Riding a KTM 790 Adventure on a gravel road.

2021 Adventure/Dual-Sport Helmets Worth Wearing

Last updated:

“Can you make us a list for the website of the 10 Best Adventure helmets for 2021?

That was the request made to me by our Content Manager, Cameron Martel. I told him that unfortunately until I’ve tested EVERY adventure helmet on the market I couldn’t know which 10 were the best overall.

Instead, I chose to list some of the ones I’ve personally tested and often recommended along with other ones I have;

1 – a good hunch about from looking at the listed features and from handling them in person

2 – been recommended to me via feedback from trusted sources

3 – helmets that are brand new and worth investigating once available

I know many of you reading this will wonder why other great examples weren’t included in this list. My response to that? I have to save something for next year’s picks!

Prices are based upon Revzilla’s currently listed USD model, but you may well find some selections at lower or higher prices elsewhere.

Jim’s Adventure Helmet Picks For The 2021 Season

Entry-Level

Priced under $300, these helmets are ideal for new riders or value-conscious shoppers.

Mid-Range

Priced $300-$500, these helmets are feature-rich and offer excellent protection.

Premium

Priced $500 and up. The premium grouping of what is available in the Adventure segment.

A Note About Our Recommendations:

There’s a lot of fake “review sites” online today. We get it. We aren’t one of them. We’ve tested many pieces of gear. Helmets, jackets, boots, gloves, accessories, and more. We extensively and exhaustively test gear. We do not fluff reviews.


Entry Level Adventure Helmets (Priced Under $300)

Scorpion EXO-AT950 (ADX-1)

The Scorpion EXO-AT950 helmet.

Why?

This helmet is easy to call the best modular, adventure helmet available for the money. I realize that flies in the face of what I wrote at the outset of this article… but it’s true! The Scorpion EXO-AT950 is known outside North America as the ADX-1.

It can be worn without the visor installed to make room for goggles while doing serious off-road work or remove the sun peak for when you’re doing sport riding. You get a lot of versatility from this safety hat.

The more expensive EXO-AT950 helmets are shod in attractive graphic packages all aglow in bright colour schemes that help get the attention of onlookers and keep you more visible in traffic as well.

It lacks the high-end or premium feel of the more expensive adventure lids and isn’t Snell Certified or built with any other unusual safety features of note. Some people refer to it as heavy and noisy when worn at higher speeds too. Regardless, this helmet has been a popular fan favourite for 6 years and should fit into most people’s budgets.

Scorpion is known worldwide as a reliable brand that gives you more features for less money.

Specs, Head Shape, & More

  • Head shape: intermediate oval
  • Weight: 4lbs or 1814g
  • Safety: DOT certification for the AT950, ECE 22.05 for the ADX-1
  • Sizing: XS to 3XL **Scorpion helmets often fit small so try before you buy or size 1 up if your head is at the far end of the sizing spectrum**

The In-Depth Review

Here’s a review from 2016 when the EXO AT-950 first appeared.

By the way, my sources at Scorpion tell me development is nearing completion of a new and improved AT950 that will be called the AT960. No official release date as of yet, but I would bet there’s a good chance we’ll see it in 2022.

Read our full review on the EXO AT-950.

Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS

The Bell MX-9 MiPS ADV Helmet.

I won’t try calling the MX-9 the safest helmet for the price, but I feel confident saying it could save a wearer’s life in specific kinds of crashes more so than many others thanks to the Multi-directional Impact Protection System.

This MIPS safety liner in the MX-9 is designed to minimize the especially deadly rotational forces sometimes experienced by the head and neck during a crash. That’s a significant factor to consider when choosing your helmet. After all, we don’t wear helmets to look good. It’s supposed to be about safety.

The price is very reasonable for what you get and might allow a buyer to splurge for the wonderful luxury that is a Transitions Auto-Tinting visor while keeping the final price well under $400. Wow.

Even if this helmet isn’t the quietest, lightest, or physically smallest available, those first two factors I mentioned above are huge PROs. The MX-9 Adventure MIPS continues wearing the mantle of fan favourite even after 11 years of the competition trying to unseat it.

Specs, Head Shape, & More

  • Head shape: intermediate oval
  • Weight: 3.74 lbs 1696g
  • Safety: DOT and ECE 22.05 certification
  • Sizing: XS to 2XL

**Transitions Auto-tinting/photochromatic visor available for this helmet for $149**

The In-Depth Review

This review is 11 years old now, but still relevant! I wonder if Bell is going to make a significant update soon to the helmet after this long? If so, we’ll make sure to get a sample to create an updated version of the review.

