N5a Vs N6a: The Battle Between the Best Fire Helmets!

When it comes to safety gear for firefighting purposes, a fire helmet is truly essential. For a firefighter’s safety and to abide by the safety standards, a good fire helmet is needed.

The Cairns N5a and N6a are two of the most popular fire helmets in recent times. Still, people face a lot of problems when deciding between these helmets!

So, which one’s the better option n5a vs n6a?

Between the N6a and N5a, the N5a has NFPA approval and the N6a will get you OSHA approval. But the N6a is a bit more expensive and heavier than the N5a. While N5a has 2 applications, N6a has only 1 application. Yet, N5a provides 2 layers of impact protection while N6a provides 3 layers of protection!

This much info won’t be enough for you to make the best decision. Read the article till the end to know the critical details about these helmets.

N5a Vs N6a: a Brief Overview

A quick look into the bigger picture can help you make the appropriate and solid decision. The chart below has jotted down all the key differences between these two safety helmets. Take a look.

Differentiating Factors N5a N6a
Impact Cap Double Layer Triple Layer
Approval OSHA NFPA
Front Holders 6” (Optional) 6” (Optional)
Colors Available 8 8
Chinstrap  Yes Yes
Neck and Ear Protection Available Available
Handcrafted Yes Yes
Build Material Leather  Leather
Faceshield Yes Yes
Reflective Trim Reflexite and Scotchlite Reflexite and Scotchlite
Sizes Available Medium and Large Medium and Large
Applications Firefighting, Search, and Rescue Firefighting Only
Weight 4.409 lbs 4.623 lbs
Height 8.6” 8.6”
Length 15.7” 15.7”
Width 11.8” 11.8”
Warranty 10 Years 10 Years
Price Check Prices on Amazon Check Prices on Amazon

N5a Vs N6a: a Detailed Comparison

Now that you’re ready with the overview, let’s provide you with the details! The elaborated comparison of the key factors is given below. Give it a good read!

Impact Cap:

Impact Cap
Source: us.msasafety.com

The plastic insert of a cap is the impact cap of a helmet, which protects against impacts. 

For the N5a there is an impact cap double-layer protection. The double layer of protection can withstand a decent amount of impact. 

While 2 layers of protection are great, it’s still lesser than the upgraded version, the N6a. Although, the N5a does have an optional 6” front holder, which diverts energy from the head/neck area. 

The N6a has 3 layers of impact cap protection, which makes it more resistant against impacts. In comparison, the impact will be dampened in the N6a more than the N5a. Similar to the N5a, the N6a also has an optional feature of a 6” front holder.

The impact caps of these helmets provide significant thermal protection and penetration protection. Additionally, both helmets have Nomex/PBI/Kevlar earlap neck and ear protections as well.

Summary: Between the N5a and N6a, N6a has more impact cap layers and protection than the N5a.


Fire helmets can be multipurpose helmets. However, not all of them are multipurpose.

The N6a helmet’s application is only for firefighting. This helmet does not follow any other applications.

On the other hand, the N5a has 2 applications. With the N5a helmet, you can join in firefighting or search and rescue protocols. N5a follows all the necessary rules to abide by these 2 protocols.

As you can tell, fire hazards are quite dangerous. To prevent fire hazards and damage, you can install fire alarms in your building/house. 

So, prepare a budget for the fire alarm and the inspection cost of fire alarms to prevent fire hazards!

Summary: When it comes to having more than one application, N5a’s better than N6a for having 2 applications.


Knowing the approvals of fire helmets is important because it helps to determine the certifications of the helmet.

The N5a has OSHA approval (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). OSHA approvals ensure healthful and safe conditions.

On the other hand, the N6a has NFPA approval (National Fire Protection Association). NFPA is part of OSHA and ensures non-risky electrical and fire hazards.

Summary: In terms of standards and approvals, the N6a has NFPA approval whilst the N5a has OSHA approval.

Face Shield and Chinstrap:

Having a face shield and chin strap on a fire helmet are necessary. Face shields help protect the eyes against impacts while chinstraps make sure the helmet stays in place.

Fortunately, both the N5a and N6a have face shield and chinstrap options! The face shield has a non-corroding high-temperature glass.

Moreover, the chin straps are made with soft black Nomex, which features a one-hand quick-release option. This increases efficiency by reducing the time taken to take off the helmet.

