This Guide is for you if: you’re buying a kids ATV helmet for the first time and you need to know everything about them before you buy, or you just need some pointers on when you need to replace youth ATV helmets and what to look out for.
I’ve spent hours researching everything online and through experience to put into one guide, covering youth ATV helmets on choosing the right fit, how they work, when to replace them and more.
Plus if you’re interested, I’ve hunted down the best kids ATV helmets on Amazon that have the best reviews, so you don’t have to waste time searching yourself.
Kids ATV Helmets Navigation:
Kids ATV Helmets - Why Do Children Need Them?
So why do kids need a helmet when riding an ATV?
To protect your child from getting injured or killed.
Whilst ATV’s are fun, they’re still a vehicle. Whether a kids is riding them slowly or at high speed, accidents happen. If the ATV rolls over and lands on your child’s head – a helmet is going to protect them – a baseball cap isn’t.
Most accidents with kids ATVs are due to the rider not wearing a helmet. Don’t add your kid to this statistic.
Wherever you buy an ATV from, they will usually sell it with a helmet or ask you straight away if you have one already. The dealer isn’t just trying to upsell another product to you – listen to them and get their advice, or follow ours in this guide.
Also many people may think riding an ATV in your backyard or on private property doesn’t require a helmet as they are not on the road. Wrong.
Children under the age of 18 are required by law in all US states to wear a helmet when operating an ATV on private land. If not, you can be fined up to $1000 in some areas.
Always Use DOT Approved Helmets
DOT means Department Of Transportation for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym.
Basically, always buy a helmet which has been DOT approved, as it goes through rigorous safety tests to comply with the requirements. The helmets we recommend at the bottom of our guide are all DOT approved or exceed the criteria.
If you want to find out how much testing is involved, you can go here to the Snell foundation, which is a non-for profit organization that has it’s own safety standards too.
Are Dirt Bike Helmets And ATV Helmets The Same?
You may have seen different helmets being worn by people riding ATVs – some are just a chin strap and open faced, others are full masked with chin guard, which are worn by dirtbike riders and motorcross.
Always go for a full faced helmet, no matter what. It offers better protection than the former, which is what you want for your child.
You will see some recommendations for helmets below that may say for dirtbikes – don’t worry, these are perfectly fine for ATV riding.
How To Choose The Right Size Kids ATV Helmets
It’s extremely important to size correctly when buying youth ATV helmets. You need a helmet which is the right fit for comfort and safety. Choose a helmet that is way too big, then your child’s head will rattle around in it. Choose one too small, then – well it won’t fit. Or it will be painful to get the kids ATV helmet off if you’ve squeezed it on!
Fortunately, measuring for a kids ATV helmet is easy – you want to use tape measure and wrap it around the child’s head one inch above the eyebrows, giving you the circumference of the widest part of the head.
Once you have this info, then use a size chart to pick the right size helmet.
Size charts can vary slightly depending on manufacturer, so that is why it’s important to measure the size of the childs head for the ATV helmet.
If find that the measurement is between two sizes, my advice would be to purchase the larger one for comfort, but also because your child is likely to grow some more. Just to put you at ease, the larger helmet won’t wobble about – the lining in the helmet can be adjusted as can the strap.
What Is Inside Kids ATV Helmets & How Do They Work?
It’s helpful to know how youth ATV helmets work, especially if you think that it’s damaged and may need replacing. I break down each part of kids ATV helmets so you become familiar with the terminology.
This is the shiny exterior of the helmet and is the first line of defence for your child’s head – essentially it is designed to spread and absorb an impact.
Expanded polystyrene or EPS is the stuff that will make the difference between safety and injury (or worse). EPS is designed to deform and absorb impact.
However, this will only work once.
EPS is compacted into several different densities – however once it is compressed it will not revert back to it’s original position and therefore will not protect as well as before. This means if you’re kids has had an accident and the helmet took a heavy impact hard enough to deform the EPS liner, get a new one.
