The 5 Best Bike Helmets for Your 5 to 12 Year Old
By the time kids are in grade school, they’ve become pretty daring on a bicycle. We have a couple hand-built ramps at our house, and the neighborhood kids can fly off of them. The only rule we have is that they MUST wear a helmet.
Ironically, it’s around this same age that kids get daring that they also start pushing back on wearing a helmet. I’ve found that there are three keys to getting children to wear a helmet: (1) It has to look cool, (2) it has to be comfortable, and (3) their friends need to be wearing one too. Because of this last point, we have a whole stable of helmets at our house that get passed around to the neighborhood kids. As for the importance of comfort and aesthetics, we’ve tested plenty of helmets out and these ones seem to be the winners. And because it might be less important to junior, but it’s plenty important to mom and dad, these helmets have also been picked for safety.
Note: These helmets fit best for school-aged kids (5-12). Of course, toddlers need cool, comfortable helmets too. For younger kids, check out The Best Helmets for Toddlers and Young Kids.
The 5 Best Helmets for Grade-Schoolers
This helmet happens to be a favorite of a lot of cycling-savvy families I know. Why? It looks cool, with its hipster vibe and visor, and has a comfortable, low-profile shell due to Bern’s “Zip Mold” design. The other great thing about the Nino is that you can add a “snow liner” to the helmet for use during winter weather. If you are the kind of family that bikes year round, this is your helmet.
Lazer Nut’z MIPS
The Lazer Nut’z comes in both a MIPS and non-MIPS version, but I would highly recommend the former. If you’re not familiar with MIPS it stands “Multi-Directional Impact Protection System”—i.e. it will protect the head from a variety of different imapcts. MIPS is the most robust safety technology on helmets today; if you can afford it, you should get it. The Lazer auto-fit system is also awesome because it ensures the helmet is properly adjusted.
For kids who want a skate-style helmet, this is our favorite. Melon has no shortage of designs, so no matter your child’s favorite color or style, there is a helmet for them. We love the magnetic no-pinch buckle and excellent ventilation. Read my full review here.
Buy: $69-$79 on Amazon.com
Kali Chakra Youth
I’ve sung my praises of the Kali Chakra before. This is a helmet that gets picked by kids time and time again. Why? Because it doesn’t look like a kiddie helmet—with its integrated visor and rear coverage, it looks like a really cool, grown up helmet. It’s also the most affordable helmet on this list. Read my full review here.
Giro Raze with MIPS
Like the Lazer, the Giro Raze also boasts the added safety of MIPS technology. And it’s not only safe—the Raze is also one of the more attractive kids helmets on the market. It comes in a variety of bright, beautiful colors, and has a mountain bike design. For mountain biking kids, this is my top pick.
How to Choose
All the helmets on this list are CPSC certified for ages 5 and up. In other words, they are all “safe.” If you want the very best in safety, then look for a helmet with MIPS technology.
One thing to consider when choosing a helmet is its weight. The lighter weight it is, the more comfortable, and the more likely your child is to wear it.
When choosing a helmet for your child, don’t skip measuring their head circumference. This is a mistake that nearly all parents make. Just because the helmets on this list are rated for kids 5+ doesn’t mean that your child wouldn’t be better off with a smaller helmet. Buying a helmet should be based on head size, not age. For more tips on fitting a helmet, read How to Fit a Kids Bike Helmet.
Perhaps even more important than any of the criteria above, is the preference of your child. If you want them to wear a helmet, then it should be one that they like. Let them help pick.
Not sure which helmet is best? Use this comparison chart to help you decide.
|Kali Chakra Youth||$30||52-57 cm||245g||No|
|Giro Raze with MIPS||$65||50-57cm||280g||Yes|
|Melon||$69||52-58 cm (M/L)||280g||No|
|Lazer Nut’z MIPS||$75||50-56 cm||300g||Yes|