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8 Best Kids MIPS Bike Helmets & Why MIPS Matters

Author: Kristen Bonkoski

Updated:

If you’re here, it’s probably because you’re looking for the very safest helmet for your child. And, in our opinion, one of the best ways to do that is to choose a MIPS helmet.

When we first started reviewing kids bike helmets years ago, there were very few options with MIPS. Fortunately, today, most good kids bike helmets come standard with MIPS or are offered in a MIPS version.

Our favorite toddler helmet with MIPS is the Giro Scamp, our favorite MIPS road style helmet is the POC Pocito Omne MIPS, and our favorite MIPS mountain bike style helmet is the Giro Tremor.

Read on for more top picks, as well as information on MIPS and why I recommend choosing a kids bike helmet with it.

Kids Helmets With MIPS Technology

If you want to make sure your child has the latest in helmet technology, here are some of our top picks. We’ve personally tested and reviewed all of them.

Make sure when shopping you look for the “MIPS” designation because several of these helmets come in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions.

POC Pocito Omne MIPS

poc pocito omne mips helmet on our tester

Price (MSRP): $100

Size: XS (48-52 cm), S (51-56 cm)

The POC Pocito Omne MIPS is an outstanding helmet for kids, especially those riding in urban settings or near busy traffic. It is incredibly visible thanks to its bright, fluorescent colors and ample reflective accents.

In addition to the visibility, I also really appreciate the fit. It adjusts perfectly, ensuring a snug and secure fit, and offers extensive coverage at the sides and rear for added safety. Adjusting the straps and the rear fit dial is a breeze, though the dial does seem a bit delicate.

Although parents will love the neon colors, they may not be a big hit with all kids. My son isn’t a big fan of this helmet’s style, deeming it a bit “dorky.”

Price-wise, it’s at the higher end of the spectrum. But considering its versatility — meeting safety standards for biking, skateboarding, and rollerskating — it offers great value.

Giro Scamp MIPS

Price (MSRP): $70

Size: XS (45 – 49 cm), S (49 – 53 cm)

The Giro Scamp is designed for the balance bike crowd.  In fact, it is our favorite MIPS helmet for little ones as young as 12 months and up to 5 years old. 

The Scamp offers an adjustable rear fit dial, making it straightforward to achieve a safe and comfortable fit. We also like the enhanced coverage at the back of the head, which we find particularly reassuring.

Another aspect we appreciate is the integrated visor. Since it’s a fixed part of the helmet, there’s no worry about it breaking off or getting lost, and it offers a degree of sun protection for young riders’ faces.

There are a few drawbacks. The chin straps and buckle could use some improvement. Unlike many children’s bike helmets, the Scamp doesn’t feature a magnetic buckle, which increases the risk of accidentally pinching a child’s chin when putting it on. Additionally, there’s a tendency for the chin strap to loosen over time, so it’s important to regularly check that the helmet remains snugly fitted.

Read Our Review: Giro Scamp

Bell Sidetrack II MIPS

Price (MSRP): $70

Size: Child (47 – 54cm), Youth (50 – 57cm)

If you have a little mountain biker on your hands, they will love the cool, grown-up design of the Bell Sidetrack II. The Sidetrack comes in a variety of bright, gender-neutral designs.

Safety-wise, the helmet provides good head coverage and does a good job of staying snug. However, its fit system, including the plastic buckle and straps, are less advanced than higher-end helmets, posing some challenges in achieving a good fit.

While the removable visor offers sun protection, the helmet’s ventilation is average, suitable for all but the very hottest days.

Read Our Review: Bell Sidetrack

Bell Nomad 2 Jr MIPS

Price (MSRP): $65

Size: 52 – 57 cm

Ever dreamed of sporting matching helmets with your child while biking? The Bell Nomad 2 Jr makes that dream possible, with its design mirroring the adult version, the Bell Nomad.

