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!
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 without 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 skateboarding is probably a dual-density liner with a layer of less-dense foam. Or Expanded PolyPropylene (EPP) that looks like bike helmet foam, but recovers for the next hit. Other liner materials are available now, some better than foam. Some helmets have a layer inside like MIPS, possibly reducing concussion-level energy.
The helmet must stay on your head. It's not a hat, just sitting there. It can 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
The 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 tested 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 after some good hits 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 inside!
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
BHSI is a bicycle helmet advocacy program whose volunteers provide helmet information and work on the ASTM national helmet standard committee. 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 website where you found this page is at www.helmets.org. You can contact us by
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 BHSI. Thanks!
Copyright 2022 by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
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 a word program or 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!