In this Guide
Whether you’re welding as part of your business, for maintenance around your property, or professionally, it’s super important to have the right welding helmet.
Welding helmets protect your eyes from the blinding flashes of light you produce while your work with the torch. They also shield your face from flying sparks and sweltering heat.
With the wrong welding helmet, you’ll risk damaging your eyesight beyond repair, and take a chance on getting seriously burned!
Since there are so many models on the market, you have your work cut out to find the right one for you. That can be a challenge, given how technical welding equipment gets.
Most of us weld on the side, around a farm or a mechanic’s shop, so we don’t all have degrees. How are we supposed to understand all the jargon and specs? Plus, if you aren’t up to date on the latest safety regulations and grades, you’ll be out in the cold.
We’ve put in the time and effort to find the best models on the market, so you can spend less time shopping and more time welding!
We compared dozens of models to find the best ones on the market today. In choosing our recommendations, we looked for reliability, protective features, and a reasonable price.
We tried to find a range of helmets to suit a variety of budgets and needs. In our in-depth reviews, we’ll take you through all the specs and features you need to know about, and help you decide which one is the best for you!
Best on a Budget
- Rating: 4.7
- Reviews: 74
- Rating: 4.6
- Reviews: 46
- Rating: 4.7
- Reviews: 31
Good, Cheap, Lightweight, & Adjustable Welding Helmets
This budget-priced helmet makes a great starter for students or casual welders on a budget. It’s simple, durable, and protective. We love it for its versatility and coverage area. It’s a good all-around tool for any kind of project.
We also like that you can customize all of the parts, and upgrade or switch the lenses to suit your specific needs. That customizability has made the Honeywell a favorite among professional welders as well!
It’s extremely inexpensive. And even with some replacements or modifications, it’s a lot cheaper than the competition. That makes it very accessible for students, as well as people who need a cheap solution for welding on the side of their day job.
It’s super simple. This is a shell-style mask, and there aren’t any fancy adjustments to make. It’s just an on-off operation.
It’s rugged. This mask is waterproof, shatterproof, and impact resistant. The thermoplastic body won’t melt with sparks, and it’ll protect you from any stray arcs.
It’s very slim-line. This one is perfect for working in tight spaces. After all, most of us don’t have a professional welding shop. We have to improvise, and the Honeywell is ideal for that kind of work.
Overall, previous buyers said they loved this model for rough and tumble work. They said it was ideal for overhead MIG work, where spatter might ruin fancier equipment. This beater can handle anything, and has a low replacement cost if you make a mess with a particularly tough job. Buyers said that while they owned fancier helmets, this was their go-to choice for most projects.
It ships with a fixed #10 darkness window in the frame. That’ll cover most welding projects, right up to high-end work. It’s rated for MIG, TIG, and stick projects, provided that you get the right lenses installed.
You can modify it easily. There are tons of replacement parts and custom options available, and they’re a lot less expensive than the top-shelf models. The shell fits standard lens sizes and accessories, so you can suit this one out however you need.
Since it’s not auto-darkening, this one does require a bit more muscle memory as you weld. You won’t be able to see very clearly once it’s on. However, you can always add an auto-darkening lens if you find that the fixed window isn’t working for you.
Some previous buyers weren’t thrilled with the rubber strap. They replaced it with a ratcheting clip for a more secure fit.
The white paint is pretty cheap, and some buyers said it chips off pretty easy. It also looks very plain and utilitarian. They suggested painting it yourself, which also gives you a more custom look.
It doesn’t fit well with hard hats. There’s an adaptor, but it’ll cost extra.
This one is Amazon’s best-selling welding helmet. It’s one of the cheapest auto-darkening models on the market, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. We like the wide range of darknesses it offers, as well as large window and sensor array. The complete top coverage is excellent for keeping sparks away from your hair.
It has a wide viewing window. At 3.86”X1.78”, there’s more room to see what you’re doing than you get with the Honeywell.
It’s extremely adaptive. The Antra is equipped with 4 separate sensors for picking up changes in light from your arc. Since the welding mode covers 9-13 shades, this one works for a variety of welding (mig, bic, stick). That makes it a more versatile choice right out of the box. The Honeywell, by contrast, works for all those types of welding, but you’ll have to switch the lenses out.
It’s pretty quick, for such an inexpensive model. It switches from light to dark in 0.00004 seconds. It takes around 1/10 of a second to return to light after you’re done with an arc.
You can adjust the sensitivity of the lens depending on your project. There’s a handy knob on the side of the helmet, so you can make adjustments without taking it off.
It’s hard but light. This one’s made from nylon, which is shatterproof and warp-resistant. We like it because it’s lighter than most plastic compounds. This one’s only about 1 pound–slightly lighter than the Honeywell.
