Best Welding Helmet Reviews 2017 – Buying Guide

Buying a welding helmet will be one of the most important investments you will make – besides the actual welder of course. That’s why it’s critical to choose the right one. Here you’ll find comprehensive guides and thorough reviews of the top brands to help you find the best welding helmet.

Best Welding Helmet Buying Guide

4.7/5

Auto Darkening: Yes

Lens Size: 3.85″ x 2.38″

Shade Range: 3 – 13

Reaction Time: .00005s

Weight: 18 oz (482g)

Sensors: 4

Review

5/5

Auto Darkening: Yes

Lens Size: 3.74″ x 3.34″

Shade Range: 6 – 13

Reaction Time: .00004s

Weight: 21 oz (595g)

Sensors: 4

Review

4.4/5

Auto Darkening: Yes

Lens Size: 3.78″ x 2.5″

Shade Range: 4 – 13

Reaction Time: .00004s

Weight: 15.34 oz (435g)

Sensors: 4

Review

best welding helmet for beginners

4.7/5

Lens Size: 3.85″ x 2.38″

Shade Range: 3 – 13

Reaction Time: .00005s

Weight: 18 oz (482g)

Sensors: 4

Review

Best for Beginners – Miller Digital Elite

When it comes to comfort, the Miller Digital Elite is the best welding helmet for beginners.

Think about it, you just started your first day of your apprenticeship and you aren’t used to wearing a hood for 8 hours straight. Wouldn’t you want it to be as comfortable and lightweight as possible.

That’s where Miller carves its niche, by having the most comfortable headgear around. Weighing just 18 ounces, the Digital Elite is surpassed by only one other helmet.

The helmet features 4 operating modes: weld, cut and grind. It also has X-Mode which is Millers technology for ultra fast arc detection.

The Miller Digital Elite ranks among the best and is great for anyone seeking a lighter, more comfortable hood without sacrificing quality.

best welding helmet for the money

5/5

Lens Size: 3.74″ x 3.34″

Shade Range: 6 – 13

Reaction Time: .00004 seconds

Weight: 21 oz (595g)

Sensors: 4

Review

Best for the Money – Lincoln Viking 3350

The Lincoln Electric Viking 3350 with 4C lens technology is the best welding helmet on the market today.

Besides combining the perfect mix of quality, comfort and cost, the Viking 3350 stands out for several reasons. The hood uses 4C lens technology to achieve perfect optical clarity and the massive field of view allows you to see better and reduce eye strain. It also has 4 arc sensors that detect the arc in .00004 seconds, ensuring no damage from the flash.

The Viking 3350 is powered by solar rechargeable lithium ion batteries with a built-in low battery indicator so you’ll never be left with a dead lens.

The Lincoln Viking 3350 is the go-to welding helmet for welders looking for a high-quality hood from a trusted brand without having to spend a fortune.

best welding helmet on a budget

4.4/5

Lens Size: 3.78″ x 2.5″

Shade Range: 4 – 13

Reaction Time: .00004s

Weight: 15.34 oz (435g)

Sensors: 4

Review

Best on a Budget – Antra AH6-660-0000

By far the most popular hood, the Antra AH6-660-0000 is the best welding helmet if you’re on a budget.

Despite the price, the Antra AH6 is actually a really good helmet. The viewing area is bigger than the standard 2 x 4 inches and is quite good in terms of optical clarity, although not perfect. It has 4 sensors that detect the arc faster than some of the more expensive brands. (.00004 seconds)

At 15 ounces, the hood is among the lightest in the industry so you can weld all day without discomfort. You can also choose from several different graphic designs if black isn’t your style.

If you need a basic welding helmet that just works and without all the fancy features, the Antra AH6-660-0000 is what you’ve been looking for.

top rated best welding helmet

4.6/5

Lens Size: 4.2″ x 2.8″

Shade Range: 5, 8 – 13

Reaction Time: 0.001s

Weight: 20.1oz (570g)

Sensors: 3

Review

Top Rated – 3M Speedglas 9100xx

Introducing the ultimate viewing experience. When it comes to optics none come close to the 3M Speedglas 9100xx.

Already featuring a huge front facing lens, the 9100xx boasts two side windows with a fixed shade of 5 for unprecedented vision.

If that isn’t enough, the hood also has an aerodynamic exhaust system to reduce humidity and prevent the chance of fog buildup.

The headgear is on par with 3m standards allowing you to weld for long hours without that nagging pain in your head.

