If you’re welding outdoors on a pipeline job or any other type of fabrication work having a pancake welding helmet is a life saver. The enclosed box around your eyes really helps block sunlight from reflecting in your lens making your life a whole lot easier. On top of that, pancake welding helmets are a whole lot lighter than normal helmets, which reduces the fatigue that you will be feel by the end of a work day. Today we’re going to list our top 5 helmets and talk about the different factors to consider before you buy.
In A Hurry? Here Are Our Top Picks
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Best Pancake Welding Hoods
1. Sarge’s Pancake Welding Hood (OSHA Approved)
Sarge’s helmets are very popular and a lot of guys use them. They’ll run you about $120, but they are very light weight and incredibly durable. They have an extra supporting brace between the eye box and the side shield which really gives this helmet a solid feel.
Sarge uses lightweight balsa wood for the eye box which really helps reduce the weight of this helmet. The wood itself is smooth and easy to sand down to fit your face. The elastic strap included is pretty comfortable and the helmet feels great on your head overall because of how light it is.
This helmet is made in Oklahoma USA and is OSHA approved.
- Weight: 12.5 oz
- Face Shield: 10.5 inches
- Side Shield: 5.8 inches x 8 inches
What We Like:
- Light weight
- Well built eye box
- very sturdy helmet with extra brace
- Overall comfort
What We Don’t Like:
- No extra colors available
2. Wendy’s Pancake Welding Hood
Wendy’s Helmets are another very popular brand that you see a lot of guys use. They are made here in the USA and use balsa wood for the eye box making them very light weight.
They use a standard lens or Miller fix shaded lens making them easy to buy replacement lenses for just about anywhere.
These hoods comes in at 14.4 ounces making them just a little heavier than the Sarge hoods above.
- Weight: 14.4 oz
What We Like:
- Balsa wood eyepiece
- Uses standard easy to find lenses
- Comes with sand paper to sand eye box to fit your face
What We Don’t Like:
- Little bit heavier than the Sarge hoods
Factors To Consider When Choosing:
If you’re working as a professional welder on a pipeline job then the weight of your helmet can be a very important factor to consider before you buy. Less weight means less fatigue after long 10 hour days. Most good pancake helmets weigh between 12-15 ounces (little less than a pound). We would recommend you avoid any helmet heavier than that and spend a little more for a lighter one.
Be sure to take a look at the strap that is included with the helmet. We find that wider straps are often times more comfortable than skinnier ones. Some guys will purchase after market head straps and attach them to their helmet with no adjustment buckle. This will make the helmet non adjustable, but more comfortable to wear.
Side Shield Brace
Some helmets have a piece of wood between the side shield and the wooden enclosure for your eyes. This helps reinforce the side shield, but also makes the helmet heavier. In my experience I prefer the side brace as it doesn’t add too much weight and makes the helmet feel more solid. If for any reason you put pressure on the side shield of your helmet you’re less likely to bend or break it.
Pancake helmets normally fit standard lenses as well Miller fixed shade electronics lenses. This seems to be the standard across all helmets. If a helmet comes with a proprietary lens, stay far away and buy something else. You want to be able to pickup replacement lenses quickly and not have to order a specific lens from a manufacture. They can break often if you’re not careful.
For a light weight good quality helmet made in the USA you’re going to pay around $120. Anything less than that will likely get you a sub-par helmet in one way or another (weight, construction etc). If you’re making a living with this thing it’s worth the investment and you’ll really enjoy the increase in quality for the price.
Made In The USA
Most guys who run welding rigs want all of their equipment made in the USA as often times the quality is much better. There are a lot of really good brands to choose from that are made right here in the states. All of the helmets on our top 5 list are made in the US.
Carbon fiber helmets can be very light weight and durable, but will cost you a pretty penny. Some can get as low as 10 ounces in weight.
Why Are Pancake Welding Helmets Used Instead Of Regular Helmets?
Fully Enclosed Eye Enclosure
These helmets are light weight and have a full wooden enclosure that can be form fitted around your eyes. This wood enclosure stops unwanted sunlight from shinning on the back of your lens. If sunlight comes into your lens from the back side on a normal welding helmet you won’t be able to see anything, let alone weld.
Light Weight Design
Another great thing about pancake helmets are they’re light weight and they reduce fatigue from extended use. Most guys who use these are welding 8-10 hours a day and really can really feel every ounce of weight at the end of the day.
Extra Protection When Welding Over Your Head
If you find yourself welding underneath a pipe or working over your head you’ll find that a pancake helmet gives you extra protection compared to a normal helmet. Each helmet is equipped with a side shield that blocks the side of your face from getting hit with sparks.
With the way the helmet lays on your head, it is also a lot easier to wear a welding cap as well. Traditional welding helmets with adjustable plastic straps often times don’t fit well with a welding cap on. Pancake helmets use a elastic band that easily contours to your head, even if you have a hat on.