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While welding looks cool with all those sparks flying, having proper protection is very important for such a high-risk job. Welding helmets not only protect your eyes but also your head and neck, as well. The right welding helmet allows you to see color better, helps your eyes adjust to different lighting, and is comfortable and lightweight. Whether you're just getting into welding or you're already well-experienced, there are plenty of options to help you find one for your needs.
We've researched the best welding helmets to keep safe during your next project. Read on for our top picks.
Best Overall: Lincoln Electric Welding Helmet, 3350 Series
Lincoln Electric is a highly trusted brand when it comes to welding equipment, and one of the best welding helmets you can buy today is its top-of-the-line Viking 3350 Series. This helmet weighs 3.2 pounds, and it boasts a large viewing area measuring 3.74 x 3.3 inches. Its variable shade lens adjusts from shade #5 to #13, and it also includes a grind mode.
This welding helmet is designed for greater comfort and an optimal fit, and it has several features that make it one of the best options out there. Its 4C Lens Technology improves visibility and reduces eye strain by minimizing the traditional lime green color you typically see in the view screen. It’s ideal for a variety of welding tasks, include Stick, MIG, and TIG welding. Plus, it has an impressive lens-switching speed of 1/25,000, four arc sensors, cheater lens compatibility, and increased battery life.
Best Budget: Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto Darkening Welding Helmet
Industrial-grade welding helmets can cost hundreds of dollars, but you can get the basic features you need from a budget option like the Antra AH6-260-0000 Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet. This lightweight helmet can be used for TIG, MIG, MMA, or plasma applications, and many reviewers say it’s just as good as expensive models.
This welding helmet from Antra is solar-powered, and it features a 3.86 x 1.73-inch viewing area. It weighs under 1 pound, and its four-sensor design ensures higher sensitivity. It has a lens-switching speed of 1/25,000, and there’s even a knob to adjust the delay time and sensitivity. The Antra Welding Helmet is cheater lens compatible and comes with six bonus exterior lens cover plates and one interior lens cover plate. Reviewers say this is a great helmet for the price, and it’s a perfect option for those just getting into welding.
Best High-End: 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100, 06-0100-30iSW, with ADF 9100XXi, 1 EA/Case
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line welding helmet, you can’t go wrong with the 3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100. This helmet provides professional-grade eye and face protection, as well as better visibility that will help you more readily recognize colors. Its lens features user-selectable dark shades including #5, #8, and #9 through #13, as well as a light shade of #3.
This 3M auto-darkening welding helmet has two memory modes that allow you to set individual settings for dark shade, light-to-dark switching sensitivity, and dark-to-light delay. The silver front panel houses external controls, giving you fast and easy access to both grinding and memory modes. The viewing area is 2.8 x 4.2 inches, and the lens switches from light to dark shade in around 1/10,000 of a second. Plus, the battery lasts up to 2,000 hours! Reviewers call this high-end helmet “top-notch,” writing that it’s worth the extra money.
Best for Beginners: DOIT Solar Power Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet 9-13
If you’re just getting started with welding, you might not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-tech welding helmet. Instead, an entry-level option like the Doitpower Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet might be a good option, as it features a variable shade lens that adjusts from shade #9 to #13.
This solar-powered helmet has a 3.62 x 1.65-inch view screen, and it can be used for stick, MIG and TIG applications. It’s designed to deliver better optical clarity to reduce eye fatigue, and it switches from light to dark in 1/25000 seconds. The Doitpower is lightweight and versatile, and reviewers say it delivers exception color clarity for an unbeatable price.
Best Auto-Darkening: Jackson Safety Ultra-Lightweight Insight Variable Auto Darkening Filter Welding Helmet
There are two types of welding helmet lenses: passive and auto-darkening. Auto-darkening options are increasingly popular, as they provide 100 percent protection against infrared and UV rays, can be used for a range of applications, and save you from having to flip the helmet up and down repeatedly. One great auto-darkening helmet that many welders like is the Jackson Safety 46131 Insight Variable Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet, which features a variable-shade lens that adjusts from #9 to #13.
This welding helmet can be used for MIG, TIG, and arc welding, and it has a wide viewing area that measures 3.93 x 2.36 inches. There are four independent auto-dimming sensors, sensitivity and delay adjustments, and easy-to-use digital controls. Reviewers particularly like the headgear of this helmet, as it’s comfortable and easy to adjust, and many say it’s a good helmet for both beginners and more experienced welders.
Best Passive: Lincoln Electric Passive Welding Helmet, K2800-1
If you’re a more experienced welder and prefer a traditional passive helmet, one highly rated option is the Lincoln Electric Basic Welding Helmet. This helmet has a #10 lens, allowing it to be used for a variety of welding applications. The viewing area on this helmet is 4.2 x 5.25 inches, and the helmet features a durable clamshell design. It has a five-position tilt adjustment, as well as a built-in sweatband. Reviewers like that this helmet is basic and comfortable, and several note they switched out the lens to suit their needs.
Best for Tight Spaces: Jackson Safety Fixed Shade W10 HSL 100 Welding Helmet
Some welding tasks may put you in tight spaces, and in these instances, you won’t want to be wearing a bulky helmet. Instead, you’ll want protective gear like the Jackson Safety Fixed Shade W10 Welding Helmet, which features a narrow design that’s perfect for tight spaces.
This passive helmet is equipped with a standard shade #10 lens, and it features an extended front that increases the protection of your neck. It has a large viewing area for a clear view of the weld puddle, as well as a padded head strap. Many reviewers like the simplicity of this Jackson Safety Welding Helmet, saying it’s a reliable piece of equipment that’s not overly bulky. It’s definitely the way to go if you’re looking for a passive helmet to use in tight spaces.
Best Design: Lincoln Electric Red Fierce Welding Helmet, K3063-1
If plain black welding helmets are too boring for your taste, there are plenty of bright, eye-catching designs available. In particular, the Lincoln Electric Red Fierce Auto Darkening Welding Helmet delivers both aesthetic and performance with its auto-darkening capabilities.
This solar-powered welding helmet sports a cool red and black pattern that resembles flames, and the viewing area is 4.33 x 3.52 inches. It has two arc sensors and a variable shade lens that adjusts from shade #7 to #13, as well as a grind mode. The Lincoln Electric helmet includes two additional outside and inside cover lenses, and it features continuously adjustable sensitivity and delay from dark to light. Reviewers love that this helmet is lightweight and has a cool exterior design.
What to Look for in a Welding Helmet
Weight and Size
The best welding helmet will be durable, comfortable, and provide adequate protection. However, you do not want it to be too heavy or bulky. Try to find a helmet that feels lightweight so you can wear it comfortably for long periods of time. Slimmer helmets are also great when you are welding in tight spaces.
There are two common types of styles for welding helmets: passive and auto-darkening. A passive style helmet is usually a shade #10 lens and it won't lighten or darken. This can be rather limiting for certain welding processes, and you'll have to remove the helmet to inspect your work in-between welds. Alternatively, an auto-darkening style helmet can switch through various shades making it more applicable for those who have a variety of welding tasks to complete.
Switching speed is an important feature to look out for when you're buying your helmet. It should be fast enough to protect your eyes from high-intensity light. If it switches too slowly, it can cause you to have discomfort in your eyes.
Also, check out the battery life on your helmet. Many helmets are equipped to handle AAA batteries but some also offer lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are preferred as they offer longer battery life.