Best gravel bike helmets 2024 – top-rated head protection for riding on- and off-road

The best gravel bike helmets being worn by male and female riders
(Image credit: Paul Brett)

The best gravel bike helmets follow the same design principles as the best mountain bike helmets and of course, will protect your head in the event of a crash or nasty accident. With the surge in the popularity of gravel bike riding most bike and helmet manufacturers have looked at specific gravel helmet designs. Although most bike helmets can be suitable for gravel riding, the subtle design features in the helmets featured here can make all the difference to your gravel riding.

Gravel bike adventures can include everything from high-speed road riding to slow off-road techie climbs, and that means you need a helmet that works in nearly all cycling environments. Our best overall pick is the Kask Elemento which is a great example of a helmet that delivers everything you need in a gravel helmet, with excellent protection, lightweight construction and good airflow.

Below we've rounded up the best options currently available and at the bottom, we have answered questions on how to choose and what to consider when selecting the best gravel bike helmet.

Best gravel bike helmets

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Quick list

1. Best overall

The Kask Elemento gravel helmet in white sitting on grass in sunshine

The Kask Elemento is expensive but has across-the-board premium features to match (Image credit: Cameron Prentice)
The Elemento is designed to deliver the best in safety, ventilation, and aerodynamics

Specifications

Weight : 309g (Large)
Size: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Proven race-winning pedigree
+
Cutting-edge safety technology
+
Lightweight
+
Excellent ventilation
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Sunglasses storage isn't the best

The Kask Elemento has a race-winning pedigree, worn by Pauline Ferrand-Prévot as she added to her World Championship title haul last year in Scotland. It's the Italian brand's top-of-the-range helmet and comes with a price to match its cutting-edge technology. Although the pricing will be too hefty for some, its long list of impressive features means it takes the title of best gravel helmet overall. The Elemento is my go-to helmet and one I recommend not just for gravel bike riding, but also for XC mountain biking, cyclocross and road use.

Safety features are built around the 3D-printed Multipod internal padding. This is Kask's answer to a MIPS system, developed using their own Rotational Impact WG11 Testing, which means the Elemento has gained a five-star rating from Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab.

The Elemento is constructed using a composite technopolymer called Fluid Carbon 12 which is said to be more resistant to stress than standard plastics. Kask also adds that the Fluid Carbon 12 outer shell is capable of absorbing more impact energy and will distribute that force evenly across the helmet. This also allows an increase in the internal channels which gives the Elemento plenty of cooling ventilation.

Read our full review of the Kask Elemento to find out more.

2. Best value

The MET Estro MIPS gravel helmet side on sitting on leaves

The MET Estro MIPS represents incredible value (Image credit: Matt Hawkins)
The Estro has a brilliant price vs feature ratio which gives superb value for money

Specifications

Weight : 280g (Medium)
Sizes: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great price point
+
Super fit and very comfortable
+
Well-ventilated
+
Wide range of color options

Reasons to avoid

-
Dial closure could be improved
-
Reflective detailing is poor

For a helmet that sits in the middle of its range, the MET Estro MIPS represents superb value. Our tester Matthew Hawkins said the Estro was "a solid choice for a helmet suitable for both gravel and road riding." MET has designed the Estro MIPS to be a safe and comfortable option and is one of the most competitively priced helmets around when compared to similar helmets from other manufacturers.

The Estro is constructed from EPS which is designed to absorb impact forces and is backed up with the MIPS safety system, making it a top-specced helmet for head protection. Ventilation is also excellent and Matt noted that the 26 vents and ‘Internal engineered air channeling’ kept his head cool, even when wearing a cap and grinding up some steep climbs. 

Elsewhere the Estro has some other winning performance details like the sunglasses port that holds sunglasses securely when not in use – a fairly important feature that can be lacking in some of the other helmets in this guide. Another cool addition is the (sold separately) magnetic, USB rechargeable rear light which attaches to the back of the helmet. The light has a battery life of around six hours and various modes including an Automatic Night Safe mode.

Check out Matt's full review of the MET Eros MIPS helmet to find out more.

