In the US, wearing a minimum of a DOT certified helmet is required for riders over the age of 18 in most states. Helmets are required for riders less than 18 years of age in all US states.
In Canada, all riders and passengers are required to wear a DOT certified helmet, or a helmet with a higher safety rating such as Snell, ECE, etc.
Most riders choose to wear a helmet regardless of laws in their area whether it is for safety, or just for comfort. For most trail riders, this means a full face snowmobile helmet with a face shield to block the wind and snow. When looking at full face helmets to wear when snowmobiling, you have a few different principal designs to choose from including: modular, dual sport, or a standard full face design. Depending on how you ride, where you ride, and your preferences, there might be a few pros and cons to weigh out for each of these helmet options.
All of these designs will typically have the option of a non-heated dual lens shield, or an electric heated dual lens shield that plugs into your sled. Extra features like a retractable sun visor, Bluetooth speaker pockets, coms units, etc really vary depending on the exact model from each helmet brand.
What makes a full face helmet a modular helmet is the movable front chin bar. Think of a ¾ helmet with the front full face section, including the face shield, that can flip up to expose your face. The face shield can be opened separately from the chin bar as they are both on their own hing system. The chin bar/front quarter of the helmet is retractable via a release button typically found on the inside lower section of the chin area.
Being able to gas up your sled, drink some water, have a conversation, or whatnot without having to fully remove your helmet is incredibly convenient, especially in brutally cold weather. Another huge advantage of a modular over a standard full face helmet is being able to open the helmet to allow the air to circulate when stopped helping to minimize any fog. This is especially helpful for helmets without an electric heated shield.
Something to keep in mind with modular snowmobile helmets is the breath box. Since the breath box mounts on the inside of the helmet shell, often times between the shell and cheek pads, this does not move with the flip-up chin bar. You may need to check to see if the breath box can be quickly detached without having to full uninstall it. One example is our G339 breath boxes that feature a hook and loop seam along the side panels of the breath box for easy and convenient removal.
Full Face (non-modular)
Just like a full face motorcycle helmet, but with a breath box and double pane face shield, heated or non. A big advantage of this design is lower weight compared to modular helmets in a similar price range.
Lower helmet weight can be far more comfortable for new riders, and those who ride all day on extra long weekend trips. Half a pound can make a big difference, but for seasoned riders this might not even be a concern.
Full face snowmobile helmets can be safer in the case of front impacts due to less moving parts and weak potential weak points. With less moving parts also means less chance for things to break and less maintenance.
Much like standard full face, dual sport snowmobile helmets do not have a flip-up chin bar design, but they still have the flip-up face shield. The chin bar and shell will be one piece. Taking some of the advantages like low weight, and simple design from the standard full face helmet, but offering a sun visor and the option to ride with the face shield or snowcross goggles.
The flexibility to ride with a heated face shield, non heated shield, or goggles makes a dual sport helmet a sporty and versatile choice. As dual sport helmets are designed for off road motorcycle use, some extra features may be limited. Many dual sport helmets on the market don’t offer fully adjustable ventilation, which can get very cold when temps are well below freezing. Wearing a head sock, or balaclava, is a good idea with dual sport snowmobile helmets. On the other hand, with the extra ventilation and airflow through the helmet, this will help to reduce condensation and fog.
Choosing between the different options for snowmobile helmets depends on your preferences, but for most riders looking to do some mileage on the trails a full face or modular helmet would be our recommendation. Riders looking to do short and aggressive riding might prefer the style and flexibility that a dual sport helmet offers.