A welding helmet is a protective headgear that shields the welder’s face and neck from the intense light and heat generated during welding. It typically includes a protective lens with a dark shade to protect the eyes from harmful UV and infrared rays. Welding helmets come in various styles and designs, ranging from traditional passive lenses to auto-darkening lenses that automatically adjust to the welding conditions. They are an essential piece of personal protective equipment for anyone working with welding equipment.
- 1 Buyers Guide: How to Find the Best Welding Helmet
- 2 Types of Welding Helmets
- 3 How We Chose the Best Welding Helmets
- 4 Who is a welding helmet suitable for?
- 5 What shade is best for welding?
- 6 Does welding ruin your eyes?
- 7 How long do welding helmets last?
- 8 Why do welders wear welding helmets?
- 9 What is the durability of the welding lenses?
- 10 How to change the lens of the welding helmet?
- 11 Can the welder’s flash make you blind?
- 12 What are the lightest welding helmets?
- 13 What is the ideal shade for welding?
- 14 What type of lens should I choose?
- 15 What shade level is best for welding?
- 16 What is the difference between passive and auto-darkening lenses?
- 17 How heavy should the helmet be?
- 18 What is the viewing area of the helmet lens?
- 19 Does the helmet have adjustable headgear?
If you’re currently a welder or looking to become one as your career or hobby, then safety gear should be of the utmost importance to you. And right on the top of any list of safety equipment will be a high-quality welding helmet. Regardless of the welding process being used, or the welder’s skill, a proper safety helmet must always be worn. No exceptions. Not doing so could result in serious burns and temporary or even permanent blindness.
Fortunately, welding helmets are available for all budgets, so there’s no excuse not to buy one. That said, the specifications can be confusing, making it difficult to choose the right model, particularly for beginner welders. The following article demystifies the technology and helps identify the best welding helmets for a wide variety of needs.
10 Best Welding Helmets for 2023：Tested and Reviewed
- BEST OVERALL:Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350
- RUNNER-UP:Hobart 770756 Impact Variable Auto
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Jackson Safety Welding Helmet
- BEST LOW-COST:YESWELDER Large Viewing Screen 3.94″X3.66″
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT:Antra True Color Wide Shade Range
- BEST VIEW AREA:Classic MP-10, 8 to 12 Lens Shade
- BEST HIGH-END:Antra True Color Wide Shade Range
- BEST TECHNOLOGY:Welding Helmet
- BEST FLIP-UP:3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100
- ALSO CONSIDER:Jackson Safety
How quickly does your mask adjust once the sparks start flying? Does your mask have enough shade variability to handle bright outdoor conditions, as well as darker environments indoors? What about ventilation? Don’t forget about the size of your viewing screen! We’ve done all the research about welding helmets and their best features. Just read these reviews comparing such features to know which of these best auto darkening welding helmets will work for you.
#1.Lincoln Electric K3034-4 VIKING 3350
- Extra large lens
- Excellent clarity and true color
- Precise control
- Occasional headgear faults
Its superb lens, among the largest available, is rated optically perfect at 1/1/1/1, and it uses what Lincoln Electric calls 4C Technology to reproduce truly lifelike color. It auto-darkens in 1/25,000 second. In addition to the wide shade range, there are controls for sensitivity and delay that offer a high level of customization and fine control. The convenient grind mode button on the side of the helmet must be pressed for 3 seconds to avoid accidental activation.
There is very little to fault with the Lincoln Electric Viking 3350. The X6 headgear offers good comfort, although we have seen reports that the tightening knob occasionally works loose. While the price is competitive given its feature set, we expect it will be more than many hobby welders want to pay.
#2.Hobart 770756 Impact Variable Auto
- Excellent shade variability for any light conditions
- Super comfortable with great ventilation
- Auto-darkening in 1/25,000 second
- Headgear is complicated to set up proper fit
While the metal is heating up, you want to keep a cool head. The ultralight design of this mask, combined with the extra comfortable headgear, makes this helmet a pleasure to wear. You’ll still be able to breathe, and sweat won’t be dripping into your viewing lens while you work. While it is super comfortable, the incredible adjustability of the headgear is pretty complicated to get it to fit your head.
