Safety should always come first, whatever sport you’re playing. With running, safety is really a matter of visibility – which is why we have things like reflective gear.
The triathletes reading this know that cycling safety is a whole other thing. If you’re a triathlete, you need to take extra care to protect yourself in three different environments – on the road when running, on the road in the saddle, and in the water.
The best triathlon helmets are designed to do exactly that. Don’t be tempted to shell out on fancy shoes or watches and go for a cheap helmet. Your GPS watch won’t save you if you come off the bike!
Our number one choice is the Giro Vanquish MIPS Helmet. It’s equipped with state-of-the-art protection technology, has a unique vent system for great airflow, and features a magnetic visor to protect your eyes as well as your head.
Keep reading to find out what else made our list!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Giro Vanquish MIPS Helmet
Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet
Giro Aether Spherical
1. Giro Vanquish MIPS Helmet
The Giro brand has been around for more than 3 decades and is dedicated to creating high-quality products that not only improve performance and look sleek and beautiful while doing it, but protect the wearer too.
This helmet is a stylish looking piece of equipment. With this on your head, you’ll feel like a pro!
It’s not all about looking sleek, though. The Giro Vanquish is loaded with superior technology, designed to keep you as safe as possible no matter what bumps in the road lie ahead.
The round design may not seem aerodynamic at first glance, but Giro’s TransformAir Technology helps to reduce wind drag and improve aerodynamics.
It’s easy to get a near-perfect fit using Giro’s unique Roc Loc 5 Air Fit system, with which you can adjust both the tension around your head and the vertical position.
In terms of ventilation, the Vanquish features 10 Wind Tunnel vents as well as channeling in the inner helmet to allow air to flow freely and cool you down.
A magnetic visor is a nice touch. It’s easy to remove quickly if you want your eyes free and clear, or if you want to wear your own sunglasses. But with it on you’ll benefit from VIVID lens technology, which enhances contrast and definition.
The factor that gets the biggest thumbs-up, though, is the addition of MIPS technology. This stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, and it’s designed specifically to protect your brain in the event of an impact. We discuss it in more detail in the FAQs.
- Roc Loc Air system
- Integrated MIPS system
- Antimicrobial padding
- VIVID lens technology
- Considering the quality of the helmet, it’s slightly disappointing that it doesn’t include any kind of protective bag
Top Race-day Helmet
2. Giro Aerohead MIPS Helmet
If you’re looking for speed and smoothness for race day, this could be the helmet for you. The dome shape is extremely efficient for reducing drag and increasing speed.
A removable wraparound eye visor not only makes this helmet look pretty awesome, but it doesn’t create a blind spot and allows for a full 180-degree range of vision.
While this doesn’t necessarily assist with speed, it does help you stay safer while going faster, as you can see everything going on around you.
The Roc Loc Air system lifts the helmet slightly off the head, creating a slight gap in which air flows freely, cooling you down efficiently. Combined with the Wind Tunnel ventilation system and internal channeling, the faster you go, the cooler you’ll be.
But helmets are really for protecting your head, and the Aerohead is equipped with great protection in the form of MIPS.
This system redirects energy in an impact situation and is proven to reduce the chance of head injury. You can push for speed knowing that you’re well-protected whatever happens.
Be aware that you may not be able to wear your own sunglasses under this helmet, even though you can remove the visor. The helmet is a snug fit, and you may not be able to slip the sunglasses arms in behind your ears.
- Roc Loc 5 Fit & Air system
- Wind Tunnel ventilation and internal channeling
- Wrap-around eye shield
- MIPS technology
- Can’t be worn over your own sunglasses
Best Training Helmet
3. Giro Aether Spherical
Even if you’re not pushing hard for speed, you still need a safe and comfortable helmet.
We’ve chosen another Giro – the Aether Spherical – as our top training helmet. We’re aware that some triathletes may prefer not to wear their race day helmet when training.
Like the others, this one is equipped with MIPS, because protecting your head when training is just as important as on race day.
The MIPS system on this helmet (MIPS Spherical) is integrated between layers of EPS foam, lifting it off the wearer’s head to increase comfort and coolness.
The vent system is impressive. At a glance, it looks like there’s more open space than helmet! It’s effective for allowing free airflow, but don’t think it compromises the structure of the protective shell.
To strengthen the helmet, an internal AURA reinforcing arch is incorporated, allowing the wide-open vents to serve their purpose without compromising your safety.
Another feature we appreciate is integrated sunglasses ports that allow you to store your glasses safely on the front of the helmet if you decide mid-ride that you’d rather not wear them.
It also features the Roc Loc tightening system, but be careful with it. Those with smaller heads may find that tightening it adequately causes the plastic sides to bend in and poke them in the head!
