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With only fleeting memories of beautiful summer days filled with long rides it can feel like a monumental effort to get on the saddle for a cold and wet winter ride.
Winter tends to bring out strange behaviour in cyclists. Some hang the bike up and lace up the trainers for some running. Some stick to the ever more popular indoor bike training.
Then there are those riders that look winter straight in the eye, put on the right clothes and just carry on.
In this article we look at the best cycling helmet for winter so that you can stay on the bike.
Here’s our top picks at a glance:
- Giro Timberwolf Adult Dirt Cycling Helmet (Best Overall)
- Retrospec H2 Ski & Snowboard Helmet (Best Ski Helmet For Cycling)
- Bern Bandito Snow Helmet (Best Kids Winter Helmet)
- Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap (Best For Under Helmet)
- Sugoi Zap 2.0 Helmet Cover (Best For Over Helmet)
Top 5 Best Winter Bike Helmets Reviewed
1. Giro Timberwolf Adult Dirt Cycling Helmet (Best Overall)
- Type: Winter Cycling Helmet
- Weight: 0.75lbs
The Giro Timberwolf Helmet strikes a great balance between breathability and warmth using some innovative features. Even on the coldest days you can still get too hot with the wrong helmet or layering so having the ability to regulate airflow is a major bonus.
On the Giro Timberwolf this is achieved by a simple toggle on the top of the helmet that slides fore and aft to close and open the vents on top.
The head is kept warm using an insulated liner and the ears get their own padded, insulated ear flaps. Showing great attention to detail, the ear flaps have perforated holes to still allow sound though to keep you safe on busy streets.
Any rider who has used the Giro head retention system will know that it works flawlessly.
Again it is the small things on this helmet that make it one of the best for cycling in winter right down to the Front Stack Ventilation. These help to prevent goggles steaming up by giving the hot air from the riders breathe an escape route.
- Adjustable ventilation – a simple toggle on top of the helmet gives the right ventilation for your cycling conditions.
- Front Stack Ventilation – Innovative vents to help avoid google and glasses steaming up.
- Perforated ear covers – smart feature that allows you to hear clearly whilst still keeping your ears warm.
2. Retrospec H2 Ski & Snowboard Helmet (Best Ski Helmet For Cycling)
- Type: Convertible ski and cycle helmet.
- Weight: 1.2lbs
The same features that make the Retrospec H2 Helmet great for skiing and snowboarding also make it a great winter cycling helmet.
As you would expect from a helmet designed for skiing temperature regulation is excellent. The insulated liner keeps everything nice and warm and the ten air vents go a long way to prevent a hot head and sweating during big efforts.
The earmuffs are removable which gives the helmet more versatility for cycling.
Like cycling, skiing is a dangerous sport where falling is an occupational hazard. Given this is a helmet designed for the slopes, the fall protection is one of the main selling points. The ABS shell and EPS liner used here offer excellent protection.
- ErgoKnob – easy adjustment of helmet fit for better protection on the bike and slope.
- Removable earmuffs – this makes the helmet suitable for a wide range of temperatures.
- Strategic vent placement – the location of the vents has been optimised to keep your head cool even during big efforts.
3. BERN Bandito Snow Helmet (Best Kids Winter Helmet)
- Type: Kids winter cycling and snow sports helmet
- Weight: 0.97lbs
Getting kids to wear a helmet can be challenging so it is important to get something that they want to wear. The BERN Bandito Helmet fits the bill.
The Bandito (for boys) and the Bandita (for girls) are scaled down versions of the adult Watts helmet and suitable for ages eight to fifteen. That means the original and iconic BERN visor shape is still very much present.
The thin shell ABS and EPS hard foam is certified for both biking and winter sports making it a versatile helmet throughout the year with the removable ear shell liner.
Eight vents help you to stay cool and when the temperature drops the internal padding can be rotated to cover the vents to stay warm.
The Sink Fit features keeps the helmet low on the child’s head for maximum fall protection.
- Removable winter liner – means that it can be the perfect winter and summer cycling helmet for kids.
- Iconic visor – having great looks means that kids are more likely to want to wear the helmet.
- Adjustable ventilation – keeps kid’s heads cool no matter how much they are working.
4. Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap (Best For Under Helmet)
- Type: Unisex skull cap
- Weight: 0.1lbs
If a full winter cycling helmet is too extreme for your weather conditions then the answer could be layering. The Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap can be worn under a standard cycling helmet to keep your head and ears warm.
Cycling specific skull caps are less bulky than a normal hat. This means that the helmet is much more comfortable and doesn’t sit too high on the head.
At best this makes you look like a mushroom, at worst the helmet is not properly positioned and therefore can’t provide full protection in a crash.
