The best women’s mountain bike helmets offer some much-needed protection and a precision fit. You only have one brain and it’s worth looking after because let's face it, crashes are part and parcel of mountain bike riding and it doesn’t need to be a big off to have an impact. Happily, technology is such that the best women’s MTB helmets on the market these days have plenty of cutting-edge design that ensures you can ride safely without overheating, and with a dash of style to boot.
When choosing the best mountain bike helmet, you need to first determine what size you are; most helmets are available in size ranges like S, M and L with a centimeter range for each of these. If you’re between sizes, try both to see which works better for you. You’re looking for a fit that’s snug but not tight, that doesn’t pinch or rub. You also shouldn’t have to tighten it up all the way to fit your head, nor should it be on the widest setting. Don’t forget to adjust the chin straps to fit, too.
All helmets featured here pass stringent safety regulations, so will provide a high level of protection. Whether you're an avid helmet-wearer or a skeptic posing the question, 'how dangerous is mountain biking anyway?', we hope you'll agree that safety is of the utmost importance.
That's why in addition to safety certifications, some helmets have extra safety features. Some of you might be asking the question 'What is MIPS in helmets?' Well, MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) is designed to allow the head to move a little inside the helmet, dissipating rotational forces in the case of an impact. Other safety features include things like Smith’s Koroyd impact protection, which is made up of a very breathable honeycomb-like material that again absorbs forces while staying lightweight.
One thing you’ll notice is that many of these helmets aren’t listed as women’s specific; in fact, most of them are unisex. The brands say there is very little difference between the skull shape of a man and a woman when it comes to the stats that are important for helmet fit, so different helmet designs aren’t necessary. This means that brands now generally produce their helmets in a wider size range, in a wider array of colors.
There are a few little things to consider here though, one of which being ‘what do I do with my long hair while riding?!’ And there are plenty of guys with long hair too. If that’s a consideration for you, look out for brands that have a wider gap between the closure system at the rear base of the helmet and the helmet itself; brands like Specialized have designed this to be bigger so you can thread a ponytail through, and they call it their ‘hairport’.
Read on for our pick of the best women's mountain bike helmets, and if you're not sure what to look for, jump to our section on how to choose the best women's mountain bike helmet.
Best women’s mountain bike helmets
Women's specific brand Liv Cycling doesn't just produce women's bikes, but also the gear to go with them. Among its helmet offerings, the Infinita SX MIPS is a cross-country helmet with a removable and adjustable moto-style visor that's designed to offer protection while also looking good.
In terms of protection the helmet has low coverage at the back, while inside you'll find a MIPS layer to protect against rotational impact. Meanwhile the combination of the brand's Cinch One Pro 360-degree retention system alongside its LiteForm webbing helps you to achieve a snug fit that remains comfortable for hours on the bike.
A whopping 20 air vents help to channel cooling airflow around and over the head, making the Infinita SX MIPS a stellar option for hot weather riding, while the antimicrobial padding inside helps to wick away sweat and prevent bacteria build-up. When it starts to get smelly, just remove it, wash it, and put it back in.
Some added features that will appeal to many, include an integrated google strap to help keep your eyewear in place as you descend the rough stuff, and a couple of built-in GoPro mounts on the front and top make it easy for you to attach your action camera and capture your favourite rides.
If you like your helmet to offer deep coverage, dropping low over the back of your head, then the Giro Montara has literally got you covered. Designed for riders who like fast, technical and rowdy riding, it offers plenty of protection with integrated MIPS, and also has a helmet camera mount designed to detach in the event of a crash which is ideal - you don’t want it hooking up on anything and causing your head to twist, right?
This women’s specific helmet differs only really in terms of color palette and sizing, but definitely doesn't have lesser parts. Plenty of vents offer cooling air flow but it’s not as vented as other helmets listed here.
It’s also been designed to play nicely with goggles, with an adjustable peak and a goggle strap channel to keep them securely in place.
If you want a good helmet that has plenty of safety features and does everything you need to do well, then the Fox Speedframe is one to check out. This is especially so if you like having a helmet that coordinates with your kit.
The Speedframe has MIPS technology, which gives additional protection from rotational forces in a crash. This is in addition to force-absorbing dual-density EPS foam, making it a highly-rated helmet for protection in independent tests.
A magnetic clasp on the chin strap is easy to snap into place while wearing gloves, even one-handed, and a dial at the back of the helmet allows you to tighten and loosen the fit so it sits securely on your head.
This colorway in the Smith Session helmet lineup is certainly eye catching! But don’t worry - Smith offers as many different colorways as Fox so if you don’t want zebra stripes and fluro pink, the brand will still have something to keep you looking stylish and protected at the same time.
The Session features MIPS and also Smith’s own Koroyd system which adds more impact-force-absorbing material but for a minimal weight penalty, and it’s super-breathable too thanks to its tubular honey-comb structure and plenty of air vents designed to channel air over and around your head.
