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The top 13 lightest mountain bike helmets

With this article I’m going to shed my insights on what I consider to be the best lightest mountain bike helmets.

In the never-ending quest to save grams on our bicycle equipment, it’s inevitable that some helmets are also characterized as being the “lightest”. The only issue with being lightweight or indeed the lightest helmet is that we’re dealing with safety equipment. And being the lightest is at odds with being the safest.

I still have my first helmets. Both would fall into the lightweight category when compared to today’s helmets. That’s because they offer only the minimal amount of protection available at the time, which was a standard EPS liner with a minimal polycarbonate shell and very slim partially disintegrated padding.

The best helmets today when viewed from a safety perspective, not a weight perspective, offer much more in terms of protection. And that protection adds weight to a helmet. It’s that simple.

As far as lightweight is concerned, an open face helmet cannot beat a road bike helmet. Road bike helmets offer the same type of crash technology and are just as safe. They are predominantly used in the XC discipline whereas half-shell models are used for trail riding.

I’ve included both types of helmets on this list, but left full-face options out. The average weight of a road bike helmet is 280 grams, that of an open face one 350. I’ve not included open face helmets that cover your ears.

At the end of this article you can see a table overview of all the helmets included in this list, their weight, and every safety measure included. You’re responsible for your own safety, so think about what trade off you’re willing to make when trying to save a few grams.

The table includes a rating. The ratings are from Virginia Tech and define a risk of concussion based on 24 impact tests. The rating indicates the number of times a person would sustain a concussion with a similar impact. A lower score indicates better helmet performance, with an 8.4 being the best, and 26.57 the worst. There’s an obvious correlation between usage of crash technology and a low-rating.

And now for my list of the lightest mountain bike helmets.

Bell Drifter MIPS

Bell Drifter MIPS
Bell Drifter MIPS
Bell Drifter MIPS
Bell Drifter MIPS
Bell Drifter MIPS
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The Bell Drifter MIPS is an allround cycling helmet. With its removable visor its allround nature can be turned into a more road-oriented look.

At 300 grams it’s reasonably lightweight, while still offering the MIPS Evolve technology to reduce rotational impact energy, besides a standard EPS liner with polycarbonate shell.

It’s an excellent value-for-money option for weekend warriors that appreciate the added safety of MIPS, for half the money you need to spend for a top-of-the-range helmet.

Pros and Cons

Giro Aries Spherical

Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical
Giro Aries Spherical

The Giro Aries Spherical is one of the safest if not the safest helmet within its category. It also has the highest suggested retail price at 300 USD. On its product page Giro boasts the helmet having the lowest Virginia Tech helmet rating (lower is better), and you have to if you charge this price.

So what exactly do you get for the money? This is one of a couple of helmets offering the MIPS Spherical technology, which reduces rotational damage with a ball-in-socket helmet setup. Furthermore the polycarbonate shell is reinforced with twin bridges on each side, alongside a roll-cage-like reinforced band. It all makes for an incredibly strong helmet that doesn’t weigh more than your average similar helmet.

It has silicon beads so sweat doesn’t drip into your eyes, or runs down your glasses, which is a feature far more useful than you might think.

The helmet is tightened on your head with the Roc Loc 5 Air fit system, something featured in all of their premium models. And something that does a great job of keeping the lightweight lid in place.

Expert Experience

Suvi Loponen | Technical writer – July 07, 2023

The Giro Aries Spherical is the company’s latest pro-level helmet, featuring its Spherical Technology system, a unique ball-and-socket design that adds more safety on top of Mips. As well as ranking as one of the safest helmets out there, the Aries is also one of the lightest helmets on the market, and the abundant vents definitely make it one of the coolest I’ve used. It does, however, come at a high price.

Pros and Cons

Giro Manifest Spherical

Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Manifest Spherical

The Giro Manifest Spherical offers the airiness of a road bike helmet in an open face mountain bike helmet package.

