How to choose and fit a racing helmet

How to choose and fit a racing helmet

Choosing a racing helmet can be a bit of a mindfield with so many options on the market, across both brands and race categories, too. When it comes to starting to look for a new helmet, whether that’s because of wear and tear or after a collision, or you simply need a new fit, we’d recommend taking your time to try on new helmets across different brands first.

If available onsite ask for professional advice (or get in touch with the WASPP team and we can advise on helmets and fit) but always shop with the aim to buy the best that you can afford. Never skimp when it comes to buying a racing helmet, as one of the core items of personal equipment for your safety when racing.

Full face helmets offer the best protection against fire and facial injury during impact and collision, however, if you’re racing in a closed car, open face helmets are tolerated more due to the need to potentially remove a helmet when inside the car. This means that Marshals and Medics have quick access to an injured driver’s airways.

How to choose the right size racing helmet

Size is an important factor when choosing a racing helmet and you want to get as tight a fit as comfortable. If a racing helmet is too big then it can begin to move and rotate around a driver’s head, as soon as the motion of driving begins and impact from the road beneath. It could shift to the front of the head, impair vision and eliminate the safety it provides, for both you and other driver’s on the road upon impact.

Always choose a helmet that’s your size and doesn’t require any extra internal padding to ensure its fit.

Check the size of the helmet whilst wearing an FIA approved balaclava and ensure that you position the helmet so it sits low on your forehead. When it’s in place you should be able to see the edge of the brim, when extending your vision to an extreme upper range. 

Adjust the retention system to hold the helmet firmly in place: then try to remove the helmet without undoing it. If the helmet does or could shift over your eyes and impair your vision, then it’s too big for you. It should be difficult to move in any direction and impossible to move without the movement of your skin too. The helmet should not be easily removed without a moderate amount of effort when pulling it off.

Choose the smallest helmet that you can comfortably wear without it becoming a distraction due to it being too tight or applying too much pressure.

Ventilation systems

Choose a racing helmet with a good ventilation system and one that’s going to accommodate the appropriate hardware, that’s been approved for the frontal head retention systems that you’re choosing to use.

Choosing the colour of your racing helmet

It’s not just about preference or branding when you’re choosing your racing helmet. Colour selection can be an important factor when considering that darker shades absorb more heat, and so, lighter colour helmets will help reduce the increase of body temperature and not have a potential affect on your performance either.

What about racing helmet visors?

Aa an integral part of a racing helmet, the helmet’s visors protect against impacts and fire. Ensure that you look at the visor, test its mechanism and that it has a positive locking mechanism, too, to prevent the visor from opening and lifting during an accident (don’t forget to peel off the protective plastic wrap from the visor before use!) If adding branding and design to your helmet, remember that special paints must be used to avoid damaging the structure. It’s recommended to avoid any stick-on accessories too.

Don’t mont communications equipment in or on the helmet or disturb the lining in any way either. If you need to add a drinking tube or an earplug radio cable that needs routing out of the bottom of the helmet, it can be lightly attached with Velcro to the bottom surface of the comfort padding. Any such lines must come apart immediately when exiting the car or removing the helmet for safety reasons and within regulations. 

When not in use, always keep your helmet safety stored and protected. It’s worth considering protection within the vehicle, too, by padding your roll cage in areas where your helmet is likely to come into contact. That’s so the helmet doesn’t suffer any impact damage, no matter how slight.

A racing helmet is one of the key items of safety and personal equipment that is most likely to save your life – take care of it, so that it will take care of you when it matters on impact. If you accidentally drop or knock your helmet and if it suffers any impact, gets scratched, consider replacing it.

We’d recommend having your helmet reviewed by an expert, if there is any impact to it, even if that’s a knock or accidentally dropped on a hard surface. It’s always a good idea to renew your helmet from time to time, too, even though it is undamaged to keep it up to scratch and continue protecting your head.

Finally, always make sure that the helmet you select is properly labelled and approved for the type of category in which you will participate and that it is date current, and the correct FIA homologation.

Need more advice or interested in Stilo helmets specifically, get in touch with the WASPP team and we’ll offer unbiased advice to help you in your buying decision for a new racing helmet. Email us at hello@waspp.co.uk or call 033 33 44 26 82.