A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Snell Approved Helmets


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In the realm of motorsports and high-risk activities where head protection is paramount, Snell-approved helmets stand as a beacon of safety and reliability. The Snell Memorial Foundation, an independent helmet testing and certification body, sets rigorous standards for helmet safety that exceed governmental and industry norms. 

This guide aims to navigate the intricacies of selecting a Snell-approved helmet, ensuring you make an informed choice that provides optimal protection, comfort, and performance.

Understanding Snell Certification

Before diving into the selection process, it’s crucial to understand what Snell certification entails. Snell standards are voluntary for helmet manufacturers and represent a commitment to a higher level of safety. Unlike other certifications, Snell certification involves a comprehensive testing regimen that includes impact management, retention system effectiveness, and penetration resistance, among other criteria. Helmets that meet these stringent standards are awarded a Snell certification sticker, a symbol of superior safety and quality.

The Importance of Snell Certification

Why opt for a Snell-approved helmet? The answer lies in the unparalleled safety assurance these helmets provide. Snell’s testing protocols are designed to simulate a wide range of impact scenarios, offering a more accurate reflection of real-world accidents. 

Consequently, Snell-approved helmets offer enhanced protection against brain injuries and trauma, giving wearers peace of mind whether they’re racing on a track or enjoying a leisurely motorcycle ride.

Identifying Your Needs

Choosing the right Snell-approved helmet begins with a clear understanding of your specific needs:

Type of Activity

Snell certifies helmets for various activities, including motorcycling (M series), auto racing (SA series), karting (K series), and bicycling (B series). Each category has unique requirements tailored to the specific risks and conditions of the activity.

Fit and Comfort

A helmet’s safety features are moot if it doesn’t fit properly. A well-fitting helmet should sit snugly around the head without being overly tight, with no spaces between the padding and the head. Comfort also plays a crucial role, especially for users who wear helmets for extended periods.

Features and Accessories

Consider the additional features you might need, such as ventilation systems, visor types (for eye protection and anti-fogging), and compatibility with communication devices or additional safety gear like neck braces.

Evaluating Snell Standards

Snell updates its standards periodically, so it’s essential to be aware of the most current version. For instance, the snell sa2020 helmet standard for auto racing helmets introduces improvements over its predecessor, the SA2015. Always check the Snell certification sticker inside the helmet to ensure it meets the latest standard relevant to your activity.

The Selection Process

With a clear understanding of Snell certification and your specific needs, you’re ready to embark on the selection process. Here are key steps to follow:

Research and Reviews

Start with thorough research. Look into manufacturers that produce Snell-approved helmets for your activity. Read reviews and testimonials from other users to gauge the helmet’s performance and satisfaction level in real-world conditions.

Testing for Fit

Whenever possible, physically try on helmets to assess fit. The helmet should be tight enough to remain firmly in place but not cause discomfort. Pay attention to pressure points that could become painful over time. If ordering online, ensure the retailer has a flexible return policy.

Verifying Certification

Confirm the helmet’s Snell certification by looking for the official Snell sticker on the inside. Be wary of counterfeit stickers; always purchase from reputable dealers or directly from the manufacturer.

Budget Considerations

While budget is an important consideration, it’s advisable not to compromise on safety for cost savings. Consider your helmet an investment in your safety. There are Snell-approved helmets available across a range of price points that do not sacrifice safety standards.

Maintaining Your Helmet

Selecting the right Snell-approved helmet is just the beginning. Proper maintenance is essential to ensure it continues to provide optimal protection:

  • Regularly inspect your helmet for wear and damage.
  • Clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid degrading materials.
  • Replace your helmet after any significant impact, even if no damage is visible.


Choosing a Snell-approved helmet is a critical decision for anyone participating in activities where head injuries are a risk. By understanding Snell standards, assessing your needs, and carefully selecting a helmet that meets these criteria, you can significantly enhance your safety and enjoyment of your sport. Remember, a helmet is more than just gear; it’s a life-saving device. Investing the time to select the right Snell-approved helmet is an investment in your safety and peace of mind.