The general notion of this helmet is that Giro played around with the design of the helmet to ensure maximum air flow. With 19 air vents it seems to do the trick creating probably the best mountain bike helmet for hot summer rides.

In terms of protection it offers the same as the already very expensive Giro Merit Spherical, but tops it off with an added ring of polycarbonate called the Auro Arch, which serves as a kind of roll-cage for your head.

So it means you also get the MIPS Air technology, the Spherical ball-and-socket setup for the EPS liner, which has a dual-density characteristic.

The Manifest is not only one of the safest helmets on the market, it’s also one of the best-ventilated. A total of 19 huge vents in a relative low-weight package ensure maximum air flow and a reduced risk of heat building up. When you don’t do prolonged stretches of slow climbing the chances of the helmet feeling hot and uncomfortable is near zero.

Does that kind of tech win awards in the safety department? Yes it does. Does that kind of tech win awards in how fast it’ll drain your wallet? It does that equally impressive, being the most expensive helmet of its specific category.

Expert Experience

Matt Miller | Managing editor – August 29, 2020

I will say that the Giro Manifest is one of the comfier helmets I’ve worn in a while. Everyone’s head is different, but the Manifest feels like it wraps around my entire head, without any noticeable pressure points. Whether this has anything to do with the use of the MIPS Spherical over the plastic liner, I can’t say for sure, but I don’t mind it on my head at all.

Other features like AURA keep the air flow up inside the helmet while ensuring a level of safety. It is hard to ignore the price tag on the Manifest, however.

Pros and Cons

Giro Merit Spherical

Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical
Giro Merit Spherical

The Giro Merit Spherical offers superb crash protection in a fantastic open face mountain bike helmet.

There are multiple crash technologies ensuring this helmet sits at the top of the range in terms of protecting. As do many other helmets it offers MIPS technology. The Merit uses MIPS Air which is the lightest variant.

Furthermore it offers Spherical technology, commonly referred to as a ball-and-socket setup where the inside of the helmet can move independent from its outer shell. A dual-density EPS liner is the last piece of tech to ensure maximum crash protection.

The entire package is still very light at 360 grams. Other great features are the bolt-on adjustable visor and the multi-point Roc Loc adjustment system.

The only downside I can think of is that you have to pay a lot of money for all that tech.

Expert Experience

Robin Weaver | Technical editor-in-chief – June 1, 2022

I’m a big fan of the new Merit helmet. Okay, it might not be quite as airy as the pricier Manifest, and doesn’t feature all the same bells and whistles either, but that’s fine by me because it’s still a top performer that’s supremely comfortable. It’s also light and airy enough to leave on all day. The price is still high, but there’s a lot of safety tech here, which feels like a plus to have – if you can afford it.

Pros and Cons

Giro Register MIPS

Giro Register MIPS
Giro Register MIPS
Giro Register MIPS
Giro Register MIPS
Giro Register MIPS
Giro Register MIPS

The Giro Register MIPS is probably the cheapest helmet on the market to include MIPS technology.

That’s a big plus, because MIPS is more than a marketing fad, and does indeed make a helmet safer. It’s no coincidence that it’s being included in almost every helmet of some stature.

The Register has the allround look-and-feel, with a small detachable visor, and the entry-level Roc Loc Sport tightening system, which is operated with a small dial at the back of the head.

The lack of additional crash technology, the simple fit system, and minimal padding, ensures the weight sits at a mere 285 grams, which is decent for an all round bicycle helmet such as this one.

I can see why this helmet is such a best-seller. Adding MIPS to such an affordable package does the trick.