- Dual-density EPS foam
- Shatter-resistant AURA reinforcing arch
- 3-way fit tuning
- MIPS Spherical system
- Tightening the Roc Loc system may cause the plastic to dig into your head uncomfortably (most common with smaller heads)
Top Quick-Drying Helmet
4. Bell Z20 Aero MIPS Helmet
The head is one of the places most prone to sweating, especially when it’s enclosed in a helmet!
If you struggle with sweat dripping down your face or getting in your eyes while you’re on the bike, you should consider this helmet, as it’s our choice for the top quick-drying helmet.
This helmet has a unique shape that helps to optimize its aerodynamics. Underneath the two-piece shell, it’s layered with technologies to help protect your noggin, improve your performance, and keep you cool and dry.
A sweat guide pad draws moisture away from the brow before it can drip into your eyes. The X-Static Padding is crafted from quick-drying material to keep you drier for longer. It’s also infused with silver fibers, which helps prevent odor-causing bacteria and fungi.
One of the interesting things about this helmet is progressive layering. The outer shell is fused to the inner EPS foam layer. This liner has zones of varied densities, protecting you where you need it most. On top of that (or below that, really), the MIPS system offers the latest in impact protection.
- Sweat guide pad
- Overbrow ventilation with air-channels
- Aero-optimized shape
- Variable densities EPS foam liner
- Some may find that the glasses port doesn’t have a firm hold and can feel a bit unstable
Best Designed Tri-Helmet
5. Rudy Project Spectrum
This helmet is well-designed and stylish. One of the best features is their RSR 10 retention system, which allows the wearer to adjust it to a near-perfect fit every time it goes on their head.
In-Mold technology fuses the shell onto the injected EPS-foam structure, creating a sturdier and more durable piece of equipment. It also makes it fairly lightweight, which is important for comfort and performance.
Large vents are prominent around the surface of the helmet, which is effective at cooling the rider. Airframe padding also enhances airflow and dissipates moisture.
The Spectrum is also available in a variety of eye-catching colors, all of which should be easily seen on the road and add an element of safety.
The biggest flaw in this helmet, and something that may dissuade riders from considering it as an option, is the lack of a MIPS system.
Although this is a stylish, well-designed helmet, considering the price, the lack of such a widely used and well-renowned safety system is a definite flaw.
- Interchangeable and washable padding system
- EPS impact-absorbing foam
- Fifteen “flow through” vents
- RSR 10 M retention system
- This helmet doesn’t come with MIPS
Top Lightweight Helmet
6. Lazer Z1
This helmet is lightweight in both structure and price. It has some good features for its price, and it’s a great choice if you’re specifically looking for something you can hardly feel on your head when you’re wearing it.
Although reports vary (most likely due to size), we can safely say that this helmet weighs just a little more than 200 grams, which is impressively light.
The Advanced Rollsys Fit system makes it easy to fit your head using a small thumbwheel on the outer top of the helmet. This system has since been discontinued in their models, but it’s an effective and light way to create a comfortable fit. It’s also ponytail-friendly for the long-haired riders out there!
The helmet is rather well-ventilated, featuring 31 vents for superior airflow. You’ll feel just like you’re riding helmetless with the wind in your hair!
The Z1 is available with or without MIPS. Depending on where you buy, you may not be able to get the MIPS-enabled version. It does incorporate another safety feature, a polycarbonate roll-cage, which is designed to keep the helmet intact during impact.
- Advanced Rollsys fit system
- Polycarbonate roll-cage
- Available with MIPS
- Depending on where you buy, you may not be able to get this helmet with MIPS
Best with Visor
7. Smith Optics Podium TT
Some riders may prefer to use their own sunglasses, but if a visor is an essential item on a helmet for you, this is our best pick.
The Optics Podium TT is designed in such a way that the visor becomes part of it, looking sleek and eye-catching. It’s attached magnetically, making it easy to remove if you feel the need to.
The visor, or Podium TT Optical Shield, features ChromaPop lens technology, sharpening contrast in the view in front of you. This is super helpful for spotting differences in surface terrain or potholes in a hurry. It also comes with a clear lens.
The vent system is unique, utilizing two smallish vents on either side of the front of the head, and two larger, mesh-like vents on the back.
Other features you’ll find on this helmet include a lightweight aero core in-mold shell, an aerodynamic design, and VaporFit adjustable sizing system.
Depending on where you buy, you have the choice to buy the MIPS version or the non-MIPS version.
- XT2 antibacterial lining
- Magnetic visor with two lenses
- VaporFit adjustable fit system
- Zonal ventilated protection
- Tends to run on the small side and may not fit larger heads
Top Aerodynamic/Time Trial Helmet
8. Louis Garneau P-09 Cycling Helmet
If you’re after speed, try this helmet. It’s one of the most aerodynamic ones you’ll find, and you’ll be able to tell it just by looking at it.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the dimpled surface. It’s designed to have as little surface area as possible and also move the air over it faster. The tapered tail directs air away from the helmet quickly and efficiently.
