How to Measure Your Head for a Helmet

So you’re planning on getting some protective headgear for electric skateboarding, biking, motorbiking, snowboarding, skiing, roller-skating, or whatever outdoor activity you’re passionate about. But you’ve learned that wearing a poorly fitting helmet can end in disaster. That’s why you want to learn how to measure your head for a helmet.

In this helmet sizing guide, I’ll show you how to properly measure your melon so you can choose a perfectly fitting helmet no matter your head shape. I’ll show you how to select a brain bucket that sits nice and snug on your noggin, refusing to roll off your head in a crash.

But before you dive any deeper into this post, ponder these two incorrect helmet use statistics. These numbers came from a European-based motorcycle accidents study that involved 900 participants:

1.Of the 900 participants (motorcyclists) in the study, 9.1 percent (81.9) hit their head because the helmet came off of the rider’s head for some reason.

2. 58 of those 82 riders had the helmet roll of their head because they’d not fastened the chinstraps or had removed the retention system for whatever reason.

Why Proper Helmet Fitment Matters

Did you know that 71 percent of motorcycle riders don’t get their helmet sizing right? That’s what more recent research covering 598 participants found.

Wearing a helmet is critical to your protection and safety while you’re flying out there on whatever device you ride. But if you wear/fit the brain bucket wrong, you’ll end up significantly reducing its ability to protect your head during an accident or crash.

A properly fitting helmet sits comfortably on the crown and maximizes protection and safety. Such a helmet has a strong and durable retention system that holds your helmet securely on your melon. Additionally, proper helmet fitment results in reduced noise while riding.

Obviously, you want to enjoy every benefit that emanates from a comfortably fitting helmet. And that’s why you’re here — to learn how to measure your head for a helmet.


How Do You Measure Your Head for a Helmet?

First off, understand that measuring your head circumference to size a helmet should be done the same way regardless of the helmet’s intended use. Whether the helmet you want to measure for is for biking, skating, snowboarding, wakeboarding, or whatever other use,  size it the same way.

Now, let’s get into how to measure your noggin for proper helmet fitment. Follow the head circumference measurement process below and you’ll easily select the correct helmet size each time. Also, make sure to apply the rest of the helmet fitment tips I provide a little further down the road.

Here is….

How to Measure the Circumference of Your Head

how to size a helmet
Image Source: Revzilla: A person measuring the head circumference of another person for helmet sizing

Get a cloth-style tape, one that’s soft and flexible and with clearly marked measurements. Next, lay the tape flat all around your head, measuring its widest portion. I strongly recommend that you request someone to help you measure your head.

How do I know I’m measuring my head around the widest portion in its circumference? What’s the widest portion of the head? For pretty much everyone, the widest portion of the head exists about 1″ above the eyebrows.

So, have your friend or whoever is helping you lay the tape measure from the middle of your forehead. Then, have them pass the soft, flexible tape to one side of your head, proceed to the back of the head, and finish right where they started.

To increase the odds of getting it right, have the measuring done at least twice. Have the person move the tape up and down slightly in the back of your head to make sure they’re measuring the widest portion of the head.


Cross-reference the Results with the Helmet Model’s Size Chart

Now that you’ve measured your head and done it correctly, it’s time to see the helmet size range where your head sits. Most companies typically provide their helmets in these sizes: S/XS, S/M, L/XL, and XL/XXL. However, some companies present their helmet sizes as XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL instead of size ranges.

For that reason, it’s vitally important to use the size chart of the specific helmet model you’re sizing. Here’s a helmet size chart from Evolution Helmets.

What if I’m between two helmet sizes? In this case, it’s best to size down first. Then, wear the helmet and see how its fit feels. If it’s too tight and squeezes the crap out of your head, definitely go to the next helmet size up. You’d rather have a helmet that squeezes your head but stays on instead of one that’s too loose it floats on your head.

How to Test If Your Helmet Fits You Properly

How do I know that my helmet fits me well? If you’ve worn your motorcycle helmet or whichever helmet it is properly, it should feel comfortable. You shouldn’t experience any kind of discomfort anywhere on the head. Plus, there shouldn’t be any pressure points, gaps, or too much movement. The right fit feels comfortable and snug — it’s neither too loose nor too tight.

Here’s how to know if your motorcycle helmet or any other kind of helmet fits properly. Put your helmet on with a front-to-back motion. Then, fasten the helmet on your head using the chinstrap and its buckle so that the helmet stays securely on the head. The chin strap should fit snugly against your chin, and it shouldn’t cause chin-bite.

Then, try fitting the index and middle fingers between the helmet’s liner and the forehead. Repeat this process for the chinstrap. If you can slide your two fingers in with ease, you don’t have the right helmet fit.

Next, hold the front of your helmet around the mouth/nose area and try to take the helmet off by giving it a front-to-rear rotation. If the helmet moves up way too much, it’s definitely too big for your head.

Then, reach behind your helmet and try to give it an upward push, as though you’re attempting to remove it. If it feels like your helmet would easily come off of your head, you certainly need a smaller helmet.

Next, hold your brain bucket on the chin area and give it a side-to-side shove. If the helmet moves way too easily, the fit sure needs improvement.