It’s almost as inexpensive as the Honeywell. It also comes with quite a few replacement lenses, which sweetens the deal.
It’s covered by a 1-year warranty.
The plastic knob on the side of the mask is a bit cheap. On the whole, this one is pretty lightly built. However, that’s par for the course at this price.
Some previous buyers had problems with glitchy sensors. They said that the auto-darkening feature sometimes didn’t come on, or switched on and off at the wrong times.
It doesn’t work well outside. Previous buyers found that the daylight overwhelmed the sensors, so they weren’t responsive to arc light. That can lead to flashing and sore eyes.
Previous buyers said they frequently got flashed doing TIG welding. This is definitely not the most dependable model for TIG applications.
3. Miller Classic
This entry-level model from Miller gives you the confidence of a real industrial brand name with a reasonable price tag. This one has a few key upgrades over the Andra, with TIG compatibility being the big one. It’s also a more reliable choice overall. Previous buyers said it’s extremely light and comfortable, and they loved how many accessories and replacement parts are in the box.
It’s rated for TIG welding up to 20 amps. That’s a big advantage over the Andra, which tended to flash people in TIG applications.
You can adjust both the sensitivity and the delay time. That helps this one work more consistently than the Andra.
It’s easy to see what you’re doing, since this model lightens to a #3 shade. The switchover time is fast, too. There’s also a wide viewing window, about the same size as the Andra’s at 3.75 x 1.375 in.. This one ranges from 8-12 shade at high power.
It comes with a hard hat adaptor. While the Honeywell and Andra can be converted to work with hard hats, they don’t fit well out of the box. The included component makes the Miller a bit more convenient from the get-go.
There’s an automatic shutoff to help save the batteries. That’s a convenient extra that a lot of baseline models don’t have. Without the shutoff, lots of helmets end up storing dead, so you have to switch the batteries or leave them in the sun for a few minutes.
It’s the lightest auto-darkening unit on the market. That has made it a favorite among even some professional welders. They said that it’s ideal for working in awkward positions, especially for long periods of time. Experienced welders also wrote that while some newcomers spring for the most heavy-duty model available, many longtime workers know that the heavier the mask, the harder it’ll be to use for frequent work.
It’s a great package for new welders. This model includes a very generous instruction book, with plenty of tips and advice. You also get a few replacement lenses, which adds to the value factor.
Some previous buyers weren’t impressed by the value for money. This is a fairly basic entry level hood, and they didn’t see why it should cost twice as much as the Andra. While this one doesn’t have any additional features, we have found that it’s better made overall, and more reliable.
It’s not rated for overhead welding.
The adjustment knobs are on the inside of the helmet. They’re less convenient for making mid-weld adjustments.
It’s not quite as powerful a darkener as the Andra. This one only goes to a #12 shade, as opposed to #13. However, this one switches much more reliably.
4. Jackson Insight
This versatile helmet is a powerful, reliable choice for students and professionals alike. It’s one of the most dependable helmets on the market, and it’s up to date with the latest safety standards. The best part is the price, which is a good midpoint between the intro models and the professional equipment.
It uses 4 independent sensors to instantly adjust for light anywhere in your viewing field, even the periphery. That results in a faster response time, and a more appropriate shade of tint for controlling visibility.
You can make lots of adjustments. All the darkness shades are available on a manual switch, and you can also adjust the sensitivity to deal with all kinds of ambient light, including outdoor settings. That’s a big plus over the cheaper models. We also love that you can adjust the sensitivity and delay, in addition to the darkness levels themselves.
We like how easy to use the control pad is. It has labeled buttons, and a digital readout for checking on your settings.
The Insight is more versatile than the Miller, since it has a grind mode. That’s a set darkness mode with a light #4 tint for giving you some mild protection with more visibility than you’d get with a strong darkness setting. We also like the little warning light which kicks on in grinding mode. That saves you from forgetting to switch on the auto-dark feature before you start welding.
Previous buyers really complimented the view from this helmet. They liked the wideness of the field, the sensitivity of the auto-dark feature, and particularly the crisp image. Several professionals said it had better clarity and definition than other models they had used, especially at this price.
It’s a bit more powerful than the Miller as well. This one darks down to #13 shade.
It’s rated to 2010 safety standards, and it’s CSA compliant. This model has a fantastic reputation for reliability and protection. We’ve found that it’s one of the most-recommended models by welding instructors all over the country.
It’s a lot more comfortable than other options at this price. The Insight weighs about a pound, and has a lightweight nylon shell. It’s actually flexible, so it’s easier to get a comfortable fit on your head. Previous buyers found that it slipped less than other models, and was more comfortable for long hours of welding. That can make a big difference for your neck over long work hours!
Some previous buyers weren’t thrilled with the soft plastic shell. It’s definitely not as rigid-feeling as some other models, but that does mean it’s lighter. We also didn’t find any complaints of it falling apart.