The padding inside the helmet isn’t just there to make the kids ATV helmet comfy – it’s designed purposely to keep the helmet from moving around in a crash and grip the head.
Some Kids ATV helmets come with a face shield (or visor). Pretty obvious what this does – it stops stuff from flying in your face and hitting the eyes. Goggles obviously work to this effect.
This is the fancy name for a chin strap – these are bolted to the helmet and all straps like the rest of the helmet are safety approved. Its job is to keep the helmet on the riders head.
Why You Should Always Buy New Kids ATV Helmets And Never Used Ones
So why you should always buy new youth ATV helmets instead of old or pre-used ones?
It’s probably damaged or worn out – either through previous crashes, bumps or degradation over time.
Even if you can’t see any damage to the shell, you have no clear idea about the state of the EPS liner.
If the previous owner had not been in a serious crash, the helmet could have been dropped, thrown or used for other fun and games whereby it has been rendered useless (you know how kids can be!). This means the EPS liner has absorbed impact and is now inert.
Or if the helmet is old, the EPS could have dried out and is now brittle, rendering the helmet useless.
My advice is always buy a new kids ATV helmet – when it comes to your kids life, you want them to be safe – it’s your responsibility – so don’t be cheap.
The 5 Best & Highly Recommended ATV Helmets For Kids & Youths
Now that you know everything about kids and youth ATV helmets, I’ve picked out the best online for kids and youths (teenagers – they vary in all sizes, some may need the ‘small’ adult sized helmets).
Choosing your child an ATV helmet that they will wear is important. There are some awesome options below – it may be worth having your young rider with you when looking for their helmet. They are all certified DOT and are very safe.
You can spend $200 on a kids ATV helmet, but honestly, you really don’t need to. Price & safety are not directly related, so a $50-100 helmet is absolutely fine. However, the V1 and Vega below have extra safety certifications closer to $100, so they are safer.
Fox Racing V1 Kids Helmet - BEST OVERALL
First up on the list and my personal favourite is the Fox Racing V1 Youth helmet.
This the best looking, well ventilated, safe, feature rich helmet whilst being AFFORDABLE on this list by far (apart from the V2 & V3, which are a it more pricey!). You can check the pricing here on Amazon.
The design is one of the coolest around, with a great aesthetic look with great lines and sleek design. It also comes in dozens of colors and graphics, so there is Fox V1 for everyone. The visor attachment completes this look an integrates really well. Kids will love wearing this as it is a step apart from the others in this list.
Ventilation wise there are 9 intake and 4 exhaust vents for optimum airflow, meaning that on a hot day of riding, your child won’t get as sweaty compared to the others. The Fox helmets are easily the most well ventilated entry level helmets and are comparable to the high end adult options.
The V1 offers MVRS – Magnetic Visor Release System – which releases in the event of a crash. Fox created this originally in their flagship V3, an incorporated it into their entry level V1. The reason it releases is to not put any rotational force on the users head in the event of a crash.
Inside the helmet you have a removable comfort liner and cheek pads, with a two stage EPS liner and a polycarbonate shell for maximum protection. This helmet exceeds the DOT regulations and is one of the safest helmets made for kids. Also it only weighs 2 pounds so it’s one of the lightest helmets out there.
This comes in three shell sizes (S,M & L), which means you have 3 different EPS liners and 3 different visor sizes, which means that they are easy to replace.
Fox Kids Sizing Chart:
- Small: 18.5-19″ or 47-48 CM
- Medium: 19.25-19.75″ or 49-50 CM
- Large: 20-20.5″ or 51-52CM
Note: Fox Helmets are slightly different sizes than the one below, so you may find bigger kids will need the Adult XS, S or M, which you can find here on Amazon.
Vega Mighty X2 Helmet for ATVs - BEST VALUE
Whilst the Fox V1 Helmet is the best of the bunch, the Vega Mighty X2 is the best value by far.