3. Best entry-level

Cannondale Junction gravel helmet being worn by a man with beard

The Cannondale Junction is an entry-level lid with a great price (Image credit: GuyKesTV)
Cannondale's entry-level helmet has plenty of appeal at a superb price

Specifications

Weight : 270g (Small/Medium)
Sizes: S/M, L/XL
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Very competitively priced
+
Lightweight
+
MIPS
+
Comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much color choice
-
Limited sizing

The Cannondale Junction is part of the US brand's range of affordable MIPS-equipped helmets, and for anyone looking for a nicely specced helmet for gravel bike riding then it's well worthy of consideration.

//needs some more info on why we chose the helmet//

On review, our tester, Guy Kesteven, was full of praise for the Junction and said, "The biggest recommendation for the Junction is the fact I’ve ended up using it a lot more than I needed to for testing." and also added, "Cannondale have certainly done a great job of launching themselves towards the top of the best gravel bike helmet rankings with the Junction."

Read Guy's full review of the Cannondale Junction.

4. Best for safety

POC Ventral Air SPIN gravel helmet in Green on a white backdrop

Featuring POC's own take on MIPS, the Ventral Air SPIN is loaded with safety features (Image credit: POC)

POC Ventral Air SPIN

Safety is at the forefront with POC's Ventral Air SPIN

Specifications

Weight : 265g (Large)
Sizes : S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
SPIN impact safety liner
+
POC's proven aero 
+
Lightweight
+
POC eye garage

Reasons to avoid

-
POC price tag

POC’s Ventral Air SPIN features the brand's own take on the MIPS safety system – SPIN, which stands for Shearing Pad INside and is basically lightweight silicone pads that mimic MIPS rotational protection, without the heavy inner plastic liner of the MIPS system.

It also has a high-performance EPS liner that is designed to provide an ideal balance of low weight and crash protection. The fully wrapped unibody shell construction completes the safety and helmet integrity line-up of features and makes the POC Ventral Air SPIN one of the best-specced gravel helmets for safety.

The POC helmet also has been extensively tested in a wind tunnel and therefore has claimed low aerodynamic drag and terrific ventilation levels. Ventilation is ported across the head instead of creating no-flow spots, which can be an issue with helmets that have poorly designed airflow properties.

The POC Ventral Air also features an eye garage for keeping your riding eyewear securely stored.

5. Best for ventilation

Specialized S-Works Prevail 3 in White on a White background

The S-Works Prevail 3 is designed to provide the best ventilation possible (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized S-Works Prevail 3

A highly ventilated helmet designed to excel in the hottest conditions

Specifications

Weight: 300g (Large)
Size: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant cooling performance
+
ANGi crash signalling tech is an additional safety layer
+
Great color selection

Reasons to avoid

-
ANGi needs network signal to work 

Specialized says the Prevail 3 is the most ventilated helmet it has ever made and makes it suitable for the hottest days of gravel bike racing or long adventure days in the saddle. The US giants say with the Prevail 3 that they eliminated air-blocking foam “bridges” and created thru-air channels that increased ventilation by 24 percent when compared to the previous S-Works Prevail II Vent helmet.

Gravel racing and the best gravel bike adventures can see riders out in the wilderness often alone and isolated and safety features on the Prevail 3 include Specialized’s ANGi sensor, which has you covered should the worst occur and means the Prevail 3 can trigger a signal to selected emergency contacts if you crash. It also has MIPS Node Air technology integrated directly into the helmet padding.

The sides have small ports near the edge of the helmet, and where the Air-Cage is bound, it’s covered with polycarbonate which also gives it an aerodynamic styling vibe.

6. Best for fit

100% Altis Gravel helmet in the Black and Red colorway side on

The 100% Altis Gravel helmet has different looks and colorways  (Image credit: 100%)

100% Altis Gravel

The 100% Altis Gravel has an easy on-the-fly fit system

Specifications

Weight : 288g (Medium)
Sizes : XS/SM, SM/MD, LG/XL
Rotational impact system : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Ratcheting fitment system
+
Brings rotational impact to a lower price point
+
Neat styling and diverse colorway

Reasons to avoid

-
Colorways might not suit everyone

Renowned for its mountain bike gear, 100%'s gravel bike helmet also offers a lot. The Altis Gravel has an intuitive fit adjust system, 14 ventilation ports and decent aero performance.