5. Lincoln Viking
One of our favorite professional grade options is the Lincoln Viking. It’s equipped with their proprietary 4C lens technology, which gives you much greater clarity than the competition. We also like the size of the mask, which keeps your whole head secure and safe from spatter. This is a real precision expert’s helmet.
The special 4C technology used in the lens provides a clearer picture than almost any other on the market. It cuts out the usual green tint from darkened lenses. That gives you less of a night vision fuzz and more of the sort of view you’d have through sunglasses.
We found lots of reviews from previous buyers who marveled at how clear the view was. They found that being able to see the texture of the puddle clearly really improved their ability to do good welding work.
The lens is also large, with about a 9 square inch viewing area. You can adjust for ambient light, and there are knobs for tweaking sensitivity and the delay time.
It’s versatile and powerful enough to work for any type of welding or grinding. This will work for MIG, TIG, and stick welds, with plenty of wiggle room for adjusting to the heat of your torch.
In addition to protecting your eyes, this one provides a solid mask for keeping the rest of your head out of harm’s way. It’s a rigid shell, unlike the Insight. Previous buyers said it’s very reassuring, and felt professional grade.
It comes with a great hard hat attachment. You’ll also get a big bag and a bandana for keeping things comfortable as you work.
It’s expensive. It’s probably overkill for casual or student welders. If you’re a professional or regular welder, previous buyers urged that you’ll be glad you invested in this model.
6. Miller Digital Elite
Our top quality recommendation for the professional welder is this Miller helmet. It’s a high tech, heavy-duty helm for people who work with a torch full-time. While this one has a top-shelf price tag, we think its versatility and reliability justify the investment!
It has the best range of of any recommendations. This one has shading from #3-#13, with adjustment settings for ambient light and delay time at any shade level. That gives you all the versatility you could want for all types of welding and grinding. There’s also a separate grinding mode, which keeps the auto-dark on standby.
It’s got a very big viewing area, just like the Insight and Viking. This one has about twice the window of the cheaper Miller, at a 9” square area.
The view also benefits hugely from the electromagnetic sensors, which do a great job adapting to outdoor sun, pipes and curves, and other tricky spaces which can be obstructed by less advanced sensors. There are 4 independent sensors onboard, which give you a response time of 1/20,000th of a second. That’s half the time the Antra takes!
Previous buyers said this model was extremely comfortable, especially for welding all day. While headgear is usually the weak point on even the best helmets, this one has plenty of comfort padding and adjustable straps to keep it snug and secure as you work. Even with all the sophisticated sensors and electronics, it’s still just over 1 pound.
It locks up into standby position for when you need to inspect your work or do fine grinds without the lens. A lot of cheaper helmets don’t stay up, so you have to take them completely off to inspect. That’s not a problem with this model.
It comes with lithium ion batteries, a magnifying lens holder, 7 different cover lenses, and a big bag to keep it all in.
It meets all the high impact ratings, as of the 2003 national standards.
It’s covered by a 3-year warranty.
It’s a bit heavier than some of our other recommendations. However, most previous buyers actually said it felt light. That’s because the weight is smartly distributed.
It’s pretty pricey. This one will cost about the same as the Viking. That’s not a casual purchase for a lot of people, but previous buyers said it’s well worth the investment. Plus, with such a good warranty, your purchase is guaranteed to last.
Which is the Best Welding Helmet for You?
If you’re a casual welder, a student who’s just getting started, or someone on a tight budget, we strongly recommend either the Honeywell or the Antra.
The Honeywell is the best choice for people who do mostly the same type of welding job, since it has a set darkness level. It’s also one of the most customizable models on the market, so it’s ideal for catering your performance to the specific type of welding you do.
If you do lots of different types of welding, go for the Antra. However, it is quite a bit cheaper in construction than our other auto-darkening recommendations. We’ve also found that it has some reliability issues, especially with the sensor unit.
If you’re a casual welder or a student who can afford to spend a little more, you’ll see a pretty big quality upgrade with either the Miller Classic or Jackson Insight.
They’re both auto-darkening models, with more versatility for different welding projects. The Miller is the less expensive choice, and is a good choice for TIG welding in particular. We’re particularly impressed by the lightness of the hood.
The Jackson has a few key upgrades. We like the digital controls for adjusting around ambient light. It also has a dedicated grinding mode, which can really come in handy.
If you can afford it, we recommend going with the Jackson. There’s a reason it’s a top recommendation from most instructors. It’s rated to more recent safety standards than our other recommendations, and it’s one of the most reliable models on the market. However, the flexible design felt flimsier to some buyers.
For the professionals out there, we highly recommend either the Viking or the Miller Digital Elite.
