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Is there any data or official (e.g. standards-based) information on the effects of wearing a liner, bandana, or other hat under a helmet?

Like many riders, I wear "headsweats" in the summer for sun protection, and a wool beanie in the winter to keep warm. Both seem thin enough that they ought not compromise the performance of the helmet in a crash. But is there any data on this, or any official recommendation on what kinds of liners or hats can safely be worn inside a helmet, or how best to wear them?

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If an bandana is going to render a helmet ineffective, what does hair do? –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 29 '11 at 18:49
    
@Daniel: Fortunately, there's none of that to worry about. –  2u2 Sep 29 '11 at 18:53
    
@Daniel: put that in an answer! +1 –  heltonbiker Sep 29 '11 at 19:33
    
@heltonbiker - Ah no. That'll be flagged as "not an answer", likely within hours. –  Neil Fein Sep 29 '11 at 19:42
    
@DanielRHicks, that's why I cut my hair off regularly - to be safe with my helmet. No. –  Vorac Nov 22 '13 at 10:06

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I've never heard of sweatbands, bandana's, or caps being problematic. Curious about what prompts the question?

The only thing remotely similar that I have heard IS a potential issue is plastic sun-visors attached to helmets. Apparently these things can come loose in a crash and scratch/poke the face.

But linings? No way.

Here's a summary of what is involved in the helmet testing used to certify helmets for CPSC, ANSI or Snell compliance. Any issue related to hair or lining would conceivably be addressed by a "rolloff" test. However, in testing the helmet is merely strapped to a form that represents a head size. The standards have no indication related to what's under the helmet other than the size of the form (to test different size helmets). More complete description of testing here.

If there is any design or safety accommodation for lining under a helmet, it would probably be addressed by the individual manufacturers, but I've never heard such a thing mentioned except that some helmets are better with ponytails.

That said, linings of some form or another have been used widely since helmets have started to be worn. I'd like to know if anybody has heard of any real mishap related to linings under helmets. I suspect there is none.

oh... looking further on the bhsi.org, I see there is an article on hair and helmets.

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I can't imagine what the problem would be either, but I wondered whether there was any data to back up that assumption. For example, under what kinds of cap or hair configurations are helmet performance tests conducted; what are the recommendations of the standards bodies and manufactures regarding hair or hats? –  2u2 Sep 29 '11 at 21:39
    
Well, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, linked above, says that it's not a problem, so long as the helmet is properly sized and adjusted. –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 30 '11 at 0:17

It should not. Having extra hair on your head vs a wearing an extra thin layer of clothing should not impact the safety any differently. Wearing a cap (like baseball cap) might impact safety. It could potentially prevent the helmet from taking on a natural position and be tilted backwards slightly.

More importantly, you should ensure that you are wearing a helmet of the correct size, the correct way and it's not already damaged from a previous crash. Helmets need to be replaced after any serious crash in general.

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