In the ADV and dirt parts of the motorcycling world, there are about as many helmets available as there are bikes. Much like with sport helmets, there are features and considerations that are specific to this part of the market.
When we were looking to find the best picks for the 2022 season, we took an approach that considered not only the safety and protection aspects of the helmet, but also what features it included specific to the ADV and dirt markets. This is why some of the more heavily promoted and “popular” helmets may not be on this list, as with all things on MotorBikeWriter, we are riders too.
As well, we did our best with this list to bring forth examples that are available around the world, and not just in Europe, Asia, or Australia. The reasoning behind this is that there are so many different certification bodies for each area that if the helmet is certified as DOT, ECE, and other certification labs, then we’re pretty sure it’ll be legal in most nations of the world.
Adventure Helmet Picks For The 2022 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.
Entry Level Adventure Helmets (Priced Under $300)
Scorpion EXO-AT950 (ADX-1)
Price: $270 – $300 USD+ (for some graphics packages)
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**
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.
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.
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 the ProTint Photochromic 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.
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® lenses 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.
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!
Weight: 3.04 lbs or 1,378 g (peak and visor installed)
Safety: ECE 22.05 and DOT certification
Sizing: XS to 3XL
A lightweight in the ADV segment at just 1.38 kg (3.04 lbs), the LS2 Explorer Carbon’s shell is made entirely out of 6K grade carbon fiber. This is a flexible but very strong weave of carbon fiber of the same type that they make aircraft wings from, so you can rest assured that it is more than up to the job of protecting your head.
Adding to the benefits of the Explorer Carbon is the oversize, removable visor over an ultra-wide eye port that gives excellent peripheral vision. It will also accept almost any size off-road goggles you may have. The visor itself is 99% optically correct, UV blocking, and is of ballistic A-grade polycarbonate that will prevent gravel or road debris from penetrating. A drop-down sunshield keeps the sun out of your eyes, and a pinlock max in the box is the cherry on top of the excellent vision offered by this ADV helmet.
Ventilation is excellent with multiple front intakes, including adjustable crown and chin vents, flowing through multiple channels in the EPS foam inside the shell. Air is pulled out the back of the helmet by multiple exhausts.
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),
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 articles I previously wrote to tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about them. Three Adventure Helmet Showdown.
Now then, what else is out there you might ask? Suppose you want something different or Modular at this price point?
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 (read the review here!) 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!
Coming at some future time I hope, but no one has yet been able to test one from what my searches reveal.
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.