This helmet transcends the typical “kids” category, offering a scaled-down version of an adult helmet. It boasts high-quality construction and incorporates MIPS technology for enhanced safety of your young rider’s head.

The Bell Nomad 2 Jr distinguishes itself with its outstanding visor and ventilation system. The visor is notably larger than what you’d find on most children’s helmets, making it perfect for serious mountain biking adventures and effective sun protection.

As for ventilation, the helmet features oversized vent holes. While they may not be as plentiful as those on a helmet like the Smith Wilder, their size ensures they efficiently serve their purpose.

The only significant drawback we’ve noticed is the size of the rear dial – it’s quite small. This makes it challenging for my son to adjust the helmet by himself, unlike his other helmets.

Read Our Review: Bell Spark Jr MIPS (has since been renamed as the Nomad Jr)

Giro Tremor MIPS

Price (MSRP): $70

Size: 47 – 54 cm

The Giro Tremor is another mountain bike style helmet with MIPS technology.  This helmet happens to be a favorite at our house because it looks cool, and according to my son, it’s his top pick.

So, what makes the Giro Tremor so special? Firstly, its fit and comfort are exceptional. The ear straps stay put without needing adjustments, the rear fit dial is large and user-friendly, and it boasts an impressive amount of ventilation.

Safety is a key feature of the Giro Tremor. In addition to MIPS protection, it offers comprehensive coverage, ensuring both the sides and the back of the head are well-protected.

Aesthetically, the helmet is a winner too. It comes in a variety of vibrant, attractive colors that kids love, and the large visor provides excellent sun protection while adding to its cool appearance.

The only minor issue we’ve encountered is with the chin strap, which tends to loosen and requires re-tightening before each ride.

Read Our Review: Giro Tremor MIPS

Bern Bandito MIPS

Price (MSRP): $70

Size: S/M (51.5 – 54.5cm), M/L (54.5 – 57 cm)

The Bern Bandito is a great helmet for kids that ride year round. The winter liner provides ear flaps and keeps little heads warm and toasty. It can also serve double duty as a ski helmet.

What about summer riding? You can replace the winter liner with a summer liner to keep using the helmet in warmer weather. That said, the lack of ventilation will be an issue for HOT days.

The Bandito provides a good fit with its rear dial adjustment, but its chin strap may require frequent re-tightening. As a ski helmet, it performs well, though its color options could be brighter for better visibility.

Read Our Review: Bern Bandito

Bern Nino 2.0 MIPS

bern nino visor

Price (MSRP): $70

Sizes: S (52 – 55.5 cm), M (55.5 – 59 cm)

Shaped like a skate helmet, the Bern Nino 2.0 offers a cool, urban style with a removable visor and meets the safety standards for both biking and skating.

Like the Bern Bandito above, a key feature of the Nino 2.0 is its adaptability to different seasons. It comes with a winter liner that’s thick, covers the ears, and has breathable mesh for comfort. This liner makes it ideal for cold weather activities like fat biking or winter commuting.

In summer, the helmet transitions easily with a liner that includes a built-in visor, although it doesn’t have a fit dial like the winter liner, relying instead on an elastic strap for snugness (not our fave).

The helmet is designed for all-year use, excelling in ventilation compared to other skate-style helmets. It includes 13 vent holes for airflow during warmer days.

The Bern Nino 2.0 offers additional practical features like a rear mount for attachments like lights or goggle clips.

When comparing the Bern Nino 2.0 to the Bern Bandito, the Nino 2.0 stands out for its lighter weight and more ventilation. While the Bandito is suitable for snow sports, the Nino 2.0 is better for summer biking due to its lighter build and increased ventilation.

Read Our Review: Bern Nino 2.0

Nutcase Little Nutty

Price (MSRP): $70

Size: Toddler (48 cm – 52 cm), Youth (52 – 56 cm)

If you’re looking for a skate style helmet that’s adorable as heck AND includes MIPS, choose the Nutcase Little Nutty. This helmet comes in a ton of cute colors and designs and is certified for skateboarding and scootering as well as biking.