Expert Experience

Zach Wick | Review Editor – September 7, 2023

I think the Register is a slightly more versatile model than the Isode, but I’m not entirely sold on it. While the visor improves the helmet’s performance in certain conditions, it’s a minor change, and I don’t know if it’s really worth the extra money. A larger visor would have a more pronounced effect that would help justify the price difference. Also, even with the visor, the Register uses the same mid-coverage EPS shell as the Isode, and we would still be hesitant to take it out on full-blown mountain bike trails. Regardless, if you don’t mind the extra few bucks and like the look and feel of a helmet with a visor, the Register delivers the same comfort, performance, and protection as the Isode with a little cherry on top.

Pros and Cons

Kask Caipi

Kask Caipi
Kask Caipi
Kask Caipi
Kask Caipi
Kask Caipi
Kask Caipi

The Kask Caipi is the lightest open face mountain bike helmet by far, clocking in at a mere 250 grams. That’s 100 grams less than your average half shell helmet.

It’s unfortunate I don’t have any Virginia Tech rating for this helmet, because it’s probably the best example of a mid-tier helmet.

It does not offer MIPS, which is one of the reasons they can be this low. It does offer a comfortable fit with a soft padding attached to the standard EPS liner.

An integrated visor is attached to the polycarbonate shell, which is kept into place on your head using the Octo-fit system. That’s the same system as featured in their most expensive helmets, so expect the same level of comfort and adjustability.

All-in-all this helmet is indeed a perfect middle-of-the-road type helmet. Great looks paired with a great fit in an extremely lightweight package, yet lacking the technology to put it amongst the best-of-the-best in terms of crash protection.

Expert Experience

Mick Kirkman | Contributor – October 22, 2022

Comfort and fit are superb with a perfect inner shape (for me) and three different shell sizes for 50 to 62cm heads (compared to only two sizes on the Rex). The rear retention dial has loads of adjustability in small increments to tune the rear cradle height, so it’s easy to get a perfect fit at the back of the skull and nape of the neck. Stability when riding hard is also dialled, so the Caipi doesn’t wobble or jiggle over really bumpy terrain.

The only negatives here are that the fixed visor was slightly visible in my line-of-sight looking ahead, and there’s no room to stash goggles under the peak if that’s your thing. Kask’s finish is top quality, but reflected in a price that’s at the high end for a helmet with no extra rotational impact technology like Mips, to help absorb forces from glancing impacts.

Pros and Cons

Lazer G1 MIPS

Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS
Lazer G1 MIPS

The Lazer G1 MIPS is marketed as one of the lightest helmets in its category. And to be fair it is.

Yet I want to put the 235 grams of this helmet in perspective, because the average road bike helmet weighs 280 grams. That’s 45 grams heavier and something you will not notice while riding.

On the other hand, things like ventilation and fit are far more important things with respect to comfort than a couple of grams less. And luckily this helmet performs exceptionally well in that area. You get 2 different sets of padding to fully customize the fit.

Unlike your classic dial at the base of your skull you actually modify the fit with a wheel on top of the helmet. This non-indexed dial draws the helmet tight around your head around the entirety of its circumference.

Although it does a fantastic job of creating a superb fit, the two strings underneath the helmet look rather delicate. And I’m familiar with fit systems breaking with helmets being stuffed into bags. So that’s something you might want to keep in mind if you’re not the type of person who’s really careful with her/his material.

In terms of safety it offers MIPS technology and sits just behind Giro’s Aries Spherical, so its most important feature is taken care of. And a helmet cover is included to marginally increase aerodynamic properties or protect you from the rain.

Expert Experience

Brandon Bilyeu | Professional cyclist – January 13, 2020

The marketing of this helmet as superlight might only appeal to a small subset of cyclists, but the reality is that this is a great, no compromises helmet that just happens to be lightweight too. The Lazer G1 shines in fit, comfort, and ventilation. Extra safety is available with the MIPS version and extra aero performance with the Aeroshell. It is by no means cheap, but for a top of the line helmet in today’s market it is a relative value.