The 100% product team keeps it simple by using a traditional ratchet system, proven to allow for easy on-the-fly fit tensioning. 100% uses a proprietary Smart Shock Rotational Protective System which is similar to MIPS but cheaper, and it uses a series of elastomers between the helmet’s inner shell and fit retention system, which absorb compressive forces in a crash. They also move sideways, adding yet another dimension of energy dissipation in the event of a crash. 

Venting is also impressive and they are large for maximum airflow, but shaped not to create unnecessary drag.

7. Best all-rounder

Fox Racing Crossframe Pro helmet side on in White colorway sitting on a log

The Crossframe Pro has unique but appealing good looks (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Fox Crossframe Pro

Lightweight and adaptable that can double up for use across most disciplines

Specifications

Weight : 390g (Large)
Size: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Customizable Boa fit system 
+
Plenty ventilation
+
Sunglasses storage is brilliant
+
Eye-catching design and looks

Reasons to avoid

-
Costly
-
Unique looks won't be for everyone

The Fox Crossframe Pro is a versatile helmet aimed at gravel bike riders but also is easily adaptable for use as one of the best mountain bike helmets. The Crossframe Pro features plenty of premium features like improved fit, breathability and safety technology including MIPS crash protection.

It has an unusual look that I loved and the visorless helmet has an aggressive curved peak-shaped design that gives it an eye-catching look. Fox say the design isn't just for looks, and has allowed for plenty of ventilation channels which gives it a noticeable cooling performance, and it delivered efficient cooling on some testing gravel bike climbs.

Another noteworthy feature that I liked was the rubberized TPU vent inserts that kept sunglasses firmly stored securely when not in use. They are significantly grippy compared to some other helmets.

Safety features are built around a MIPS protection system and there is also a dual-density Varizorb EPS foam for improved protection on high and low-speed impacts. A safe and secure fit is achieved with a Boa fit system and a Fidlock magnetic SNAP helmet buckle.

Read our first ride impressions of the Fox Crossframe Pro helmet for all the details.

8. Best for style

Oakley ARO3 helmet worn by a man in sunglasses, side on in Matte Curry color

The Oakley ARO3 helmet has a stylish vibe (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Oakley ARO3 Allroad

An on-trend gravel helmet with plenty of tech to back up its looks

Specifications

Weight: 340g (Large)
Size: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Gravel-specific looks and design
+
Very gravel trendy color choices
+
Plenty safety features
+
Removable visor

Reasons to avoid

-
Sizing comes up on the smallish side

Oakley's ARO3 Allroad helmet has been designed in close collaboration with the gravel biking community, and it "meets the needs of those who create their routes, going off the beaten path in the quest for adventure". It certainly ticks all the boxes for style, and good looks and features on-trend gravel colorways with names like Matte Light Curry and Matte Ginger/Grenache. 

However, its looks are backed up with plenty of performance and safety features including a 360-degree fit system with an adjustable dial to provide a more customized fit and works alongside the integrated MIPS system. The ARO3 Allroad also uses Oakley's Skull Matrix technology which enhances safety and comfort. 

There is also a very small removable visor that Oakley claims will protect riders from sun and debris, but it remains to be seen whether it actually does anything or is just a looks-enhancing addition. 

I'm currently testing the Oakley ARO3 Allroad helmet, and the full review will appear soon.

9. Best lightweight

A birdseye view of the Mavic Syncro SL helmet on slabs

The stripped-back Syncro SL helmet is a lightweight offering from Mavic (Image credit: GuyKesTV)
The Syncro Sl is lightweight but also ticks the boxes on safety, cooling and looks

Specifications

Weight: 284g (Medium)
Size: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
MIPS protective liner
+
Plenty venting
+
Removable visor

Reasons to avoid

-
Minimal rear head coverage

The Mavic Syncro SL MIPS helmet is a lightweight gravel/XC helmet that weighs in at just 284g when tested by our Tech Editor, Guy Kesteven. Guy found the Syncro SL to be "a well-ventilated, stripped-back helmet that still featured plenty of safety tech."

It has as the name suggests – the MIPS safety system, which is a liner found on almost all the best cycling helmets that reduces the chance of rotational brain damage should a crash occur. 

Elsewhere the helmet features what Mavic calls “patented Live Fit technology” with XRD foam, which is a low-profile padding molded into a single sheet that uses active particles to absorb heat from your head and wick away sweat. Guy also noted that the multiple vents and internal channeling also fed plenty of air through the Syncro, keeping his head cool at all speeds.

