The Two Minute Summary
- You always need a helmet when you board. You will crash eventually.
- Even a low-speed fall can scramble your brains.
- Laws in some states and skateboard parks require helmets.
- Buy a skateboard helmet for skateboarding, not a bicycle helmet. You will get better coverage and protection built for skateboarding.
- Skateboard helmets should meet the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard.
If you have six minutes, please read on!
Six Minutes More
Your brain is probably worth reading this!
What do you expect us to say? You need your brain to work so you can ride your skateboard, and don't just lie in bed and slobber the rest of your life. You don't know how hard pavement is until your head really hits it. If you do a wrist or an arm or a collarbone it heals while your life goes on, but the brain is different. Besides that, helmets may be the law in your area, and you can't use most skate parks with-out one.
What to Look For
A skateboard helmet softens the impact when the foam inside gives or crushes.
The hard shell on most skateboard helmets holds up under multi impacts. Bike helmets use thin plastic that breaks immediately the first time you hit hard.
The best interior foam for skateboard is probably Expanded PolyPropylene (EPP). It looks like bike helmet foam, but feels a little bit rubbery. Unlike bike helmet EPS foam, EPP recovers and is good for the next hit.
The helmet must stay on your head. It's not a hat, just sitting there. It will fly off while you are flying through the air. So it needs a strong strap and buckle. And you need to remember to fasten it.
Skateboard helmets are often black or a dark color. If you want to be seen on the street, get a bright color.
A sticker inside the helmet tells what standard it meets. True skateboard helmets meet ASTM F1492. Some "skate-style" helmets only meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Those are bike helmets, not skateboard helmets, even if they put a skateboard on the box.
How to Buy
SThe best skateboard helmets are "dual-certified" to both the ASTM and CPSC standards. For the latest list, check out www.helmets.org/dualcert.htm. Those helmets are designed for skateboarding and bicycling. But always look inside for the stickers that say they meet both CPSC and ASTM F1492 standards. Without the stickers, they don't meet both standards!
When to Replace a Helmet?
If you really have a skateboard helmet that meets the ASTM F1492 standard you don't need to replace it every time you crash, but someday you will. Bike helmets must be replaced after every crash. Replace the buckle if it cracks or a piece breaks off.
Skate Helmets for Biking?
Do not use a skate helmet for bicycling unless it has a CPSC bicycle helmet standard sticker in-side!
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
BHSI is the helmet advocacy program of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Our volunteers provide helmet information and work on the ASTM national helmet standard committee. In 1983 we published in Bicycling Magazine the first bicycle helmet article including actual lab test results (based on testing done for us by the Snell Foundation). We are funded by small consumer donations of about $12,000 a year. We do not accept funds from manufacturers or anyone involved in helmet sales.
BHSI is located at 4611 Seventh Street South, Arlington, VA 22204-1419, tel. 703-486-0100. Our Web server where you found this page is at www.helmets.org. You can contact us by
Our parent organization (WABA) is a local non-profit founded in 1972 to improve bicycling conditions in the Washington, DC area and encourage the use of bicycles for transportation. BHSI is an outgrowth of the WABA Helmet Committee, which began ride testing helmets in 1974. WABA has a Web page at www.waba.org.
This pamphlet was produced with donations from those who read it earlier. We welcome your tax-deductible donation to make it available to the next rider or parent who will need it. Checks can be made payable to WABA/BHSI. Thanks!
Copyright 2016 by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
A program of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association
Reproduction of this pamphlet for non-profit use is encouraged.
Links to this page are encouraged. We update frequently, so if
you put this page on your own server it will be quickly outdated!
This pamphlet is available here as a Word file or a .pdf format file. You can save it to disk,
print it out in Word, another word processor or any Acrobat reader and photocopy it for non-profit use. The Word file name is skate.doc and it was originally formatted for our HP Laserjet 4000 at 1200x1200 dpi. If it refuses to format correctly for your printer contact us by
email or at the postal address above and give us the postal mailing address where we can send you a paper copy to reproduce. We can't mail it on paper to your email address!
This page was updated or partially revised on: September 30, 2016.