Pros and Cons

Lazer Sphere MIPS

Lazer Sphere MIPS
Lazer Sphere MIPS
Lazer Sphere MIPS
Lazer Sphere MIPS
Lazer Sphere MIPS
Lazer Sphere MIPS

The Lazer Sphere MIPS is an excellent choice if you want a helmet with a proven track record in safety without paying an absurd price.

When looking at the catalog of helmet manufacturers you can see an exponential increase in price to obtain the latest technology or the lightest variants. The Lazer Sphere MIPS is an excellent example of this, where a decent price get’s you all the latest bells and whistles in a slightly heavier package than Lazer’s top dog.

MIPS technology, the ARS fit system with the non-indexed dial on top of the helmet, and a weight of 280 grams, which is the exact average for road bike helmets all make for a great package.

Expert Experience

Steve Williams | Product reviewer – March 10, 2021

Despite a terrible first impression, I ended up really liking this helmet, because I simply don’t notice it when I’m riding – yet the safety features promise benefits I hopefully will notice if I crash. It’s not the lightest, coolest or sexiest helmet you can buy, but it’s a very comfortable, stable and reassuring one indeed.

Pros and Cons

POC Octal MIPS

POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS
POC Octal MIPS

I will not hide the fact that I’m a fan of the Swedish brand, and with the POC Octal MIPS they’ve created another fantastic-looking product to their already impressive lineup.

Always striving to cram their products with the best technology the Octal MIPS features the Integra version of this crash technology, which means the slip plane is customized to the specifics of this helmet. The helmet has a unibody build for enhanced structural integrity in case of a crash.

It’s touted as being extremely lightweight, with a stripped down EPS liner and fit system, but it isn’t really. 270 grams sits just below the average for a premium bike helmet such as this one, and if you really want the lightest helmet you have to look somewhere else.

Personally, I feel again that this helmet is the best-looking of the whole bunch, but am acutely aware of the subjectivity of that statement. And I have read a number of comments from people being less favorable about its above-average width. Nonetheless is the craftsmanship of this helmet undeniable, and it has a safety rating to match.

Expert Experience

Nick BruckBauer | Contributor – May 7, 2020

The POC Octal is a well-built, extremely lightweight helmet with excellent ventilation that has a very distinct Swedish design. This lid provides solid crash protection with its thick EPS foam liner, but falls short of our top awards with lower rankings in our comfort and adjustability metrics with minimal padding and a simple and lightweight adjustment system. While there are other helmets out there with more creature comforts and better adjustability to fit a wider range of heads, riders looking for extreme ventilation in a lightweight package with a classic Swedish design will appreciate the Octal.

Pros and Cons

POC Tectal Race MIPS

POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS
POC Tectal Race MIPS

The white/orange version of the POC Tectal Race MIPS has the honor of being my personal favorite bike helmet design-wise. But what’s more important than how I feel about design is whether or not it does the job it was designed for. And as with many POC products, it does.

Similar to its bigger brother, the Kortal Race, it offers the MIPS Integra version of this crash technology, aimed at the reduction of energy transfer caused by rotational forces during an impact.

It also features the aramid reinforcement attached to the EPS liner, otherwise known as Kevlar.

And where it ditches the NFC chip, it still has the Recco Reflector should you find yourself flying off the trail and ending somewhere in the ravine.

The ventilation is similar to that of the Kortal Race, with the exception of the dual slits, which are missing in this model. Yet, the helmet offers the same fantastic air flow into the helmet.

The helmet offers a snug fit, but it is still highly ventilated offering great air flow capability. It has a standard helmet weight of around 365 grams.

Expert Experience

Ty Rutherford | Contributor – July 10 2023

This is by no means a cheap helmet. However, the tech and protection on offer do go someway to justifying the expense. At this high end of the market, another option to consider would be the classic Troy Lee Designs A3. The A3 is the same price, is also impressively comfortable and the pads manage to deal with sweat better.

The lack of a magnetic buckle and the poor sweat management is a shame but these are small issues on an otherwise excellent helmet.