Have a look at the original Bell MX-9 MIPS Full Review.

Nishua Enduro Carbon

Nishua Enduro Carbon helmet

Why?

What if I told you it was possible to buy a brand new $499 Carbon Fiber Klim Krios Karbon adventure helmet for only $200? You can even install the Transitions Auto-darkening visor for the Krios Karbon on this Nishua Helmet if you want to spend another $150. It’s justifiable to do thanks to how inexpensive the Nishua Enduro Carbon Helmet is.

I haven’t personally seen this helmet or worn it, but I know many adventure riders have taken the leap of faith and purchased it with no regrets. I’ve heard that it fits much the same as a typical Shoei does, meaning slightly narrower on the sides and longer front to back. A true intermediate oval shape.

It’s built just like the Klim Krios Karbon without the brand name stickers on it. You can even buy an unbranded version of the Sena 10U Bluetooth system to install inside, but word on the street is the Sena 10U isn’t worth the money.

This Nishua helmet is claimed to weigh a gravity-defying 2.54lbs (1150g) with the visor and sun peak installed on it. Remove the visor and peak and the mass for a Medium size drops to 1040g or 2.29lbs. Interestingly the Klim Krios Karbon is listed at 3.25lbs on Revzilla’s website, but that would be a DOT-approved helmet which may truly be heavier because of some extra pieces necessary to get certified as such instead of ECE only.

If you live in the US and want to wear this Nishua on the road legally, you’ll need to live in a State not requiring DOT-approved helmets. You’ll also find that the vendor doesn’t ship to the US, so you’ll have to find a friend in another country to forward it to you or use an intermediary like ShipByMail to help. You won’t likely be able to get any warranty coverage or returns on it though, so think hard before buying.

If you live in Canada or anywhere else in the world that recognizes ECE only certification you’re in luck!

  • Specs, Head Shape, & More
  • Head shape: intermediate oval
  • Weight: 2.54 lbs 1150g
  • Safety: ECE 22.05 certification (Not DOT approved)
  • Sizing: XS to XL (No 2XL or 3XL)

**Transitions Auto-tinting/photochromatic visor available for this helmet for $149**

The In-Depth Review

There isn’t one on our site for this Nishua helmet, neither is there one for the Klim Krios Karbon. I don’t know how that happened but let me direct you to Revzilla’s review of the Klim Krios from 2016. It is essentially the same helmet for almost ⅓ of the price.


Mid-Range Adventure Helmets (Priced $300 to $500)

BMW GS Pure Helmet

BMW GS Pure Helmet

Why?

BMW announced two new adventure helmets for 2021 and they both look so attractive! This is the lower-priced one that’s named the GS Pure. It barely squeaks into the sub-$500 bracket at its lowest trim level that is a solid white in color. The fancier graphic version (pictured in the photo above) costs more than $500.

Very lightweight, WindTunnel tested aerodynamics (quiet), strong fiberglass blend shell with carbon fiber inserts for rigidity, an internal drop-down sun visor, luxury-level finish, and trim are mentioned on this helmet. A Pinlock lens is included with the helmet as a nice bonus. They’ve set it up to house the BMW Fit-For-All Bluetooth communication system and there’s an outside spot to mount a GoPro or equivalent too.

I would expect nothing short of perfection from a BMW-designed adventure helmet. It’s kind of their thing.

I don’t know for certain who manufactures these helmets for BMW, but they look suspiciously like the Airoh Commander, wouldn’t you say? That Airoh helmet can be had for significantly less at € 332.90 or $398 US. This means I’m also recommending the Airoh Commander in this price category.

The Airoh Commander helmet.

I’m looking at getting a sample GS Pure or Airoh Commander to review at some point. The GS Pure carries a fairly hefty price, but I would feel confident about rolling the dice on this one, especially if you want a BMW helmet to match your ride. Gauging fitment could be a bit tricky if you’re in North America seeing as they don’t sell these here, yet.

If you live in the US and want to wear this GS Pure helmet on the road legally, you’ll need to live in a State not requiring DOT-approved helmets. If you live in Canada or anywhere else in the world that recognizes ECE only certification you’re in luck!

