Snowmobile Helmet Vs. ATV Helmet – Can You Interchange Them?

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by ATVNotes

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Helmets are the crucial head gears for powersports. Snowmobile and ATV helmets are no exception, but the question arises, can you use them interchangeably? Yes, you can, as the helmets serve the same fundamental purpose -offering safety. 

But doing so is not the best idea as they differ in several aspects. The pronounced differences between a snowmobile and an ATV helmet lie in ventilation incorporation, weight, insulation, and shape. 

This snowmobile helmet vs. ATV helmet argument will go in-depth into the comparison to show the differences more vividly. Hopefully, this can give you a loud and clear message about whether you can swap one with the other. 

We know that safety always is the common top priority for both helmets. Now, let’s examine where and how they differ alongside other related ideas. Knowing what snowmobile and ATV helmets are would be a wise start. 

Snowmobile Helmet 

A snowmobile helmet, made with durable polycarbonate shells offering excellent protection against impact, is an off-road headgear explicitly designed for people who ride snowmobiles. It is an essential safety gear that protects riders from head injuries in accidents or crashes.

Snowmobile helmets come in different styles and designs, but they all have a few common features that make them unique.

On top of offering safety, the most important purpose of a snowmobile helmet is to keep the rider warm while out on cold, snowy terrains. For this reason, the snowmobile helmet’s ventilation system allows reduced airflow to keep cold air influx minimal. 

Snowmobile helmets tend to be heavier than other off-road helmets because thicker foam padding and a more significant inner layer of insulation add to their overall weight. Additionally, many snowmobile helmets also come with built-in visors(heated) or goggles that help protect riders’ eyes from snow and glare, which can also contribute to their weight.

ATV Helmet

An ATV helmet is a headgear designed to protect the head of an ATV rider engaged in off-road riding activities. It is made from highly durable materials like polycarbonate or fiberglass, which can withstand impact and prevent serious head injuries.

The helmet has a hard outer shell that covers the entire head and a soft inner lining that provides comfort and absorbs sweat.

The design of an ATV helmet includes ventilation holes for added airflow, visors and peaks to shield the rider’s eyes from sun glare, dust, and rain, and a beefy chin guard to offer added protection against falls and crashes. ATV helmets tend to be lighter weight compared to snowmobile helmets.

Snowmobile vs. ATV helmet

Key Differences between a Snowmobile and ATV Helmet

Since you have already gone through the definition of each helmet, you have felt the key differences the snowmobile vs. ATV helmet debate will shed more light on. Here you go.

1. Helmet Type and Shape

Snowmobile and ATV helmets are designed to protect the rider’s head from impact during an accident but they differ in shape. Snowmobile helmets have an angular shape in a full-face design that includes a visor and breath box to protect the rider’s face from cold weather and wind. The full-face helmet also reduces noise levels for the rider, allowing them to focus on their surroundings.

On the other hand, ATV helmets come in various designs, including open-face or half-helmets. These types of helmets offer more ventilation than snowmobile helmets, as ATVs are typically used in warmer weather conditions. However, some ATV riders prefer full-face helmets for added protection.

When choosing between a snowmobile or ATV helmet, it is essential to consider your riding environment and personal preferences. Snowmobilers will need a helmet that offers warmth and wind protection, while ATV riders may opt for something with more ventilation.

Yes, they may differ in type and shape but snug fit and accurate size for ATV helmet and that of the Snowmobile is a must to ensure safety and comfort.

2. Padding and In-layer

One of the main differences between a snowmobile and an ATV helmet is their padding. Snowmobile helmets often come with thicker padding to help keep your head and face area warm during cold winter rides. In contrast, ATV helmets may have less padding as they are mainly used during warmer months when temperatures are not as extreme.

Another difference is in their in-layers. Snowmobile helmets typically have an extra layer of insulation to provide additional warmth and protection against wind and moisture. On the other hand, ATV helmets focus more on impact protection, with a stronger outer shell and a shock-absorbing inner liner designed to protect riders from potential impacts.

2. Weight

While both snowmobile and ATV helmets serve the same purpose of protecting riders’ heads during outdoor adventures, they differ in terms of weight due to unique design features tailored toward specific activities. 

ATV helmets tend to be lighter than snowmobile helmets because the former is designed with less padding and insulation. This design choice makes them more suitable for long hours of riding without straining your neck.

On the other hand, snowmobile helmets are generally bulkier and heavier due to their protective features, such as chin guards and extra padding around the head area. These features offer additional protection against potential impacts, which can be more common during high-speed activities like snowmobiling.

2. Terrain the Helmet Used for

Snowmobile helmets differ from ATV helmets regarding the terrain for which they are worn. To put this into perspective, the snowmobile helmet is worn when riding on ice or snowy terrains.

