Best Hard Hat Buying Guide – Ensure Your Safety

It’s the rule of thumb that the best hard hat must simultaneously be the most comfortable hard hat. Most people hate wearing hard hats because they make bad decisions and end up with low-quality products that feel like concrete on one’s head.

When you want to buy a construction hard hat, there are many aspects you must take into consideration to make sure you’ve got a great deal out of it. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t know these factors. A lot of workers don’t, at least those who aren’t that experienced.

If you have problems with choosing your best hard hat, then don’t go anywhere. I’ll be your counselor in the remainder of this brief handbook on hard hats and everything that pertains to them.

*Notice: On mobile devices, scroll right to see entire table.

Product Name

Our Rating

Prices

One Of The Most Popular Hard Hats

MSA Skullgard

The 2nd Best Hard Hat

MSA Slotted V-Gard

The Company’s Best

Pyramex Ridgeline

The Cheapest Alternative

Safety Works V-Gard

The Power Of Polyethylene

Pyramex Cap Style

Why Is It So Important To Choose A Hard Hat Carefully

Hard hats are designed to absorb the force of the impact when something hits a worker in the head. They are made with durable materials and endowed with suspensions that allow a certain distance between one’s top of the head and the bottom of the hard hat.

Couple Of Workers Wearing Hard Hat

As you might expect, not all hard hats are the same. Some are good, others not quite. You should know that there are many types of hats (you can go back to the previous article to see which those are).

If you work as a lineman, you will need a hard hat that protects against high voltages, a.k.a. a class E hard hat. A construction hard hat will leave you unprotected against current, which can be fatal.

The best hard hat must be the best for you, and it should be picked out according to the job you’re performing. You will have an ace up your sleeve when it comes to head injuries, so make no mistakes, especially when you’re working on a construction site.

What To Look When Selecting A Hard Hat

As mentioned previously, there are numerous factors that one has to consider in the process of selecting a hard hat. In those that follow, I will outline them for you. Read them carefully, in order to know what the strong points of a hard hat are.

Job And Work Environment

Your job is the decisive factor, period. Are you an electrician, construction worker or miner? What are the main hazards you’re exposed to during work? Is it flying debris, electrocution or rocks falling on you?

Man Working On Site

When you’re working with electricity to make a living, you will need an insulated hard hat that can absorb high voltages. Be careful: a class E hard hat doesn’t protect your entire body, just your head. You need to wear proper clothing.

Construction workers risk their lives every day. They can fall headfirst from scaffolds, they can be hit by tools, pieces of wood, iron, etc.

A good construction hard hat must be able to take in potentially lethal blows to the head. The crucial role in this case is played by the hard hat suspension.

The vast majority of people buy hard hats on impulse, no matter if they are suitable for their jobs or not. For your own sake, refrain from doing that. Safety is not something you should gamble on. Buy a hard hat that has been made specifically for your job.

Type And Class

You can find hard hats under Type I and Type II. The latter are considerably better, because unlike the Type I helmets, they offer lateral protection, as well, not only for the top of one’s head. But then again, it all boils down to your job.

Hard hats come in three classes: G, E and C. These letters stand for: general, electrical and conductive. What do they mean?

Hard Hat Type 1

General hard hats are the most common ones. Apart from offering protection against blows, they also have the ability to withstand up to 2.200 volts. Electrical hard hats are designed for people who work with electricity and can withstand up to 20.000 volts.

Conductive hard hats are used by individuals who work in environments with high temperatures. These are not recommended for use by electricians because they do not protect against electricity.

Quite from the contrary, they are usually made with aluminum. Needless to say, wearing such a hat when working with current can prove to be fatal.

Material

Nowadays, hard hats are usually made of:

  • Polyethylene
  • Aluminum
  • Fiberglass

The most common of these three is polyethylene, high-density polyethylene to be more precise. There’s a strong chance that more than 50% of all the hard hats you’ll get your hands on will be made of this material.

Anyway, all these materials are extremely durable and ensure unwavering protection. You’re all set with either of them.

Aluminium Hard Hat On Grey Background

Polyethylene makes the best lightweight hard hat, and so does fiberglass. Yes, it is very important for the hard hat to be lightweight, so it doesn’t bend your neck down.

Suspension Mechanism

It doesn’t matter if the suspension is ratchet, pinlock, touch or swing-ratchet, as long as it fits perfectly on your head. This is more a matter of personal taste. Some people may feel uncomfortable with a certain mechanism, while others may enjoy it.

Suspension Points

The suspension of a hard hat is as essential as the material and the type and class. If possible, purchase a hard hat with 6-point suspension. This is the best one, although you can easily find hard hat suspension with 4 points and 2 points, as well.

Why is suspension so important? Because it is thanks to it that you don’t take the full force of a blow in your cranium. The impact will be distributed evenly throughout the hard hat.