#3.Jackson Safety Welding Helmet
- Compatible with hard hats.
- Flexible and durable shell.
- Shade 10 polycarbonate shields.
- Various graphics.
- Some buyers needed to refigure.
This helmet can be used with a hard hat underneath and is also suitable with ADF. Featuring a cover plate with a shade 10 window made of polycarbonate, this helmet is a complete package. The use of Hydraflex for manufacturing the shell makes the product durable and flexible. The 6-ounces lightweight design enables the user to wear it during the whole day. Additionally, thi product includes several graphics and has a better 370 speed dial easy turn/ grip headgear system.
This versatile welding helmet is suitable for inspectors, professionals, welding hobbyists and students, and the design makes the appearance smart.
#4.YESWELDER Large Viewing Screen 3.94″X3.66″
- Comprehensive feature set
- Easy-to-use controls
- Very affordable
- Headgear could be improved
- Some durability concerns
This welding helmet has many of the features found on more expensive models and boasts the largest viewing area of any we considered. Colors are good, if not exceptional, and while 1/1/1/2 optical clarity isn’t perfect, it is still to a professional standard.
Auto-darkening speed is 1/10,000 second, which is slower than some but still perfectly safe. Controls for shade, delay, sensitivity, and grinding mode are all on the outside of the helmet and designed to be used with gloved hands.This Yeswelder welding helmet lacks the construction quality of leading brands, it is heavier than many, and the headgear could be more supportive. Nevertheless, the combination of low price and a competitive feature set makes it one of the best welding helmets for the money available.
#5.Antra True Color Wide Shade Range
- Eight shade levels
- Solar-powered, auto-darkening lens
- Shorter lifespan
The solar-powered feature of this helmet means you won’t have to constantly worry about battery levels before getting to work.Being so lightweight makes this helmet much more comfortable when wearing it for long periods of time. With variable shade levels from 5-13, you’ll be equipped to work in any light conditions, with any type of welding. Plus, the interference suppression technology works to stop false triggering caused by light sources other than your welding.
What keeps this mask from the number-one position is its lifespan. After several months to a few years of good use, this mask has been known to exhibit problems such as electronics failures or screen flashes.
#6.Classic MP-10, 8 to 12 Lens Shade
- Suitable for all welding applications.
- Nylon construction.
- Auto-darkening mode.
- Features a magnifying glass holder.
- Some users found it too large.
The black coloured headgear looks cool and chic on all professionals. The shade 10 lens protection provides complete safety from the harmful UV rays. The nylon used for the headgear makes the helmet sturdy and flexible. The 16 ounces design is lightweight and can be worn throughout the day.
Moreover, the easy-to-use functioning allows you to adjust the headgear easily and flip it down easily to get you started. The lens has an option of upgrading to auto-darkening mode which enables extra protection.The inside cover lens, filter plate and lens shade are all according to the industry standards. This product also features a magnifying glass holder for enhanced view.
#7.Antra True Color Wide Shade Range
- Adjustable for sensitivity and delay
- Hard hat compatible
- Very low cost
- Not for everyday use
- Pronounced green tint
Though it can’t compete with high-end models on some levels, it’s a versatile helmet with a wide shade range, grinding mode, and adjustment for sensitivity and delay. Reaction speed is good at 1/25,000 second.
The lens is on the small side with optical clarity at 1/1/1/2, and there’s a noticeable green tint while welding. Most users find this Antra’s headgear comfortable. Though it also has fittings for hard hats, it doesn’t have much structural rigidity itself. The Antra welding helmet is not designed to stand up to professional use. While many prove reasonably durable, faults are not unknown.
