and the helmet doesn't move around. It is more comfortable for my head than any other helmet I tried on. Breathability is also outstanding. I changed from the older Fox Flux, and immediately could feel more air. Those vents though mean my head is a bit more susceptible to getting sunburned, so be aware and apply. 

The visor is nice to flip up if you have goggles you want to put on the helmet. And the fit between my Smith goggles and helmet are flush, no gaper gaps. But the first crash I had the clips on the visor broke, and even given a new visor, I cannot pop it off to replace the visor. So I've just taped down the visor, which removes the flip up for goggles, which kind of sucks. I would prefer a bit more durability or make it easier to switch visors out. 

The pads remove easily to be washed by hand, and are re-applied easily. But after 1.5 years they are starting to pull apart, to the point I've almost stopped washing them for fear they will fall apart. Overall I've been very happy with this helmet. The breathability and fit are outstanding, but some of the durability could be improved." - jasbushey

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Shop the Kali Interceptor at Jenson USA, starting at $180.00


Smith Forefront Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • Lightweight
  • Good grip on the head
  • Very adjustable
  • Adjustable visor
  • Camera/light mount
  • X-Static padding
  • Comfort
  • Price

Certifications: CPSC, CE, EN 1078

Weight: 295g

Key Impressions

"You can really feel the air coming in and out of the helmet shell and you hardly feel the helmet on top of your head. I was previously riding the Specialized S-works MTB helmet for two years and was looking for a new lid to give me the same ventilation capabilities but with more protection. I bought the Troy Lee A1 helmet, which was comfy as hell but had poor ventilation, so for me in hot weather the sweat was oozing out on my eyes and sunglass and that was disturbing while riding. The X-Static padding is doing a good job stopping the sweat getting in the way and absorbs everything for a long time.

The fit is superb! Another great thing is the add-on kit for goggles that secure that goggle strap with the helmet. If you are also looking for a new sunglasses, the Smith Optics PivLoc Overdrive was designed to work side by side with this helmet, and there is a special place to put the sunglasses while not using them on the trail or while climbing. The helmet also has special vents that helps with fog clearing from the goggles and sunglass. The visor has two positions for on the fly adjustment and no need to screw any bolts in and out. The helmet comes with a threaded insert on top for an integrated GoPro or a flash light holder (sold separately)." - Spaky.lab

"This is a great helmet with great value. I would highly recommend this helmet to anyone who is looking for something that truly wraps around your head rather than sit on top of it. The design of the forefront give me the coverage I need to confidently ride out on the trails." - 615regular

Read More

Shop the new Smith Forefront 2 at Jenson USA, starting at $200.00


Troy Lee Designs A1 Helmet

The Good

The Bad

  • Adjustable visor with anodized aluminum hardware
  • Anti-microbial liner
  • Good coverage
  • Very comfortable
  • Sweat and heat management
  • Adjustable retention system seems a little cheap
  • Velcro padding keepers fall off
  • No camera/light mount

Certifications: CPSC 1203, CE EN 1078, AS NZ 2063:2008

Weight: 367g

Key Impressions

"The matte finish with glossy decals turned out to look better in person than it did online. It didn't take long for the A1 to become extremely comfy for my dome. It comes with a three-position adjustable liner which adjusts where the retention system sits on the back of your head. Even though the A1's 16 vents do a great job at keeping my head cool, the liner does get sweaty. Although I don't mind it, my wife likes that the liner is removable for a quick clean in the washer so it doesn't stink up our entrance way. The helmet is topnotch quality but I feel the retention system dial is the least quality part on it. Although it hasn't broken on me, the plastic seams a little flimsy and wouldn't surprise me if it broke down the road. Overall, TLD did their homework before they designed this helmet. Great functionality with even more impressive looks." - dirtworks911

"Given that the A1 non-MIPS now has a sub-$100 price around the interwebs, it's definitely a great buy for me. I have a long skinny head, and the rear straps on a lot of helmets don't sit well on the back of my head. This one works well, and I like the general adjustment and straps better than my old Bell Stoker." - Iddk23

"Looks and fit wise the helmet is superb. It's comfy and easy to adjust the fit to prevent the helmet moving on bumpy descents. It is a little warm due to rather poor ventilation, but quite acceptable really. The quality of the padding and helmet bag is suspect. The velcro pads stuck inside the helmet to keep the padding in place fall off easily. The rear adjuster has also become harder to use and does not tighten symmetrically. It's as if something has failed inside." - Headshot

"I really wanted to like this helmet. It fit well and was comfortable. I do feel safe in it. It is so unbearably hot. I don’t feel the air channels through the helmet well. The way the pads are designed channels all the sweat from my head right into my eyes." - bryberia

"I had a pretty hard impact wearing my TLD A1 and it definitely did its job. It's worth the price to know you will be well protected!" - amandabass2009

"The A1 is by far and away the best fitting helmet we've tried – we know what you're thinking; fit is subjective, and you're right, but this one seems to fit almost everyone who tries it on. The guys at Troy Lee did a great job tailoring the A1 to its target audience - it's about as enduro as you can reasonably look. By that we mean that it works well with goggles and has plenty of protection (more occipital protection than just about any other half-shell) all that and it vents surprisingly well." - HutchsBikes

Read More

Shop the Troy Lee Designs A1 at Jenson USA, starting at $99.00


Love your helmet? Know how it could be improved? Help out your fellow MTBer by writing a review. The top Vital reviewer each month earns a $100 Jenson USA gift card.

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