It comes in at $30 less than the V1, but has all of the same features except the V1 has 2 extra exhaust ports for ventilation. If you’re not wanting to spend over $100 on a kids helmet, then this one is perfect.
Also this has sizes going up to XL, meaning it can fit shorter teens. Plus this is my favourite Matte Black helmet for young riders – very Batman looking!
It has an Adjustable multipoint visor, a removable liner and is very lightweight, with a polycarbonate ABS shell including a multi channeled high density EPS liner that provides maximum airflow.
Also for those of you in snowy areas, you can purchase a snow deflector as an attachment that fits inside the helmet which goes up to the eyes.
The only small downside is that it can weigh up to 3.5lbs, so heavier than the V1
For the price, this is the best value helmet on the market, perhaps only coming in a close second to the Fox V1 – but you’re talking slightly less ventilation and saving 30 bucks.
Vega Kids Sizing Chart:
- Small: 19.25″ – 19.75″ (48 – 49 cm)
- Medium: 20″ – 20.5″ (50 – 51 cm)
- Large: 20.75″ – 21.25″ (52 – 53 cm)
- X-Large: 21.5″ – 22″ (54-55 cm)
For larger head sizes, you’ll need to go for an adult sized Vega. Check them out here on Amazon.
WOW Youth ATV Helmet
For those of you who are on a bit of a budget, then the WOW helmet is half the price of the Fox V1 and will still keep your child safe. It comes in a variety of colors with two design types.
The one thing I noticed is that this felt a bit ‘plasticy’ compared to the V1 and Vega which is probably due to the material the shell is made from – thermoplastic alloy. It’s not as tough as the polycarbonate, though it still does the job and is DOT certified.
It has the removable and washable padding as standard and comfortable interior and is pretty lightweight at 2.9lbs.
Overall if you’re looking for a budget range, this is great.
WOW Kids Sizing Chart:
- Small: 19.3-19.7″ or 49-50 CM
- Medium: 20.1-20.5″ or 51-52 CM
- Large: 20.9-21.3″ or 53-54CM
Hard Head Helmets For Kids
One thing that is noticeable about Hard Head Helmets, they look very flashy!
Some of the variants come with a visor (which looks very cool – similar to the character out of the Halo videogames!), which removes the whole need for goggles. It’s also a great choice if your child wears glasses, as they can keep them on. Only thing I would say about visors like this is they can get foggy, and the ventilation is fairly standard for this price of a helmet, so be mindful of that.
Other than that minor gripe, the helmet meets the DOT certification, has the standard removable liners for washing and comes in at a very lightweight 2lbs, which is great for little ones as it isn’t heavy at all.
It also comes with a free helmet bag which is pretty cool.
Hard Head Helmets Kids Sizing Chart:
- Small: 19.3-19.7″ or 49-50 CM
- Medium: 20.1-20.5″ or 51-52 CM
- Large: 20.9-21.3″ or 53-54CM
TCMT Spider Helmet Bundle
Is your kid a fan of Spider-Man? Then this is for them!
A great budget range option, not only does this helmet look great for superheroes, it comes with free goggles and gloves too, though you may find that the gloves don’t fit because hand sizes can vary in children. The goggles are pretty basic (great for a starter set) though you’re going to want to get some better ones.
This is one of the most popular choices for entry level kids helmets on Amazon – it has around 500 positive reviews at the time of writing. I think this is because of the all in one gear and it is cheap, but I wanted to state that this helmet is the most basic compared to the rest.
It is DOT certified, however the ventilation is limited. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great looking helmet and is great as a starter when the young riders are not going to quick, however I would go for the Vega for 30 bucks more for peace of mind.
TCMT Kids Sizing Chart:
- Small: 19.3-19.7″ or 49-50 CM
- Medium: 20.1-20.5″ or 51-52 CM
- Large: 20.9-21.3″ or 53-54CM
- X Large: 21.6-22″ or 55-56CM
When Should You Replace Kids ATV Helmets?