The 3m Speedglas 9100xx is the best welding helmet in terms of clarity and optics but takes a hit when it comes to price. But if cost isn’t an issue this is the one to get.

best welding helmet for tig

4.4/5

Lens Size: 3.78″ x 1.81″

Shade Range: DIN 9-13

Reaction Time: 0.00015s

Weight: 20.3 oz (576g)

Sensors: 2

Review

Best for TIG – Jackson Safety SmarTIGer W40

The Jackson Safety SmarTIGer w40 is the best welding helmet for TIG and not just because it has TIG in the name.

The SmartTIGer is one of the most dynamic helmets on the market. It is TIG rated down to 3 amps and can be used for torch cutting, MIG and stick..

It uses balder lens technology to give you a next-to-perfect view of the job and has as switching speed of .15 microseconds.

Jackson is known for their ultra comfortable headgear and the SmarTIGer is no exception. Coupled with its light weight this hood is as comfortable as they get.

If you are constantly changing processes from TIG to MIG or stick the Jackson Safety SmarTIGer is exactly what you need.

best welding helmet under $150

 4.4/5

Lens Size: 3.81″ x 1.85″

Shade Range: 3, 8 – 13

Reaction Time: .00003s

Weight: 20.3 oz (575g)

Sensors: 3

Review

Best Under $150 – Hobart 770756 Impact

Awesome graphic selection aside, the Hobart Impact is the best welding helmet under $150.

Simplicity is the name of the game with this helmet. It has no fancy features, no patented technology, no extra side windows.

But what it does do right, is everything else.

From the price point to the super comfortable headgear to the array of graphics to the weight, the Hobart Impact is a welding helmet that just works. And that’s exactly what most people need.

Whether you’re just starting or have been welding for decades the Hobart Impact is the model for simplicity.

best welding helmet under $100

4.5/5

Lens Size: 3.75″ x 1.375″

Shade Range: DIN 8 – 12

Reaction Time: .0001s

Weight: 16 oz (474g)

Sensors: 2

Review

Best for under $100 – Miller 251292 Classic Series

Another reliable budget helmet, the Miller 251292 Classic is a great choice if you have limited funds but don’t want to sacrifice quality.

With a viewing area of 2 inches by 4 inches, there is plenty of room to see the weld. In addition, the lens clarity, while not technically perfect, is on par with several helmets with a higher price range. Two arc sensors make sure you’re protected from the flash within .0001 seconds.

This hood is one of the lightest and most comfortable in the industry, weighing just 16 oz. Its light weight coupled with Millers ultra-comfortable headgear make wearing this helmet all day a breeze.

If you want a brand name but can’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a helmet, the Miller 251292 Classic is a great alternative.

best welding helmet optics

4.3/5

Lens Size: 3.8″ x 2.7″

Shade Range: DIN 9 – 13

Reaction Time: .00015s

Weight: 19.84 oz (562g)

Sensors: 2

Review

Best for Optics – Jackson Safety W70 BH3

If a massive ADF lens and a perfect 1/1/1/1 optical rating are a priority for you the Jackson Safety W70 BH3 is in a class unto itself.

Featuring Balder technology to achieve perfect optics, Jackson prides itself on being the first in the industry to achieve this.

Despite the lens being so big, the hood is surprisingly light and comfortable to wear. The headgear allows you to adjust three different positions to fit your head perfectly. The knobs can be tightened so that the actually helmet stays up when you need to it.

And the best thing? Aside from the unprecedented 5 year warranty, it’s one of the few helmets that are made in the USA.

If you value comfort and unmatched optics above all else then the Jackson Safety W70 BH3 might be for you.

best welding helmet for professionals

4.5/5

Lens Size: 4″ x 2″

Shade Range: 4, 5-13

Reaction Time: 0.00018s

Weight: 17 oz (490g)

Sensors: 2

Review

Best for Professional – Optrel e680

Optrel is a slightly lesser known brand in the industry but not because of poor quality. In fact they specialize in extra-premium helmets that exceed almost any other brand out there.

The Optrel e680 is one example. Designed specifically for experts it features Optrels TrueColor filter for clarity you never thought possible. Complete with grind mode the e680 has a shade range of 5 – 13 that reacts in .00018 seconds using its 2 sensors. The angle of the sensors can be adjusted as needed depending on your environment.

In light of all these features the e680 is deceptively light, weighing just 17 oz and the headgear feels like you aren’t even wearing one.

The Optrel e680 leads the pack in almost all areas but takes a huge hit when you take the price into consideration. Being the best welding helmet for professionals, if you have the money, it’s worth it.

best welding helmet for mig

4.8/5

Lens Size: 3.78″ x 1.67″

Shade Range: DIN 9 – 13

Reaction Time: .00004s

Weight: 18.6 oz (528g)

Sensors: 2

Review

Best for MIG – Lincoln Electric Viking 1740

Even with their budget helmets Lincoln manages to outshine their competition at every turn.