- Perfect optical clarity
- Largest viewing area in class
- Comfortable and balanced design
- High price is out of the budget of many hobbyists
If you’ve ever had a difficult time trying to see what you were welding, you’ll appreciate this great feature. With the perfect optical clarity offered by this mask, you’ll see your work like never before.
Variable shade levels from 5-13, with 1/25,000 second lens switching speed protecting your eyes in all conditions. The X6 headgear keeps you comfortable all day with a balanced design that reduces pressure. Of course, all these exceptional features are accompanied by a premium price that’s out of the range of many DIY hobbyists, putting this helmet in the third spot on our list.
#9.3M Speedglas Welding Helmet 9100
- Very light and comfortable
- Good peripheral vision
- Exhaust vents for cooling
- Very expensive
- Headgear a little complicated
Its light weight, combined with highly adjustable headgear and exhaust vents, make it perhaps the most comfortable of our top picks.It has all the features expected of a premium-quality welding helmet, including variable sensitivity and delay, plus an external button for grind mode. The 3M Speedglas also offers auto-on when the helmet is picked up, with a memory function that remembers the last settings used.
The 3M Speedglas incorporates what the company calls Natural Color Technology for a lifelike view, but while optical clarity appears very good, we were unable to find an actual rating—a surprise given how expensive the helmet is. It also has relatively slow 1/10,000 second auto-darkening.
- Can handle 350°F temperature.
- Narrow shell design.
- Suitable for tight spaces.
- 3 different colours.
- Some users felt it was too small.
This is a front shadow lift safety passive Welding helmet which features an elongated front and narrow shell design. These are perfect for working in enclosed spaces and also protect your neck, ears and face from slag, spark and other hazards. This shadow helmet can stand strong against 350°F heat and is more durable than thermoplastic alternatives. Further, they feature shade 10 lens shield and cover plate for complete protection. The back-and-forth mechanism of the front lift hood is easy to remove. It is compatible with hard hats and also with other Jackson models. The narrow shell and lightweight design make it comfortable for regular wear and enable it to work in tight spaces.
Buyers Guide: How to Find the Best Welding Helmet
You’ve seen the 10 best welding masks on the market, and you’re aware of how they compare to each other. But what are the most important things to consider? What should you know before you make a purchase? In this section, we’ll give you all the knowledge you need to be certain of your ability to make the right choice of welding mask.
What is an Auto Darkening Welding Helmet?
This is one of the most important features available in today’s best welding helmets. The best auto-darkening welding helmets will protect your eyes without any extra effort from you. Auto-darkening is the ability of your mask’s lens to automatically detect the light produced when welding and adjust to block it out. Then, when you finish your weld and the sparks stop, your lens automatically returns to the lightest setting so you can see without having to lift your mask. Not every welding helmet on the market is equipped with this function, though all the ones that made our reviews list have auto-darkening.
How many different levels of darkness does your welding mask offer? When you need your mask in the lightest state so you can see while you’re not actively welding, is your mask light enough for you to work? When you’re outside in the bright sun and welding with high amperage, does your lens get dark enough to provide ample protection? Arc flash is a terrible experience that can also cause lasting damage. By purchasing a mask with a high level of shade variability on a high-quality lens, you can rest assured that your eyes are protected in even the brightest conditions.
Size of Viewing Area
If you’ve ever tried to weld while wearing a mask with a tiny viewing lens, you know how frustrating it can be to have your entire peripheral vision blocked. Some masks have viewing ports of over 12 square inches of viewing space, such as the Lincoln Electric 3350, our number-three pick and favorite premium option.
By enlarging your viewing window, you make it possible to see your work in a whole new way. This helps you improve your welding quality, since it’s easier to make out the details. This also increases your productivity — when you can see clearly, it’s much easier to work efficiently.
Besides the size of your viewing window, level of clarity is one of the most important factors in how well you can see what you’re working on. Lenses are tested in four areas and given a rating of 1-3 in each, with 1/1/1/1 being a perfect score. Only a few premium welding helmets achieve this top score in clarity.