Pros and Cons

POC Tectal Race SPIN

POC Tectal Race SPIN
POC Tectal Race SPIN
POC Tectal Race SPIN
POC Tectal Race SPIN
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The POC Tectal Race SPIN is a fantastic-looking half shell mountain bike helmet featuring the SPIN crash technology.

SPIN is POC’s proprietary crash technology and is an abbreviation of “Shearing Pad INside”. Its goal is the same as MIPS, with rotational forces being dissipated by using silicone bladders in the liner.

The SPIN technology in combination with the unibody EPS structure, and aramid puncture-resistant reinforcement makes for an excellent impact-resistant helmet.

I believe that because of its proprietary nature POC decided to ditch SPIN in favor of MIPS in their recent lineup, for what is probably a marketing and sales reason. Because SPIN proved to be an excellent approach to increase a rider’s safety with respect to the helmet.

It is what it is, and it does mean that excellent can probably be had for less than its initial suggested retail price of 230 euros.

Expert Experience

Alex Evans | Senior technical editor – September 17, 2020

I found the helmet really comfortable with a host of glasses from different brands and neither the glasses nor helmet needed adjusting once they were set. The lid worked best with POC’s Crave glasses, of course.

It also felt impressively light on my head, despite the plethora of features. The padding absorbed sweat well and remained comfortable and soft against my head once it was saturated. It also appeared to dry quickly once the excess moisture was squeezed out.

Pros and Cons

Smith Convoy

Smith Convoy
Smith Convoy
Smith Convoy
Smith Convoy
Smith Convoy
Smith Convoy

The Smith Convoy is one of the very few sub-100 dollar open face mountain bike helmets featuring MIPS technology.

That makes it worthy of inclusion here. It has a distinctive-looking, and lightweight design at 300 grams and features an integrated visor with eyewear ports.

Although I’ve read otherwise it does not provide comparable protection when compared to the most expensive mountain bike helmets on the market. Those helmets always offer multi-density EPS liners and some form of reinforcement to the polycarbonate shell. This helmet does not.

I never had an issue with EPS liners being exposed, which is the case for the lower edge of this helmet. Premium helmets wrap the polycarbonate shell around this edge. But if you’re less careful with your helmet, expect scratches and nicks in this area.

There’s a huge market for people who start out with mountain biking and want an entry-level helmet. Or people who like their everyday casual ride and looking for a nice looking lid. Those people should look at this helmet. If you’re not unfamiliar with crashing you might consider looking for a helmet that offers more crash technology.

Expert Experience

Zach Wick | Review Editor – Jan 18, 2021

The budget-friendly Smith Convoy is a comfortable, lightweight helmet, but it doesn’t offer the refined features or performance that we found in the higher-end models we tested. With a fixed visor position and a basic internal strap mount, the Convoy keeps it fairly simple. It includes MIPS rotational impact protection, a highly-adjustable harness system, and the EPS shell has a versatile, comfortable shape. However, we found that the ventilation leaves something to be desired when things heat up. As one of the least expensive mountain bike helmets available with rotational impact protection, this is a good introductory model for riders just getting into the sport, but veteran riders will likely be looking to get a little bit more out of their lid.

Pros and Cons

Troy Lee Designs A2

Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2
Troy Lee Designs A2

The Troy Lee Designs A2 is one of the most affordable, high quality, open-faced mountain bike helmets worth your money.

It offers superb comfort and fit, with an anti-bacterial X-Static Pure Silver padding. The padding sits within a dual-density EPS liner. The polycarbonate shell wraps around the edges to further protect the rather delicate EPS.

The decade-old design has been updated to feature the MIPS technology. Safety is further enhanced with the bolt-on breakaway visor, and 3-point fit system.