They both offer fantastic clarity in the lenses, which really outclasses our cheaper recommendations. Choosing between the two is a bit difficult, since they have nearly the same specs and features. It’s mainly a question of brand loyalty.
If you’re a professional welder, you probably have a preference already. Go with that, and rest assured that either of these will be a real winner on the job! From our standpoint, the Miller has a slight edge, because of the extra-long warranty.
How to Choose the Best Welding Helmet
Decide on your budget:
As with any piece of safety equipment, it’s important to spend as much as possible, to make sure you’re getting the maximum protection. One other consideration to make in your budgeting is comfort. While some cheaper helmets can get the job done, they can be heavy and clunky to use for long periods of time. If you weld on a regular basis, you might experience neck strain.
The more you spend on a welding helmet, the more comfortable it’ll be to wear for long periods of time. It’ll have more sophisticated headgear to distribute the weight, and keep things still while you work.
More expensive models have better visibility, which helps you be more accurate with your work. However, after a certain point, helmets with elaborate electronics can start putting all that weight back on again.
In general, helmets start at around $50, and can cost as much as $400-500. More expensive models are more reliable, have more sensitive light sensors, and faster response times. They’ll also be able to handle more of a variety of welding work.
Choose your glass:
Welding helmets come with two types of viewing windows: standard and auto-darkening.
Standard windows have a set level of tint, a lot like a pair of sunglasses. They’ll be rated to protect your eyes up to a certain level of brightness.
In general, standard windows have a #10 tint, which is quite strong. These have been around for the past 50 years or so, so they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
In addition to the shaded “tint” of the glass, these should be coated to protect against UV and IR light radiation from your welding torch.
These models are a lot more affordable than auto-darkening helmets. They’re the best choice for people who do the same kind of welding on a regular basis.
However, they have a few disadvantages. Since the glass is always dark, you’ll have to know exactly where to aim your torch once you lower the mask. You won’t be able to see much of anything around you while the mask is in place.
That means you’ll have to keep raising and lowering the mask as you work. Flipping helmets on and off can get tiring on your neck, and it can also be inconvenient if you’re working in cramped spaces. It also slows you down.
If you’re not an expert, standard helmets can be more difficult to use. That’s because they require you to line everything up and remember exactly where it is once you’re in the dark under the helmet.
Auto-darkening helmets are more expensive, but they compensate for the big weak points on standard equipment. Since they can switch darkness super quickly, you’ll be able to keep your helmet on for longer periods. They’ll also help you get a variety of tasks done without having to switch out your lenses each time you adjust the heat of your torch.
The auto-darkening technology is how the glass switches tint to give you a balance of visibility and protection in any setting. In standby mode, the glass has a ~#3-4 darkness level. You can see around you to work, like a pair of sunglasses. As soon as you get an arc going, the glass will automatically respond and darken to a level corresponding to the brightness of the arc (~#10-13)
These helmets allow you to keep your mask in place from start to finish. That improves your accuracy, saves strain on your neck, and keeps you working faster. However, they will make a bigger dent in your bank account.
We recommend auto-darkening helmets to most buyers, since the majority of welders do a variety of tasks. That means you’ll be exposed to a range of brightnesses. You should have a helmet that gives you adequate protection for all of them.
Compare switching speeds:
Switching speed refers to the amount of time it takes for the glass in your helmet to change between standby and welding mode. It’s the brief period between when you start an arc and when the helmet is giving you full protection.
This is a pretty straightforward spec to look for–you’ll want the fastest speed possible. Helmets with a slower switching speed are cheaper, but they can leave your eyes fatigued after a long day of welding.
That can lead to a condition called “arc flash,” which is dry and scratchy feelings in your eyes. None of those symptoms are an issue with high switching speeds.
What should you buy? If you’re only going to be welding for an hour or so on occasion, you can get away with a lower speed helmet.
However, if you’re welding for several hours at a time on a regular basis, it’s worth spending the extra money for faster equipment that’ll save your eyes.
Think about your welding goals and expertise:
Think about comfort:
Weight is the key thing to consider here. A lighter, better-balanced helmet is going to cost you more money, but it’ll really save your neck. For instance, a 2 pound helmet might not seem heavy on paper, but it can be a killer after a whole morning or afternoon on the job. Try to get the lightest option you can afford.
Keep safety in mind:
Make sure your helmet meets national safety standards. While some helmets cheat by meeting much older standards (set way back in the 1980s), you’ll want to make sure yours is up to date with the latest regulations (set in 2003).
“ANSI Z87.1 – 2003” or “Z87+”
Any variation on “ANSI-approved” or other vague claim is a sure bet that the helmet meets the older standards, but not the new ones. It’s not worth risking your safety just to get a good deal. Spend a few more dollars and get something up to par.
Not sure any of our recommendations are the right helmet for you? Check out Amazon’s best-selling models here!