Flexibility

Most hard hats made today are flexible enough because this was one of the main objectives of the manufacturers throughout the years. You don’t want a hard hat to be too flexible. It wouldn’t offer much protection.

Adjusting Suspension On Hard Hat

Fiberglass, aluminum, and polyethylene are soft (but resistant) materials. Therefore, any of them will allow a certain degree of flexibility. Make sure you won’t keep your hard hat in sunlight because it is prone to becoming brittle. The best hard hat is by no means a flimsy one.

Accessories And Features

This actually depends on your job and work environment, too. If you work as a miner, for instance, you might want lights on your hard hat. If you work in a place where it’s always cold, you can equip your hard hat with cotton liners.

If you’re a welder, you will want – and you need – a frontal screen. Hard hat sweatbands can come in very handy for people who work in environments where it’s always hot, so they don’t get perspiration in their eyes.

Comfort

The best hard hat should be comfortable; there’s no doubt about it. If inexistent, this comfort can be ensured with liners. The suspension also plays its part in making the hard hat enjoyable.

Man With Hard Hat Sleeping

A 6-point suspension will make the hard hat a lot more comfortable because the weight will be distributed onto the bands. Anyway, using liners is the best way to make your hard hat cozy.

Adjustability

The adjustability of a hard hat is interconnected with the suspension mechanism. If your hard hat cannot be adjusted, you have a problem to solve. Don’t purchase a hard hat with a standard size and no adjusting mechanism.

That’s money down the drain. Adjustability is always ensured by any type of suspension mechanism, but low-quality brands retail hard hats that cannot be adjusted, at least not properly.

It doesn’t really help to buy the best full brim hard hat if it falls off your head and you have to stuff it.

Our Recommendations

Okay, we’ve seen what you have to take into consideration when you browse the Internet for the best hard hat out there. But does this make the choise any easier? Probably not.

Holding Hard Hat In Hand

As a worker on a construction site, I was faced with the same difficulty. Therefore, I know how to help.

I’ve chosen 5 of the best products for you to take a look at. At least one will definitely end up in your shopping cart. Check them out!

One Of The Most Popular Hard Hats – MSA Skullgard

MSA has a long history as a trustworthy provider of safety equipment. The company was established more than a century ago, which says a lot about its professionalism. One of their most famous models of hard hats is the Skullgard.

The greatest thing about this particular hat is that it is made with phenolic material, which is a type of resin. This is a lot sturdier than simple plastic and, at the same time, more flexible. The thing with plastic is that it is prone to being damaged quicker than other materials.

A simple blow in the hard hat can easily crack it, provided the plastic is not specifically hardened for protection purposes. Moreover, phenolic material is resistant to high temperatures, and that’s why this hard hat is a good choice for welders.

MSA 816651 Skullgard Protective Cap

OUR RATING

This Type I, Class G hard hat can be used in a variety of applications, from construction, mining, and agriculture to sand blasting and oil and gas, among others.

If you have a favorite type of suspension, then you’ll be happy to hear that the MSA Skullgard can be purchased with either of the three available types: swing-ratchet, pinlock and Fas-Trac III (an innovative one belonging to MSA). So far, this is indeed the best hard hat you can get for under $200.

Since it is a class G hard hat, you can use it if you work with electrical current under 2.200 volts. If the voltage is higher, please get a class E hard hat. Another great thing about the Skullgard is that it comes in two styles: cap (like a baseball cap) and hat.

All things considered, this is without a doubt the best hard hat you can purchase. I’ve had mine for more than half a year, and it’s still going strong.


The 2nd Best Hard Hat – MSA Slotted V-Gard

Protection, thy name is polyethylene. This is the best lightweight hard hat you can purchase for less than $70. Yes, that’s right, less.

Usually, the design of a hard hat doesn’t really matter because let’s face it – it’s not the drawing on it that keeps you safe from brain traumas.

However, this one is utterly amazing. You shouldn’t be surprised to see that the 2nd place is occupied by another MSA product. It just stands to show who the boss is in this industry. At least for the moment.

The MSA Slotted V-Gard is made out of polyethylene, so you’ll be protected, and it will feel comfortable on your head. The motif with the American flag looks stylish to say the least, especially when you see the embossments on the top.

MSA 10071157 Slotted V-Gard Polyethylene Hat On White Background

OUR RATING

I tested this cap on a construction site and let me tell you: it adjusts so easily! However, the owner complained a bit about the difficulty of installing the suspension. Apparently, it’s not pre-installed and it can take a while to get one’s mind around the system.

That didn’t quench my enjoyment at all. It feels really good on the head, and its size doesn’t make you look like you’re wearing a flying saucer. A quite innovative thing about this cap is that you can order it with earmuffs.

Workers need to be a little more concerned about the health of their ears. I know I do. If you need them, you can wear them, if not, nobody can tell you to. But it’s definitely good to know they’re there, just in case.

