The Best Head and Neck Restraint Systems (HANS) of 2016
By Bradley Iger
July 11, 2016
In road racing, all sanctioning bodies require you to wear a head and neck restraint (HANS device). While the details may seem a bit gruesome, the reasoning should be enough to convince you that HANS devices are a great invention. If you think about it, your torso is strapped into the car. If you and hit a barrier or another car, your car will stop – potentially very quickly. Your harness will prevent your torso from slamming into the steering wheel, but what stops your head? Since your head weighs about 11 lb, it has serious momentum and in a crash it wants to keep moving while your torso remains relatively stationary. If your head keeps moving and your torso is held to the seat, you could break you neck, as we learned when Dale Earnhardt was killed at Daytona. Instead, you wear a HANS device which connects your helmet (and head) to the relatively stationary harness that is holding your torso in place.
There are several types of head and neck restraint devices, each with its own benefits:
Most versatile: Necksgen ($599.00) – Many people like the Necksgen because of the way it sits on the shoulders and the lack of chest “horns”. The Necksgen is usable with 2” and 3” shoulder harnesses. It provices some side impact protection, while traditional HANS systems work primarily front-back.
Lightest weight: HANS Carbon Fiber Pro Ultra ($1,099.00). If you are comfortable with the traditional HANS shape, the Pro Ultra is the one to get. We like the light weight for endurance racing and in high-power cars. We also think the carbon is shaped a bit more comfortably.
Best for different layback angles: Schroth SHR Flex ($575.00). If you race both sedans and formulas cars or sports racers, you might like a HANS device that works with the 20 degree seat layback typical in sedans and the 30 degree layback of a formula car. The SHR Flex has horns made of a soft material that conforms to you body and works in either type of car without adjustment.
Best Track Day: Simpson Hybrid Head and Neck Restraint ($1,160.00). Almost all HANS devices assume a 5 or 6 point harness typical of race cars. But if you are running your street car in HPDE or at a track day, what do you do? You get the Hybrid Sport. The Hybrid Sport has a fabric truss that straps to your torso, so it doesn’t depend on the harness to hold your helmet and head in place relative to your torso. Of course, you still wear your OEM 3-point seat belts.
Most Comfortable: Necksgen ($599.00). Because the Necksgen doesn’t ride over the clavicle, some people find it significantly more comfortable. Remember, you are being strapped in, and the harness straps push the HANS down onto your shoulder area. If you have well-defined clavicle bones, this offers a pinch point for some people.