Specs, Head Shape, & More

  • Head shape: Unknown at this time (I’m guessing intermediate oval with a round oval bias)
  • Weight: 3.17.bs or 1,440 g (peak and visor installed) and 2.87lbs or 1,300 g (peak and goggles). The size Large and up helmet shell weighs 3.35lbs or 1,520 g (peak and visor installed) and 3lbs or 1,380 g (peak and goggles)
  • Safety: ECE 22.05 certification (Not DOT approved)
  • Sizing: XS to 2XL **Airoh helmets fit a bit big so if you land between sizes go down**
  • The In-Depth Review

Coming later this year I hope, but no one has been able to test this one yet from what my searches reveal.

AGV AX9 Helmet – Solid

The AGV AX-9 Helmet.

Why?

This is an adaptable, Italian adventure helmet with that same sleek, stylized, exterior easily appreciated by anyone equipped with the sense of sight. You could probably still perceive the quality holding it in your hands with your eyes closed. It’s sharp like a Ducati!

What I like most about this one is the emphasis AGV places on comfort and ventilation. I have their Sport Modular Carbon which excels at keeping my head cool and comfortable thanks to the micro-fleece-covered, reversible, interior liner.

I haven’t yet managed to review the AX-9 (although I’ve sure been trying to get one from our AGV rep since it came out!), but the reviews already out there for it are overwhelmingly positive in this regard. That’s not surprising based on my experience with the Sport Modular Carbon. I think this AX-9 is a better helmet overall from what I can tell.

A couple of notable things to bear in mind with this have to do with the sun peak and range of sizes.

AGV offers an optional sun peak that is much shorter or compact than the included one. I would definitely go that route before bringing the helmet home to save your neck some discomfort. Alternately, the AX-9 was designed to be worn while riding with the sun peak removed if you like as well.

The optional smaller sun peak for the AGV AX-9 helmet.

The optional short sun peak for the AGV AX-9 helmet.

If you look at the sizing chart below you’ll notice a half size for the Medium is available right from the factory! That’s a beautiful option for someone like myself who has a 58.42cm head (23”). I’m always landing right in between Medium and Large sizes on the majority of helmets out there. The chart for the AX-9 reassuringly puts me solidly into an ML or MediumLarge.

AGV AX-9 sizing chart.

I love that clarity!

Specs, Head Shape, & More

  • Head shape: Intermediate oval
  • Weight: 3.67lbs to 3lbs 11oz depending on size or 1,664 to 1672 g
  • Safety: DOT and ECE 22.05 certification
  • Sizing: awesome selection including 1 cm half sizes from the factory!
  • Pinlock Included?: There are conflicting reports about whether the Pinlock is included or not. Ask for one before paying to be included.

The In-Depth Review

Again, I’ll have to defer to Anthony from Revzilla until such time as we can get one of these helmets in our reviewers’ hands. He likes it very much, but he is Italian-American and I sometimes notice a cultural bias apparent as soon as the green, white, and red flag appears on a product logo with his demographic. Something to keep in mind while you watch.


Premium Adventure Helmets (Priced $500+)

Now we have arrived at the level where helmet prices feature undeniable sticker shock. Are these helmets worth the top-dollar prices? In my humble opinion, yes, but only if you are a person who;

  • Appreciates fine details showcasing the obsessive level of quality workmanship found in the handmade helmets of Shoei and Arai.
  • Rides upwards of 10,000 miles per year.
  • Appreciates the best technology, materials, and newest features

I feel like Arai in particular overbuilds their helmets so much that they could last twice the prescribed 5 years of time recommended as the serviceable period. That’s good if you plan on wearing them beyond that regardless of expert opinion on lifespan.

The Klim Krios Pro, Shoei Hornet X2 (Hornet ADV), and Arai XD-4 (Tour X-4),

The Klim Krios Pro, Arai XD-4, and Shoei Hornet helmet

Let’s just get these three out of the way first so we can check out a couple of new arrivals to this Premium Category.

These are the top three adventure helmets I’ve worn to date. Just pick the one you fit the best and there’s a 99% probability that you’ll be over-the-moon happy. They’re expensive, beautiful to look at, well-built, and they just plain do the job of protecting your head while also keeping you comfortable to a greater degree than the less expensive helmets.

Of the three I prefer wearing the Arai because it fits me the best while flowing huge quantities of air inside. I will happily wear the other two as well, though… it’s so, so, so, close.

Here’s a link to the three helmet comparison article I previously wrote to tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about them. Three Adventure Helmet Showdown.

