Ultimate Racing Helmet Guide

author avatarJoe Terrell
5th November, 2019
Filed under Universal Guides

There’s no doubt that helmets are an essential part of motorsport safety equipment. In this guide, we’re going to help you decide which lid is perfect for your needs, whether you’re visiting the track for the first time, or competing internationally.

michael essa formula d racing helmet


In a hurry? Here’s our best racing helmets summary

Budget Choice Drifted Choice Premium Choice
racequip pro15 racing helmet bell m8 black racing helmet hjc hx 10 iii black racing helmet
RaceQuip PRO15 Bell M8 HJC HX-10 III (Carbon Fiber)
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We recently asked our readers which category they’d like to see more of in our future guides, and safety equipment immediately became a hot topic. From there, we’ve created our racing seats, racing gloves and even a racing steering wheel guides.

Following the unanimous vote, we’re going to take a look at quite possibly the most vital part of your equipment when it comes to heading to the track – helmets, lids, or whatever you guys decide to call them!

There’s no question that there’s a huge variety of various shapes and styles on the market, along with different materials and wildly different price tags.

We completely understand why it may all be getting a little overwhelming when it comes to selecting the perfect one, so we’re going to provide some much-needed help with finding the ideal choice for your needs.

luke fink racing helmet

We’re sure that since you’ve already made it this far, you’re already aware of why helmets are so essential, but since they can literally be the difference between life and death if you’re involved in a nasty collision at the track it’s extremely important to buy the right one.

As much as we don’t like to look at the dark reality of motorsport, it’s necessary that you spend your money wisely and ignore any helmets that seem too good to be true or are clearly fakes of the more expensive ones. This is the perfect example for when you need to completely steer away from any fake or ‘replica’ examples, with absolutely no exceptions.

You may already own a helmet that you think is perfectly adequate for the task, but did you know that helmets should always be a single-use product, even if you only happen to drop it from a height of more than twelve inches?

drifter racing helmet

For this reason, we never recommend opting for a second-hand helmet, since you’ll most likely not be able to see if it’s already taken a hard knock. That’s without mentioning what goes on in a helmet on those slightly warmer days!

We’ve ensured that all the options in our guide are well suited for the task and will undoubtedly provide you with the highest possible safety requirements for hitting up the track.

Before you take a look through the options on our list, grab yourself a cloth measuring tape to ensure that it’s the perfect snug fitment. A loose-fitting helmet can cause its own further complications, so it’s vital to ensure you get it right first time around.

From there, you’ll want to consider what level of competition you’ll be aiming for long-term. If you’re intending on just attending your local drift days, then the certification requirement is going to be minimal compared to those of you who are intending on competing professionally on an international level, in which case you’ll be aiming for the highest possible FIA standard.

With that being said, there’s no reason why you can’t rock an FIA helmet at the local track, after all, it’s only going to provide increased protection over the lower-certification alternatives.

daigo saito racing helmet

Once you know your size, you’ll be deciding which material suits your needs best. First off, you have fiberglass helmets, which are generally the cheapest option. However, the downside of fiberglass helmets is that they’re generally heavier and offer less impact absorption.

An improvement over fiberglass is a Kevlar composite helmet, which is not only lighter but also offers better impact absorption. Its downside is that it’s more expensive to work with than fiberglass, so you’ll need to spend a little extra cash.

For those of you that are looking for the ultimate protection, the best helmets on the market are made from the one and only carbon fiber. Not only is this significantly lighter than both the previous options, but it also provides far superior impact, abrasion and penetration protection. (Giggity!)

in car racing helmet

Carbon fiber helmets may come with a larger price tag, but they really are capable of offering next-level protection, which can be well worth the money in the case of an unexpected accident.

If you’ve ever been involved in an accident with your helmet, we always highly recommend replacing it as soon as possible, as protecting your brain is absolutely vital. I mean, have you ever tried doing skids without a brain? It’s not easy!

All seriousness and jokes aside, it’s time to take a look at our list which includes the best options on the market with a whole variety of shapes, designs, and materials.


Best racing helmet lineup

Now that you’re clued up on what to look for with your next racing helmet, let’s take a look at our Best Racing Helmet selection!

To find out more about any of these products just click on the product name or photo.

Arai GP-6S

arai gp 6s white racing helmet

Our comment: Arai is one of the most highly regarded names in the helmet game, and this is certainly no exception. This is a high-end helmet with a moderate price point, making it great value for money even if it is on the pricey side.