- Reflective elements – winter means darker nights so every little helps when it comes to being seen on the road.
- Hidden rear port – great for female (or male) riders with a ponytail.
- Scalloped back – prevents the skull cap from bunching.
5. Sugoi Zap 2.0 Helmet Cover (Best For Over Helmet)
- Type: Helmet cover
Instead of a skull cap another option for keeping your head warm during winter is the Sugoi Zap 2.0 Helmet Cover. As the name suggests, this is an elasticated cover that effectively seals the helmet from wind and rain.
The cover itself is fully waterproof and will keep your head dry. It is a great option for short commutes to the office as it will stop your hair getting wet if you are caught in rain. No one wants to look like a drowned rat at their desk.
Given that winter cycling not only means cooler temperatures but darker cycling, the fact that the cover is fully reflective is a great safety feature. The extra visibility high up on the bike makes it much easier for drivers to see you on the dark roads.
It does a good job of keeping the rain and wind out but the flip side of helmet covers is that there is the lack of ventilation.
- Waterproof and wind proof – great option for keeping your hair dry on short commutes to the office.
- Reflective details – helps to be seen in the dark winter months.
- Lightweight – can be stored easily when not in use and quickly fitted when the rain starts.
Buyer’s Guide: Features That Make A Make A Good Bike Helmet For Winter
There is no point in being warm if you are not safe. Any helmet that you choose should meet the minimum safety regulations depending on where you ride.
This varies from country-to-country and helps to ensure that you can be confident that the helmet you buy will protect you when you need it most.
To keep your head warm and dry when the temperatures plummet a good winter cycling helmet should be lined with high quality, comfortable insulation.
Since our ears stick out into the wind when riding, a good quality winter cycling helmet should have insulated ear muffs.
If you are commuting on busy city streets the ear muffs may block out some of the environmental noise.
Video: Why Wear A Winter Cycling Helmet
Even when you cycle in the depths of winter it is not impossible to get too warm and start to sweat. A helmet without any ventilation traps all of this heat and can make for an uncomfortable ride.
To overcome this, a good quality winter cycling helmet should have adjustable vents that allow you to conveniently control the airflow into the helmet depending on the riding conditions.
Winter doesn’t just mean cold it also means dark and this makes it even more important to be seen on the roads.
Choosing a winter helmet with bold colors and reflective details can go some way to being seen by drivers.
Can a Skiing or Snowboarding Helmet Work for Biking?
Any helmet is better than no helmet and skiing and snowboarding helmets can, in general, be worn as a cycling helmet. If anything, skiing and snowboarding helmets are designed for even greater impacts than cycling helmets.
The downside of skiing and snowboarding helmets for cycling is that the shape is not as aerodynamic as cycling helmets. This may or may not be an issue for you and in general the focus in winter is steady miles rather than leg-sapping efforts.
Can I Wear Something Under Or Over My Helmet To Keep Me Warm?
Wearing layers under a helmet is a very popular method of staying warm on the bike during the winter months. The advantage of using layers is that you can easily adjust on the go if you are feeling to warm or cold.
Wearing a skull cap or balaclava under your helmet keeps you warm without spoiling the aerodynamic lines of the helmet.
Another useful way to keep the worst of the weather out is to use a cover over your helmet. This acts as a waterproof windbreaker and seals the vents on the helmet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Skiing Helmets Designed To Protect You From The Same Kind Of Accidents That You Would Have On A Bike?
Flying down the side of snow covered mountain requires some robust head protection. Compared to standard cycling helmets, skiing helmets typically provide more protection to the back of the head.
How Effective Is Putting Winter Wear Under A Standard Cycling Helmet?
Wearing layers under your standard helmet can be a great way to stay warm but you need to carefully consider if any layers will adversely affect the fit of the helmet.
Cycling specific caps are thin enough that they don’t get in the way of the fit of the helmet whilst still providing warmth.
At What Temperature Do You Switch To A Ski Helmet Instead Of A Bike Helmet
There is no set temperature below which you should switch immediately from a bike helmet to a ski helmet. Some people feel the cold much more keenly than others and so it comes down to a personal preference.
Riding your bike through winter is challenging on you and the machine but it can also be epic. Cycling through winter helps to keep up your fitness so that you can hit the ground running or cycling when the warmer weather returns.
Keeping warm on the bike is the key to enjoying winter cycling and a good quality winter helmet goes a long way.
To that end, the Giro Timberwolf Helmet is a great option. Giro know how to make cycling helmets and the Timberwolf is no exception. Great insulation combined with plenty of ventilation mean that you are in control of the temperature.
If you don’t like the idea of a winter specific cycling helmet, the Pearl Izumi Barrier Skull Cap does a good job of keeping you warm whilst also looking very pro.