Your karting helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment you can buy. But choosing the right one can be tough, as there are so many options out there. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best karting helmets on the market.
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
Below, I’ll use my wealth of karting experience and first-hand knowledge to review these kart helmets in more detail. I’ll also provide guidance on choosing the best karting helmet so that you can make the right choice.
How To Choose A Karting Helmet
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.
Learn From Others
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 various 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, and are 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 that 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 durability (not to mention safety), so it becomes worth that extra spend for additional peace of mind.
What To Look For In Karting Helmets
The key features to look for in karting helmets are:
- Wide eyeport
- Good ventilation
- Comfortable interior
- Lightweight design
- Removable visor
The eyeport of a helmet is especially 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 hindering 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, as you won’t be able to properly see in front of you.
Make sure to pick a helmet that 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 your visor fogging up.
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 that 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, unwieldy 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 important to have on hand in go-karting. The last thing you want is a helmet that doesn’t accommodate 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.
KEY POINTS• Always buy a brand-new helmet (never second-hand) from a reputable manufacturer
• Ensure it has a proper SNELL rating
• Consider things like comfort level, the helmet’s weight, and removable visors when buying your kart helmet
The 5 Best Karting Helmets
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! 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 high-quality karting helmets of which the SK-6 is the latest rendition. And it’s quite the development!
In terms of helmet fit, Arai provide 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.
Light But Durable
Its shell is made using a method called Complex Laminate Construction (or CLC), 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. 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 just soft and comfortable, the EPS liner also assists with impact energy management by cushioning the face and dispersing harmful impacts.
Plenty Of Features
As for the helmet’s rather long list of features, let’s start with the Positive-Lock Shield. This is 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 affects its aerodynamics. The SK-6 has flattened pivot systems that keep everything in-line without disrupting airflow over the helmet.
The 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 that can be toggled, so you can open or close them with ease.
Cheek pads from the interior can be removed with ease, and they can be adjusted to your desired thickness (15 mm, 20 mm, 25 mm, and 30 mm) in order to provide the most comfortable fit possible.
And to slap a cherry on this cake, the chin bar has been sculpted to improve the helmet’s structural integrity. It has added extra shell-strength at the front where it’s needed, and this 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 terms of what is needed in a good helmet, and for its price with a K2020 certification, you’ll get the best of the best for a long time yet.
- Unique shell construction
- Lightweight and tough
- Removable, adjustable cheek pads that are 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.
Lightweight But Strong
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 adding unnecessary weight.
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 improving karting 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 completely closed, and 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 3 mm thick FIA F1 visor, used very heavily in – you guessed it – Formula 1 racing. They offer a whole range of these visors in different finishes that can be easily swapped for the standard visor too, including colored iridium or tinted version.
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 K2020, being entirely acceptable and cleared for karting. It will be usable for years to come, giving you quite the long stint of helmet usage for your money!
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 as well to make your choice an easy one. This helmet is quite the bargain for a long-lasting, amazing bit of safety gear.
- Ability to add spoilers for better 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
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 decades! It’s all of that experience that has gone directly into the K1 PRO SA2020-rated helmet. If you’re a fan of other motorsports alongside karting, this helmet might be the best pick for you!
A Versatile Helmet
First and foremost, the K1 PRO is described by Bell as being the pinnacle of multipurpose 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 too. It’s the unique layering process that goes hand-in-hand with composites that gives karting helmets their strength without adding too much weight.
Safe & Effective
On the inside, you’ll find a multi-density bead absorbing liner designed to deal with high impacts in order to properly disperse their energy – keeping you safe in the process. 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 that 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 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 keeps 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 3 mm 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’ chin bar design makes it a perfect fit to sit atop a neck cuff.
Value For Money
There are two price points for the K1 PRO, depending on the color 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 is the lack of a locking mechanism for the visor to keep it secure and the inability to remove cheek pads. However, it’s still an excellent karting helmet from one of the best brands in the business.
- Integrated channels allow for easy radio fitting
- Foam interior for a superior 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, offering 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.
Carbon Fiber Design
As you can imagine from the name of this helmet, the outside shell is made of a composite carbon fiber material for maximum strength and lightweight composition. It is also designed to be 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.
Keeps You Cool
There are a lot of ventilation points all over the helmet in order to provide superior, all-over ventilation. You’ll stay cool even on the hottest days, and your visor won’t be fogging up in cold or rainy weather either! Four vents can be found on the chin bar, 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 3 mm anti-scratch, flame retardant variety used on Formula One driver helmets.
High SNELL Rating
Part of the beauty of this helmet is the versatility you’ll be getting when you buy one. It can be used in all forms of automotive racing courtesy of its SA2020 SNELL-rating, and will be valid in all races for many more years. 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 various threaded points all over the helmet where you can attach head and neck restraints, and the design of the chin bar allows the driver to wear a neck protector without getting too uncomfortable.
A Bit Heavier
For the price, you’ll be getting a versatile and 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.
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. However, if you need a multipurpose helmet, this could be the one to go for!
- 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 can make helmet sizing more difficult
5. ZAMP Racing RZ-42 Helmet
ZAMP has been producing great motorsport products for many years, and they understand the philosophy of being seen on a race track, which is clear if you look at the striking designs 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.
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 some other composites, this helmet is the heaviest of the bunch. But it balances this fact with the inclusion of various aerodynamic elements, such as the rear top and front top spoilers that come as standard.
Easy To Clean
The interior is made of a flame-retardant lining, which can be fully removed and is easily 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 TRI-Tech, and it allows you to run natural air, forced air and ‘air plugs’ through the helmet depending on your preferences. Every inlet/outlet is adjustable as to how much air is allowed through too, so you don’t have to worry about water getting into your helmet.
Visor & Hydration Hole
The eyeport is wide and open, allowing for a good field of vision with a 3 mm scratch-resistant visor that comes equipped as standard. Alongside the vents on the chin bar, 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 various ports all over the helmet where you can attach neck and head restraints for better comfort over long races. And the chin bar’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 great features. Its heavier weight and the liner that lacks impact absorption are what hold this helmet back from being placed higher on the list.
- Adjustable air vents all over the helmet
- Front and rear spoilers come as standard for improved aerodynamics
- Kevlar shell is tough but a bit heavy
- Liner lacks plush impact protection
Choosing the right go-kart helmet can be tough, but sticking to reputable brands and always looking for the SNELL sticker makes it much easier. The best karting helmet overall is the SK-6 from Arai, but the Bell K1 PRO is another solid choice.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.