How to Choose the Right Longboard Helmet for You
The most important piece of protective gear required for longboarding is, without question, a longboard helmet. Scraped knees and elbows will mend. Broken bones can be reset. However, damage caused by a blow to your unprotected head could potentially be irreversible. And since nobody's done a successful brain transplant, you need to take steps to protect your head with a longboardhelmet.
The Right Longboarding Helmet Depends on What You'll Be Doing
If you're using your longboard to get around town or around campus, a regular half-shell or open face longboard helmet/skate helmet should give you sufficient protection, covering the top, sides, and back of your head (see image on right). Half-shell longboard helmets generally have a bucket-shaped, hard exterior shell made of ABS plastic, fiberglass composite, carbon fiber or Kevlar. The interior of these helmets generally consists of a soft, cushiony foam interior protective liner that is meant to slow the force of multiple low to moderate impacts, like a small collision on the sidewalk at low speed.
When Do I Need a Full-Face Longboard Helmet?
The choice between half-shell and full-face longboard helmet depends primarily on where you're longboarding and how fast you'll be
going. If you're doing any high-speed riding or if you simply want to have additional protection for the front of your face, a full face helmet is a good choice. These helmets typically meet CPSC safety standards, so you can use them for downhill mountain biking and
BMX too. Full face helmets are constructed with a thin, exterior hard shell that covers the majority of your head, minus your eyes and nose. The exterior shell can be made out of: hard plastic, a fiber glass composite, or carbon fiber. Other things to consider when moving to a full-face longboard helmet:
- Full-face longboard helmets are constructed with a chin bar that extends across your face and offers protection for your chin, jaw, cheeks, and parts of your face
- Full-face longboarding helmets have a visor to shield your eyes from the sun
- Full-face longboard helmets also have a plush interior with extra thick padding meant to further cushion the bumps and impacts your might expect when traveling at very fast speeds.
- Most of the full face longboard helmets we carry employ a lightweight, stiff interior protective liner made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). This protective liner is meant to condense, break, crack, or fracture upon sustaining ONE MODERATE to HEAVY impact, so that your skull doesn’t have to.
Choose a full face longboard helmet if:
- You're riding any hills that get your speed above 20-25 mph
- You often ride in small groups or heavy traffic areas, raising the likelihood of a collision
- You want a bit coverage on the back of your head
- You want to protect your chin, jaw, and lower face because your Mom told you you have a great face
Does My Longboard Helmet Need to Meet any Safety Standards?
There isn't a set longboarding helmet certification like there is for bicycle helmets (CPSC) or skateboard helmets (ASTM). Any helmet sold in the United States as a bicycle helmet must meet CPSC safety standards. Helmets sold as skateboard helmets may or may not meet ASTM F1492 standards--the certification is not a requirement. A skate helmet that does not have an ASTM certification is not necessarily a bad helmet. There are manufacturers who do not seek to certify every one of the helmets in their product line because, like anything else, this certification can add additional cost to the price. Our general recommendations regarding longboarding helmets:
- If you are a longboard commuter, choose a half-shell helmet. It's your choice whether or not you want a helmet that meets ASTM skate and/or CPSC bike safety standards. Remember that helmets marketed as skateboard helmets are not required to meet a safety standard. The ASTM standard it is voluntary on the part of the manufacturer.
- If you're going to be achieving any significant speeds on your longboard--whether riding downhill or racing--look for a helmet that meets CPSC bicycle standards.
The best helmet for a longboarder who wants to maintain the skate-style look while participating in high-speed downhill riding as well as bike riding is one that is constructed with an exterior hard shell and interior EPS foam liner that meets CPSC standards
NOTE: Because bike/skate helmets are meant to be one impact helmets, it is important to inspect the exterior and interior for damage after a fall. If the exterior shell or interior liner looks damaged in anyway, aside from surface abrasions, manufacturers recommend you replace the helmet.