We like the “extras” that the Little Nutty offers like the magnetic buckle, and removable visor. It comes in two sizes and includes additional pads for a custom fit, catering to children from three years old.

The only drawback is that, like most skate style helmets, it doesn’t offer a ton of ventilation. It’s fine for warm but not HOT days.

Read Our Review: Nutcase Little Nutty

What is MIPS?

MIPS stands for “multi-directional impact protection system.”  Traditional helmets are designed and tested for a direct impact. 

What the creators of MIPS realized is that when you fall from a bike, you usually hit your head at an angle.  This causes a rotational force that can result in brain damage.

Their solution is a two-layer helmet.  The exterior layer is made of traditional EPS material; the interior layer is a low-friction liner that rests on the rider’s head.  The two layers are able to slide against each via a “slip plane” design, which results in less force transferred to the brain in the event of impact.

For a better explanation of this concept, here’s a great video.

Arguments Against MIPS Helmets

The most obvious drawback of a MIPS-equipped helmet is the cost.  You can expect to pay $20 to $25 more for a MIPS helmet than a traditional helmet. 

For this reason, critics claim that MIPS has become more of a marketing ploy than an actual safety campaign.  Marketing ploy or not, $25 is a lot of extra money for an item that has a relatively short life.

There are also some folks in the industry that doubt the efficiency of MIPS.  An article on Helmets.org argues: “In the real world, bicycle helmets are so loosely coupled with the head that a slip-plane inside the helmet structure does not add significant sideways movement in an impact.  The helmet moves anyway, unless it is constrained in a lab test.”

While it is true that there hasn’t been much independent research on the effectiveness of MIPS, there has been at least one independent study.  The authors of the study concluded that helmets with the technology reduced the risk of concussion by 44%.

Why I Choose MIPS Helmets

Both my husband and I wear the MIPS helmets, and when our son isn’t testing out other helmets for me, he also wears a MIPS helmet.  While the jury is still out on how much safer a MIPS helmet is than a traditional helmet, there are plenty of testimonials from doctors and cyclists who believe that a MIPS helmet helped prevent serious brain injury. 

For me, the extra $20 is well worth it to ensure that we are buying the safest possible helmet on the market.

But MIPS Isn’t The Only Thing To Consider

When given the choice between a MIPS helmet and one without, I’d recommend the MIPS helmet but ONLY IF IT FITS WELL. A helmet that doesn’t fit well isn’t all that safe at all.

Fit is critical in terms of kids bike safety. I highly suggest checking out this guide to kids helmet fit before shopping.

The other thing to consider is coverage. The more of the child’s head that is covered (front, back, and front) the more protected your child is going to be.

giro tremor helmet coverage

More Reading To Help You Pick A Helmet

About Us

The Rascals are a family of three. Kristen (mom), Blair (dad), and Parker (kiddo). We started Rascal Rides when Parker was born and we didn’t want to give up our passion for biking. As we learned, we shared. Over the years, we’ve tested hundreds of kids bikes, helmets, bike trailers, and more.

Kristen is a USA Cycling certified coach and loves to share her passion for biking with other families. Blair is a bike geek, mechanic, and mountain bike junkie. Parker is our resident tester and inspiration.

If you see us out on the trail, make sure to say hi!


4 thoughts on “8 Best Kids MIPS Bike Helmets & Why MIPS Matters”

  1. Thoughts on the Smith Wilder or Smith Convoy? While I like the coverage of the Giro Tremor, it’s hard to imagine the fit being perfect on all heads without being able to adjust the straps. We currently have Giro Scamps and have found adjustment of the straps key to maintaining a good fit and preventing movement. The Smith options seem to offer similar coverage with more adjustability. Curious if you’ve tried them? Thanks!

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