Lifespans. We get 80 Years, the mayfly gets a day and jellyfish can live forever.
Kids ATV Helmets have them too.
So when do you replace youth ATV helmets? Is this just commercialist nonsense? What is the real safety advice?
If you want the quick answer – I advise to replace a Kids ATV helmet every 3 years. Here’s why:
Most helmets have a born on date. Check online, because different manufacturers use different coding systems.
Every major authority on ATV helmets recommend that 3-5 years is the “lifespan” of a helmet. This is a bit of a mixture of guesswork and corporate greed, as there has never been an official study on helmets as there are so many factors.
This is mainly because the “used” variable depends on how much the rider is literally using it through wear and tear, and because helmet companies want you to keep buying them!
So let’s take age with a grain of salt – by looking at some important factors, we can make a good safety call using some simple tests.
Inspect The Shell
Here is a myth – every nick and scratch from every accidental drop constitutes as a ‘fatal’ blow.
This is nonsense.
Minor surface marks have no appreciable effect on the shell’s ability to stop a puncture of disperse an impact.
It’s only significant chips and cracks revealing the under layers of the shell that you should be concerned about. I’ve broken a lot of ATV helmets and the thing that always impresses me is how resilient they are. Dropping one on a hard surface doesn’t really do anything to the integrity of the helmet at all.
The main concern is when the helmet gets impacted from weight inside it. This can cause the EPS foam to compress, which is a one-time safety function and that would render the helmet spent.
So for those kids who like to run into things whilst wearing a helmet and head butting people or other stuff – walls or whatever – this will cause damage within the helmet, rendering it defective. ATV helmets are not toys, they are designed to stop your kid from getting badly hurt or worse. So explain to them why this isn’t a good idea.
Also avoid storing heavy objects in kids ATV helmets over time or repetitively resting it on the handlebars of the ATV. This can cause similar compression in the EPS liner.
It goes without saying that you should check inside of the helmet shell for imperfections by removing the comfort liner. If you look after it, you will be fine. If there is some warping, major dents or cracks – then it is time to replace your Kids ATV helmet.
The Shake Down
This is an important factor when testing the padding and lining in youth ATV helmets, making sure it is still a good fit.
Get your child to wear the helmet as normal and then ask them to shake their head in short, fast movements. This will reveal the quality of the comfort lining.
If the helmet moves with the child’s head, then all good. However if you notice when they are shaking their head and the helmet is wobbling and sliding around, this indicates that the liner is compressed to the point of improper fit – so it’s time to get a new kids ATV helmet.
Another reason for this compression and liner murder is due to makeup and hair products. The chemicals in these products transfer and get absorbed by the helmet. Also kids who get sweaty easily will affect the liner due to moisture.
To tackle these particular issues of chemical and sweat residue, you can wear a beanie underneath the helmet.
You can also just change the interior padding when it wears out, rather than buying a whole new helmet.
So as long as your kid hasn’t damaged the shell or EPS and I keep replacing the interior liner – they can use their ATV helmet forever?
Nope. Because of Exposure!
New helmets are filled with resins and oils and that makes them spongey. But these thing evaporate over time, leaving your kids ATV helmets a brittle shell of their formers selves.
So even if the helmet passes the shell and EPS test, it will eventually crumble into retirement. It happens very slowly in a box, but when using it outdoors, you have it battling the elements such as the wind, the rain, the heat, dirt snow etc.
OK, So When Do You Replace Kids ATV Helmets?
So here’s an approximation that I go by to know when the lifespan of kids ATV helmets.
- From the born on date – 8 years after it left the factory.
- From the day it came out of the box on purchase – 5 years.
Which brings us on to another question regarding costs:
Is it better to buy a $200 kids ATV helmet (so basically an expensive one) and replace it every 5-6 years, or to buy a $50-$100 helmet and replace it every 3?