All of these factors make this helmet the best hard hat you can get for a pittance. It’s unbelievably cheap, but that doesn’t have an impact whatsoever on its quality. It has Fas-Trac suspension, as well, therefore you’ll be safe and comfortable concomitantly. I could not recommend it more.


The Company’s Best - Pyramex Ridgeline

Pyramex is one of those companies that don’t have any delays in getting at the top of the industry. Although not as known as MSA, the company has high chances of becoming even more famous than the former.

Let’s talk a little about their hard hat, Ridgeline. What strikes first is the beautiful graphite design. While it’s definitely not a good idea to wear it in sunlight (if it’s black), it makes it perfect for other applications. It just looks too cool.

The common problem with hard hats is that they are too heavy. Not this one. It’s surprisingly lightweight, even though it looks like it is not. The fact that it was made with high-density polyethylene should let you rest assured that you’ll be safe and sound on the site.

This cap can be purchased in a variety of 12 colors, and the suspensions can be easily replaced when needed. It has a ratchet suspension, which contributes to the comfortability factor.

Pyramex Ridgeline Hard Hat On Whtie Background

OUR RATING

This is the best evidence that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a hard hat. The Ridgeline costs less than $30 (believe it or not), but its quality is top-notch. You’re not missing on anything by purchasing it, trust me.

It also has a sweatband so that sweat won’t get in your eyes. We all know how painful and annoying that is.

The biggest perks of this model are its weight, the suspension and obviously, the price. The Pyramex Ridgeline pretty much sells itself, and the fact that the stock is almost empty at all times stands to show I’m not talking crazy.

It’s one of the best buys you can make, regardless of the industry you’re working in. Keep in mind that it’s a Type I helmet. Therefore, it won’t offer lateral protection.


The Cheapest Alternative - Safety Works V-Gard

One cannot say “price doesn’t reflect quality” enough. This Safety Works hard hat proves the point. People usually go for more expensive products thinking they are automatically better. That’s wrong on any possible level.

For under $20 bucks (you get a deal for a 5-pack), this helmet is every worker’s dream come true. Safety Works has definitely stepped up its game with this one. This V-Gard has a full brim, which is especially helpful when you work outside and it rains.

The full brim could be a problem, vision-wise, but Safety Works made sure this won’t happen. Therefore, the frontal brim is considerably shorter, so your vision is not compromised.

The helmet was made with polyethylene (what were the chances, right?) and features a fas-trac system of suspension. The suspension bands are made of nylon, which makes them more durable.

Safety Works V-Gard Hard Hat On White Background

OUR RATING

V-Gard fits perfectly on larger and smaller heads thanks to the adjustments that can be made to the suspensions. Do I need to say more to prove that this is the best hard hat, as well as the most comfortable hard hat out there?

Some people may find the white a little unpleasant, because it gets dirty easier, but considering the price, that should be the least of one’s concern. If you don’t have a huge budget, then this is the best choice you can make.

There are a lot of workers who sport this exact hard hat precisely because it is so affordable. Needless to say, that is its greatest advantage. Even though the price is low, you shouldn’t worry about the quality. It’s as good as it can get.

This is highly recommended. You can buy yourself ten pieces for the price you’d pay on just one. And again, the quality is not affected in any way whatsoever.


The Power Of Polyethylene - Pyramex Cap Style

There seems to be this misconception that polyethylene hard hats are more expensive than those made with other materials. Nope. They are not. This Pyramex hard hat is made of said material and doesn’t go over $15.

The best hard hat is usually the most affordable one. Although it’s nothing outside of the ordinary, this helmet does its job without any issues. It can be equipped with ear muffs and chin straps, to make it even more efficient than it already is.

A nice aspect about this is the water channel around it. Rain will discharge on the sides and the front of the hard hat. If you have any preferences concerning colors, this Cap Style can be purchased on blue, green, orange, red, yellow and white.

You might think that colors are not important, but if you read the previous article carefully, then you saw that colors serve a certain purpose, i.e. to say who is who on the construction site.

Yellow Pyramex Cap Style

OUR RATING

The Pyramex has a 4-point suspension with a snap lock system. This will ensure that it will fit on your head and will stay there, no matter how sudden your moves are. Cap Style is also great for hyperactive kids that bump their heads more often than not.

In fact, this model is primarily bought by parents who want to have their kids protected against head injuries. Of course, this doesn’t mean they are not good enough for construction workers, for instance.

Polyethylene is really durable, so even though this helmet might look like it, it’s certainly not a toy. Have no worry in the world. You will be protected and that’s a guarantee. All things considered, it’s an excellent buy. I might get myself a dozen of them, just to be on the safe side.


​Final Thoughts

The best hard hat must meet a multitude of requirements to get into this category. Hopefully, this guide has been of great help to you, as well as your coworkers. I’m well aware of the fact that this might not be enough for you to make a decision.

Because of that, I will make an in-depth review for each of the products I’ve mentioned in here. Go to the next section to read them all and get the hard hat you deserve!

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