Read Guy's full review of the Mavic Syncro SL helmet for further information.

10. Best for gravel racing

POC Omne Lite helmet pictured from the side sitting on grass and leaves

POC say the Omne Lite is the ultimate in functionality for the casual racer (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Specifications

Weight: 233g (Medium)
Size: S, M, L
Rotational impact liner : No

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Excellent cooling
+
EPS liner gives optimized protection
+
Loads of POC color choice

Reasons to avoid

-
No MIPS system

The POC Omne Lite is a stripped-down gravel race-ready version of its popular Omne helmet. On review, Graham Cottingham said, "The low weight and secure fit means the POC Omne Lite becomes unnoticeable when you are riding in it. I wore it for all manner of rides from high-intensity training rides to 200km of gravel racing at the Dirty Reiver and everything in between with zero issues with comfort or security."

The only real downside on the Omne Lite is a lack of a MIPS system and "that might be a deal breaker for some.'' It does come with a lightweight EPS liner that is claimed to give optimized protection, which also adds to the overall lightness of the helmet.

Graham also noted that the Omne Lite looks great and comes in a huge selection of classic POC colorways.

Read his full review on the POC Omne Lite for all the information.

Buying tips

Although just about any open-face bike helmet is suitable for gravel riding, I've listed a few points worth considering when picking your next helmet. 

  • 1. Safety features
  • 2. Ventilation
  • 3. Weight
  • 4. Fastening system and fit
  • 5. Cost

1. Safety features

It's a 'no-brainer' to have your head protected by investing in the best gravel helmet you can afford. Helmet manufacturers are constantly developing their technology to ensure not just gravel-specific helmets, but all cycling helmets are always improving.

MIPS is the gold standard of protection and is commonplace at most price points. Designed to offer rotational force protection in the event of a crash and absorb more energy, we certainly recommend checking out the best MIPS helmets when considering your choice. Many brands have adopted their takes on MIPS with helmets like the Kask Elemento using a 3D-printed Multipod internal padding, and our best for safety helmet – the POC Ventral Air SPIN using its SPIN technology that delivers similar rotational protection as MIPS.

Even the best budget helmets will have excellent safety features. Many still use Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) to absorb impacts, so even the cheapest of helmets will have you covered. A good tip is always to look for discounts on more expensive models, especially during Black Friday or Amazon Prime Days where you can maybe pick up a sweet deal on a far better specced helmet.

2. Ventilation

Keeping cool and comfortable is another consideration when weighing up your options when buying a helmet. Most of the best bike brands and helmet manufacturers will have ventilation as a big selling and marketing point when launching a new helmet. 

There is nothing worse than sweat dripping down your face, into your eyes and fogging up your sunglasses, so efficient cooling is crucial to try and avoid this. Specialized, for example, says its S-Works Prevail 3 is "the most ventilated helmet they have ever made" and the Fox Crossframe Pro was a helmet that delivered exceptional cooling on test, designed with plenty of ventilation channels.

It's hard to tell how a helmet will perform and to get through the marketing blurb, without actually riding in it, and we have highlighted the best gravel helmets that we think deliver good ventilation. It's also worth reading out in-depth best mountain bike helmets feature, as many of those helmets will be easily adaptable for gravel riding.

3. Weight

A lightweight helmet goes hand in hand with a well-ventilated option, and of course, a helmet that feels feathery on your head is ideal and helps with reducing sweat and overheating. We have added all the weights of each helmet in the guide to help with choosing.

I selected the Mavic Syncro SL MIPS helmet as the best lightweight option, and it comes in at just 284g in a size Medium, and although there are lighter options the features included on the Syncro, like a MIPS liner meant it got the nod for lightness.

The POC Omne Lite comes in at just 233g in a Medium but lacks the MIPS safety feature, so it's really down to individual preference when it comes to 'weighing up' the overall package in a helmet and what features are important to you.

4. Fastening system and size

There are a few different variants regarding the fastening system on a helmet. We liked the 100% Altis Gravel helmet with an easy on-the-fly fit system. Other helmets have a Boa dial for adjustment or similar dial versions. The Fox Crossframe Pro delivers a safe and secure fit with a Boa fit system and a Fidlock magnetic SNAP helmet buckle, and again buckles are all fairly similar in general. Mostly it's down to your own preference, what feels good on your head, and of course the price.

