As a rule of thumb, your helmet has a life span of 5 to 7 years. That's 5 years from the date the helmet starts having a head put in it and allowing a grace period of 2 years for shelf life from the manufacture's date.
Not sure how old your helmet is?
All new helmets are required to have a production date stamped on them. So if you can't find the date - it's definitely time for a new one.
Why should you get a new helmet?
There are multiple reasons why you should invest in a new helmet, but here are some of the key reasons:
- The helmet has 5 years or more of wear
- The helmet was subject to an impact
- The foam or strap system have become loose due to heavy use or display signs of deterioration
- There are indentations in the EPS liner and/or cracks can be seen on the surface, exposing the white shell.
- The comfort padding has been compressed due to heavy use and the helmet is now too loose. Your helmet should not move when on your head with the retention system fastened.
5 to 7 years is a manufacture's suggestion, no one is going to stop you on the roads and trails because your helmet is more than 5 years old. However, the reality is, our helmets are exposed to a multitude of abuses. They withstand extreme weather conditions, they are typically tossed into the back of our vehicles or trailers and they've been known to fall on the ground and get hit by tree branches from time to time. Heavy use and general wear and tear will cause the resins, glues, and foam padding, essential to the helmet’s protective function, to degrade over time.
We regularly upgrade other things in our day to day lives such as cell phones, computers, electronics etc. Why? Because they are constantly improving. Helmet do the same thing. Manufactures are constantly coming up with new ways to improve safety, comfort and performance.
Still not convinced? Ask yourself these questions....
Does my phone still take great pictures or is the newest model better? Time for an upgrade?
Does my ATV, Snowmachine or motorbike still perform as good as it did the day I bought it? Time for an upgrade?
Would I feel comfortable putting my myself or my loved one in my helmet? Do I trust that it will properly protect them/myself in the event of a crash? Time for an upgrade?
How about a little more convincing? Here’s the official statement found on the SNELL website:
“The five-year replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal "wear and tear" all contribute to helmet degradation. Petroleum based products present in cleaners, paints, fuels and other commonly encountered materials may also degrade materials used in many helmets possibly degrading performance. Additionally, experience indicates there will be a noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over a five-year period due to advances in materials, designs, production methods and the standards. Thus, the recommendation for five-year helmet replacement is a judgment call stemming from a prudent safety philosophy.”