Safety should always come first in any motorsport, especially karting! As such, your safety helmet is by far the most important thing you can buy. What makes the best helmets so amazing? I’ll uncover this through the course of the article.
So, what are the best karting helmets? I’ve scoured the market and combined it with my knowledge of kart racing to make the following line-up. The 5 best karting helmets are:
- Arai SK-6 Karting Helmet
- Stilo ST5 KRT Karting Helmet
- Bell Racing K1 PRO Brus Helmet
- Conquer Carbon Fiber Full Face Racing Helmet
- ZAMP Racing RZ-42 Helmet
But it wouldn’t be an ultimate buyer’s guide without… you know, a collection of important information and reviews, right? Through my wealth of karting experience and first-hand knowledge, I’ll be reviewing kart helmets and also offering advice as to what you should look for in each one.
How To Choose A Karting Helmet
This process will be personal to everybody who reads this guide, because at the end of it all, we’re looking for different things to be taken away from our karting gear. However, with the focus being on the best of the best, I do have a few things to consider when choosing kart helmets that work for you!
View this post on Instagram
I started karting aged 5, and took part in racing series until turning 18; quite the long time spent in karts! That time has taught me a thing or two about everything that goes with karting, not just the actual racing. There are always a few notable things I look for when buying a new karting helmet to guarantee quality and safety for a long time.
Above all else, I spend some time to line up kart brands that I’ve come to trust. In my experience, the best ones out there for helmets without a shadow of a doubt are Bell, Arai and Stilo. At some time or other I’ve had gear from these manufacturers and they haven’t let me down.
Familiarity with brands is very important in karting, because it’s a hobby built on trust and reliability. You don’t want to take a chance on an outlier brand whose helmet doesn’t even last a season!
Doing your research is a huge part of how you can find a trusted helmet. I personally spend a lot of time on Reddit, stalking the varied go-kart and karting sub-forums to learn from the experiences of others.
The biggest thing you need to look for specifically when choosing a helmet is the SNELL rating. Without a certification from the SNELL foundation, you won’t be able to wear the helmet for racing!
And even then, there are different helmets for different purposes within motorsports. In karting, you want to choose K-rated helmets, or SA-rated helmets to ensure that you won’t be held back by your choice. M-rated helmets are sometimes acceptable, but are primarily used for motorcycle racing… not the best for karting.
You should also always look for full-face helmets. Some clubs might allow the cut-away varieties for club meets and such, but for racing, these will be a huge no-no. Full-face helmets are the only ones which will receive SNELL approval anyway, so always remember to look for that sticker first and foremost.
I’d also suggest not to get too hung-up on your budget as a solid, unshifting figure. Sometimes, an extra $50 or $80 can get you something way better in terms of quality, features and longevity (not to mention safety), so it becomes worth that extra spend at the time.
What To Look For In Karting Helmets
Where do you even begin when typing ‘go-karting helmets’ into Google? How do you start sorting through the good and the not-so good? Well, it all comes down to what features you’ll see as standard on each one, and going from there.
View this post on Instagram
As far as key features and things to look for in a karting helmet, here’s a quick list:
- Wide eyeport
- Good ventilation
- Comfortable interior
- Lightweight composition
- Removable visor
The eyeport of a helmet is exceedingly important because this determines your field of vision. You want a wide, unobstructed view of the track in front of you and in your peripheral vision to race safely. Some helmets out there have quite narrow eyeports as a sort of design feature to make them look more striking, but the end result will only end up hurting you as a driver.
When looking to buy a helmet, go into a karting store and try some different helmets on to get a feel for the different eyeport sizes that allow you a good view of the world around you.
Next up, ventilation is an absolute must on any helmet. Without vents and the means to properly disperse condensation/ heat from inside the helmet, you’ll end up with a foggy visor which can be pretty catastrophic. Since, you know, you won’t be able to see properly!
Make sure to pick a helmet which has at least one variable ventilation area aside from the chin area. This will increase airflow and not only keep you cooler, but it will also stop the fogged-up visor from happening.
Considering that you’ll be wearing a helmet for whole races at a time, the last thing you want is a scratchy material pressing tight against your face! Make sure to select a helmet with a nice, plush interior and, ideally, one with removable elements to it. This will provide a superior, more personalized fit overall.
Oftentimes if you’re between helmet sizes, the next size up will be much too big, but the smaller size isn’t quite right, either. If that smaller size has removable cheek pads and forehead foam, you’ll soon find that snug yet not crushing fit which you need to find in a helmet for it to do its job at protecting you.