Reliability is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to picking out the best welding helmet. It doesn’t matter how comfortable the helmet is or how many nifty gimmicks it has. If your helmet can’t be counted on to keep your eyes safe, then it’s not serving its function. Worst case, it’s actually a hazard to your health. That’s why you’ll want to choose the best auto darkening welding helmet you can find.
Beyond the possible permanent risk your eyes may face from being exposed to welding flashes through a faulty mask, an unreliable lens may also make it difficult to see your work. Flashing different colors and changing levels of shade can be more than just distracting. When you can’t properly see your welding work, you’re risking your fingers and hands.
Your welding helmet is an investment. It’s a tool that you hope to use for many projects without problems or needing a replacement anytime soon. Nothing is more disappointing than your expensive equipment failing at a critical moment.
Save yourself the headache and heartache of having your gear give out when you need it most. Our top pick, the Hobart 770756, is durable and long-lasting. It will be there to provide you great service for a long time to come.
Sometimes you just need a mask for face protection and not to block out the light, for example, when you’re using a grinder and making a great deal of dust and flying debris. In such cases, you’ll want to be able to keep your mask in the lowest setting, even when there may be sparks or bright sunlight. For this purpose, many masks come equipped with a grind mode.
This feature is still useful when you’re not grinding and just need to be able to see without constantly lifting your mask up. The grind mode is button activated on most helmets, making it simple to use without removing the hood. All the welding helmets on this list have a grind mode.
This is the one place where each person’s needs will vary the most. Everyone wants and needs the best protection possible, and we would like to have the most comfortable mask with all the bells and whistles. However, each of us is limited to a certain budget.
It’s something that you may not notice right away, but after hours of bending your neck down to see what you’re working on, a heavy mask can begin to feel like a small weight hanging on your head. This can lead to days of ache and pain, making the entire experience much less enjoyable. Beyond this, the way your mask’s headgear conforms to your head can become unpleasant after hours of use. If the headgear doesn’t stay in position, you may find yourself making constant adjustments. The masks in our top positions are all sure to be a comfortable fit that will let you focus on your work instead of your mask.
Sometimes, you need a little magnification to clearly see what you’re working on. This is where the cheater lens comes into play. This is essentially a small magnifying lens that clamps inside your helmet’s viewing window to enlarge what you’re looking at. To make it easier to get in and out of your mask, most manufacturers have included a mounting system for cheater lenses.
Types of Welding Helmets
All welding helmets can be divided into two basic categories: passive or auto-darkening. This distinction refers to the glass that the welder looks through. It is often called the lens, view screen, or viewing screen.
A welding helmet with a passive lens is fitted with a piece of darkened glass of a fixed shade (more on shades below). Initially, all welding helmets were passive, and this type still has the advantages of light weight, simplicity, and low cost. A basic hand-held welding mask (commonly used by supervisors or students watching a welder work) also falls into this category.
However, the shade of the lens limits the passive helmet to only one type of welding. For greater versatility, the lens would need to be changed manually. In order to examine the weld properly, it is also necessary to lift the helmet up. This can quickly get frustrating and is potentially dangerous if other welders are working nearby.
Auto-darkening welding helmets have a much more complex lens that includes liquid crystal layers linked to three or four sensors. The sensors detect the brightness of the weld arc when starting, and darken the lens automatically. This happens extremely rapidly, in 1/10,000 second or less, thus protecting the eyes from damage. When the welder stops, the lens clears so the work can be checked without needing to raise the helmet.
Batteries are fitted to power auto-darkening welding helmets, which can increase weight though many remain very light. Auto-darkening welding helmets are more expensive than passive models but their versatility and convenience makes them by far the more popular choice.
How We Chose the Best Welding Helmets
I am an engineer by profession, and while not a full-time welder I have extensive experience with the processes and equipment. The Yeapei team also researched all of the leading manufacturers to ensure they were current with the latest technologies. Feedback from hundreds of real-world users was considered too.