Speaking of saving time, in the case of fire hazards, don’t forget to use the emergency staircase. The emergency lights stay on so that you can always find the staircase!

Summary: The N6a and the N5a have face shield/goggles and chinstrap options available.


Every fire helmet has different sizes available for different users. The more versatile the sizes are, the better the chances of a good fit!

The Cairns N6a helmet has two sizes available. The first one is medium size and the second one is large. The size of the medium helmet ranges from 6-⅜ to 7-½. The large helmet’s size ranges from 7-⅝ to 8-⅜

Quite similarly, the N5a also has the same sizes available and the ranges are identical as well. Both helmets have a height of 8.6”, a length of 15.7”, and a width of 11.8”.

Summary: Both the N6a and the N5a have medium and large sizes available. The measurements are also the same.


Fire helmets have different colors assigned for the different tasks of firefighters. The different components also consist of various colors. 

The N5a and the N6a helmets have 8 colors available in total. The following colors are Green, Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Black, Natural, and White. 

All of the colors here abide by OSHA and NFPA approvals. Both professional firefighters and volunteer firefighters can get paid by using any of the base 8 colors. 

Summary: There are a total of 8 colors available for both the N5a and N6a helmets.


weight of fire helmets
Source: abcfireandsafety.com

The weight of fire helmets counts a lot! In rescue missions, the helmet needs to be put on for extended periods. The lighter the fire helmet, the better.

The weight of the N6a is 4.623 lbs. This does fall in the average weight of fire helmets, which is between 3 to 5 lbs. However, it’s the heavier option between the N5a and N6a.

On the contrary, the N5a is the lighter option in comparison. This fire helmet weighs 4.409 lbs. While the weight difference is minimal, the reduced weight helps a lot in missions!

Summary: The N5a is the lighter option when comparing the N5a and the N6a helmets. 


Fire helmets are one of the costliest helmets as their production is costly as well. But cost does have less precedence than safety!

The N6a comes at 2825-2830 dollars. It is the more expensive helmet in comparison. You can buy this helmet from different safety companies throughout the USA.

On the contrary, the Cairns N5a fire helmet costs 2650- 2660 dollars. It’s almost 200 dollars cheaper than its successor, N6a. Featurewise, the N5a does offer a lot in its price point!

Summary: Between the Cairns N5a and N6a helmets, the N5a is the cheaper option when it comes to cost.

N5a Vs N6a: Which Helmet Should You Buy?

The necessary factors have been discussed above. But if you still want a summed-up version, here it is.

Both helmets are handcrafted, provide 10 years of warranty, and have multiple features. Regarding size, medium and large sizes and face shields are also available for the N5a and N6a. Numerous colors and chinstrap options are available for the helmet.

The N6a will get you OSHA approval, but it’s a bit more expensive and heavier than the N5a. On the contrary, the N5a is lighter and cheaper than the N6a. 

The N5a and N6a have optional front holders and face shields. You can even adjust the reflective trim’s material! It can be done by using the Assemble-to-Order (ATO) sheet while ordering any of these 2 fire helmets.

The N5a has applications for both firefighting and search and rescue. However, the N6a is approved for only firefighting and is limited to 1 application. Although, the triple impact cap layer will provide you with extra safety if you choose N6a!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Does OSHA require NFPA?

No, OSHA does not require NFPA. The NFPA approval isn’t incorporated by Reference in 29 CFR 1910.6 like the OSHA. But there are a few common standard requirements between the OSHA and NFPA approvals. Performing PPE, hazard assessments, etc are some examples. 

What are the NFPA classifications?

The NFPA has a total of 6 classifications. The following classifications are, Class IA, Class IB, Class IC, Class II, Class IIIA, and Class IIIB. These classes are created based on the flash and boiling point of flammable liquids.

Are leather fire helmets heavy?

No, leather fire helmets aren’t necessarily heavy. Leather is one of the most efficient fire helmet materials because it’s moderately light and heat resistant. The fire helmets that are made with leather are quite durable and light!


There you go! That’s every bit of information that differentiates n5a vs n6a fire helmets. 

If you’re equipping yourself for firefighting, make sure you have the other gear as well. Having fire-resistant boots, PPE, gas masks, etc will maximize your safety!

All the best!