There is a lot of mountain biking gear on the market targeted at male riders, which makes it quite hard to find gear that is specifically designed for women. In recent years, women’s specific gear has become a bit more popular and certainly has made its place in the market now.
We have collated a range of women’s mountain biking helmets to help you in your search to find the top women’s bike helmets.
Why are Women’s helmets different?
The main difference between a lot of the women’s specific helmets is the color. Some companies make a version of the unisex helmet that is the same in every way, except the color. For example, Giro makes the Montara, which is effectively a different color scheme to the Montaro, but otherwise the same!
The only other difference is that some women’s helmets are made to fit more hair beneath the helmet. The gap between the helmet and the fitting system at the back of the helmet can be larger to allow a ponytail to fit through. I find it helps keep the helmet in a better position on my forehead that way.
Can I wear a ‘Men’s’ helmet?
Definitely yes. Pretty much unless they are specified as Women’s helmets, they are unisex helmets. It is hard to find a helmet out there that is referred to as a Men’s specific helmet.
You won’t stand out on the track wearing a men’s helmet either. In fact, it is pretty hard to distinguish between a men’s and women’s helmet unless it happens to be bright pink!
Women’s Specific Helmets
Here we have a list of helmets specified by the companies as Women’s Specific lids.
Giro Montara MIPS Review
The Montara is the women’s specific version of the very popular unisex helmet, the Giro Montaro. It is a high-spec model that caters to trail and enduro riders.
When you first put the helmet on, you will notice how exceptionally comfortable it is. The padding is very plush. And the best thing is that it absorbs sweat so it doesn’t drip into your eyes or eyewear, and it has an antimicrobial lining to stop odor building up!
The Montara has a ton of features, from goggle grippers at the rear of the helmet, built-in camera attachment, and three positions for the visor.
The Giro Montara has a lot going for it, including great ventilation, comfort and it looks very sleek. I can’t really fault this helmet at all!
See our review on the Giro Montaro here.
Giro Cartelle MIPS Review
The Giro Cartelle is effectively the female version of the Giro Chronicle. It is known for its extensive rear coverage, which keeps the back of the head well protected.
Similar to the Montara, it has exceptional padding. It is so soft and comfortable and is still antimicrobial and sweat absorbent.
The only limitation to this helmet is that it isn’t as breathable as many other helmets in its price range due to the extended rear coverage. This is really only a major if you live in a really hot area or if you tend to sweat a fair bit. Otherwise, you aren’t likely to notice it too much!
Giro Verce MIPS Review
The Giro Verce is the female version of the very popular Giro Fixture. It is a simple but effective helmet that has all the important features, such as MIPS technology, but saves money by reducing the number of accessories.
It is a one size fits all helmet but has a retention system to ensure you can get a tight fit regardless. Unless you have a very large or very small head, it is likely the helmet will fit perfectly!
It is again comfortable, reasonably well ventilated, and sits on the head very nicely (no bobblehead type look). It is a nice, inexpensive option to keep your head well protected while out on the trails.
Bell Spark MIPS Review
The Bell Spark is a budget lid made by the very popular Bell helmets. While the Bell Spark is a popular unisex helmet, Bell has also created a women’s version. There is effectively no difference besides the colors, though.
It has a fixed visor and is a one size fits all option, similar to the Giro Verce. It has quite a unique style, which I think looks quite good, considering the price point.
The Spark doesn’t have as much coverage around the back of the head as many other trail helmets, meaning it isn’t designed for tackling the enduro-style courses. However, it is still a great option for the casual trail rider who wants a lightweight, simplistic helmet that vents well.
Bell Nomad MIPS Review
The Bell Nomad is in the same boat as the Bell Spark- it has the same name as the unisex model but has a women’s specific model too.
It is slightly cheaper than the Spark, but you wouldn’t tell that looking at it. The style of the Nomad looks much more expensive than it is. It is, again, one size fits all and has a fixed visor, which is pretty standard on the lower-priced helmets.
You can adjust the size of the helmet using the retention system at the back of the head, so the helmet won’t move around your head. For smaller heads, you can swap the padding out for thicker padding if you need to. With the thinner padding, it isn’t particularly comfortable- if found, the helmet was quite hard on the tops and rear of my head. But maybe that’s just me being fussy!
The visor is longer than that of the Spark, which is handy for stopping the rain or sun from getting into your eyes! Perfect helmet for a beginner wanting an inexpensive but well kitted out lid.
Women’s Style Helmets
As you can see, there aren’t particularly many ‘Women’s Specific’ helmets, so we have found a few unisex helmets that have femme colors and styles to give you more to choose from!
