Whether you’re go-karting or racing cars, helmets are one of the necessary pieces of equipment you’ll need. If you were to ask me, I’d say that a go-kart helmet is the first thing you need to buy before starting go-karting.
Go-kart helmets are a necessity when you want to drive a go-kart. Unlike other pieces of go-kart gear, you’ll need to wear a karting helmet from the moment you enter until you get out of a kart. This means that even if you want to drive a go-kart at your local go-kart course, you’ll need to wear a helmet.
Thankfully, every go-kart track that rents out go-karts must offer everyone helmets for free. But, these are usually cheap helmets with no additional features; plus, the helmet that they’ll give you will be a used one.
If you’re racing go-karts professionally, or you’re an avid karting fan, then you should look into buying your personal go-kart helmet. So, I gathered as much information as I could concerning go-kart helmets. This includes what you should look for in go-kart helmets, how to choose the best one, how to maintain your helmet once you’ve bought it, and some of the best karting helmets on the market.
What to Look For in Go-Kart Helmets
Go-kart helmets are much more complex in terms of their aspects than any other go-karting gear. Before explaining everything in-depth below, I found that full-face motorcycle helmets work perfectly for karting. While some of them aren’t certified for professional races, you should be safe enough when driving go-karts for fun. But, that also depends on the track organizers.
Certification in karting is everything. If the governing bodies of karting don’t approve any piece of your equipment, you won’t be able to wear them during an official race. As you can imagine, this is heavily enforced regarding go-kart helmets.
There are special regulations when it comes to go-kart racing for kids. More specifically, if a kid is less than 15 years old, the only “legal” helmets are CMR-approved ones. These go-kart helmets are not as heavy as regular ones, so they aren’t as taxing on the neck.
If you’re over 15 years old, you don’t need a CMR-approved helmet. However, your go-kart helmet will still need to be certified by the Snell Memorial Foundation. Snell checks every aspect of a go-kart helmet to ensure that it’ll protect you from any impact. They also have a list of all the approved helmets, which you should consult before you buy one.
The Snell certification sticker, which can be found inside a go-kart helmet, includes a code like SA2015. The numbers are the year of the certification, and the helmets should last 5-10 years after that if you don’t get in a severe crash. So, this means that you’ll need to replace your helmet once or twice every decade of racing so that you can participate in official races.
While certification is the most crucial aspect of a go-kart helmet, you’ll also need to know the different types of helmets. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to wear anything other than a full-face helmet for go-karting. Some tracks might allow a retro, open-faced one, but such helmets aren’t legal in official races.
Most entry-level helmets come with the most basic features, some of which I tell you about below. On the other hand, professional go-kart helmets come with several features, from HANS support to ventilation systems. They’re also made from better materials…
It’s not hard to understand that go-kart helmets need to be made from the sturdiest and most durable materials. Plus, these materials will need to be the most lightweight ones on the market; otherwise, your neck will be extremely sore after every race. The most common materials used in go-kart helmets are Fiberglass, Carbon Fiber, and a Composite of several materials.
Fiberglass is generally used in entry-level helmets because of the durability-cost ratio of the fibers. However, this comes at the expense of its weight since fiberglass go-kart helmets are heavier than other alternatives.
Carbon fiber helmets aren’t that much different from fiberglass ones. Both types are made from fibers and plastic. But, carbon fiber go-kart helmets are made from carbon fibers, which are very durable and lightweight. It’s the same material used by F1 teams for their front wings. But, this also increases the price of these helmets significantly.
Composite helmets are made from a mix of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and kevlar. I told you a lot about kevlar when I discussed go-kart rib protectors. Composite go-kart helmets are the best of both worlds, as in they’re not as expensive as carbon fiber ones, but they provide their durability and lightweight.
Visibility is essential regarding go-kart racing. You’ll already know how hard karting with glasses is, especially when they start becoming foggy. Now, imagine if your go-kart helmet obscures your view angle and is foggy at the same time. Whether you’re racing or driving for fun, this will be borderline dangerous, specifically because go-karts don’t have side mirrors.
When you’re racing go-karts, you’ll turn your head around to see where your opponents are. At the same time, you’ll have to look behind you as little as possible; otherwise, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous position. This can be prevented if you opt for wide eyeports, which I’ll tell you about below.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that ventilation is a necessity for go-kart helmets and go-kart suits. If the ventilation of a go-kart isn’t good, then you’ll feel sick after the race. But, you’ll also sweat a lot, meaning that you won’t be capable of focusing on the race.
That said, if you live in a colder country, then you might not have as big of an issue when it comes to ventilation. But, you’ll need to buy some go-kart gloves so that your hands don’t freeze.
Still, a ventilated helmet will be much better than an unventilated one. Some helmets have mesh grills around the chin and scalp area, which let the air flow inside the helmet while filtering out dust and debris.