Part of the popularity of the A2 can be attributed to the comfort it provides. Both with the excellent fit and its ability to keep your head cool when you try and get the most out of your ride. 2 vents on the side extend far into the front. Together with elongated vents on top they suck in cool air, which can exit through a number of vents located at the back.

It’s a great looking helmet, available in many colors, with a perfect track record in crash protection, for a price below many of the top-of-the-line offerings from its competitors. An unbeatable proposition when it comes to mountain bike helmets.

Expert Experience

Will Brett-Atkin | Contributor – August 31, 2020

The A2 helmet has plenty of airflow and boasts 25% more than the Troy Lee A1 helmet. However, I wouldn’t say it’s an industry leader as I do find I sweat more with this helmet than I have with others on the market.

In summary, the Troy Lee A2 Mips mountain bike helmet is a great look, extremely comfortable helmet that offers industry-leading protection. However, it is an expensive lid and with only a small amount of peak adjustment, it is hard to store your goggles enduro style.

Pros and Cons

Specifications lightest mountain bike helmets

Name
Price
Technology
Shell
Liner
Visor
Fit
weight (gr)
eyewear port
rating
Bell Drifter MIPS
100 USD
MIPS Evolve
polycarbonate
EPS
removable
Float Fit
300
Giro Aries Spherical
300 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Aura II
polycarbonate
Progressive Layering 3-layer EPS
none
Roc Loc 5 Air
275
yes
8.4
Giro Manifest Spherical
260 USD
MIPS/Spherical/Hardbody/Aura Arch
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on adjustable
Roc Loc 5 Trail w. Fidlock buckle
340
yes
12.20
Giro Merit Spherical
220 USD
MIPS Air/Spherical/Hardbody
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on adjustable
Roc Loc 5 Air
360
yes
9.90
Giro Register MIPS
70 USD
MIPS/Hardbody
polycarbonate
EPS
removable
Roc Loc Sport
285
17.06
Kask Caipi
155 EUR
MIT
polycarbonate
EPS
integrated
Octo-fit
250
Lazer G1 MIPS
250 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
none
ARS
235
9.23
Lazer Sphere MIPS
160 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
none
ARS
280
10.23
POC Octal MIPS
200 EUR
MIPS Integra/Unibody
polycarbonate
EPS
none
lightweight system
270
yes
10.59
POC Tectal Race MIPS
230 EUR
MIPS Integra/Aramid bridge
polycarbonate
EPS
adjustable
adjustable 360-degree fit
365
yes
POC Tectal Race SPIN
230 EUR
SPIN/Aramid bridge/Unibody
polycarbonate
EPS
adjustable
368
11.67
Smith Convoy
85 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
EPS
integrated
dial
300
yes
Troy Lee Designs A2
170 USD
MIPS
polycarbonate
dual density EPS
bolt-on breakaway
3-point dial fit
350
yes
9.99

Sources

Suvi Loponen, Giro Aries Spherical Helmet, Road.cc, July 07, 2023
Robin Weaver, Giro Merit Spherical helmet review, Bikeradar, June 1, 2022
Zach Wick, The 5 Best Budget Bike Helmets of 2023, Outdoorgearlab, September 7, 2023
Mick Kirkman, Kask Caipi helmet review, MBR, October 22, 2022
Brandon Bilyeu, Lazer G1 Helmet Review, Road Bike Rider, January 13, 2020
Steve Williams, Lazer Sphere MIPS helmet, Road.cc, March 10, 2021
Nick BruckBauer, POC Octal Review, Outdoorgearlab, May 7, 2020
Ty Rutherford, POC Tectal Race Mips helmet review, Off.road.cc, July 10 2023
Alex Evans, POC Tectal Race SPIN NFC helmet review, Bikeradar, September 17, 2020
Zach Wick, Smith Convoy Review, Outdoorgearlab, Jan 18, 2021
Will Brett-Atkin, Troy Lee Designs MIPS A2 Review, One Track Mind Magazine, August 31, 2020
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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