Finding the perfect fit and feel for your snowmobile helmet can transform the experience, but sadly even the best helmets can’t last forever. It’s clear when a helmet is scratched, dented, or broken, but you will encounter other issues as your helmet ages.
Proper storage and maintenance will help extend your gear’s working life. Do snowmobile helmets expire?
Snowmobile helmets do expire because the materials break, fray, crack and dry out, making the helmet less reliable after 3 to 5 years. A helmet is typically plastic or fiberglass on the outside shell, with treated canvas straps, plastic buckles, soft foam padding, with a firm foam core and these will break down and need to be replaced.
Table of Contents
How Long Are Snowmobile Helmets Good For
Your snowmobile helmet is good for approximately 3 to 5 years. The manufacturer standards and safety rating will determine precisely how long.
Snowmobile helmets are certified by several different bodies. In the USA, you want a DOT (Department of Transportation), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
According to AGV Sport, “The DOT does not “approve” helmets. The DOT requires helmet manufacturers to certify that each model sold in the US meets the DOT standard. The DOT rating that is effect now is the federal standard FMVSS 218,” and “The Snell Memorial Foundation is a private non-profit organization that was founded after the death of race car driver Pete Snell to promote and advance helmet safety. The SNELL testing and certification are voluntary. Some racing sanctioning organizations require helmets to be SNELL certified forhel competition.”
Why Should You Replace Your Snowmobile Helmet Every Few Years
The 5-year limit on snowmobile helmets was established by consensus. Both the manufacturers and the SNELL Foundation concluded that the helmets are more likely to fail, causing injuries or death beyond this timeframe.
Below is a list of practical reasons why you should replace your snowmobile helmet every few years.
1 – Common Sense Safety
You wouldn’t run your snowmobile on outdated brakes, would you? Sledding without adequately maintained and replaced equipment is dangerous and foolish.
The number one reason why you should replace your snowmobile helmet every few years is because you have enough common sense and self-worth to want your brains protected in case of an accident.
2 – Wearing Your Helmet Causes Wear
We don’t often think about how we affect the world around us simply by touching it, but when looking at the most important reasons to replace your helmet every few years, you’re number one.
Oils from your fingers and hair get on your helmet and begin to interact (very slowly) with the materials it is made from.
Body fluids, cosmetics, and other products we use will build up on helmets, which seldom get adequately washed.
Over time your body simply touching the helmet will cause it to start to break down.
3 – Plastics
All helmets use plastics on them somewhere. From your straps to the snowmobile helmet’s outer shell, there are many places where plastic is practical and makes an excellent, lightweight, durable option.
Unfortunately, plastics are also usually photosensitive. While modern plastics are traditionally treated or coated to help reduce UV damage, it still accrues over time.
Between the sun, human products, and body fluids, the plastic components become dry and brittle, cracking and crumbling.
4 – Glue and Resin
You need a bonding agent to get the various parts of a snowmobile helmet to stay together.
In this case, glues and resins are often used to take one piece, like the foam core, and secure it to another part, like the outer shell.
Regrettably, glues and other bonding agents are only good for a few years. Like plastics, these materials break down due to sunlight and body fluids.
5 – The Latest Technology
Sports are ever evolving and growing, and the equipment we use to participate is in constant flux.
Your old helmet may have been the top of the line when it came out, but new materials, manufacturing processes, and techniques are always coming out.
An outdated snowmobile helmet won’t have the latest innovations and advances included.
How Do You Know When To Replace Snowmobile Helmet
Knowing when to replace your snowmobile helmet is surprisingly simple. There are 4 times when you need to get a new helmet ASAP.
First, helmets only last 3 to 5 years, so if yours is older, you need a new one.
Secondly, you should replace any helmet that has been in a crash or even had a significant fall when it wasn’t being worn.
Third, when your helmet doesn’t fit, it’s time to shop around right away.
Finally, if something feels off, the fit is wrong, or you suspect something is up, don’t hesitate to grab a new helmet.
Snowmobile helmets are made of foam, plastic, and sometimes fiberglass. All of these materials break down over time.
Once they become dry and brittle, the pliable shock absorption isn’t as effective as it once was, leaving you with a helmet that cracks and crumbles rather than bouncing and taking some scratches and a dent.
Once you’ve had a collision and your current helmet has done its job, I strongly recommend retiring it.
Foam cores crack and form weak spots under pressure as they buckle to absorb the impact of a fall or collision.
Instead of wearing a snowmobile helmet that has been in an accident and saved you, swap it out for a new undamaged model.
No snowmobile helmet should give you a headache. Properly fitted headgear shouldn’t be pushing, pulling, pinching, or pulling your hair.
Adjustable straps and padding offer many customization options to get a good fit, so there’s no excuse for a too-big, too-small, or poorly shaped helmet.
Inspecting your helmet should be on your ‘to do’ list before you ride so you can generally tell if anything obvious is wrong, like a crack or other damaged spot.
Helpful Tips To Know About How Long Snowmobile Helmets Last
Your snowmobile helmet is tough and durable, but if you want to keep relying on it, you need to change it for a newer model at some point.
After about 4 years, the materials in a snowmobile helmet have started to break down naturally and are no longer as protective as they once were.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about how long snowmobile helmets last.
- You can buy many products secondhand, saving money with little concern, but snowmobile helmets are not one of those things. Always buy a new, unused helmet for riding so you can be confident an uncompromised piece of protective gear protects your skull.
- Just because you can’t see the damage doesn’t mean it’s not there. Both helmets that have been in accidents and those that are beginning to age can have hidden defects you cannot see with your eyes. Cracks weakened material, and corrosion on the inside can cause a critical helmet failure and get you injured badly.
- Your helmet should fit snugly without any pinching or other painful spots and move like it is part of your body. A too-tight helmet is too small, and the additional internal pressure can cause problems with protecting your head correctly. Similarly, a too loose helmet can get turned around or out of place, so it doesn’t offer the necessary protection.
Knowing when to replace your snowmobile helmet is critical to your safety. Get a new helmet every 3 to 5 years, or more often, if you get in an accident.
Waiting longer can leave you wearing outdated materials that have begun to fall apart due to age-related wear.
Pay attention to how your helmet feels on your head because, when it’s not sitting correctly, it can’t protect you adequately if something happens.
A good helmet should feel secure but comfortable, not pinching or putting pressure anywhere on your head.
Most importantly, your snowmobile helmet should never be out of date.