The GP-6S has been designed specifically for Sports driving (hence the “S”), and uses the same shell shape as the eye-wateringly expensive GP-6RC Carbon Fiber helmet (which retails at around $3k!)

This helmet provides a wider eye-port than usual, which is hugely useful for drifting since it allows for far superior visibility in the far corners to save turning your head fully at all times. The wider eye port is also popular with those that wear glasses as it makes life far more convenient.

There are M6 threaded inserts so that you’re able to connect the helmet to your HANS device, which will most likely become increasingly necessary with the FIA’s increased interest in drifting.

Arai makes a variety of shields for this helmet if you fancy opting for something a little more unique.

A seriously impressive contender, and although it may be in the higher price region, it’s certainly worth the money and should be a genuine consideration for just about every purpose from grassroots to pro drivers competing internationally.

Manufacturer description:The Arai GP-6S helmet uses a Complex Laminate System for the manufacture of the strong, rigid and lightweight shell, which features the same design and shape as the other full-face helmets in the Arai range.

The helmet has a unique, high efficiency venting system and an easy to use and adjust visor opening system. Shaped interior cheek pads give unsurpassed levels of comfort and fit while helping to reduce wind noise to aid concentration.


Arai GP-J3

arai gp j3 white racing helmet

Our comment: We know that open-face helmets aren’t the ideal choice for everyone, but we’re providing variety for those that are looking for one in this guide.

Some of the advantages of an open-face helmet are the fact that the ventilation is far superior, which is likely to be extremely useful for those that are frequently driving in hotter environments.

The second positive is that open-face helmets provide increased visibility which can be extremely useful for drifting. Fear not, these still meet the strict FIA-requirements, but you may want to check the rulebook if you’re looking to compete in case they are specifically mentioned.

One of the main downsides is the lack of protection in the lower part of the helmet, but in return, you get increased comfort, cooler temperatures, and less weight.

As with the GP-6S above, this helmet also includes M6 threaded inserts to allow for a HANS device to be fitted.

One of the best open-face options on the market at a fantastic price point and the ever-useful FIA safety rating.

Manufacturer description:Complete new shell construction with extended cheek and chin area. Four ventilation ducts and removable interior parts for a tight, yet comfortable customized fit.

Perfect for closed cockpit car racing, combining great comfort with the essential performance features of our full face helmets.


Bell K1 Pro

bell k1 pro black racing helmet

Our comment: Bell is another of the highest ranked manufacturers in the helmet world, and the K1 offers excellent value for money for those of you that aren’t looking to spend big bucks.

One of the main downsides over the more expensive Arai options above is the lack of FIA Homologation, but if you’re not intending on competing internationally then this is unlikely to pose an issue.

This helmet includes the required M6 hardware to allow you to use HANS devices for increased safety.

We love that Bell has provided the ability to move the interior, which allows for deep-cleaning which will undoubtedly come in very useful, especially if you live in a hotter climate and often get a little sweatier than you’d like!

A great, reasonably priced all-rounder that could be a great lower-priced option for those of you looking for a simple, yet effective helmet and aren’t intending to compete outside of the U.S. This helmet is aimed towards a variety of motorsports, but if you’re purely looking to do drifting and track racing, then our next offering is likely to be a more ideal choice for you.

Manufacturer description:The new Bell Racing K.1 Pro is a full featured helmet with aero styling and a comfortable fit. The K.1 Pro is a great helmet for open wheel racers as well as kart racers who plan on moving into other forms of racing that require fire retardant interiors.

The K.1 Pro features superior ventilation, aero styling, Bell’s aggressive chin bar design and front chin gurney (Duckbill). The K.1 Pro is a great helmet for open wheel, closed car and kart racers that demand superior features including excellent fit and multiple ventilation options in a lightweight helmet.


Bell M8

bell m8 black racing helmet

Our comment: Bell’s M8 helmet is arguably the most popular reasonably-priced choice on the market, and frequently receives a huge amount of praise from those that are looking for a great helmet which doesn’t break the bank.

Just like the more expensive Arai GP-6S that we reviewed earlier in our guide, this helmet also features the wider eye port, which is extremely useful for increased visibility in drifting and also for those of you that wear glasses.

This option also includes the required M6 hardware to allow you to use HANS devices for increased safety.

Just like the previously reviewed K1 Pro, Bell has again provided the ability to move the interior, which allows for deep-cleaning which will undoubtedly come in very useful, especially if you live in a hotter climate and often get a little sweatier than you’d like!

This is certainly one of the best reasonably priced options in this guide, and certainly one of the best considerations within the price range.