Giro Source MIPS Review
The Giro Source is the latest helmet from Giro. It is an in-between for the Montara and Cartelle that are listed above. It is a fantastic balance between ventilation and protection, whilst also looking really good and feeling really comfortable.
It features MIPS technology, an adjustable visor, Roc Loc 5 adjustable fitting system, and comes in a large range of colors. It is one of the best value for money helmets available!
If you would like to know more about the Giro Source, see our review here.
POC Axion SPIN Review
The POC Axion, in my opinion, is one of the best-looking helmets out there. It also comes in other amazing bright colors to suit everyone.
It is a high-end helmet that offers high levels of protection, excellent ventilation, and comfort. The Axion uses POC’s SPIN (Shear Pads INside) technology which works similarly to MIPS to prevent brain damage from angular crashes.
It is aimed at trail riders, more than enduro, due to the lack of goggle stowage beneath the visor. Otherwise it is a great option for those wanting a high end helmet at a great price.
Smith Forefront 2 MIPS Review
The Smith range offers a large number of options for those riders wanting more feminine colors.
The Forefront 2 MIPS is Smith’s top-of-the-line option. It provides superb protection but is a little limited in the ventilation aspect due to the Koroyd straws, which obstruct the airflow through the vents.
The Koroyd straws work by crushing slowly under the impact, similar to a crumple zone of a car. They also allow the helmet to rotate slightly, adding to the effect of the MIPS technology, which helps prevent brain damage.
Otherwise, it is reasonably comfortable (although it doesn’t compare with the Giro or Bell range), is compatible with goggles and glasses, and can come with an integrated camera or light mount.
Smith Session MIPS Review
Next in the line is the Smith Session, which has a very cool look to it. It also has a bit better ventilation than the Forefront 2 as the Koroyd technology is zoned rather than covering the entire helmet.
The Koroyd straws are placed strategically over the helmet in zones and also uses MIPS to help the rider prevent damage to the brain. The Session does only have 15 vents, but these are rather large and quite airy.
The visor has 3 set positions that you are able to adjust it to, is compatible with goggles and glasses, and has anti-bacterial padding to prevent odor build-up.
Smith Venture MIPS Review
The Smith Venture is the ‘budget’ helmet in the lineup. In saying this, it doesn’t compromise on any safety aspects but does have a fixed visor, which may bother some riders. It is an excellent all-around helmet, ideal for the trail rider.
It has 20 vents and uses MIPS technology but not Smith’s Koroyd technology like the Session and Forefront 2.
See our full review on the Smith Venture here.
Fox Flux MIPS Review
Fox has brought out a Women’s specific version of the popular Flux lid. It is a sleek looking helmet with a full range adjustable visor and anti-microbial lining to prevent odor build-up.
However, the padding and ventilation is limited. Your head tends to feel the harder parts of the helmet more than you should, and there are only 14 vents to keep the air flowing. For the price, you would expect higher levels of comfort and ventilation.
If you can find the helmet on a decent sale, it would be more with your time!
What to look for in a helmet?
There are a few key aspects of a helmet you want to look out for.
You want a lid that covers the back of the head as much as possible. This prevents hard knocks to the rear of the skull if you do come off.
You want a lid with an anti-rotational system, such as MIPS or SPIN, which reduces the chances of brain damage. You will find that all helmets recommended here will have either MIPS or SPIN technology.
It must fit properly. A helmet that slides around on your head will be only slightly better than having nothing at all, protecting your head. Make sure there is a retention system that can be adjusted to fit your head securely.
Ventilation and Comfort
These come hand in hand as you don’t want to be super-hot and sweaty while riding. Some lids offer anti-microbial pads that prevent odor build-up and often are very absorbent.
Design and Construction
A typical modern helmet is made of EPS foam with an external shell made of polycarbonate plastic. This can be two separate parts or molded together, which is referred to as in-mold.
An in-mold helmet will be more durable and increases the structural integrity of the helmet following a crash.
Basically, there is very little difference between a women’s specific helmet and a unisex helmet. The primary difference is the color schemes used. So it is entirely up to you as to whether you want a helmet designed for women or not!
The top helmets in this selection are the Giro Montara, Smith Forefront 2, POC Axion SPIN, and the Giro Source. All of these are great trail/enduro helmets that will keep you well protected for all-mountain riding.
The less expensive options, such as the Giro Verse, Bell Nomad, and the Smith Venture, tend to reduce their costs by reducing the number of optional features. They still provide very safe helmets but forsake features such as an adjustable visor.
All helmets listed here are great options for any rider, it is up to you to decide which aspects you consider more important for your type of riding and budget– safety, ventilation, comfort, or cost!