The Lincoln Viking 1740 is a great little hood if you just need something basic that works. The shell is very sleek and helps redirect the fumes away from the face so you have one less thing to worry about.

The lens is standard sized (2 x 4) and the clarity is what you expect from a Lincoln product. 2 arc sensors react to the flash in .00004 seconds which is on par with all the high end hoods. It’s solar powered with AAA battery backup so you know it’ll protect you each and every time.

The Lincoln Viking 1740 is decent option for a hood in the $100 range.

How to choose the best welding helmet?

Choosing the best welding helmet can be a daunting task but we’re here to help. Prices range from below $100 to $500+ so the features and quality varies from each helmet. Generally the more expensive hoods offer more features at a higher quality but many of the sub $100 helmets provide excellent value. Below you’ll find everything you need to know and what variables to keep in mind when choosing a helmet.

mig

 

Auto Darkening or Standard Glass Lens

Auto Darkening

  • The auto darkening filter (ADF) darkens automatically whens the sensors detect the bright welding arc
  • Powered by battery or a combination of battery and solar
  • When the lens is not active its resting shade is usually #3 or #4 so you can easily see
  • Makes starting the arc easier because you can see the position of the stick or gun
  • Once the sensors see the arc the lens darkens to a shade of #8 – #13
  • Eyes are always protected
  • No more snapping your head to lower the hood

Standard Glass

  • Lens is a set shade that you have to manually cover your eyes with by nodding forward so the hood shuts down
  • Usually a #10 shade coated with UV and IF protection
  • Much cheaper
  • Can be tough for beginners to get used to
  • Because of the need to flip the helmet welding is restricted spaces can be difficult
  • Will work 100% of the time

Do I Need Fixed or Variable Shade

When looking for the best welding helmet you’ll have to choose either fixed shade or variable shade.

Fixed shade is sufficient if you do certain types of welding using the appropriate amperage (see chart below). The standard fixed lens is shade #10 and it offers the same protection no matter what amps the light emits. All standard glass helmets are fixed shade.

Variable shade lenses are on all helmets with auto darkening filters (ADF). It is activated when the arc sensors detect bright light, activating the filter and darkening the lens to the appropriate shade. To properly protect your eyes and get a view of the whole weld, variable shade lenses are preferred. It automatically adjusts to the intensity of the arc offering much more versatility. Most variable shade lenses range in shade from #8 – #13. This best welding helmet for mig guide is going to focus on auto darkening welding helmets only.

best welding helmet

Switching Speed (Lens Reaction Time)

The lens switching speed is an important factor when considering the best welding helmet. It refers to the time it takes to switch from its natural state to a lower shade once the arc is struck. The faster the better, too slow of a reaction speed will result in eye fatigue or may cause arc eye/ welders flash a painful side effect cause by ultraviolet radiation.

Solar Power or Battery

For most people this is just a personal preference, both do the same thing when charged. Auto darkening welding helmets have three main power options: solar, battery and a combination of the solar and battery.

With solar powered welding helmets you’ll never have to worry about batteries and they offer thousands of hours of storage. Just remember to put it in the sun every so often.

Battery powered helmets allow you to use it right out of the box. If you run out of power simply replace the batteries. Keeping it simple.

Battery with solar assist makes sure you never run out of power. If the batteries run out the back up solar cells kick in saving you from harmful rays. For safety and convenience we recommend the best welding helmet have this.

Weight

Weight should be a main consideration for everyone but especially if you weld as a professional. If you’re going to be wearing one for 8 – 12 hours a day it’s important that the helmet isn’t a strain on your neck. You also need to make sure the knobs on the side of the helmet can support the weight when flipped up. There’s nothing more annoying than noticing your helmet slowly falling down while you’re trying to do something else. Some loosen over time and need to be replaced but if it’s light enough it shouldn’t matter. The best welding helmet is extremely lightweight but very durable, allowing you to work pain free.

Comfort

People often overlook how important comfort is when buying a welding helmet. If you weld for a living there is a good chance you’ll be wearing the hood for a few hours each day so getting a helmet with comfortable headgear is vital. Fortunately, all the major brands – Miller, Lincoln, Jackson etc. – have high-quality headgear. Some headgear is interchangeable between helmets so if you find one that you like, stick with it. You might need to make some small modifications but it’s worth it in the long term. Welding should be a pleasure not a pain.

