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.
In this post I explain what MIPS is, why I think it is worth spending the extra money to get a helmet with MIPS, and which kids helmets currently have the technology.
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.
Kids Helmets With MIPS Technology
If you want to make sure your child has the latest in helmet technology, here are a couple of your options. Make sure when shopping you look for the “MIPS” designation because several of these helmets come in both MIPS and non-MIPS versions.
Giro Scamp MIPS
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. We also like the extended back-of-the-head coverage.
Read Our Review: Giro Scamp
Price: $69.95 (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 22:12 – More Info)
Bell Sidetrack II MIPS
If you have a little mountain biker on your hands, they will love the cool, grown-up design of the Bell Sidetrack II. This helmet has excellent ventilation thanks to 14 vents, and the low-profile visor provides sun-protection.
Read Our Review: Bell Sidetrack
Price: Price not available (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 18:01 – More Info)
Giro Hale MIPS
The Giro Hale is the next step up after the Giro Scamp, and is intended for grade-school kids. It comes in one size only and conforms to your child’s head size via the Roc Loc Dial fit system.
Price: $64.06 (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 22:12 – More Info)
Bell Nomad Jr MIPS
The Bell Nomad Jr isn’t your average “kiddie” helmet; it’s a smaller version of the adult Bell Nomad which means it has plenty of grown-up features. We like the large visor, big air vents, and twist-free side straps.
Read Our Review: Bell Spark Jr MIPS (has since been renamed as the Nomad Jr)
Price & Where To Buy:
- $60 List
- Check price at BellHelmets.com
- Price not available at Amazon.com* (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 22:12) – More info
Lazer Gekko MIPS
If you want a top of the line helmet that is also fun, go with the Lazer Gekko. The helmet is offered with several different, fun designs—pick from a fish, dinosaurs, or other choices. It also has a pinch-free magnetic buckle and breakaway visor.
Price: $38.99 (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 19:12 – More Info)
*Troy Lee Designs A1 MIPS
Do you have a little shredder? Protect your daredevil at the pump track with the Troy Lee Designs A1. It’s a top of the line mountain bike helmet. Because you’re never too young to have the best….
Price: $70.00 – $145.00
Giro Tremor MIPS
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 really comfortable.
Read Our Review: Giro Tremor MIPS
Price: $45.50 (Last updated: 2022-11-29 at 19:12 – More Info)
Bern Bandito MIPS
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.
Read Our Review: Bern Bandito
Price: $76.49 (Last updated: 2022-11-28 at 20:31 – More Info)
Nutcase Little Nutty
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.
The fit is also easy to get right thanks to the rear fit dial and magnetic buckle.
Read Our Review: Nutcase Little Nutty
Here’s how the different kids MIPS helmets stack up. Pay particular attention to your child’s head circumference when picking a helmet. If you’re not sure how to measure, read my post on how to fit a kids bike helmet.
|Giro Scamp MIPS||45-49 cm (XS)
49-53 cm (S)
|Bell Sidetrack II MIPS||47 – 54 cm (Child)|
50 – 57 cm (Youth)
|Giro Hale MIPS||50-57 cm||247 g|
|Bell Nomad Jr MIPS|
|Lazer Gekko MIPS|
|Troy Lee Designs A1||48 to 53 cm (Youth)|
50 to 54 cm (XS)
|Giro Tremor MIPS||50 – 57 cm||306 g|
|Nutcase Little Nutty MIPS||48-52 cm (Child)|
52-56 cm (Youth)
|Bern Bandito MIPS||51.5 – 54.5cm (S/M)|
53 – 56cm (M/L)
More Reading To Help You Pick A Helmet