Finally, perform this visual helmet fitment test. Note where your eyes sit within the helmet’s viewport. You could use a mirror for this visual test.

Ideally, your eyes should be positioned someplace in the center of the helmet’s viewport rather than either too high or too low. If your eyes sit nearer the top of the viewport, it means the helmet is too loose. And that basically means the helmet is too large.

Using Cheek Pads for Fit Adjustment

For the most part, fastening the chinstrap securely on your chin should be enough to create a snug fit. And if your helmet comes with a fit adjustment dial on the rear, adjusting for a custom fit becomes even easier.

But sometimes, you need cheek pads to tweak the fit even better. Well-fitting Cheek pads can help minimize noise while also reducing buffeting significantly.

The best cheek pads for a motorcycle helmet or any helmet type provide a snug fit around your face in general and cheekbones in particular.

So, how do you know your cheek pads fit right? It’s easy — put on your helmet and try to say something. What happened? If it felt like the fit pads exerted a certain amount of inward pressure on your cheeks, that’s a good sign.

It should feel like the fit pads are trying to squeeze your cheeks. However, the pressure shouldn’t be overwhelming to the point you can’t speak anymore. But before you decide if using these pads actually helped, make sure to break them in first.

How Do I know My Helmet is Too Small?

If you have difficulty when putting your helmet on your head, chances are that your helmet is too small. If you slide a smaller-than-your-size helmet on your head, you’ll likely experience immediate pressure points. And all too often, a helmet that’s too snug causes red marks on the forehead, and sometimes headaches.

While your helmet should fit your head snugly, it should also move just a little bit. I mean, you need to be comfortable during rides, right? Plus, if it’s too tight, that can increase the odds of your head getting jerked in a motorcycle crash.

But what do you do if your helmet feels too snug? Sometimes, the best thing to do is to return the helmet and get something a little larger instead. Another practical (no guarantee it’ll work for you) helmet fitment solution for a too-snug fit is swapping out thicker pads for thinner pads.

Some helmet manufacturers provide motorcycle riders, skateboarders, and other kinds of riders with two sets of fit pads. One of the fit pads comes thicker than the other and in most cases, the thinner fit pads come installed in the helmet. Obviously, you can’t remove the thinner pads and use the thicker pads instead when your helmet feels too tight already.

How Do I Know My Helmet is too Big?

So, how do you know the helmet on your head is too big and might probably come off of your head at the most critical moment? If sliding your helmet on your noggin feels almost effortless, the chances are that helmet is too big.

Also, if it generally feels like there’s way too much room inside your helmet, you certainly need a smaller sized helmet. And if the gap between your crown and helmet liner is too big, that helmet is likely too large for you.

Head Shape is Critical to Helmet Fitment

Have you ever asked why two people with the same head size say different things about how well their helmet fit their melon? You’d expect helmets for the same head size to fit the same way, but that’s not always the case.

Head shape often throws a wrench in the works, further complicating helmet fitment. According to helmet fitment experts, head shape is one of most important factors to consider when choosing a helmet.

How to Determine Your Head shape for Helmet Fitment

According to Revzilla, riders fit into one of three head shapes namely round oval, long oval, or intermediate oval. If you want to end up with the perfect fit, first know your head shape and then match it with a compatible helmet shape.

head shapes for a helmet
Image Source: Revzilla. A visual for all 3 types of head shapes. Learn how to figure out your head shape and dramatically increase your chances of choosing a fitting helmet.

To determine your head shape, push your hair down with your hands, making it lie closer to the crown. If you feel there’s just too much hair on your noggin, schedule a visit with your barber and get a nice haircut. Too much hair on your head can make your head shape seem a little different than what it is.

With your hair lying as flat as possible on your head, ask your riding buddy or your significant other to take a clean photo of your head. The best way to take that photo is to have you sit on the carpet or wherever and have them shoot the photo from the top. Next, look at what the camera got to determine if your head is any of the three shapes mentioned above.

What’s the most common head shape seen in the United States? Most riders (and non-riders of course) in the U.S. tend to have the intermediate oval head shape. I bet that’s the head shape you saw in the pic?

How to Fit or Size a Helmet Right: Final Thought

Not wearing a helmet when riding your motorcycle or anything else that rolls on wheels makes you look like a person with a death wish. You should always helmet your head up before you ride out into what should be endless fun. But wearing your helmet wrong or not fitting it right can be as bad as not wearing any protection.

It’s not uncommon for a helmet to roll off of its wearer’s head, leaving the head vulnerably exposed to all kinds of head and brain injuries. Mastering helmet fitment is critical to ensuring your headgear stays put at all times during rides.

But before you buy a motorcycle helmet, a bike helmet, or a skateboarding helmet online or from a helmet shop, first figure out your head shape. Some helmets work better for a specific head shape than they do for a different head shape.

So, know your head shape, choose the right helmet size, and ALWAYS pick up a properly certified helmet. The Triple Eight Gotham Certified or the Gotham MIPS Helmet are two examples of highly protective helmets that fit round oval heads perfectly. Want to see other Triple Eights? Read: Triple Eight Helmet Reviews.