On the other hand, the ATV helmet is worn on nearly all terrains. For instance, you can wear the ATV helmet on dusty, muddy, rocky, ice, and light snow terrain.

So, if they share the common benefit of offering safety, they differ in the type and act of vents – the ATV helmet lets hot air go out while the snowmobile helmet ensures cold air cannot let in.

Photo by Zab Consulting on Unsplash

3. Single pane shield Vs. Dual pane shield

When it comes to ATV helmets, they are purposely meant to offer much-needed protection from impact in the event of a crash landing. Therefore, this helmet ought to be harder and even more impact-resistant.

Here a single, hardened pane shield can suffice to block any intrusion in the form of the lash of tree branches and tall off-road grass, mud, and debris slung by the ATV back wheels running in your front. 

On the other hand, the snowmobile helmet must protect your head from impact and keep cold air at bay. Therefore, a single pane shield for this helmet will not do the needful.

So, it comes with a dual-pane shield to keep the rider warm by barring surrounding cold intrusion. The two panes help to reduce the fogging effect to the bare minimum during the cold season.

It is imperative to note that there is a thin layer of gas between these two panes that help prevent any form of heat transfer. Compared to the snowmobile helmet, the ATV helmet with only a single pane shield is not ideal for the winter season.

4. Availability of Breath guard

First and foremost, the breath guard helps prevent condensation on the shield caused by the breath from your mouth and nose. Thus, the air you breathe out will be redirected to the lower part of the helmet. This feature is typically prevalent in snowmobile helmets rather than ATV helmets.

5. Purpose of ventilation systems

Both snowmobile helmets and ATV helmets are ventilated. However, the degree and purpose of the ventilation system differ. For example, if you are snowmobiling, the chances of moisture buildup are very high. The situation can be worse during the winter season.

This is the reason why you need to have a helmet that is well-insulated and has narrower vents. If your helmet is well insulated, it will no longer become uncomfortable and sticky even after snowmobiling for a long in the icy cold terrain.

On the other hand, the ATV helmet needs to be well-ventilated, and the vents here are meant to allow airflow inside and keep the helmet cool, as the temperatures can escalate when motocrossing.

If the temperatures inside the helmet get too hot, you might get uncomfortable riding your ATV for longer distances. Thankfully, the ventilation system for the ATV helmet comes in handy for that purpose.

6. Availability of a face shield

Some snowmobile helmets come with a face shield and still allow the rider to wear a pair of goggles. Besides this, some models come with an electric lens that allows you to maintain your lens at a specific temperature. The ATV helmets are different as they come with a peak.

Now a day, you may find an ATV helmet with a visor and peak together, but the common feature is the peak. In addition, unlike the snowmobile helmet, its ATV counterpart does not have an electric visor.


What sort of helmet is best for snowmobiling?

Consider investing in a full-face snowmobile helmet to reap the most and best of your snowmobiling. Thus, you can ensure that your whole head is covered. Such a helmet is ideal when one is riding during the winter season. Your head will remain safe from the collision and warm for the entire riding session.

Can I use a motorcycle helmet on a snowmobile?

Well, if you do not have any other alternative, you can use a motorcycle helmet for snowmobiling. However, the motorcycle helmet is not meant for snowmobiling; it only comes with features to ensure the rider is safe and warm on a snow or ice trail.

Therefore, you might have only to snowmobile for shorter distances and look out for the snowmobile helmet instead. The same answer will come out from motorcycle vs ATV helmet argument as they also cannot be swapped.

What should you not wear while snowmobiling?

When snowmobiling, you should avoid wearing jackets, pants, or bibs made from cotton material. This is because these clothes can get saturated by water whenever there is a freeze or snow. Instead, consider wearing waterproof clothes. Better still, clothes made from synthetic material can work magic for you.

Is snowmobile helmet DOT approved?

Yes. A snowmobile helmet is DOT approved. All snowmobile helmets should have a DOT standard. As far as these standards are concerned, they are set by the Federal Government’s Department of Transport. Each helmet has to meet these standards so that it can be deemed to be DOT certified.

ATV Riding

Can you use a snowmobile helmet for ATV riding?

By now, it is clear that snowmobile helmets and ATV helmets are way different. From how they are designed to their purpose, they differ a lot to distinguish these helmets easily.

If you are both an ATV rider and snowmobiler and planning to invest in any of these helmets, consider the differences in this snowmobile helmet vs. ATV helmet discussion to avoid making the blunder of thinking that they may reciprocate each other. 

You do not need an open-face helmet instead of a double pane shield during snowmobiling, as the weather might be too cold. Conversely, instead of using a thickly padded and heavily insulated snowmobile helmet for ATV riding, consider investing in a well-ventilated ATV helmet, as ATV riding is primarily done in summer.

Thus, you can get the most out of your off-road riding expedition. And so, choose and invest in the helmet that answers your needs best and get the value for your hard-earned money.

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