Manufacturer description:The new M.8 SA2015 helmet is the next evolution in Bells legendary M series design concept incorporating traditional styling, enhanced visibility and versatile features allowing the helmet to be used in all forms of racing.

The M.8 provides outstanding comfort and features including a lightweight composite shell, Comfort-Plus interior, superior ventilation with manual lever air intake vents and a large eye opening. The M.8 is a great choice for racers who want a lightweight, multi-purpose helmet with a wider field of vision (especially for those who wear glasses) and updated Bell styling and performance.


Bell RS7

bell rs7 white racing helmet

Our comment: This is one of the more impressive helmets in Bell’s line-up and is often regarded as one of the best choices on the market.

Unlike the previous two options, the RS7 also includes FIA Homologation, making this the perfect Bell choice for those of you that are competing internationally.

This features a lightweight carbon composite shell with a high-pressure molding system that provides superior shell strength.

On top of that, this also features an anti-fog visor and fourteen air intakes and extraction channels, providing impressive ventilation. Factory fitted HANS posts also ensure that it’s a helmet that’ll leave you fully prepared should you need to wear a device.

Although it’s hard to beat the M8 for value, the RS7 trumps it by using superior materials and utilizing their anti-fog technology alongside additional ventilation. If you’re looking for the ultimate Bell helmet and don’t mind spending a little extra, the RS7 is a perfect choice.

Manufacturer description:Based on the HP7 design and featuring a lightweight carbon composite shell using Bell’s high-pressure proprietary molding system, the RS7 uses an innovative shell and shield design to improve acoustic comfort, aerodynamic performance and energy absorbing capacities.

The sleek, aerodynamic design features an advanced ventilation system with 14 intake and extraction channels that can be used with or without air intake covers. The RS7 double screen anti fog (DSAF) visor and rubber gasket seal ensures air, water and dust will not enter the eyeport.


BridgeMoto Competition Pro Helmet

bridgemoto competition pro racing helmet

Our comment: BridgeMoto is one of the up-and-coming companies in the safety apparel sector, and they’re receiving huge amounts of praise for their insanely reasonable prices.

Despite the surprising price tag, this has some fantastic features that are typically only found in some of the more expensive helmets such as removable inserts, which is fantastic after those humid days at the track.

Additional features include an adjustable and removable visor and an active aerodynamic venting system which allows for cooling and anti-perspiration with top and front ventilation. It’s also pre-drilled for HANS application.

It may be up there with the cheapest in our guide, but don’t let that put you off a bargain helmet with Snell SA2015 approval. This could well be the perfect helmet for beginners.

Manufacturer description:Latest Snell Approved rating Available. Top & Front ventilation for ease of breathing & cooling. Removable cheek pads for ease of cleaning. Crash & roll over tested by SNELL. Chin duckbill for additional protection. Lightweight durable construction.


BridgeMoto Forced Air

bridgemoto forced air racing helmet

Our comment: Although this is generally used for other forms of motorsport such as UTV’s, we’ve opted to include another fantastically priced choice from BridgeMoto for those of you that aren’t purely into drifting.

This comes with the same Snell approval as their previous choice, as well as the removable cheek pads and visor.

If you’re frequently participating in some of the dustier forms of motorsport, this is one of the most impressively-priced forced air helmets on the market.

Manufacturer description:Accepts most all standard forced air hoses. Excellent air flow & ventilation. Removable cheek pads for ease of cleaning. Removable visor for tint upgrade. – Crash & roll over tested by SNELL. Lightweight durable construction. Pre-drilled for HANS Application.


BridgeMoto Kamikaze (Carbon Fiber)

bridgemoto kamikaze racing helmet

Our comment: For those of you that are in the market for a carbon fiber helmet, but don’t want to break the bank by spending several thousand bucks on one aren’t going to find a better value for money Snell-approved offering than this from BridgeMoto.

Featuring an unsurprising featherweight design, this also comes with their usual removable inserts, an active aerodynamic venting system, and an adjustable and removable visor.

This helmet offers incredible value for money and is certainly worth considering if you’re looking to gain the benefits of choosing carbon fiber.

Manufacturer description:Snell SA2015 Certified for Fire Retardant Protection. Predrilled for ease of Hans use. Removable, Washable Padding Insert. Adjustable and Removable Visor. Featherweight Design. Active Aerodynamic Venting System for Cooling and anti-perspiration.


HJC AR-10 III

hjc ar10 iii black racing helmet

Our comment: HJC is another company that’s paving the way within the reasonably-priced helmet market, and their AR-10 III has been met with a huge amount of praise across the industry.

