Wearing a helmet while flying is really important. Pilots have been dragged by their wings, picked up by strong wind, dropped onto rocks, and propellers have struck heads. Whether you're paragliding, or paramotoring, a helmet is essential, and you should never fly without one.
A helmet is also important for ground handling. When you're unfamiliar with how the wing will react, and how to quickly deflate the wing, it's highly likely that you'll trip, or even get pulled off your feet by it. Many injuries, and even fatalities have happened during ground handling, so this is essential.
Cheap paragliding and paramotor helmets
Later on we'll get to EN certification for helmets being used for air sports. Bare in mind that cheap helmets will not have this certification.
As soon as the words "paramotor" or "paragliding" is added to a helmet, the price can quadruple. This may be because the helmet has to undergo strict tests, and is therefore much stronger and safer; so take this into consideration when buying cheaper helmets.
If you do decide you would like a cheap helmet, look at mountain biking, or skating helmets. These helmets are really tough and are designed to take a whack into concrete, so they are perfectly suited to ground handling.
You can also fly with these helmets. Take YouTuber and paramotor pilot Tucker Gott for example, he uses the mountain biking helmet that you can see here on Amazon > PPG helmet.
Check out the video down below to find out how to build your own paramotor helmet using a Bern helmet. If you want to build the same helmet you can get it on Amazon HERE.
If you choose to fly a paramotor with a mountain biking helmet, you will also need to think about ear protection. Having a noisy engine just a few inches from your head will destroy your hearing in no time. So look for a pair of ear muffs that will attach to the helmet, like these on Amazon > Ear Protection.
When your ear protection is added, you'll be ready to fly. But you can also add radio communications to talk to other pilots. By far the most popular with pilots is Bluetooth communication systems. The Sena 10R is highly recommended , and you can find out about it in my recommended gear section HERE.
This setup is fantastic, and it proves that you really don't need to spend massive amounts of money to get a good paragliding or paramotor helmet. But you are missing out on EN certification!
If you're planning on building the helmet in the video, bare in mind that cutting the helmet to add ear cups may impact its structural integrity. You'll also remove any certification the helmet has passed.
Ready to fly paramotor helmets with radio communications
These helmets are based on the design we just spoke about. They use a basic mountain bike style helmet, with clip on noise cancelling ear muffs. They are ready fitted with a SENA Bluetooth Two-Way radio radio communication system, so you can communicate with other pilots and local air traffic. And they also have a sun visor to protect your eyes during those late sunset flights, when the sun is very low on the horizon.
I wouldn't recommend these for ground handling because of the extra weight. When you're ground handling you also use a lot of energy, and you will get very hot; if you have ear muffs on you will get even hotter, I've tried it and it's not nice! You could solve this problem by removing all of the accessories until you're ready.
Check this helmet out on Amazon > HERE
Purpose built paramotor helmets
As I mentioned earlier, as soon as the helmet is aimed specifically at our sport, you can expect to pay a lot more. Helmets like the Icaro skyrider pictured above aren't cheap, but you are getting an incredibly good product.
They're fully certified for airborne sports and come with the EN 966 certificate. Most cheaper helmets will not include certification, so although they're more expensive, you're getting this important extra, which does give you a little more confidence in the helmet.
THIS LINK will take you to the Icaro Skyrider TZ which comes with the Sena Tufftalk radio communication device already fitted. Sena Tufftalk lets you talk with up to 4 Tufftalk devices over Bluetooth intercom, up to 1.4 km away. You can even listen to music as you fly!
It's specially designed to be used in noisy environments, so it's perfectly suited to paramotoring. You'll be able to communicate in crystal-clear HD audio, without hearing the background noise generated by wind or the engine.
Tufftalk also lets you connect to any external two-way radio. This means you can plug it straight in, and you won't need special adaptors like you do with many radios and headsets
Paragliding, hang gliding, and speed flying helmets
Paragliding, hangliding, and speed flying helmets don't require ear protection, but if you need radio communications, it's best to choose one of the previous helmets.
The Icaro Nerve helmet pictured above is a very popular choice amongst pilots. The sun visor will protect your eyes from the glare of the sun while looking up at pilots thermalling above you. And the removable ear covers will stop the chill when the temperature drops at higher altitudes.
The helmet has passed the hard penetration test for airborne sports, and achieved the EN 966 certification for your peace of mind. Icaro helmets were designed and built specifically to be as light as possible, however they still optimize safety for hang glider, paraglider and speed flying pilots.
You can take a look at the helmet and find out more information > HERE.
The best all-rounder
The last helmet I'm going to recommend is the helmet I'm currently using for paramotoring. It's perfectly suited as an all-rounder, so it can be used for anything from paramotoring, to ultralight flying.
The helmet got its name 'Solar X' as it was chosen by the pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, which is a Swiss long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft project.
The helmet is very comfortable, solid and reliable, and has passed the rigorous EN 966 tests, and comes with certification for your confidence. It comes with a wind visor, which is removable, and you can also remove the ear muffs for paragliding, or ground handling.
You can check out the helmet HERE
Choosing your helmet
It's unlikely that you'll find a helmet for air sports in the local shops, so buying online will be your only option. Unless you can find dealers local to you who keep them in stock.
When you're ready to choose your helmet, you'll need to measure your head correctly. To find your correct helmet size, wrap a flexible tape measure around the largest part of your head. This will be just above the ears, and about half an inch above the eyebrows for most people.
If you don't have a flexible tape measure, you can use a piece of string, and then measure the length of the string with a straight edge ruler.
When you have the correct measurement, you will have to look at the manufacturers size chart. Don't buy a medium just because you used a medium helmet in the past, because all sizes can very between manufacturers.
When the helmet turns up, make sure that it's a nice snug fit. You don't want it so tight that it's uncomfortable, but you don't want it flopping around on top of your head. A general rule is if the helmet leaves your head as you jump up and down, it's too loose.
You can also tighten the chin strap to a point where it's comfortable, grab the helmet with both hands, and try to move it forwards and backwards, and side to side. Make sure that there is no movement, and if it slides around at all, you'll need a smaller size.
If you find the helmet is too loose, send it back. Don't risk using a loose fitting helmet, as a crash can be just as bad as wearing no helmet at all.
EN helmet certification
We've mentioned certifications on some of these helmets. The EN 966 certification shows you that the helmet has undergone strict tests, meant specifically for airborne sports.
These tests include:
shock absorption, where the helmet is dropped from a set height.
Penetration, where a sharp striker is dropped from a set height onto the helmet fitted to a fixed headform.
Design Requirements, where the helmet has to meet a certain area of coverage, and field of vision requirements. They will also cover a number of safety-based requirements, which include clearance between the head and the shell of the helmet.
Retention system, which is where the chin strap has to meet a number of requirements, and pass certain tests, to make sure it will stay secure in the event of an accident. Helmets will undergo a shock load test which is applied to the front and rear of the helmet in an attempt to pull the helmet off the headform.
With all of this in mind, I personally always look for the EN 966 rating when buying a paramotor helmet. It may not be as crucial for ground handling, but bare in mind that some nasty accidents have happened while on the ground. So it may be advisable to still find a certified helmet, even if it's not as strictly tested as an EN 966 certified helmet.
With everything you've learned in this post, you should be able to find a great helmet. When you have your paramotor helmet, check out some more essential equipment HERE