A helmet being lightweight isn’t just for a racing edge (but it does help)! Remember that your neck has to support that helmet through multiple races, so the last thing you want is a hefty, unwieldly thing pushing down on you. And think about if you did have a collision; a heavy helmet has the potential to badly damage your neck.
Different kinds of visor are pretty important in go-karting where your helmet is open to the elements. The last thing you want is a helmet which doesn’t accommodate for visors being switched out to match track conditions!
As an example, during glaring sunlight, you’ll want a tinted visor to minimize how bright it would otherwise be. Or in the midst of a downpour, your visor will need to be treated with water repellent to make it better at dispelling water droplets. This is best achieved when you can switch out visors.
The 5 Best Karting Helmets
Here we are, readers! It’s time for me to go in-depth about the five best karting helmets currently available on the scene. Regardless of their rating or my thoughts on them at a personal level, they’re all fantastic helmets that would make amazing additions to anybody’s gear.
Keep that in mind as I go through them one by one to offer reviews!
1. Arai SK-6 Karting Helmet
There’s no better way to kick of this list than with one of the most competitive helmet brands on the market! And I’m not talking about price. Arai have designed Formula One helmets and NASCAR helmets for top-level drivers, which just goes to show their wealth of experience in racing. Knowing that all good racers start in karting, they developed a line of karting helmets of which the SK-6 is the latest rendition. And it’s quite the development!
View this post on Instagram
In terms of helmet fit, Arai have provided a fitting guide and they design helmets to meet one of three basic head shapes: round oval, intermediate oval, and long oval. The SK-6 is designed to fit intermediate oval head shapes, one of the most common out there.
Its shell is made using a method called cLc, Complex Laminate Construction, essentially layering compounds together in close bonding to make a sturdy yet lightweight material.
And it’s because of this unique method of putting together the shell that Arai have employed a soft EPS liner for maximum comfort purposes. In other helmets, the liner and interior are often stiff as a further measure to make up for where the shell lacks, but that isn’t the case in the SK-6.
Not only soft and comfortable, the EPS liner also assists with impact energy management by cushioning the face and dispersing harmful impacts.
As for the helmet’s rather long list of features, let’s start with the Positive-Lock Shield; a mechanism that keeps the visor’s desired position with ease. Some drivers like to have their visor cracked open a fraction during races, and this little locking mechanism is designed to keep it there without the visor opening more due to air pressure.
Oftentimes, helmets possess pivot systems that stick out from the visor and this lessens aerodynamics. The SK-6 has flattened pivot systems which keep everything in-line without disrupting airflow over the helmet.
The overall eyeport of the helmet has been widened compared to previous helmet renditions, giving the driver a great field of vision. Arai have also integrated larger intake vents on the scalp which can be toggled; opening or closing them with ease.
Cheek pads from the interior can be removed with ease, and adjusted to any desired thickness (15mm, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm) in order to provide the most comfortable fit possible.
And to slap a cherry on this cake, the chinbar has been sculpted to improve the helmet’s structural integrity. It has added extra shell-strength at the front where it’s needed, and actually lowers the center of gravity overall due to the uniquely sculpted shape.
Needless to say, the SK-6 is an absolute gem of a helmet. It checks every box in regards to what is needed in a good helmet, and for its price with a K2015 certification, you’ll get the best of the best for a long time yet.
- Unique shell construction; lightweight and tough
- Removable, adjustable cheek pads; easily washable
- Only available in one color
2. Stilo ST5 KRT Karting Helmet
For years, Stilo have been designing and providing the cutting edge in helmet technology for racing drivers the world over, and their ST5 karting model is no different. It looks strikingly similar to the ST5 Zero, instantly recognizable as a top-level racing helmet. So, if that doesn’t immediately score the helmet some cool points, I don’t know what will!
View this post on Instagram
The ST5 KRT helmet is both lightweight and strong courtesy of the composite material used to make the shell. With the toughened compounds added in different layers, it guarantees safety without over-weighing the helmet.
On the inside, dual-density foam lining provides an extra layer of safety intermingled with absolute comfort. It also molds to fit the driver’s face due to the foam composition. Another aspect of the foam is that it will absorb impact far better than most interior linings, further focusing on Stilo’s goal for safety.
The symmetrical visor is complemented by its wide eyeport, allowing for excellent range of vision. They have also included a central visor locking system which will keep the visor locked in one of two positions. It can be opened slightly, or entirely closed; the locking mechanism will keep it in that desired position to avoid mishaps on the track.