This third revision of their bestselling helmet is made from an advanced fiberglass composite weave shell, this makes the helmet extremely lightweight whilst maintaining strength.

Utilizing its latest Advanced Channeling Ventilation system, this allows for front-to-back airflow which helps move heat and humidity up and out of the helmet, providing 20% more airflow than the previous versions of the AR-10.

Like some of the more expensive alternatives, this also features a removable and washable interior to keep you fresh as a daisy along with an anti-fog shield and M6’s terminals for HANS devices.

This could well be the best budget option in our guide, and its popularity confirms this. Apart from the lack of FIA Homologation, this helmet quite literally ticks every box we can think of and comes highly recommended.

Manufacturer description:The AR-10 III is the ideal helmet for all types of racing. From the dusty ovals of Tennessee to the starting line at Pomona, its comfortable Fire Resistant Moisture-wicking Comfort-Carbon interior and Advanced Ventilation System keeps you cool and comfortable. The AR-10 III is the affordable alternative.


HJC Si-12 II

hjc si 12 ii black racing helmet

Our comment: HJC’s Si-12 is their ‘Super Lite’ offering which comes with a mid-range price point. Featuring a super lightweight Advanced Super Lite Composite Weave Shell, this is one step up from the AR-10 III.

It’s another fantastic offering from one of the best brands in the game, but we can’t help but feel that we’d prefer to save the little extra cash to splash out on their full carbon fiber HJC HX-10 III which is featured next in our guide.

Don’t get us wrong, this is a fantastic choice and that’s certainly worth considering if it ticks the right boxes for you, but the aggressiveness and additional features of the HX-10 III make it impossible to ignore for us.

Manufacturer description:Introducing the all-new Super Lite Si-12 from HJC. Everything you’ve always wanted in a helmet and less. Our innovative shell technology allows us to build a fully equipped racing helmet that feels as light as feather, yet provides all the features and comfort you demand.


HJC HX-10 III (Carbon Fiber)

hjc hx 10 iii black racing helmet

Our comment: If you loved the design and features of the AR-10 III above, but you don’t mind spending a little extra money in exchange for investing in the ultimate choice from HJC, then look no more as the perfect option has arrived!

Featuring a full carbon fiber shell, this featherweight helmet is over 200 grams lighter than the AR-10 III. It also features a comfortable fire-resistant moisture-wicking comfort-carbon interior and the ‘ACS’ Advanced Channeling Ventilation system.

This includes everything that the AR-10 III is capable of and then takes it to the next level. If you’ve ever suffered from a sore neck or headaches after a long day at the track, or if you’re just looking for the ultimate level of protection, then this is the choice for you.

Oh. We forgot to mention that it happens to look pretty damn awesome too!

Manufacturer description:The HJC HX-10 III Carbon Auto Racing Helmet is a top quality carbon fiber auto racing helmet that is suitable for all types of motorsports. The HX-10 III Carbone helmet boasts a lightweight carbon fiber shell, Fire Resistant Moisture-wicking Comfort-Carbon interior and Advanced Ventilation System that keeps you cool and comfortable in your race car. The HJC HX-10 III is a feature-packed carbon helmet available at an attractive price!


RaceQuip Carbon Vesta15 (Carbon Fiber)

racequip carbon vesta15 racing helmet

Our comment: This stunning offering from RaceQuip comes at ridiculously impressive value for money. This is the cheapest carbon fiber option in our list and is certainly one of the strongest contenders.

With both Snell SA2015 AND FIA 8859 safety ratings, this awesome example is created at BridgeMoto by hand utilizing alternating layers of Kevlar and carbon fiber to achieve an incredibly light, yet extremely rigid shell.

Also featuring M6 threaded HANS device inserts, this helmet will be ready to use in the highest levels of drifting competitions across the world.

Some very minor downsides are that it doesn’t have a removable interior, which can make it a little more challenging to clean, and the visor is ‘Low Fog’, where some alternatives have developed fog-free shields.

Don’t let the minor aspects put you off if you’re considering buying this, as they’re absolutely tiny compared to the value for money and the convenience of the FIA Approval. This helmet is a fantastic choice!

Manufacturer description:RaceQuip’s VESTA15 full face helmet is a bold departure from traditional auto racing helmet styling. The VESTA15 incorporates contemporary design with modern production techniques to achieve a balance between light weight and affordability. This innovative new helmet model features a hand laid shell in either Kevlar (Matrix) or Carbon Fiber construction with a uniquely shaped chin bar to support a scalloped faceshield design.