Sizing can vary dramatically from brand to brand, and checking the measurements on head circumference is recommended. The Oakley ARO3 Allroad, for example, is smaller for me in a Large when compared to the Kask Elemento, so worth remembering if you're ordering online.

5. Cost

In my opinion, cost is subjective. A helmet will save your life should the worst happen and you have a nasty crash. I've experienced a severe head impact crash and I will be forever grateful to the Kask Protone that sacrificed itself to save me from a severe head injury. I've often wondered if a lesser helmet would have delivered the same protection, but it's not something I'd like to test.

Our advice would be to check out all the features of the helmets you are considering, and how they compare for value. We thought the MET Estro MIPS represented tremendous value for the features, but if you're after one, check out the live best deal prices at the bottom of this article. There are usually discounts to be had – especially around Amazon Prime Days and other sales periods like Cyber Monday and the January sales.

FAQs

Can I use my mountain bike or road bike helmet for gravel?

In short, absolutely. That's not to say investing in the best gravel bike helmet isn't a worthwhile consideration. Even the lightest of the best half-shell mountain bike helmets still prioritize extra coverage and protection and the compromise of ventilation. On the flipside, road helmets offer great ventilation but lack the deep coverage of a mountain bike helmet.

Gravel helmets fall in the middle to try and offer a middle ground in lightweight, well-ventilated performance with a little extra coverage to deals with the more unpredictable nature of riding off-road.

Why is MIPS important?

MIPS has been a revolutionary innovation in mountain bike helmet safety – and has migrated to road and gravel riding.

What is MIPS in helmets? The concept is simple: you rarely crash directly on top of your head – unless it is an extraordinary over the bars crash.

Most crashes involve riders detaching from the bike in a side-off motion. And impacting terrain at an awkward angle, creating a sharp angular force on the helmet. This twisting motion of the helmet clashing with terrain, can jerk the brain – and cause soft tissue damage.

Having a slip-plane liner inside the helmet helps absorb some of this unexpected and rapid helmet movement when impacting terrain. Although MIPS is the most common system that is used, some helmet brands offer their own alternatives.

The takeaway logic is this: nobody knows they need a directional impact absorption system until they are sitting on the deck, dazed and confused, after a crash.

Visor or no visor?

Mountain bike helmets usually feature a visor, which is one of the most obvious distinguishing features when comparing an off-road helmet to a road helmet. The visor adds a little extra protection from the sun, weather, tree branches and, in less than ideal scenarios, the ground.

Road helmets forego visors as it helps drop weight and improve aerodynamics and ventilation. If road riders do need a little extra protection from the elements they will opt for a cloth cap instead.

Whether you want a peak will depend somewhat on the speed and protection you seek, but in reality, it's more likely to be decided by the aesthetic of the helmet. There are no rules but we generally opt for a peakless helmet when wearing lycra and a visor if we are in baggier clothing.

How we test

Our expert reviewers have put the best gravel bike helmets through their paces on various surfaces, from the roughest gravel trails to tarmac roads and everything in between. We've tested our selections over many hours of hard riding to test them out for all the most important requirements including safety, ventilation and comfort to bring you the best advice when choosing a gravel helmet.

Meet the testers

Guy Kesteven riding Scor 1060 test bike
Guy Kesteven

Guy has been testing cycling gear for over 20 years and has thrown his leg over thousands of bikes and tested plenty of helmets. He therefore knows what to look out for when it comes to the selection of a gravel-ready lid.

Graham Cottingham at FNLD GRVL
Graham Cottingham

Graham is about riding bikes off-road and has ridden and raced many of the best gravel events, like the Rapha Pennine Rally, the Dirty Reiver and FNLD GRVL. As Bike Perfect's Senior reviews writer, he has also tested a load of the best gravel bikes, kits and helmets around.

Paul Brett on gravel bike
Paul Brett

Paul has an obsession for gravel riding and as an outdoor enthusiast, the spirit of gravel riding bit him straight away. Based just outside Edinburgh he has some of the best gravel riding in Scotland on his doorstep.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm

With contributions from