Even the standard visor on the ST5 KRT is impressive! It is a 3mm thick FIA F1 visor, used very heavily in, you guessed it, Formula One racing. They offer a whole range of these visors in different finishes that can easily be swapped for the standard visor, too, including colored iridium or tinted.
There is a collection of small yet effective vents on the chin area of the helmet; more than you would see on most helmets out there. This is due to the choice not to include vents on the scalp or rear of the helmet. A lot of drivers dislike scalp vents due to how water will get into them and cause discomfort.
You can also add spoilers to this helmet in order to adjust aerodynamics as you see fit! The added benefit is that the helmet will look extra cool, too.
As you can perhaps guess from the name, the ST5 KRT meets SNELL regulations in the form of K2015; being entirely acceptable and cleared for karting. It will be usable until 2026, giving you quite the long stint of helmet usage!
This helmet is quite the package of features and pure racing pedigree from Stilo. On their website they have a full sizing guide laid out for you. This helmet is quite the bargain for a long-lasting, amazing bit of safety gear.
- Ability to add spoilers for better, personalized aerodynamics
- Dual-density foam lining molds to the driver’s face for a perfect fit
- Lack of scalp or rear ventilation can lead to more visor fogging
- More expensive, with fewer features compared to Arai’s SK-6
3. Bell Racing K1 PRO Brus Helmet
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have surely heard of Bell. They’ve been making auto racing and motorcycle racing helmets for years! It’s all of that experience which has gone directly into the K1 Pro SA2015-rated helmet that I’m going to be looking at. If you’re a fan of other motorsports which aren’t karting-related, this helmet might be the best pick for you!
View this post on Instagram
First and foremost, the K1 Pro is described by Bell as being the pinnacle of multi-purpose racing. This is because of the SA SNELL rating permitting it for usage in all auto racing, go-karting included.
Similar to all helmets on this list, the K1 Pro is made with a composite material for its shell which is not only lightweight, but very sturdy. It’s the unique layering process that goes hand-in-hand with composites which gives karting helmets their strength without adding too much weight.
On the inside, you’ll find a multi-density bead absorbing liner designed to deal with high impacts in order to properly disperse them. The absorption quality of the interior also siphons away condensation, keeping your visor clear no matter the weather.
Not only that, but there’s a large collection of foam-like material within the liner which molds to fit the driver’s face for a snug, comfortable fit. Couple that with integrated channels in the liner, and you won’t have to grapple with the discomfort that comes with wearing a wired radio for team communications!
Wires can easily be fed into the small channels inside the helmet to keep them out of the driver’s way, and an earpiece can also fit on either ear due to the purpose-chiseled channels found there.
The K1 Pro comes equipped with what Bell describe to be their ‘superior ventilation system’; namely, two pairs of vents on the chin area and just underneath the visor itself, coupled with small, eyelet-like vents running over the top of the helmet. These are too small for water to get into during rainy races, and they provide airflow to your head to keep you cool.
A specially designed rubber gasket seal around the eyeport will keep dirt and water out of the helmet due to the tight seal that is made between visor and gasket. And speaking of the eyeport, you’ll find it very wide and equipped as standard with a 3mm scratch-resistant visor.
There are various hardware attachment options all over the helmet to attach head and neck restraints to if you need that extra support, and the special ‘duckbill’ chinbar design makes it a perfect fit to sit atop of a neck cuff.
There are two price points for the K1 Pro, depending on the coloration you choose. For matte black or white, the RRP is lower than for circuit red or circuit blue graphics. When you consider all of the features, many of which are present on the higher-ranked helmets on this list, these prices feel like a steal!
What holds it back from a higher spot, however, is the lack of a locking mechanism for the visor to keep it secure and the inability to remove cheek pads.
- Integrated channels within helmet’s interior can be fitted with a radio device with ease
- Foam interior for a superior, snug and comfortable fit
- No locking mechanism to keep the visor in place
- Interior isn’t removable in any way
4. Conquer Carbon Fiber Full Face Racing Helmet
This is another one of those integral brands that have been designing helmets for a long time, reaching the highest quality. Conquer prides itself on making competitive, race-ready products for all automotive racing which are a little easier on the wallet compared to some other brands while offering a lot of the same features. Their Carbon Fiber helmet model is no exception to that rule.
View this post on Instagram
As you can imagine from the name of this helmet, the outside shell is made of a composite carbon fiber material for the pinnacle in strength and lightweight composition. It is also designed to be entirely aerodynamic for a smooth driving experience.
