When you’re out riding in the heat, it can get unpleasant. There are four ways the human body can regulate its temperature;
- Through sweating- vaporization
- Heat leaving the body into the surrounding air– radiation
- By allowing cool air to surround the body- convection
- By jumping into cold water- conduction
By having a helmet that has proper ventilation, the first three of the four can be achieved. What you need to look for in a helmet is one with a sweat management system or a washable liner, great breathability, lightweight and superior ventilation. Additionally, an adjustable visor will give you a little more protection from the sun while riding.
Best Mountain Bike Helmets for Riding in Hot Weather
Here we have the top 3 helmets in terms of sweat management, breathability and ventilation, to keep you cool while out riding in hot weather.
Fox Speedframe Pro Helmet Review
A good quality helmet for riders who want a helmet they can ride with comfortably all day. Perfect for the trail rider and enduro rider alike, who aren’t phased by the additional weight from the extra protection it provides.
- Dual-Density Foam
- Adjustable Visor
- Goggle Compatible
- Great Retention System
- Excellent Value
- Not as much coverage as you would expect
The Fox Speedframe Pro was designed for the trail rider who wants all aspects of the helmet designed with functionality, comfort and safety as a priority, but for a mid-range price tag.
Ventilation: One thing that Fox has done very well with the Speedframe Pro is creating a design that is well ventilated. It has 26 vents, of which three are across the brow and two full-length interior channels, which allow the air to pass through the entire length of the helmet.
Sweat Management: The interior padding is rather minimalistic. It has sufficient padding to maintain a comfortable fit but prevents sweat build up. It has sweat-wicking padding, which absorbs sweat and prevents it from getting into your eyes or eyewear.
Weight: The Speedframe Pro weighs around 400g for a size medium, which isn’t bad, but it isn’t incredible either. It is the heaviest of the remaining two reviewed here, but with a maximum difference of about 50g, it’s barely noticeable, especially while riding.
Safety: The Speedframe Pro has ample protection measures to keep your head safe. It features MIPS integrated into the liner, which reduces the energy transferred to the head following angular impacts.
It also has dual-density foam, which is usually reserved for the pricier full-face helmets. The dual-density foam made of both EPP (expanded polypropylene) and EPS (expanded polystyrene) reduces the energy in both slow and fast impacts. The EPP layer also means the helmet can withstand more than one impact, whereas a standard EPS helmet can only withstand one impact.
The only real negative about the helmet is the minimal coverage of the helmet compared to many other helmets in direct competition. The coverage of the rear of the head and above the ears are slightly less, and it sits slightly higher on the head, making the riders head a little more vulnerable in a crash.
Other features: The visor is adjustable, which allows you to store goggles beneath the visor and will shade your eyes from sunlight when you need it.
The Speedframe has a Fidlock magnetic buckle, which basically snaps together when you are holding both ends close to one another. The strap also has a strap splitter below the ears, keeping the straps sitting firmly away from the ears and reducing any chances of becoming twisted and uncomfortable.
100% Altec Helmet Review
- Very well ventilated
- Smartshock technology
- Comfort may be compromised for some head shapes
A light and sleek looking helmet, designed to cope brilliantly in the hot weather or during long sweaty climbs. Possibly the best ventilated open-face mountain bike helmet on the market at the moment- and it’s not even in the high price range!
Ventilation: Coming from a full-face background, 100% knows the importance of ventilation and has crafted a model that is light and breezy-perfect for those hot days.
The 15 vents are large and strategically placed to keep the riders head as cool as possible. Internal vents pass air from the front through to the back, ensuring your head never overheats.
Sweat management: The interior padding is moisture-wicking, which should prevent any sweat from getting into your eyes or eyewear. It is also anti-microbial, so it won’t start to smell after a while- but if it does, the liner is actually washable.
Weight: The medium-sized Altec weighs 350g, which is pretty impressive. It is the lightest helmet in this review and one of the lightest helmets on the market, with the exception of the Specialized Ambush and POC Tectal Race SPIN, which you pay a fair bit more for! So unless you are looking at racing cross country riding, I don’t think anyone will be complaining about the weight of the Altec!
Safety: The Altec system features 100%’s Smartshock system, which works to the same effect but slightly different from the MIPS technology. Instead of having an internal liner as MIPS does, Smartshock has 14 small shock-absorbing pads which reduce energy from direct impacts and rotate with the helmet to reduce energy in side-to-side and rotational impacts. This is very clever tech that means the rider does not need to rely on the EPS foam to reduce energy from direct impacts. Additionally, 100%’s multi-density EPS foam is a mold between the outer polycarbonate shell and the inner EPS foam, providing the Altec with a little more durability and protection.