RaceQuip Matrix Vesta15

racequip matrix vesta15 racing helmet

Our comment: If you were keen on the look of the Carbon Vesta15 that we just reviewed, but it’s a little out of your budget, then the Matrix Vesta15 is going to be perfect for you.

For the Matrix model, they’ve managed to keep the costs down by using high-strength Kevlar fabric along with a durable epoxy resin to still ensure a lightweight shell, it has also been handcrafted just like the Carbon option.

It may be a little heavier and not have quite the same level as strength as the carbon option, but as a beginner helmet, this will certainly be a fantastic choice. With that being said, this isn’t just for beginners, with both FIA AND SA2015 Approval, you’ll even be able to compete at the highest level internationally.

This is the cheapest FIA-approved helmet in our guide and is undoubtedly worth considering for beginners right the way through to pros. Hats (or helmets) off to RaceQuip for bringing yet another fantastic reasonable product to the market!

Manufacturer description:RaceQuip’s VESTA15 full face helmet is a bold departure from traditional auto racing helmet styling. The VESTA15 incorporates contemporary design with modern production techniques to achieve a balance between light weight and affordability.


RaceQuip PRO15

racequip pro15 racing helmet

Our comment: If you thought that the price of the Matrix Vesta15 was impressive, then be prepared to be blown away by their cheapest offering, the PRO15. Although it may not have the FIA-approval of the Vesta15, it’s certainly a steal at this price.

This budget option still keeps most of the impressive features of its more expensive siblings, but this time its fiberglass that has been the material of choice that is still laid by hand by the RaceQuip team.

Although it doesn’t have FIA-approval, this is the perfect budget helmet for those of you that only intend on driving, or competing in the U.S. It’s still HANS device compatible and you’ll have your work cut out if you’re looking to find a more reasonable alternative on the market.

An excellent reasonably-priced choice from RaceQuip. If you’re looking for something more impressive, then their two superior options are definitely worth considering.

Manufacturer description:The RaceQuip PRO15 is a Snell SA2015 rated full face auto racing helmet that incorporates contemporary styling with modern production techniques. The Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) shell is hand laid to achieve a balance between light weight and affordability. Reinforced M6 threaded HANS/HNR inserts are mated to the shell along with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner. HANS or other Head and Neck Restraint device anchor posts (not included) can be easily attached to the outside of the helmet using the installed M6 threaded inserts.


Our winners

We have picked three winning lids from our list. An overall winner, a premium winner and a budget winner.

Our Drifted Racing Helmet Choice

It was a tough call, but we’ve considered a number of factors within our guide, and the value combined with the features of the Bell M8 makes it shine above the rest as our favorite all-rounder.

Our Drifted Racing Helmet winner is the Bell M8.

Bell has a huge following in all sectors of motorsport, and their quality is undeniable. With the wider eye-port that this helmet offers, you’ll get maximum visibility whilst drifting. Their removable interior panels will undoubtedly be a welcomed addition after a long, hot day at the track!

Bell M8

bell m8 black racing helmet

Our Premium Racing Helmet Choice

Not only is this helmet stunning and one of the lightest choices in our guide, but it also comes at an extremely reasonable price and features their latest Advanced Channeling Ventilation system to ensure maximum airflow.

Our Premium Racing Helmet winner is the HJC HX-10 III.

This again features the removable and washable interior to ensure that your helmet is perfectly fresh every time you take it out of the bag. There’s nothing worse than leaving your sweaty hat in a bag for months while your damn drift car is broke (again!)

HJC HX-10 III

hjc hx 10 iii black racing helmet

Our Budget Racing Helmet Choice

It was a tough call between several helmets, but we just simply couldn’t ignore the impressive price and features of the RaceQuip Pro15!

Our Budget Racing Helmet winner is the RaceQuip PRO15.

With each helmet being made by hand, RaceQuip continues to put care into the products they put out on the market, which is seeing them quickly soar in popularity in the motorsport safety industry. Although there are several incredible bargains on our list, this one gets our vote!

RaceQuip PRO15

racequip pro15 racing helmet

Thank you for reading our Best Racing Helmets guide!

We hope that you’re now confident in choosing the perfect helmet for your needs whether you’re looking to shred some tires down at the local track, or compete at an international FIA event!

baggsy racing helmet

Photography credits

We would like to thank the following sources for the use of their images:

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author avatar Written by Joe Terrell Drifted.com founder, motoring journalist and all-round car enthusiast. Read more about Joe and the Drifted team on our about us page.

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