Whether it’s F1, go-karting, or Supermoto, safety plays a huge role. I’ve already told you about how vital Snell certifications are and the properties of different materials used in go-kart helmets.
But those aren’t things you’ll need to consider concerning safety. You’ll have to look for a helmet with sufficient padding on the inside, which will absorb the impact in case of a crash. Even though fires aren’t common in go-karting, it’d be a good idea to opt for a go-kart helmet with a Nomex interior.
I’m not the type of person who likes extravagant designs. But, I have to admit that colorful helmets with many designs are stunning. Your go-kart helmet is the best way to show your personality, even if you’re a minimalist like myself or a more stylish person.
Having said that, before you pick any fancy designs or bright-colored helmets, you should make sure that the helmet is certified by Snell. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a stylish piece that you can’t wear during a race.
Finding the correct size for your go-kart helmet is a necessity. A helmet that’s too small will be very uncomfortable to wear, while a large one will be wobbling around once you get on the track; it might also come off in case of an impact, which can prove fatal.
For your ease, I included a size chart from Bell, one of the most well-known names in go-kart helmets, below. But, just because you wear a Medium Bell go-kart helmet doesn’t mean that a Large RaceQuip helmet will be too big, so you should find the individual size chart for each brand.
When it comes to measuring your head, you should use a measuring tape and measure the circumference of your head. Generally, a helmet should have a tight fit but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. That’s why you should try out any go-kart helmet before you buy it.
The features you’ll need on your go-kart helmet depend solely on how you view go-karting. If you’re a professional karting racer, then your go-kart helmet will need to have most features available. That’s because you’ll be more comfortable, and thus, you’ll be able to focus much more on the race.
Some noteworthy features of go-kart helmets include hydration systems, communication systems, anti-fog visors, and ventilation systems. All these add points to your comfort, but they can be too costly for someone who’s karting leisurely.
And, since I’m on the topic of prices…
When you consider how important a go-kart helmet is, it’s not a surprise that it’s also the most expensive piece of go-kart equipment. So, you’ll need to set a budget to find the go-kart helmet that has enough features for your karting needs and is made from durable materials.
Most beginners should find a go-kart helmet for around $150. Once you start taking part in professional races, the prices of karting helmets range from $200 – $350. But that’s not even close to some helmets used by racers in official FIA races, with some of them costing up to $1200.
So, these are all good-to-knows when you want to buy a go-kart helmet. But how will you find the perfect go-kart helmet?
How To Choose the Perfect Go-Kart Helmet
Finding the perfect go-kart helmet is a very subjective process. But, there are a few factors that you should look for if you want to find the perfect karting helmet for you.
Wide Field Of Vision
One aspect of go-kart helmets is their eyeports. A helmet’s eyeport is judges how wide your field of view will be. So, it’s not hard to understand that a wider field of vision will provide you with a better experience and improve your performance.
So, it’s necessary to find a go-kart helmet with a wide eyeport so that your view of the track isn’t obstructed by it. But, this comes down to personal preference, meaning that you have to try out some go-kart helmets to find your desired eyeport.
Good ventilation comes a long way when you’re racing, and it’s scorching hot outside. If you race in a hot country and you don’t have vents around your helmet, not only will your visor become foggy, but you’ll also feel dizzy. So, you won’t be able to see well from the foggy visor, and you won’t focus on the race because of the dizziness.
So, you’ll need to find a go-kart helmet that offers great airflow to keep you cool and stop your visor from fogging up. From my research, you should choose a helmet with a vent on the chin and a ventilation area on the side or back of the helmet.
Like every other piece of go-kart equipment, comfort is an essential factor to consider. If any equipment makes you uncomfortable during a race, you’ll likely end up last. This couldn’t be more true for helmets, which you’ll have to wear no matter what type of race you take part in.
So, your go-kart helmet will need to have a soft interior, as well as removable interior parts, so that you can find your perfect fit. Some karting helmets offer you the option to remove foam parts from the forehead and the cheeks areas.
Everything needs to be lightweight in karting, so removing a few extra grams will make a difference. This includes all your karting equipment, so having a lightweight helmet will give you an advantage.
But, the main reason why you need a lightweight helmet is that it can put a lot of strain on your neck. One of the main reasons why we wear helmets is to protect our necks, anyways. So, if you opt for a heavyweight helmet, you’ll probably end up with a neck injury, especially if you get in a crash.
Several go-kart helmets will offer you the option to remove the visor that it comes with from the factory. Don’t think that this is an excuse to race go-karts without a visor because you won’t be able to do that.
But, you could invest in other visors, according to the track conditions. If the track is outdoor, you should find a tinted visor to not get disturbed by the glaring sunlight. The same goes for other weather conditions, like using water-repellent visors if it’s pouring.
