Wouldn’t it be nice if helmet manufacturers somehow came up with a design for a full-face helmet which was breathable, light, and well ventilated, so riding longer distances was a lot more comfortable? While it will be incredibly hard to manufacture a helmet which was highly protective, but was still as breathable and as easy to wear as an open face helmet, some manufacturers have made it partway.
The extent that helmets have developed in the past two decades is astonishing in terms of weight and ventilation, but also the range. There is a huge number of full-face helmets out on the market these days, but still, it is hard to find the right one for your riding style.
I hear some of you asking what the point of a well ventilated, light full-face helmet is? Aren’t they just used for chairlift or shuttle laps? The answer is no; a full face can be used on any sort of terrain, not just the gnarliest expert lines. There is certainly a number of stories of riders out on a mellow blue trail and flip over the bars, breaking their jaw. It’s not something you want to experience, but a full-face would have likely prevented a broken jaw.
The only issue with riding the chill trails in a full-face is that it feels like overkill when you have an incredibly heavy helmet, which is restricting your breathing and making you drip with sweat! (See here for guidance on when you need to wear a full face helmet). But it doesn’t have to be this way…
Top Three Best Ventilated Mountain Bike Helmets
Here we have the top three most ventilated helmets on the market in 2020.
1. Troy Lee Designs Stage
With goggle compatibility, a super-light frame, and incredibly breathable- the Stage has certainly got a lot to offer both enduro and the casual downhill riders.
- Extra padding for perfect fit
- Low profile design feels flimsy
Here is a genuinely excellent helmet across all fronts. First and foremost, the ventilation on the helmet is exceptional. It has a total of 25 vents, 11 high flow air intakes and 14 exhaust ports, as well as large ventilation chin bar openings which ensure air is passing over your head at a rapid pace. While you are out riding, and have the air streaming past you, it almost feels like you are wearing an open face rather than a downhill. Of course, once you stop, you realize just how protected you are with a chin bar and a decent amount of padding.
To limit the amount of sweat build up you get while wearing the helmet, Troy Lee Designs has chucked in some contoured cheek pads and a washable X-Static liner. It weighs around 685g, which to put into perspective is 65g lighter than the Fox Proframe, and 165g lighter than the Leatt DBX 4.0 (both reviewed below). So, it is exceptionally lightweight!
Other essential information: The Stage has a MIPS liner, is downhill certified and has a combination of EPS and EPP foam. All this means is that it is very safe! The MIPS system reduces the rotational energy transferred to the head from angular crashes, which is essential for a downhill helmet. And the dual-density foam layers reduce the amount of energy transferred to the head in high energy and low energy linear impacts.
2. Fox Racing Proframe
Perfect for the rider who just wants a good, solid, traditional style downhill helmet, which is comfortable, well ventilated, and sure to keep your head protected following an impact.
- Additional padding for a great fit
- Very high safety rating
- Fixed visor
- Not goggle compatible
Designed with the enduro riders in mind, Fox has created a helmet which allows the breathability of an open face, while proving the protection (and certification) of a downhill helmet. The chin bar is relatively open, with mainly the structural framing present with 24 very large vents over the helmet, and a fixed visor which is positioned to maximize the airflow into the helmet.
It weighs just 750g, which is much lighter than your typical full face. This makes it so good for pretty much any terrain and any style of riding! Whether you are an enduro rider, undertaking chair lift laps, or cruising around the trails and wanting a bit more than your standard protection- this is the helmet for you!
The fit can be adjusted with various pads included in the box, which allows comfort for many different head and face shapes. This not only makes it more comfortable for the rider but with a more secure fit, it is actually safer too.
Other essential information: The Proframe has both MIPS and a dual-density EPS liner into the ultra-lightweight shell. The MIPS liner reduces the energy of angular impacts, while the dual-density layer reduces the energy over a wide range of energy from direct impacts. Unfortunately, the fixed visor does mean that storing goggles beneath the visor is not possible and will mean you will have to carry them around your neck or handlebars when you aren’t wearing them. It is a breakaway visor, however, so it will snap off if it comes under pressure, preventing your neck and head from twisting at awkward angles.
3. Leatt DBX 4.0
A heavy-duty, but well ventilated, full-face helmet. Perfect for the rider wanting something in between a super light enduro and a full-on downhill helmet.
- Turbine technology
- Well ventilated
- Removable mouthpiece
- Heavier than its competition
- Fixed visor
The Leatt DBX 4.0 is designed for the enduro rider, which basically means it just needs to be light, breathable and safe. It also needs to look sleek, which the DBX 4.0 certainly does!
With 22 very decently sized vents, the ventilation is certainly well thought out in this helmet! The vents in the chin bar are not quite as open as the Proframe or the Stage, which limits the ventilation a little. This does make the chin bar is a little more rigid though. The visor is fixed, which can annoy some riders, but it is positioned to maximize the airflow into the helmet. It also will break away in a collision to protect the rider’s neck.
The DBX 4.0 is a little heavier than both the Stage and the Proframe, at 850g (medium) which is the only real disadvantage of the helmet. It is still lighter than your standard downhill helmet, but given the DBX 4.0 is targeted at the enduro rider, it is a bit heavier than you would expect.
The padding inside the helmet is a little burlier than the Stage and Proframe, which makes it feel quite secure when it is on your head. However, the close fit means the breathability is compromised when your sprinting, or when the heart rate is getting up towards the maximum. One very clever feature of the DBX is the removable mouthpiece, which can be taken out for climbs or pedalling and reinstalled to keep out the dust and mud.
Other essential information: The DBX 4.0 features Leatt’s anti-rotational technology, Turbine 360. The turbines are small blue circular rubberized pads, which sit inside the helmet against the rider’s head and spin and squash under impact to reduce energy from angular and linear impacts. The technology has rated highly in safety ratings and reviews, and actually provide a bit more cushioning inside the helmet, making it very comfortable. The DBX 4.0 is constructed of in-molded EPS (Expanded Polypropylene) and EPO (Expanded Polyolefin) which increases the durability and additional energy absorption following a crash. The buckle uses the Fidlock magnetic system, which is a fantastic feature to have, and the helmet is designed to work well with a neck brace.
All three of the helmets reviewed above are exceptional lids in terms of safety, comfort and ventilation. These helmets are not your full-on downhill helmets- although the Leatt DBX 4.0 is pretty close- but are more directed at the enduro rider or someone wanting a little more safety without the weight and difficulties of a full downhill helmet.
See here if you are looking for a well ventilated open face helmet, rather than a downhill helmet for the hot weather rides, or check out these helmets if you are a sweaty rider! Or, if you are looking for a low profile helmet then check out our top 10 low profile helmets.
Alternatively, a convertible full-face helmet may be the option for you. They are light, very well ventilated, incredibly comfortable, and you get the option of removing the chin bar if you feel it is unnecessary for the ride! We recommend the Bell Super DH, but check out these posts here: