Last updated June 9, 2024

Time to protect your brain. This is the number one most critical purpose of a skydiving helmet – it protects who you are. It might also keep your face pretty, under the right circumstances. In the plane, you are much less likely to get hurt if you hit turbulence and wack your head against the fuselage. Exiting the plane, especially with big groups, is another opportunity to have your head smacked into the door frame, or get kicked in the face by another skydiver. In freefall, you get some protection from head to head collisions. Finally, while landing, especially if you’re landing out or near obstacles, you get some added protection then, also. 

I’ve owned four of the helmets I’m about to discuss, and will give more detailed opinions about those helmets. I’m also going to have some helpful links at the bottom of this page. Like everything else in skydiving, it helps to collect a variety of informed opinions when making your decision, and I’ll help get you started with some different voices down below.

Decision Criteria

Let’s start the conversation with the level of protection you get from your helmets. At its simplest, there are two ways the protection is categorized… either your helmet is impact rated, or it isn’t. I’ve owned both and can confirm that an impact rated helmet has a lot more padding than their non-rated siblings. Do I still own a non-impact rated helmet? Yes I do. And I do fly it. Also, I intend to eventually replace it with a helmet that offers better protection. Look – it’s your brain. You can do what you want… but in a world where impact rated helmets are readily available, why wouldn’t you get the extra protection?

The next consideration is whether you want a face visor. Typically this is called an “full face” helmet, as opposed to an “open face” helmet. Even an impact rated open face helmet won’t protect you from someone kicking you in the face… and for that reason, I like flying my full face helmet with newer jumpers. Other reasons to wear a full face helmet include noise (it’s quieter behind the visor) and comfort (when it’s cold, a visor makes a huge difference). On the “open face” side, advantages include it being easier to remove in the event of an entanglement, and some people like to feel the wind on their face, too.

It’s worth noting that as a student, your drop zone may not allow you to jump with a full face helmet. Some DZs require open faced helmets until you complete AFF, some until you earn your license. If you do not yet have your license, ask your instructors what their rules are before you make an investment.

Last, you’ll have things like cost, appearance, fit, cut-away system availability, and whether you plan to attach a camera to your helmet. Those last two points go together. My open face helmet has a pretty tall camera on it (GoPro Max 360), which adds some entanglement risk. I chose the Cookie Fuel for that mount, and purchased the optional chin cup and cut-away system to go with it. I’ll also mention that some of the full faced helmets offer tinted visors, but don’t buy those. Part of how we communicate in freefall is with our eyes. I won’t allow a student to wear sunglasses or a tinted visor on a coach jump because I can’t tell what they’re looking at… and it makes a difference. 

This list is not exhaustive; rather it covers some of the most commonly worn helmets. I link to some resources at Chuting Star below that will give more information, and that cover more helmets. Unless otherwise stated, every entry on this list will hold two audible altimeters.

Full Face Helmets

Cookie G4 – let’s start with the most commonly purchased full-face helmet available today. The G4 improves on its younger sibling, the G3, in almost every way. It’s impact rated, covers more of your skull than the G3 did, and has improvements to its very easy to use visor opening system. The hinge springs are stainless steel and far less likely to need to be replaced over time. This is my primary helmet and I like it a lot. Detractors say it is too big, especially compared to the G3, but I’m not the type to dis a helmet because it’s better at protecting my head. It’s kind of why I bought it. The helmet comes in a variety of colors and can be further customized with hinge side plates and tinted visors. I believe strongly enough in impact rating that I do not review the G3 on this page, but if your brain isn’t worth an extra $65, then yeah, get a G3.

 

Tonfly TFX – a helmet made for speed. This is the second impact rated helmet I endorse. The TFX fits more snugly than the G4, and they had to make a double hinge system so the visor and the chin open, either together, or just the visor. It’s much easier to get in and out of a TFX than it is a G4, and the fit is more snug / less likely to move on your head. The fit is also more custom. with multiple shell sizes and a modular lining system to fit humans with head sizes of 54 to 61 cm in diameter. They also measure the circumference of your head around your chin, giving you further customization of the fit. There’s really nothing bad I can say about the TFX other than this: because they make it custom for you, it’s going to take a longer to receive the helmet.

