This post is a review of three different skateboard helmets (also, the S-One Lifer is mentioned in the end notes):
(3) Bell Local
Before I get into the specifics of each helmet, I want to touch on three things.
First, is certification. This is extremely important: ONLY BUY A HELMET THAT HAS ASTM F1492 CERTIFICATION. REPEAT. ONLY BUY AN ASTM F1492 CERTIFIED HELMET. Non-certified helmets are useless, and do almost nothing for actual protection. They should be banned from sale due to their misleading nature (in fact, they are banned in California). If you have a non-certified helmet (or your kid does), throw it out, and get a real helmet. Below are a few links to more information about certified helmets. Dual certified helmets (ASTM and CPSC) are your best bet.
This video is an absolute must watch on the impact difference between certified and non-certified helmets. Please watch it.
Below are few other links to information about certified helmets.
Second, helmets do NOT prevent concussions. No helmet design has been proven to prevent concussions. The materials that are used in most of today’s helmets are engineered to absorb the high impact energies that can produce skull fractures and brain injuries. However, these materials have not been proven to counteract the energies believed to cause concussions. Beware of claims that a particular helmet can reduce or prevent concussions.
Third, is fit. Heads all come in different shapes and sizes. Moreover, all helmets fit differently. So, what works for me, might be horrible for you. If you want a helmet, you are strongly encouraged to go try them on somewhere (if possible). A good fitting helmet you will hardly notice. An ill-fitting one will either give you a pounding headache in less than 10 minutes (e.g. it’s too tight), or float around on your head and provide inadequate protection (because it’s too loose). A properly fitted helmet shouldn't feel much different than wearing a baseball hat. Can’t find the exact style and color you want? Simple, just go try helmets on somewhere, and determine the brand/size that most comfortably fits you. Once you have that info, just order the exact one you want on-line somewhere (or have your local skate shop order it). Make sure to cover it with stickers. Also, if you haven't tried a helmet on before, and you're going the on-line route, make sure the retailer has a good return policy (e.g. so you can do an easy return/exchange if the helmet doesn't fit well).
All this said, lets move on to the helmet reviews.
(1) PRO-TEC CLASSIC
The Pro-Tec Classic helmet has been around forever. I am sure it is name you recognize. Their pads have been shoddy for years, but their helmets have been on point. Tons of people wear and love Pro-Tec helmets. I am not one of them. Before I get into what I don't like about them, lets look at some of the tech specs.
429 grams / 15.1 oz
Pro-Tec sizing can be seen here. My head measures about 56.5cm (22.25") around. Thus, their information says I should be a solid size Medium.
Two circle vents in both the front and back. The top looks like this:
This is a weird one. I looked at two different Pro-Tec Classic helmets. One was white, the other matte grey. Both sized medium. They seemed to have two different sized liners, as can be seen in the two photos below. Note that the liner is the "same" but the way it fit within each helmet is very different (most noticeable in the dead center). This caused them to fit a bit differently, but more on that in the "fit" section (also below).
Standard issue straps buckles. Basically these were exactly the same on all three helmets.
Appearance | Cut | Profile
Of the three helmets, Pro-Tec was the most "curvy." The others hard harder angles on their profile lines. Here is a side profile of the Pro-Tec, Bell, and Triple 8. Personally, I was not really a fan of the curvy Pro-Tec lines, but that is totally a subjective call.
The Pro-Tec helmet did not fit me well. It felt quite tight on my temples/side of head, but very loose on the front and back of my head. In fact, I could easily rock it back and forth (e.g. front to back) on my head. This indicates that is was too loose. It felt like the helmet was "egg shaped," but my head was round (my head just might be "fat" in the middle and "short" on the ends. Given that this was a medium helmet, and it was too tight in some spots, and too loose in others, I feel like dropping down to a small would be way too tight on temples/sides, and still a questionable fit on front to back. In any event, it did not provide a snug, consistent fit around my entire head. I skated with this on for about 30 min. I fell on my ass at one point, and felt the entire helmet shift on my head. That should NOT happen, so it was game over for the Pro-Tec. I also felt like this thing kept riding-up on my head, and ended-up sitting too high-up. Even before it started "riding up," I found Pro-Tec to sit higher up on my head. Here is the Pro-Tec and the Bell for comparison. Note the distance between top my eyebrows, and lower brim of the helmet. There is a dramatic different between the two. I didn't take a pic of Triple 8 while wearing it, but it sat lower like the Bell helmet does.
Not the helmet for me.
(2) TRIPLE 8 DUAL CERTIFIED
Triple 8 has been around quite awhile now, and they have become a well-known name. They have some big name endorsements like Tony Hawk. Of the three helmets in this review, the Triple 8 dual certified helmet was the most painful to wear. From the first second I put it on, instant discomfort. But first, lets cover those tech specs.
429 grams / 15.1 oz
Triple 8 sizing can be seen here. Again, my head measures about 56-57mm (22.25 - 22.5") around. Thus, their information says I should be a in the Small/Medium sized helmets.
The Triple 8, like the Pro-Tec, has two round vents in the front and back. These, however, are much further apart than the vents on the Pro-Tec, and they are also a little higher-up. Up top, the Triple 8 has a similar vent pattern to the Pro-Tec.
This helmet came with two sets of lining. One is thicker than the other. The thicker one is for "small" heads. The thinner is for "medium" heads.
Again, standard straps.
Appearance | Cut | Profile
See pics above. The Triple 8 was the most angular of the the three. It even has a little "flair out" in the back.