On the inside you’ll find a fully fire retardant, plush material that also helps in lessening any impact that you may encounter from collisions. The cheek pads are fully removable for a superior fit and can be washed to remove any accumulated grime with ease.
There are a lot of ventilation points all over the helmet in order to provide superior, all-over ventilation. You’ll stay cool even in the hottest of weather and your visor won’t be fogging up in cold or rainy weather! Four vents can be found on the chinbar, two small vents are on the scalp area and two are located at the rear.
The eyeport is wide to allow for a large field of vision, and the visor that comes as standard is the 3mm anti-scratch, flame retardant variety used on Formula One driver helmets.
Part of the beauty of this helmet is the versatility you’ll be buying when purchasing one. It can be used in all forms of automotive racing courtesy of its SA2015 SNELL-rating, and will be valid in all races until 2026. Compared to K-rated helmets, SA-rated ones have extra precautions for fire safety by ensuring the usage of flame-retardant materials, so you’ll enjoy an extra layer of safety to boot.
There are varied threaded points all over the helmet where you can attach head and neck restraints, and the design of the chinbar allows the driver to wear a neck protector without ensuing discomfort.
For the price, you’ll be getting a versatile and highly safe helmet that can be used across all kinds of motorsports. The biggest downside of this helmet compared to kart-specific helmets is that, overall, the Conquer brand will be noticeably heavier due to the inclusion of flame-retardant materials.
This is due to the extra weight found in such materials. Compared to normal motorsports, fire risk is very low in go-karting and so, the extra safety is somewhat lost for this automotive sport specifically.
- Carbon fiber shell composition is both strong and light
- Highly ventilated for maximum comfort and safety
- Although lightweight, this helmet is heavier than K-rated ones
- Interior material is thicker than average which makes helmet sizing more difficult
5. ZAMP Racing RZ-42 Helmet
Great products that cater to actual motorsport drivers. That’s what ZAMP has been delivering for years across all automotive sports for many years. They understand the philosophy of being seen on a race track, too, if you look at the striking design of their helmets! Their RZ-42 helmet is no exception to this rule, with a collection of handy features and a guarantee that you’ll be noticed.
View this post on Instagram
This helmet’s shell is unique even among the collection of helmets I’ve gathered as the best out there! It’s made of a Kevlar composite, balancing one of the world’s toughest materials with the need to be lightweight out on the kart track.
Compared to the varying other composites, this helmet is the heaviest of the bunch. But it balances this fact with the inclusion of varied aerodynamic elements such as the rear top and front top spoilers that come as standard.
The interior is made of a flame-retardant lining which can be fully removed and is entirely washable. A helmet’s hygiene is something that a lot of manufacturers neglect, but it is a very important thing to remember. I mean, imagine being trapped in a helmet for hours at a time when it smells and feels grimy.
ZAMP have included a special ventilation system nicknamed the TRI-Tech, and it allows you to run natural air, forced air and ‘air plugs’ through the helmet dependent on driver choice. Every inlet/ outlet is adjustable as to how much air is allowed through, too, so you can negate water getting inside of your helmet.
The eyeport is wide and open, allowing for a good field of vision with a 3mm scratch-resistant visor that comes equipped as standard. Alongside the vents on the chinbar, there is also what is dubbed to be a hydration hole; a port where you can insert a straw to get hydrated during short breaks between races!
You can also add ear muffs or ear pads to the helmet on the interior in order to minimize outside noise for full racing focus. These inserts don’t take away race noise which would otherwise impede you on the track, and instead muffle sounds such as the wind around you.
There are varied ports all over the helmet where you can attach neck and head restraints for better comfort over long races. And the chinbar’s design makes it easy and unobtrusive to wear a neck protector underneath.
The RZ-42 has a lower RRP for the block color than for the striking graphic design that ZAMP are so well-known for. It is, therefore, an affordable helmet overall without compromising on a collection of good features. Its weight, and a liner which lacks impact absorption are what hold this helmet back from being placed higher on the list.
- Varied, adjustable air vents all over the helmet
- Front and rear spoilers come as standard to be equipped for maximum aerodynamic performance
- Kevlar shell is tough, but heavy as far as helmets go
- Plush impact absorption is missing in the liner
There you have it, fellow kart enthusiasts and racers out there!
You can’t go wrong with any of the helmets on this list and, even if they aren’t for you, I’m sure you can use the tips I shared to try and find the one that’ll work. No matter what you choose, enjoy those helmets and get to racing!