Parasport ZX – another impact rated entry to this list… The Parasport ZX is also made in Italy. I haven’t actually seen this helmet in the wild yet. Looking at the pictures, the visor on this thing is huge, and I can’t imagine having any obstruction in its field of view. The manufacturer boasts of a hypoallergenic liner that can be removed for cleaning, and an easy to operate buckle for easy removal. The visor can be replaced with a tinted visor. The visor is UV filtering, and has its own impact rating. On paper, this looks like a solid option for your skydiving helmet.

Cookie G35 – This is Cookie’s attempt to have it all. Impact rated? No… but it covers more of your head than the G3 did, and has better padding, too. It also has a cut-away system for the top plate of the helmet, so if you mount a camera up there, you can get rid of it in the event on an entanglement. The G4 haters seem to like this helmet a lot. It’s gaining a lot of popularity as having the right mix of impact protection and entanglement mitigation. 

Bonehead Aero – I couldn’t find anything indicating that this helmet is impact rated. But if you want to be like Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible 6, this is the helmet he was wearing for the HALO jump. At this point, we might as well take a few minutes to geek out about that jump… if you haven’t seen the behind the scenes video, check it out. Ok – back? Great. My friend Trevor flies an Aero and he loves how tough it is, how it fits his big head, and the wide field of vision. The manufacturer also claims its lens is scratch resistant and that it’s easy to cut away in flight. They also offer some helmet-specific camera mounts.

‚ÄčKISS – Not impact rated. I briefly owned a KISS helmet when their price dropped at the beginning of the pandemic, but sold it later. The amount of padding in the helmet pales in comparison to the G4, and it didn’t feel like it would offer as much protection. Even doing a simple “put it on and bang on your own head with the palm of your hand” test left me unimpressed. Mounting audibles in a KISS helmet requires an additional purchase; you’ll need a side-plate designed for whatever audible you’re installing. Last, the visor opening mechanism is not as easy to use, especially if you wear gloves. My opinion: if the KISS is the only helmet you can afford, buy a Cookie M3 instead. You’ll save some money and have a superior helmet. Caveat: some people with long faces have told me this is the only helmet with a visor that fits them. I would point out the Tonfly TFX can be made to fit also, but that’s just me.

Open Face Helmets

Cookie M3 – The second impact rated helmet from Cookie on this list. The M3 was my first helmet, and I loved it right up to the day it got really cold in New England and I about froze my nose off during a jump. It’s a simple helmet, kind of old school in its appearance, but it gets the job done. It’s easy to remove in case of an emergency (squeeze the buckle and off it comes). The lining can be replaced if you wear it enough to make it skanky. It’s a good helmet and very affordable.

Cookie Fuel – Not impact rated. I own and fly a Fuel with a camera mount and the optional cut-away chin cup. The padding on this helmet is noticeably thinner than the M3. I chose the safety trade-off of being able to get rid of the helmet in an emergency rather than having the impact rating. I’d rather have both, but this is what I have for now. The Cookie Fuel has unique mounting options for cameras, including a side mount for video, audible altimeter covers that allow you to control your audible while it’s mounted in the helmet, and an optional flat plate for mounting larger cameras on top of the helmet. My system currently has a GoPro Max 360 mounted on the front plate with a custom 3D printed holder, but if you can dream it, you can mount it to a Cookie Fuel.

TonFly camera helmets – From what I can tell, these are the best camera helmets on the market. Tightly fitted and with a superior cut-away system. They’re also the most expensive camera helmets on the market. I’ll have a stronger opinion when I actually own one of these… which may be a while because I’m buying a new rig this year.

Learn More

 

As with all things skydiving, learn from more than one source. Here are some options – let me know if you know of something that should be included here.

Chuting Star offers a couple of resources; first a page comparing helmets and then the results of a customer survey about skydiving helmets.

Once again, Tony Bourke offers a breakdown on skydiving gear, including some thoughts on impact ratings.

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