Holy hell. Instant headache as soon as I put this torture device one. This thing would be nightmare if I had to wear for more than 10 minuets. Very tight on sides of head, and felt like a few parts of my crown (top of head) pushed up against the harder foam core of the helmet (e.g. as if the softer padding did not fully "cushion" my head). This creating some really painful pressure points towards the back top of my head. This helmet did not rock forward and backwards like the Pro-Tec did, but it was literally like wearing a circular vice on my head. Now, I clearly fit within Triple 8 guidelines for a size medium helmet. Is their sizing off? Would size large/extra-large be better? Is my head just that weirdly shaped? Unknown. But what is known, is there is no chance in hell I am wearing this helmet. Well, maybe that is unfair. Someday I'll see if I can try on a size larger and report back, but somehow I have a very strong feeling that would just be too big on me.
Final VerdictI am running away from this thing as fast as I can. Thank god for a good return policy! HOWEVER, the Triple 8 Certified Sweat Saver is a GREAT helmet. See the "End Notes" that are at, well, and the end of this post.
(3) BELL LOCAL
Bell Helmets are not really known in the skate world, and that is shame, because the Local helmet was the CLEAR and DECISIVE champion amongst these three helmets. This helmet is GREAT, and I can't say enough good things about it. But again, first, the tech specs.
431grams / 15.2 oz.
Note this is tid-bit heavier than the other two. Mine has lots of stickers on it, and I do have a really sensitive scale. That said, did not notice a weight difference when wearing this compared to the others.
Bell sizing can be seen here. Again, I am in the medium range with my head being 56-57mm (22.25 - 22.5").
While Pro-Tec and Triple 8 have very similar vents, the Local has ones that are a bit different. It has two rectangle vents in the front and back (front vents can been seen in pic above). On top it has six rectangle vents.
Nothing too much to note here.
Standards straps, just like the others.
Appearance | Cut | Profile
The Local has more hard angles than the Pro-Tec, but are not as extreme as Triple 8. See pics above.
The first thing to note about the Bell Local helmet is this dial adjuster in the back. This thing rocks. It allows for fine-tuning your helmet's fit. This means that you can get the EXACT snug/tightness you want. That is a huge advantage over the Pro-Tec, Triple 8, and S-One. This "adjuster" is now pretty much standard on all bicycle helmets, and it's a brilliant design/concept. Why the skate world hasn't picked-up and/or caught-up with this is utterly mind-blowing.
Overall, the Bell helmet had a perfect fit for me. Snug all the way around my head. No pressure points. Nothing floating around. it basically feels like I am wearing a well-worn baseball hat. As I said at the top, the "fit" of helmet is different fro everyone, but the Bell Local is absolute perfection for me.
Final VerdictAn absolutely fantastic helmet. I wouldn't wear anything else.
END NOTES / OTHER HELMETS
(1) Another certified helmet with a good reputation is the S-One Lifer, seen here. The S-One has similar "lines" and vents to the Pro-Tec (S-One even has a curve across the front brow, which is weird, IMHO). The S-One Lifer shell is a bit larger than other helmets, because the only "size" different between a small and XL is the thickness of lining (e.g. the shell is larger to accommodate all size heads with liner swap-outs). S-One also seems to run larger than than other helmets. In most others I am a medium. In S-One, I was closer to an XL. Cost wise, the Lifer is about $70, which is a bit more expensive than the others. Last, to me, the S-One looks a little like some weird 1960's sci-fi movie helmet (it's the curvy lines, and slightly larger shell). I just like the looks of the more angular Bell and Triple 8 helmets. The S-One is certainly a quality product, but the Bell Local just ticks all the boxes for me, and the S-One misses the mark on a few. It also just didn’t fit me as well. Again, thank god for a good return policy.
(2) Triple 8 also makes a certified "sweat saver" helmet. Goes for about $70. For the purpose of this post, I mostly wanted to keep things in the same "price point," so I didn't include this (or the S-One) with the helmets reviewed above. That said, the Triple 8 Sweat Saver is a GREAT helmet for helping keep sweat from waterfalling down your face in hotter months. I bumped up a size in this, and it fits me quite well. Not quite as perfect as the Bell helmet, but its not a problem to wear, at all. It's actually quite comfortable. I'll post more stats/details on this helmet in the future. Due to the highly effective sweat saver element, this has become my favorite “hot weather helmet” out everything I've tried. Highly recommended.
(3) Killer 187, which makes great pads, also makes helmets which are NOT CERTIFIED. Considering how well-know 187 pads are, it is basically criminal that they sell non-certified helmets. What is even more insane, is that on their web site they sell a non-certified Lizzie Armanto helmet. However, if you read the description of the helmet it says, "For a certified version of Lizzie's hemlet, go here." When you click the link they provide, guess where you are redirected to? To the Triple 8 web site! How ironic is that? Anyway, it's real lame that a company like 187 does not make certified helmets. Shame on them.
Longtime reader/lurker, first time commenter. Enjoying your musings on skate stuff.ReplyDelete
I made the mistake of purchasing a non certified Triple 8 at an indoor skatepark when I forgot my helmet. I noticed how flimsy/malleable it was the instant I put it on my head. I promptly got rid of it after that session, researched the certifications, and got a S-One Retro Lifer, which is essentially the Lifer with ear flaps. Great fit (after mixing/matching the different thicknesses of liners), but I have an average sized head. From what I could tell, same shell for all sizes, but it worked out in my case. More comfortable fit than the Pro-Tecs. I'll have to try on that Bell when it's time for a replacement.
It is indeed a shame that non-certifieds are even legal. It's just more ammunition for the fashionable non-helmet crowd.
Thanks for the info and kind words! Hope you are well!Delete