Alternative Choices

Now then, what else is out there you might ask? Suppose you want something different or Modular at this price point?

BMW GS Carbon EVO Helmet

The BMW GS Carbon EVO Helmet

Why?

I swear that I’m not a BMW fanboy (I ride a KTM!), but I like what I see in both new Adventure helmets announced in November 2020 for this 2021 merchandise lineup.

This is the fancier of the two new lids. Like the GS Pure, this GS Carbon EVO is very lightweight and has been wind tunnel tested to achieve above-average aerodynamics (quiet). But the Carbon EVO has a shell built entirely out of Carbon Fiber for extra strength which often leads to more wind noise.

Additionally, you get a MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) safety liner inside the Carbon EVO to give this helmet a higher level of protection against rotational forces in a crash.

BMW claims to have ensured this helmet has excellent ventilation and designed the sun peak’s shape to minimize drag and pull. The comfort liner inside has fewer seams in it to mitigate stress points on the wearer’s scalp and they’ve set up the interior to house the BMW Fit-For-All Bluetooth communication system. A Pinlock lens is included with the helmet and there’s also an outside spot to mount a GoPro or equivalent too.

Just as with the GS Pure helmet, I don’t know who manufactures the GS Carbon EVO helmets for BMW, but I’m trying to find out. I believe it could be Nexx because it looks similar to the X.Wed-2 line of helmets, but I’m not saying that with nearly as much confidence as I did while linking the GS Pure/Airoh Commander bloodlines.

If you live in the US and want to wear this GS Pure helmet on the road legally, you’ll need to live in a State not requiring DOT-approved helmets. If you live in Canada or anywhere else in the world that recognizes ECE only certification you’re in luck!

Specs, Head Shape, & More

  • Head shape: Unknown at this time (I’m guessing intermediate oval or neutral oval)
  • Weight: 3.2lbs or 1,450 g (peak and visor installed) and less when the visor is removed and goggles worn.
  • Safety: ECE 22.05 certification (Not DOT approved)
  • Sizing: XS to 2XL
  • The In-Depth Review

Coming at some future time I hope, but no one has yet been able to test one from what my searches reveal.

Have a look at this review of the last BMW GS Carbon helmet to get a rough idea of what it might offer since this GS Carbon EVO is an updated GS Carbon.

Touratech Aventuro Traveller Carbon

The Touratech Aventuro Traveller Carbon helmet.

Why?

There isn’t a fancier or more refined modular adventure helmet on the market than this one from Touratech and Nexx. Yes, I would rank this Touratech ahead of the Schuberth E1, in case you’re wondering.

Every switch, button, or moving part on the Touratech shows high quality and is a pleasure to live with. The Carbon Fiber shell helps keep weight just under 4lbs which is significant considering the large sun peak jutting out from the front of it.

What makes this helmet stand out from the crowd (and surpass the Schuberth) other than the dashing good looks? The ventilation in it is phenomenal. I mean the only way to get better cooling in it would be to raise the chinbar and ride that way. It’s that good.

I love how quiet it is too. That’s a rare commodity to find in a modular helmet, let alone a Carbon Fiber modular helmet! Thanks to the wedge shape of the chin bar and aerodynamic sun peak this helmet cuts through the wind like the bow of a ship through water.

I’m also a fan of the visor and internal, drop-down sun visor lens clarity, not to mention there’s a Pinlock lens included with the helmet. It’s all very well done and the whole of it feels solid in your hands as well as on your head.

My only complaints stem from the unbalanced weight distribution (it’s chin heavy) and the fact you can’t quickly disconnect the sun peak as you can with nearly every other adventure helmet. The crown liner sometimes bunches up weirdly on me while I’m wearing it, leading to pressure points or hot spots.

I’ve encountered this before with the Schuberth C4 and C4 Pro, but can’t explain why it happens. If those things don’t bother you, this is one of the best modular adventure helmets you can buy.

Specs, Head Shape, & More

  • Head shape: Intermediate Oval
  • Weight: 3.9lbs (size Large) or 1770 g
  • Safety: DOT and ECE 22.05 certification
  • Sizing: XS to 3XL

The In-Depth Review

I reviewed this helmet last year and noted many excellent features along with very high-end finishes. No question, Touratech put a ton of thought into how they wanted Nexx to build this premium modular adventure helmet for them.

It doesn’t work well with my head and neck so I sold it to a friend of mine who is enjoying it thus far. Touratech Aventuro Traveller Carbon Review.

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