Around the head, fit is adjusted using a dial system, and the straps fasten under the chin with a clip fastening.
Combining historic moto and MTB heritage with cutting-edge protective technology, the A2 helmet from Troy Lee looks good and will look after you if you do have a spill.
It has a striking signature look that’s about more than just aesthetics, though it does have distinctive graphics and comes in a range of cool colors. There are 13 air vents that channel air flow in through the front and out through the back as you ride, helping to keep your head cool.
The visor is designed to break away in big crashes so you don’t get your head hooked up and twisted, which helps guard against neck injury. The dual-density EPS and EPP foam liner absorbs impact forces, and it comes with MIPS too.
No-one likes forehead spots from a sweaty helmet liner, so the A2 liner foam is infused with antimicrobial silver, and you can buy replacement liners if it gets too stinky to use.
And if you really want that full Troy Lee experience, you can get some custom lettering on your lid for an extra $150.
The Ambush Comp helmet from Specialized has all the features you’d expect from a highly rated helmet: plenty of cooling air vents, a range of sizes, adjustable fit and MIPS. But it also has one stand-out feature that’s likely to be of particular interest to riders who like to head off for more solo adventures.
It features an integrated ANGi sensor. This sits just inside the back of the helmet and, through measuring the forces that go through it, can detect if the wearer has been in a crash. You pair the sensor with an app on your phone, and if a crash has been detected, it can alert your emergency contacts and let them know where you are. It can also track you as you ride, if you enable that function, so friends or family can follow you from afar.
If you ride fast and hard, or you’re on an e-MTB, you may be interested in the extra protection offered by the POC Kortal. Designed for e-MTB use, it offers protection at the higher impact speeds you see on e-bikes, and has been deemed as suitable for that use by the Dutch, certified to their NTA8776 standard. But even if you prefer an analog bike, this level of protection is great news for enduro racers.
In addition to offering plenty of coverage, the Kortal is equipped with RECCO, an echo-location system used by mountain rescue and more often found in winter sports kit. The peak is designed to break away in the case of impact which helps prevent the head and neck from twisting, and a one-piece outer shell with lightweight EPS foam padding provides more force-dissipating protection.
Designed to work well with goggles, the peak rises so they can be left on while wearing glasses or riding without. If you want even more protection, there’s the Kortal Race MIPS above this helmet in the range.
How to choose the best women's mountain bike helmet
What type of helmet should I buy?
Your riding discipline will determine the type of helmet you buy.
If you're into cross-country mountain biking then you'll want to opt for one of the best XC helmets, which is similar to road bike helmets, in that they tend to be lightweight and have a more circular profile. Lots of air vents will help to keep your head cool while pushing yourself to the limit on a cross-country course.
For more coverage, opt for trail or the best enduro helmets, which tend to be slightly bulkier and provide more protection at the back of the head. You could also consider a full-face helmet with a detachable chin bar for ultimate versatility if you're spending a lot of time on gnarlier tracks.
Of course, with lots of cross-over between MTB disciplines and helmet designs, it all really comes down to personal preference.
How do I choose the right fit?
For your helmet to work properly and provide optimal protection in the event of a crash, you need to get the fit right. Any slippage on impact can cause severe head injury, so make sure you buy a well-fitting helmet that sits snugly on your head and stays put.
Take a look at each brand's size guide before buying online, and use a soft tape measure to get an accurate measurement of your head circumference. Most helmets will come in a range of sizes (usually S, M and L) and will have a range for each size. Once you know the exact measurement of your head, you can easily choose the correct size depending on where your measurement falls in those ranges.
Of course, skull shape can have a huge impact on how well and comfortably a helmet can fit your head. Therefore our key piece of advice is to try before you buy.
What is rotational impact protection?
When you see us talking about rotational impact protection, we're referring to the damage that can be caused when a helmet rotates on your head in the moment of impact. There's a difference between the damage caused by your head hitting a surface, and that caused by your helmet sliding across your head at the same time.
To tackle this and make helmets even more safe, plenty of helmet manufacturers have developed spherical helmet technologies. Imagine a ball and socket, where one layer moves freely, while the other stays put. Research suggests that incorporating this type of protection can absorb more energy and reduce the amount of force on your head.
You'll see lots of helmet brands offering their own takes on spherical technology. Key examples are MIPS, used by a variety of brands, SPIN by POC, and Koroyd by Smith.
What makes a helmet well ventilated?
Whether you're riding in really hot weather, or you're putting in a huge amount of effort, there's nothing worse than feeling like your head is hot and having sweat pour down your face and neck.
That's why lots of helmets these days are built with multiple air channels and ventilation ports to help tackle overheating. It's difficult to know how well it can do this without trying it out first, but a good clue is how many air vents a helmet offers. You'll see that in our list of recommendations here, we've included the number of air vents, which go all the way up to 20 in the case of the Liv Infinita SX MIPS.