Trick question – price and safety are not directly related. So you’re better off with that newer, good value helmet than an expensive older one in the long run. However, with kids they grow quickly, so it’s likely you’ll be replacing their helmet every couple of years anyway.
All youth ATV helmets have to meet approved safety standards, otherwise they couldn’t be sold. Also materials and safety standards improve over time, so the cheaper one you buy three years from now will be safer than the more expensive one you have for longer.
Overall, I recommend you replace your kids helmet every 3 years providing they haven’t damaged it in some way as mentioned above.
As kids grow, they’ll need a new helmet anyway to fit properly, so 3 years is a good lifespan for safety. Plus they make great gifts!
How To Clean Kids ATV Helmets
Keeping your gear clean is advisable so you can make sure you can see if the helmet is damaged. Also they can begin to smell, which is never pleasant.
You’ll want to take apart the comfort liner from inside the helmet and wash it separately, either by hand or machine wash it. Throwing it in a washer should be fine so long as you don’t put it on a high temperature wash. Hand washing it with soap or shampoo is also good and then leaving it to dry.
For the helmet itself, a sponge and hot soapy water is fine, with perhaps a cloth and toothbrush to get the mud and dirt out of the fiddly areas.
A clean smelling helmet is nice to put on rather than a sweaty one, plus kids should keep care of their stuff – especially if they want to look good riding!
Where To Store A Kids ATV Helmet
Storing your Kids ATV helmet is important. If you don’t look after it, it can become defective.
The EPS within the helmet is built to take one crash – if this form gets deformed, damaged or dries out – it is useless and you will need to buy another one (I cover when to replace your kids helmet below).
Leave it lying around on the floor, it can get scratched, split and broken.
Leave it resting somewhere to take a long fall, it could impact the EPS (unlikely, though it depends on the surface/height/helmet age).
Have it hanging on your handle bars will over time deform the EPS over time. Also using it to store things in like keys, tools whatever can do the same.
Storing it outside for days when it is hot will gradually evaporate the oils within the EPS, making it brittle.
So where do you store your Kids ATV helmet? Inside, in a cool place if possible, where it won’t fall and has nothing inside it.
You can go one step further and purchase a helmet bag for it if you want, giving it that extra bit of protection, but it isn’t necessary (though keeps it clean and dust free).
How To Get Kids To Wear Their ATV Helmet
Many people think riding ATVs without a helmet is fine. It’s not.
This isn’t smart and I don’t ever recommend this. No matter how long you’ve been riding an ATV, you never know when something may happen causing a crash. It ain’t worth the risk.
Right from the start, a kid needs to know whenever they get on an ATV, the rider should already be wearing their helmet. Explain the dangers, but also compliment how cool they look. Helmets are cool anyway, so it shouldn’t be too difficult!
This also is a factor when choosing a helmet – make sure the child likes it. There are many colors, styles and designs available. I go through some below – have a look.
They will be more likely to want to wear something that looks awesome and fashionable.
My personal advice – a helmet is the most important piece of safety gear above all else. Don’t cheap out and get a used one, this is your child’s safety and life we are talking about. Get a new one which is at least DOT approved.
Yes you’re looking at $100 for a V1, but the Vega is only $70 and is just as good, though only marginally less ventilated.
The others are DOT approved and are good, budget ranged youth ATV helmets too and will work fine, but at the end of the day, how much do you value your child’s well-being? For me personally, the peace of mind the V1 and the Vega bring with their extra safety ratings, features and functionality are totally worth it in the long run.
Hopefully that’s helped you out with information for a youth ATV Helmet and which ones are the best.
I’ve written some great other guides on finding the right gear for young riders, such as goggles, gloves, armor and more.
I also have an ATV Buying guide on everything you need to know about ATVs for kids and what to look out for.
And if you’re feeling high-tech, we have some awesome ideas on the best helmet cameras available online.