A large Speed Vent directly above the eyes brings in cool air that exits behind the ears and diminishes pressure on the front of the head. It utilizes a Spiderlock Pro TT fit system to keep it snug when you’re riding.
The helmet also comes equipped with a visor that can flip upwards if you need to move it out of your vision during a race. It can also be removed completely if you prefer that. The easy-on, semi-flexible ear cups make slipping this helmet onto your head an absolute breeze.
- Textured surface
- Spiderlock Pro TT system
- Semi-flexible ear cups
- Speed Vent ventilation
- The inner pads may not be a good fit for all heads
Best Ventilated Helmet
9. POC Ventral Air Spin
Ensuring your head stays cool is essential. Overheating can have disastrous effects, and the head is one of the spots prone to heating up very quickly. This helmet is very well-ventilated, keeping you breezy and cool while on the move.
Covered with a variety of decent-sized ventilation ports, the airflow through this helmet is second-to-none. The great coverage ensures no hot spots.
Apart from its impressive air circulation, it also offers a silicone padding system, easy sizing adjustment, and a handy eye garage to keep your sunglasses securely in position when placed on the helmet.
- Eye garage
- Features POC’s patent-pending silicone pad system
- 360° size and strap adjustment system
- Specific airflow zones
- No MIPS
Top Women’s Helmet
10. Giro Ember MIPS Helmet
Ladies, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a helmet that’s technically a men’s design. But this one is an offering from Giro that’s geared specifically towards women riders.
It’s a light, smooth design that looks as good as it feels. 26 vents allow for a great deal of ventilation, keeping you cool from the top down. The AIR-FX padding is soft and comfy, perfect for long rides.
Roll cage reinforcement and the highly regarded MIPS system make this helmet as safe as can be. As an added bonus, it’s ponytail compatible!
Choose from a range of interesting colors, patterns, and graphics.
- Equipped with MIPS
- Air-FX padding
- Wind tunnel vents with internal channeling
- Ponytail compatible
- Long hair can get caught in the MIPS system
Not sure which one of our best triathlon helmets would suit you? Read on to find out more info and learn everything you need to know about buying one.
What Should You Look For When Buying A Triathlon Helmet?
Wearing a helmet offers protection, and research has shown that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a fatal head injury by up to 70%! They’re also required in competition. That’s why choosing the right helmet and fit for your noggin is so important.
You should take the following into consideration when buying your helmet:
Protection and MIPS
A helmet is meant to protect your head, but not just on the outside! Sure, it’s meant to protect your scalp, but more importantly, it’s meant to reduce impacts to protect your brain.
The helmet you choose needs to be protective. Every company has its own standards and technologies, but some you need to keep an eye out for are MIPS and roll cage reinforcement.
Carbon fiber and polycarbonate are both light and strong. Most helmets are made of one of these two.
If your helmet feels like it’s dragging your head down, you’ll never get a good result with it. Helmets are getting lighter and lighter, and yours should feel comfortable on your head and almost like it’s not even there.
On warmer days, ventilation is crucial. Check the helmet’s ventilation system carefully. Each brand has their own preferences. Some may look like they have more holes than material, and if you’re uncomfortable with that, find a helmet that’s more substantial but still has adequate airflow.
It should be noted, however, that the amount of ventilation holes does not have much influence over the protective abilities of the helmet. A well-ventilated shell can be plenty protective. Likewise, a solid outer shell does not necessarily mean better impact protection.
If your helmet doesn’t fit snugly and stay put when you’re on a bumpy road, then you’ll never quite be well-balanced on your bike. Don’t be afraid to try it on and headbang a little if you’re shopping in person.
If you’re shopping online, it can be a little harder. But most helmets come with an extremely adjustable fit system.
Choose from road helmets, trail helmets, and hybrid helmets. It may come down to your personal choice, as all have different features.
Whether or not you use a visor is a personal preference. Many helmets utilize magnetic visors that are easy to clip on and off. Consider also the lenses you get and those you can buy.
What Is A MIPS Helmet?
MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) is a system designed specifically to protect your brain in the case of an impact.
The most dangerous thing when falling is something called rotational force, closely followed by inertia. Both of these types of movement, commonly seen during impact, can cause the brain to be jarred inside the skull.
MIPS works by allowing space inside the helmet for the head to move independently of the helmet. This means that the impact on the outside of the helmet isn’t transferred directly to the head, but rather that the energy is dispersed through the open space between the head and the helmet.
Obviously, this isn’t 100% effective – in a crash, there are always acceleration forces that cannot be avoided. Your helmet’s job is to lessen the forces as much as possible by spreading them out. But as mentioned above, it’s been shown (after more than 31,000 tests) to reduce the risk of head and brain injury by up to 70%.
A MIPS helmet is one that’s equipped with a MIPS system. If you aren’t sure whether or not a helmet has MIPS, the easiest way is to take a peek inside. If you see a yellow layer between the padding and the outer shell, that’s MIPS.