- Performance: This pertains to how well the welding helmet does its job of protecting the welder without impeding work. It takes into account versatility, adjustability, and comfort. The factors covered in the considerations section above informed our choices, and we looked for models that were appropriate for a variety of different users.
- Durability: Welding helmets should have an operating life of around 7 to 10 years, but elements can fail ahead of time. If we found significant instances of this, regardless of whether the error or component could be fixed, that model didn’t make the cut.
- Value: With safety equipment like welding helmets, low price alone was not our main concern. Instead, all welding helmets chosen—including budget-friendly models—had to provide quality. That said, a more affordable welding helmet might well be the right choice for a hobbyist but may not offer all the features a professional user needs. A welding helmet that costs several hundred dollars can still be a good value for a pro. We looked for a selection of top models across the entire price range.
Who is a welding helmet suitable for?
A welding helmet is suitable for individuals who perform welding, cutting or grinding operations as a part of their job or hobby. It is designed to protect their face, neck and eyes from the intense light and heat generated by the welding process and also from flying debris and sparks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What shade is best for welding?
Does welding ruin your eyes?
The bright light from a weld can cause a painful condition called welder’s flash or arc eye. Molten metal also presents an obvious danger. However, when worn properly, all of the welder’s helmets recommended above will prevent eye damage so users can weld safely.
How long do welding helmets last?
Why do welders wear welding helmets?
A welding helmet prevents damage to the eyes from the infrared and ultraviolet light given off by the welding arc. A helmet also protects the face from burns caused by welding sparks or molten metal flashes.
What is the durability of the welding lenses?
Usually, the welding lenses last a long period of time but it depends on the usage too. The general duration of the lenses is around 7 years to 10 years after which the lens should be changed.
How to change the lens of the welding helmet?
The procedure of changing the lens of the welding helmet is quite simple and practically everyone can do it easily. Usually, it depends on the type of the helmet but the procedure is almost the same. You need to look for the finger tab close to the lens frame and push it open by applying pressure gently. After removing the old lens frame, you need to get rid of the protective film of the new lens. Then, you can mount the new lens frame in the mask.Yes Welder Welding Helmet Cover Lens – How to Change Them
Can the welder’s flash make you blind?
If you do not have a passive welder’s helmet, you need to be extra careful that you are not affected by photo-keratitis, or welder’s flash. In this condition, the user is exposed to intense UV rays during the process of welding. It also causes temporary blindness or extreme discomfort. But, in case of extreme situations, it can cause permanent blindness. However, this is caused after repeated eye damage or long-term exposure.Protect welders from exposures that can cause vision loss
What are the lightest welding helmets?
There are numerous lightweight helmets that can be found in the market. Also, most of the passive welding helmets are lightweight in order to relieve stress from the neck. The ideal option would be to use a fibreglass welding helmet as it is made of lightweight materials.Who’s Got the Lightest Welding Helmet?
What is the ideal shade for welding?
Usually, the higher shade numbers varying between 8 and 13 are the ones ideal for welding purposes. The lower shades usually allow more light which can be harmful for the eyes.
What type of lens should I choose?
Auto-darkening lenses are a popular choice as they adjust to the welding conditions, providing better protection and increased convenience.
What shade level is best for welding?
A shade level of 10-13 is typically recommended for most welding applications.
What is the difference between passive and auto-darkening lenses?
Passive lenses have a fixed shade and do not adjust to the welding conditions. Auto-darkening lenses automatically darken in response to the welding arc.
How heavy should the helmet be?
The weight of the helmet is a personal preference, but lighter helmets are generally more comfortable for extended periods of use.
What is the viewing area of the helmet lens?
The viewing area refers to the size of the lens and affects the welder’s field of vision. A larger viewing area is usually preferred.
Does the helmet have adjustable headgear?
Adjustable headgear allows the user to customize the fit of the helmet for comfort and stability.