Ever seen a master fab man at the track?
He’s that old guy welding patiently to keep the team in the race. He’s calmly efficient in the midst of chaos and thunder.
Keep your eyes on that old guy. Sneak a peek in his tool cabinet when the car’s back on the track. You might be surprised to find an old-fashioned, low tech passive welding helmet in there.
There’s a reason oldtimers like the passive helmet, and it’s not just because they’re stubborn.
This guy simply can NOT AFFORD to have a malfunction when the pressure is on. Old-fashioned passive helmets still have their place in the shop.
Modern electronics are incredible, but auto-darkening helmets can stop working or malfunction just when you need them the most.
At times like that, remember the old guy in the pits, quietly doing his job while everyone else is freaking out.
Passive helmets are cheap to try. And it never hurts to have one around if you break your ADF or the batteries need charging.
Let’s take a look at the best passive welding helmets and see what’s right for you.
In a Rush?
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
Best Passive Welding Helmets With Reviews
Find the right passive welding helmet for you
1. Jackson HLX 10 Passive Welding Helmet
- Light weight
- Hard hat adaptable
- High-quality construction at an affordable price
- Shade level 10 polycarbonate filter
- large viewport allows viewing the weld from an angle
- Sturdy yet light weight
- Comfortable Jackson headgear
- Rugged construction
- Very thin shell isn’t durable for continuous stick welding
Jackson Safety is a staple of the welding scene, known for quality construction and comfortable headgear. If made in the U.S.A is important to you, Jackson still builds them here.
One of the most-mentioned positives with the Jackson HLX 10 is that it stays up well. It locks into place at the top of the pivot, but drops easily with a slight nod. Most users like the high-quality optics. The big viewing area lets you see the work at an angle when you can’t fit your helmet into the work zone.
Naturally as a Jackson hallmark, the headgear is praised for its comfort. Some old-timers who’ve been using Jackson for their entire careers feel the newer headgear isn’t as strong as the old ones were. Want evidence that this is a professional-level welding helmet? Several welders have reported using this helmet for decades, as long as 40 years in some cases.
This helmet is also praised for its light weight, a factor that helps minimize fatigue after a long day of nodding the hood down.
2. Jackson 14535 Huntsman Passive Welding Helmet
- Ultra-lightweight Hydraflex 6-oz shell
- Hard hat adaptable
- Can be upgraded to Jackson ADF filters
- Meets ANSI Z87.1 standards and is CSA compliant
- ultra-lightweight shell weighs only six ounces
- hard hat adaptable
- meets ANSI Z87.1 and CSA compliant
- Gold-colored lens is great for TIG
- Some owners say the shell is too thin
Between its ultra light weight with a 6-ounce shell and the gold lens color, this helmet is a real value at the price. Some owners feel it’s too thin and might not be suitable for hot stick welding. Others report they’ve done overhead stick welding and flux-core MIG without any problems.
When you’re looking at passive helmets, there’s a clear advantage to such a light shell. Nodding your head all day long can really wear out your neck with a heavier helmet.
Users rave about the optics on this helmet. Not only is the filter glass ultra clear, it uses the coveted gold filter instead of green tint for much truer colors. The icing on the cake? You can upgrade this helmet to auto-darkening filters. It’s as easy as swapping in Jackson’s True Sight and Next Gen auto-darkening systems.
The Jackson 370 headgear is often praised in welding shops as the most comfortable design available in a welding helmet. When you combine that with ultra light weight and a gold lens, it’s hard to beat this one.
3. Jackson Safety HSL 100 Welding Helmet
- Lightweight design made for comfort
- Hard hat adaptable
- Extended front increases neck protection
- Comes with cover plate and shade 10 filter
- Extended front increases neck protection
- Narrow shell for work in tight spaces
- Lightweight design is made for comfort
- Some owners say the headgear is cheap quality
This deal is a great buy. For the price of a cheap ADF helmet, you can have four nice passive helmets. That makes it possible to have different shade levels in different helmets. Shade 10 is the most common, but for stick welding over 60 amps, you really need more like shade 13.
You could put a gold filter in one instead of green for outstanding true-color clarity, especially when working with TIG. Because Jackson passive helmets are upgradeable, you can also fit one with an auto-darkening filter. Then you could have two shades of green, one in gold and an ADF.
Here’s a really good idea for beginning welders. When you’re first starting out, it’s only a matter of time before you set your helmet on a fresh weld and burn a hole in it. If that happens to you, you’re ready to go with a replacement shell in no time at all.