Viewing Size

Generally, the bigger the viewing screen the more you’ll be able to see and the better you’ll weld. This is especially important for a beginner welder who needs to see the whole job. You’ll also want a big viewing area if you do a lot of out of position welding at odd angles. The 3M Speedglas helmets are notable not only for the quality of their lenses but the size of the viewing field – they have a huge front lens but it has a lens on either side to give you a 180 degree view.

best welder

Internal or External Controls

Internal controls are a bit of a hassle because you have to remove your helmet every time you need to change something. External controls allow you too adjust your settings with ease saving you time and energy. If you work in tight spaces you need controls on the outside.

Number of Arc Sensors

Arc sensors are the key components to an auto darkening welding helmet. It keeps you from danger. The best welding helmet will have two or more sensors. The sensor reacts to the arc causing the lens to go dark. If a sensor is covered or obstructed it will fail to darken so its always safer to have more sensors.

National Safety Standards

All of the helmets that we review are rated with the ANSI Z87.1 – 2010 safety standard so you can be sure it will keep you safe. They test the helmets for high velocity impacts, 100% UV and IR filtering and proper switching speeds.

Be aware: Not all helmets conform to safety standards. If you are buying a helmet somewhere other than weldinglist.com make sure you check the details or you could get seriously hurt.

Tips for Choosing the Best Welding Helmet

Confused yet? Don’t be! Here are a few tips for helping you decide which helmet to choose:

Brand Matters –  When it comes to your health and safety why take a chance with some off-brand inferior hood? Sticking with the tried and tested brands ensure that you’re always protected. We only review the highest quality brands so you know you’re getting the best welding helmet for your money. Some of the top brands include: 3m Speedglas, Antra, Hobart, Jackson, Lincoln, Miller, Optrel and Save Phace.

Stick to your budget – Helmets differ wildly in price, so it’s important that you know how much you can spend. It’s easy to drop $500 on the best welding helmet with the latest technology but if you’re just starting out, it’s probably not necessary. Figure out your needs, figure out your budget and don’t be tempted by all the bells and whistles.

Buy Online – I know, I know, a website telling you to buy online…right. But I’m serious, most welding stores have deals with 1 or 2 brands and will try to sell you on those brands regardless if it’s in your best interest or not. Buying online is better in every way: it’s cheaper because its going straight from the manufacturer, you have more options because every brand is available and it arrives right at your doorstep.

Look for extras – Some helmets come with bonuses like a carrying bag or replacement lens covers. While this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, be on the lookout for hoods that come with additional accessories. Who doesn’t like free stuff?

welder

Best Welding Helmet Brands

3M Speedglas is one of the most trusted best welding helmet brands in the world. Their helmets range from beginner level to professional and everything in between. Their focus on quality is outstanding in whatever helmet you choose and they offer an impressive set of features. Whether you’re looking for a hood with a massive viewing area with all the latest features you didn’t even know existed or just a basic helmet that will protect you no matter what, 3M has you covered.

Hobart is an authority on all things welding so when you choose a Hobart welding helmet you know you’re getting quality. With that in mind their best welding helmet is also one of the most affordable. You get everything that a professional level hood offers for an entry level price. Forget all the fancy gadgets and gizmos, you need a helmet that is comfortable to wear all day, will darken when the arc flashes and wont put you in debt. The Hobart welding helmet lineup does just that. And the best thing? They come in plenty of unique shell graphic designs so you can pick one that fits your taste and style.

There’s a good reason welders choose Jackson Safety as their best welding helmet. From their massive viewing areas (which are the biggest in the industry) to their perfect 1/1/1/1 optical ratings, Jackson outperforms the competition when it comes to auto darkening lenses. They also offer the longest warranty available at 5 years and they’re one of the oldest welding brands so you know you’re getting a time tested hood.

Lincoln Electric is an industry leader when it comes to welders, so its not surprising that their expertise translates well to helmets too. Their Viking series is a top contender for best welding helmet which is why it’s one of the best selling hoods on the market. They use 4C Lens technology to get a perfect optical rating which even some of the top brands have failed to achieve. They also offer some awesome custom paint jobs so you can stand out from the crowd.

Miller welding helmets are the perfect combination of affordability and functionality. They offer a wise range of helmets from their entry-level Classic series to their professional-level Titanium series. Their most popular and best welding helmet is the Digital Elite which is the perfect balance between hobbyist and veteran. The wide viewing area, rugged shell design and the much sought after ratchet-style headgear make Miller a stellar option.

Swiss engineered and trusted by welders across the globe, Optrel is the leader in premium welding helmets. With their uniquely designed external controls to the True Color filter that gives you an unparalleled view of the weld, Optrel consistently ranks among the best welding helmets around. The sleek aerodynamic shell design not only looks amazing but also serves to guide smoke and gas away from the face, keeping you safe from toxic fumes.

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