So, now you know every aspect of a go-kart helmet and the factors that you should look out for. But, considering that you’ll wear the helmet regularly, you’ll need to maintain it sufficiently; otherwise, it’ll be more of a hazard than a safety measure.
How To Maintain Your Go-Kart Helmet
Maintaining your go-kart helmet isn’t a difficult task. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t take up too much of your time, and you won’t need to be extremely careful with it either. But, if you want to keep the same helmet until its Snell certification ends, you’ll have to take good care of it.
For starters, don’t drop your go-kart helmet. Yes, your helmet is meant to keep you safe from any impact, but if you drop it repeatedly, you’ll just manage to make the inner shell weak, and thus it’ll be less safe to use.
Also, you should make sure to keep your karting helmet clean and have a specific area where you store it. The majority of helmets nowadays come with helmet bags which you can use to transport and store them. But, even if you keep your helmet at home, you’ll need to have a shelf that’s sturdy to keep it on so that it doesn’t get knocked off.
You should additionally keep a spare visor lens at all times. If your visor cracks, you won’t be able to participate in a race, so you’ll need to have a spare one to replace it quickly. Plus, if the weather conditions at the track are not optimal (too sunny or rainy), you should have the corresponding visor.
My Top 3 Go-Kart Helmets
Finding the top 3 go-kart helmets wasn’t as easy as other pieces of karting equipment. I spend a lot of time chatting with several karting racers at my local track, as well as reaching out to karting professionals online. The general consensus is that my perfect go-kart helmets will differ from anyone else’s because we all like different features and take karting more or less seriously.
So, with that said, here are the top three karting helmets I found for beginners and professional karting racers.
Best Overall Go-Kart Helmet: Bell Racing K1 Pro Brus Helmet
The Bell Racing K1 PRO Brus helmet is by far the best go-kart helmet you can buy. It’s towards the higher end concerning its price point, but the features it offers are exquisite. Plus, it’s made from Bell, which is known for making the absolute best karting helmets. You should also keep in mind that depending on the color you choose, the price of the K1 Pro will be different.
The K1 Pro has an SA2020 certificate, so it can last you up until 2030. The helmet is really lightweight and sturdy, as it’s made from a composite material. It also has a unique layering process, which adds extra strength to it without any excess weight.
The interior is made for high impact and features an absorbing liner alongside a lot of foam so that it’s not only comfortable but safe. Some of the features that stand out on the K1 Pro are its ventilation system and communication system, which add an extra layer of comfort and improved performance.
Best Premium Go-Kart Helmet: Conquer Carbon Fiber Auto Helmet
The Conquer Carbon Fiber helmet is an excellent choice if you have the budget for it. It’s not that much more expensive than the K1 Pro I mentioned above, but it’s still at a higher price point.
That said, the higher price is definitely deserved. The helmet is Snell SA2020-certified, and it’s made from carbon fiber, hence why it’s more expensive. But, at the same time, it’s very lightweight, weighing a bit over 3 lbs. You can also insert a HANS device in it.
The interior of the helmet from Conquer is really soft and has enough padding to make sure that you’re safe and comfortable. The cheek pads are removable, which adds more points to the comfort aspect. It also has a whopping ten vents for optimal ventilation.
Best Affordable Go-Kart Helmet: RaceQuip PRO 20
The RaceQuip PRO 20 is an absolute beast of a helmet. I really love RaceQuip, as you can see from the rest of my gear reviews, because they offer affordable equipment with minimal features and rugged, simplistic designs. And the same goes for the PRO 20.
The PRO 20 holds an SA2020 certification (hence why the 20 in the name), so it should last you for a few years. The outer shell is made from a lightweight composite. However, it’s not as durable as the composite material that Bell uses.
The interior is made from Nomex, which is fire-retardant. Even though you’re not likely to get into a fiery crash when karting, Nomex is still great because of its soft and comfortable feel. However, the helmet doesn’t have any vents, which is an issue, especially during the summertime.
That’s all I had to say about go-kart helmets. You’ll have to remember that these are absolutely essential when it comes to karting. So you shouldn’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars on buying the best karting helmet for you.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
FAQs For Go-Kart Helmets
What should I look for in a go-karting helmet?
You should make sure that the helmet has a Snell certification. Otherwise, you won’t be able to wear it in official races. Apart from that, I’ve included factors that you’ll need to consider in this article.
What kind of helmet do I need for karting?
As long as it’s certified, you can use any kind of full-face helmet for karting. This includes full-face motorcycle helmets.
How do you size a go-kart helmet?
You’ll need to measure your head’s circumference. I’ve included a handy size chart above so that you can find the optimal helmet size for you.
Can I Use a Motorcycle Helmet for Karting?
Yes, you can. I’ve been using the same helmet I wear when riding my Supermoto bike to race at my local karting league. But, you’ll need to check if your league requires you to use a specific helmet type.