Owners report outstanding optical clarity and of course, the Jackson headgear is probably the best overall design in the shop.
Finally, this helmet design extends nicely downward to protect the neck area.
4. Miller MP10 Passive Welder's Helmet
- 15.7-square-inch viewport
- Heavy-duty construction
- Ratchet knob headgear adjustment
- Good neck coverage
- Big viewport for easy welding
- Sturdy headgear
- Slim profile for tight spaces
- Some users say the headgear has sharp edges
- Polycarbonate lens should be replaced with glass
Miller is another giant in the welding industry. However, Miller is known more for its welding machines than its safety equipment. This is a passive helmet with a huge viewport and users like the optics.
There are mixed reports on the headgear. Some welders love its secure fit and others complain of sharp edges. Some have replaced the headgear with the Jackson 370. Miller also offers the Gen III upgrade headgear, which is heavily padded.
A few users have reported the helmet touching the head when raising the hood. Because this helmet has such a slim design, it’s possible these clearance issues won’t be a problem for smaller welders.
Miller is known for sturdy construction. Most reports show that this helmet is certainly heavy-duty. Some users feel the shell is too thin.
Miller offers an accessory lighting kit to attach two flashlights to the helmet. This makes it easier to see what you’re doing before you strike an arc. This is a good idea that offsets some of the advantages of auto-darkening filters.
5. ArcOne H-0300 Black Hawk Passive Helmet
- Very light helmet
- Good coverage
- Comfortable enough for all day use
- Comfortable headgear with ratchet adjusting
- Replaceable polycarbonate lens covers
- Controllable drop when nodding the hood down
- Cheap quality headgear
- Curved cover lens bothers some welders
The ArcOne Black Hawk is a lightweight helmet. Owners report that it’s well-balanced and comfortable for all-day use, with a good feel when nodding to drop the hood. It stays up well without dropping suddenly when you’re not expecting it.
Some users don’t like the curved filter cover because of glare issues. This is a pretty common complaint with any helmet that uses a curved cover. It’s a good idea to try a helmet out before buying, if you’re interested in a helmet with a curved lens cover.
Most users feel the headgear is comfortable enough, but is too cheap to last. Many welders recommend switching in the Jackson 370 headgear. Because of the slim design, this helmet might fit a little too close for comfort with large users.
With such a thin shell, stick welding overhead can be an issue. Some owners believe it will work for occasional stick welding, but not for steady work of that type. In general, it’s rated well by users for professional work in a production environment.
Passive Helmet Buying Guide
Passive helmets do have some distinct advantages over ADF technology:
Good Passive Helmets Have Better Optics
You’ll have a much clearer view of the welding puddle with a passive helmet because their optics are of superior quality to most ADF helmets. There are some exceptions, but the ADF systems that offer the same level of clarity are quite expensive.
No Batteries, Adjustments or Power Switches
ADF filters need to have the battery charged. If you strike an arc with a dead battery, you’re going to flash yourself. Some also have to be turned on first. You’ll flash yourself if you forget to switch the ADF on.
ADF helmets tend to be heavier because of larger glass area and the added weight of electronics and batteries. They also tend to be bulkier because they have gadgetry that passive helmets don’t have.
Passive helmets have another advantage over electronics. They don’t malfunction or have adjustment problems. ADF helmets can malfunction in very cold or very hot environments.
ADF helmets can darken before you’re ready to weld in bright sun or when welding overhead with shop lights. Reflections on stainless steel and polished aluminum can also trigger an ADF helmet before you’re ready to strike an arc.
Passive Helmet Shopping List
Like any welding helmet, your passive helmet needs to be light enough to wear all day. This becomes more important because of the need to repeatedly “nod down” the hood before striking an arc. Repetitive stress injuries are a real possibility if the helmet is too heavy.
There’s a lot more movement going on with a passive helmet, so it better fit tight and be well padded. The helmet needs to be well-balanced and swivel easily without closing unexpectedly.
It’s common for helmet makers to offer polycarbonate lenses nowadays. This keeps the price down, but we’re talking about plastic here. Polycarbonate lenses will have to be replaced. Glass has much clearer vision and lasts much longer through weld spatter and scrapes. The main advantage of polycarbonate is shatter resistance.
No matter what kind of welding helmet you’re considering, it has to cover your face, neck and ears to be truly useful. Finally, lots of shops and work sites require a hard hat. You need to have a helmet that easily adapts to fit your hard hat.