Helmets are an essential part of snowmobiling, motocross, motorcycling and all other related sports, as well as casual riding when you’re not a professional. Can you use these helmets interchangeably, or do you have to get a specific helmet for each of these?
Snowmobile helmets are not interchangeable with motocross and motorcycle helmets because of the safety and quality differences between them. The double pane shield, ventilation, and other features on snowmobile helmets are designed with snowmobiling in mind.
In this article, we are going to stress the importance of picking the right helmet for your snowmobiling endeavors. Likewise, we are going to compare a snowmobiling helmet with a motocross and motorcycle helmet and tell you whether they can be used interchangeably or not.
The helmet is one of the most important pieces of snowmobiling equipment you can have. It is likewise necessary, whether you’re just a recreational driver or a professional. It guarantees safety and is also essential if you want to ride normally in harsh weather conditions.
Snowmobile helmets have a specific design. Although they look like other helmets, the similarity is pretty much just visual, since their general design is very, very different. Namely, snowmobile helmets are designed specifically for harsh weather conditions that are characteristic for snowy and cold weather.
- They have a double pane shield that decreases the fogging on the lens due to having an insulating layer of air or gas.
- More advanced models also have an electrical heating system, which will additionally improve visibility when driving.
Another important characteristic of the snowmobile helmet is a breath box, located on the inside of the helmet.
The breath box functions as a cover for your cheeks and your nose and also works on improving the visibility and general driving condition. It is used to direct the warm, humid air from inside the helmet to the bottom of the helmet and stop it from going up and fogging your lens.
The snowmobile helmet also has a specific ventilation system that removes the moisture from inside it, as it can cause a big issue when it starts making your skin damp. This can really be uncomfortable when driving under such harsh conditions.
If you’re going for short rides, or not riding where you will need all of these features, many people will just wear a snocross or motocross helmet with goggles. The snowmobile specific helmets can be expensive, but are necessary for long trips or extreme temperatures.
There are several types of snowmobile helmets:
- Full face (covers your whole head)
- Modular (covers most of the head, with the chin being free)
- Dual-sport style
- And snocross/motocross
Here’s an example of the difference between a full face helmet and snocross helmet:
Typhoon Helmets Dual Sport Snocross Snowmobile Helmet (link to Amazon)
The snocross helmet is about half the price of the full face, so you can see why people would rather use those if they don’t need a full face helmet.
Here’s a good video showing the differences between the different types of snowmobile helmet.
These are the basic characteristics of a snowmobile helmet, based on the specific differences it has when compared to other types of helmets. Now, let us see the main differences between a snowmobiling helmet and two other specific types – the motocross and the motorcycle helmets.
Differences Between Motocross and Snowmobile Helmets
The motocross helmet is a type of helmet used in motocross, a form of off-road motorcycle racing. Like in snowmobiling, helmets are an essential part of motocross and you cannot drive without one.
While snowmobiling and motocross helmets might look the same, they are different and cannot be used interchangeably.
Motocross helmets are designed specifically to meet the driving conditions in motocross and while some of the conditions might be the same as in snowmobiling, they are not completely identical, which is why you cannot use the one as a replacement for the other.
We are now going to analyze the differences.
The main difference between a snowmobile and a motocross helmet is the shield lens. Namely, we’ve already stated that a snowmobile helmet has a double pane shield to reduce fogging and improve visibility.
In motocross, there is no significant risk of fogging because the sport is usually driven in warm weather, and many motocross helmets just don’t have a shield lens at all, you would wear goggles instead.
A motocross helmet is most closely related to a snocross helmet. The main differences here are:
- Breath Box: Snocross helmets have a breath box to keep the air your breathing away from face that could cause damp air and an uncomfortable ride.
- Chin Skirt: Snocross helmets have a chin skirt to prevent wind from blowing up into your face making you colder.
- Face Sheild: Some snocross helmets come with a face sheild, but still allow you to wear goggles at the same time.
Here’s a quick video showing how you can use a motocross helmet for snowmobiling, and the steps you need to take:
As for the breath box, a motocross helmet doesn’t usually have one, it can be installed, but you don’t actually need it for motocross. As said, a breath box (or guard) sends the warm air down the helmet so that it doesn’t fog the shield or goggles and reduce your visibility.
Since motocross is driven in warm conditions, there is really no need to do this, which is why motocross helmets don’t have a breath box at all.
The ventilation system is similar and it has to expel the warm air from the helmet. The difference is that in motocross, the ventilation system is used to reduce the temperature inside the helmet, while in snowmobiling – it is used to reduced moisture.
Finally, motocross helmets have several different types:
- Full face (covers the whole head)
- Off-road (for specific events and conditions)
Off road motocross helmets are by far the most popular motocross helmet where the only opening is the eyes where you would wear goggles, but the face shield types are becoming more popular.
As you can see, there are a lot of differences between a motocross helmet and a snowmobiling helmet. Their basic structure is the same, but their specific functions are very different and that is why you cannot simply use them interchangeably, because they will do a lot more damage than good.
Are Snowmobile Helmets and Motorcycle Helmets the Same?
Your standard motorcycle helmet is usually very simple, whether you’re a professional rider or just someone who has a motorcycle to drive around town. Their designs aren’t much different, but since the main purpose of a motorcycle helmet is to protect the driver from injury, not much has been done about the other things which are necessary for snowmobiling.
First of all, a motorcycle helmet:
- Has a single pane shield
- May not have a breath box
- Ventilation designed for air flow, not moisture removal
You don’t expect such harsh conditions while driving around town, so your standard motorcycle helmet is adapted for that. A single pane shield would be practically useless in snowmobiling and you’d have to keep it a bit raised all the time to avoid fogging, thereby risking other forms of injuries and problems.
Your standard motorcycle helmet doesn’t have a breath box, as it is unnecessary. Everything we said about the breath box in motocross helmets can be applied here – there’s just no need for it and that means that you’d have a lot of problems in snowmobiling.
The ventilation system is likewise problematic, because, although motorcycle helmets have some form of ventilation, it is not even close to meeting the high demands of snowmobiling conditions.
That is why you cannot use a motorcycle helmet for snowmobiling.
Can you use a Snowmobile helmet on motorcycle and motocross?
You can use a snowmobile helmet for motocross or on a motorcycle, but it might be overdoing it because of all the extra protection it has. You don’t really need a double pane shield that decreases the fogging, breath box, or ventilation system that removes the moisture from inside.
Driving in town and/or in warm weather, doesn’t really require all that additional equipment, it only needs to offer great injury protection.
We’ve explained the importance and the basic structure of a snowmobiling helmet, showing you why it’s so specific and special, and also why you need to have it while snowmobiling. We’ve also compared it to similar motocross and motorcycle helmets, deducing that you cannot use the two as direct replacements for a snowmobiling helmet.