Other features: The Altec is pretty simple in design and really only has a couple of additional features for convenience. 100% has designed a couple of grooves into the helmet to hold the rider’s sunglasses without fear of them slipping out. The visor is adjustable and has a wide range of adjustability. It rotates high enough to store goggles beneath the visor if needed.
Troy Lee Designs A2 Trail Helmet Review
- Dual-density liner
- MIPS technology
- Very comfortable
- Well ventilated
- Visor has a minimal adjustment
- Not goggle compatible
The A2 is one of the world’s most popular models for a reason. It’s light, comfortable, well ventilated, and meets high protection standards. The original concern with the Troy Lee Designs A1 was the limited ventilation- which people tended to put up with due to the incredible comfort of the helmet. The A2 has upgraded the ventilation by an impressive 25% while maintaining the same levels of comfort.
Ventilation: Don’t be fooled by the very low number of vents. The 13 vents that the A2 does have work a treat due to the incredible vent layout throughout the helmet. The large air intakes are connected to exhaust ports through channeling through the helmet to provide exemplary cooling. It is noticeable the difference between the A1 and the A 2 when riding, in terms of the improved ventilation.
Sweat management: The A2 has a little less padding than the A1, which means fewer points touching your head, so there is theoretically less sweat build up. The X-static padding has integrated silver threading, which reduces microbial growth- hence there is no smell build up.
Weight: At 385 g, the A2 is very light. The weight of the helmet certainly will not be causing the heat build-up while you are riding!
Safety: The A2 features MIPS technology to reduce the energy transferred to the rider’s head following an angular impact. It also has dual-density EPS and EPP layers, which reduces the energy from high-speed and low-speed impacts, respectively. The fully in-molded outer shell gives the helmet a little more reinforcement, making the helmet stronger and, therefore, safer!
Additionally, the visor on the helmet will break off under impact to reduce the chances of the rider having an awkward angular crash.
Other features: While the visor is adjustable, it is not adjustable to the point where you can store goggles beneath the visor when they are not needed. This is a pain if you ride with goggles and don’t really have any other ways of storing the goggles when you don’t want them.
The fitting of the helmet is excellent, making use of the simple ratchet system. This ensures the helmet doesn’t move around much and creates no pressure points against your head. The straps are no fuss, kept very simple, and out of the way. The fixed joining system prevents any interference between the straps and the ears.
So which one is better?
Personally, I am a fan of the Fox Speedframe, which gives the rider a serious amount of protection while keeping the rider well ventilated and as comfortable as possible in the notorious heat. It also looks very polished, and the price is a fair bit slower than the other two helmets.
If you really need that extra bit of cooling, the 100% Altec is technically the best-ventilated helmet on the list and potentially on the market. The only downside to it is due to its minimalism to keep you nice and cool, it has reduced the comfort on the head.
The A2 is easily the most comfortable of the helmets and is an excellent helmet regardless of the weather. The ventilation is incredible, as is the safety features, but not being able to store the goggles beneath the visor while riding is what puts me off personally. If you do not see this as an issue for you, as you simply don’t ride with goggles with a trail helmet or you have another method of storing them, then there really is no reason not to go with it!
How else to keep cool on hot rides?
As I write this post on a very hot day, after heading back from a ride, I tried to think of some other ways of keeping cool while riding. Here is a list of a few things that I would do to keep cool during a hot ride.
Wearing cooler clothing which allows heat to pass through the fabric easily also helps. Synthetic materials such as acrylic and nylon assist in this. Something along the lines of these, would be recommended, but stay away from black clothing as it heats up faster!
Having thin socks can mean you don’t get so hot and clammy. We have found a few here:
For any riders with long hair, keeping your hair tied away from your neck helps keep you a little cooler.
Some riders I know tend to ditch the gloves on hot rides, but I wouldn’t recommend this, as scaping the skin off your hands hurts big time. Personally, I tend to chuck the gloves in my pocket for the climbs and put them on the descent.
It may sound funny to those who have never heard of them but having vents on your cycling shorts tend to help a lot! The vents are typically either on the inside or outside of your thighs and unzip to reveal a mesh material that allows air to come in and out freely, cooling your legs down. I use these a fair bit and find they help cool me down on hot climbs or even riding down the trails.