Action Sports Helmet Safety Standards: The Basics
One of the most confusing parts about shopping for a new helmet can be the different helmet safety standards. Why are some certifications listed on some helmets and not others, even though the helmets are supposedly designed for the same activity? What do all those acronyms mean?
The most common safety certifications you might see on a helmet include CPSC, ASTM, SNELL, and EN. Below is a brief explanation of each safety standard. (Click on each certification name to go to a more in-depth explanation of that standard.) XSportsProtective lists any safety standards a helmet may meet in the product description. If you aren't sure what, if any, safety certifications your helmet may carry, look inside it. Every helmet should have a sticker on the inside (and sometimes on the back exterior) that lists the helmet weight, manufacturing information, and safety certifications, among other information. Note that you may need to move the fit/comfort pads out of the way to find the sticker.
CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) Bicycle Helmet Standard
CPSC standards regulate bicycle helmet performance. Any helmet sold as a bicycle helmet in the United States MUST meet CPSC safety standards. A sticker attesting to this fact is required to be present on the inside of the helmet.
Learn more about CPSC bike helmet safety standards
ASTM Standards Related to Bicycle and/or Skateboard HelmetsASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. The relevant ASTM helmet standard for action sports helmets are:
- ASTM F1447 Bicycle helmets
- ASTM F1492 Skateboard helmets
- ASTM F1952 Downhill mountain bike helmets
- ASTM F2032 BMX helmets
- ASTM F2040 Ski and snowboard helmets
Snell Memorial Foundation
The Snell Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education, testing, and development of helmet safety standards. Founded in 1957, the Snell Foundation's standards are the most demanding of any helmet certification. Helmets must first pass Snell certification testing by Snell technicians in Snell labs to qualify for Snell programs. Then samples of these helmets regularly acquired directly from retailers and distributors must continue to pass test requirements in order to retain Snell certification.
Learn more about Snell Foundation helmet standards here
EN CE Safety StandardsCE marking indicates that a helmet fulfills the requirements in the European Economic Community (EEC) Directive, 89/686/EEC. This is a mandatory directive, thus helmets must be CE-marked if they are to be sold anywhere in Europe. Since 1994, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden has been a Notified Body entitled to perform and certify tests for CE-marking. Among the CE markings for action sports helmets are:
- EN CE 1077 Ski helmets
- EN CE 1078 Bicycle helmets
- EN CE 1080 Impact protection helmets for young children