Snell Helmet Certifications SA2015 vs SA2020
This guide explains what a Snell certification is, identifies the difference between a Snell SA2015 and SA2020 helmet, and provides tips for determining what helmet certification you require.
The Snell Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that develops helmet safety standards and performs testing of helmets in their ISO/IEC certified testing lab. Each helmet manufacturer must submit their helmet to Snell for testing prior to receiving certification to their standards. Helmet manufacturers are also required to submit helmets to Snell for random sample testing in order to maintain certification.
The most common Snell standard for motorsports is the Special Applications Standard, abbreviated as SA, which is updated every five years. This standard has strict requirements for impacts, puncture resistance, and face shield integrity but what sets the SA certification apart from motorcycle certifications (and others) is the flame resistance requirements as well as head & neck restraint provisions which are mandatory for all SA2015 and SA2020 certified helmets. The Snell SA certification is the most widely recognized 4 wheeled motorsports helmet certification in the US and is used in motorsports worldwide. Sanctioning bodies such as IMCA, Wissota, NASCAR, SCCA, NHRA, etc. require competitors to use a helmet with a Snell SA certification.
In October of 2020 Snell began allowing the sale of helmets which conform to the new SA2020 standard. The new standard has a more stringent requirement for impact testing of the helmet shell as compared to the SA2015 standard. This further increases the safety of SA2020 certified helmets. Also, all helmets conforming to SA2020 must have threaded anchors installed for a head & neck restraint which was carried over from the SA2015 standard. Impact testing requirements for the shield also remain the same as SA2015.
The changes that were made are relatively small, however any step toward a safer helmet than before is a change in the right direction. Many times, the updates to SA standards are seemingly small changes but over time create an evolution of the standard which pushes helmet technology and safety to new levels.
This video clip shows how Snell performs impact testing on a helmet.
To determine if you can still utilize a helmet which is certified to the older SA standard you will need to consult your rule book. This may be something that your particular track sets the requirements for, or it could be within the rules of your sanctioning body. For example the sanctioning body IMCA will typically write their rules to allow helmets meeting the two most recent Snell SA standards to be used, meaning SA2015 and SA2020 can be used. During a transition year such as 2021 it is common for IMCA to also allow a third SA certification (SA2010) to provide racers time to upgrade their equipment. Be sure to check your specific rules concerning safety equipment since this can vary greatly between sanctioning bodies, series, and tracks.
Often times the remaining inventory of older certification helmets, such as SA2015, will be discount priced once the new version of that particular helmet becomes available. This creates an opportunity to acquire a bargain priced helmet while still buying a brand new product. Here at Speedway Motors our older inventory of helmets will be found in the Garage Sale section so that a cost conscious buyer can easily browse our inventory of reduced priced helmets.
Many models of Snell SA2020 certified helmets are available for purchase now. Helmet manufacturers are also working feverishly to expand their offering even further. You can shop for SA2020 helmets by clicking the link below. You will also be able to sort results by brand, color, size, and other features that you prefer.