Surpasses competitors with hybrid SL shell build that provides superior protection and comfort plus a host of exceptional features: warm lining, adjustable climate system with 21 vents, and removable goggle lock. Comes in numerous sizes and colors.
Sizing is inaccurate for many, so it may be challenging to find your best size. Expensive, but you get top quality.
You get a lot for your money with this affordable helmet, as it comes in numerous colors and sizes with reinforced construction for superior protection. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Some owners complain about the rear size adjustment dial pushing into the back of the neck. Finding the best size is challenging. Lining could be thicker.
Crafted for sports that require agility such as skiing, thanks to the lightweight feel, durable materials, and good airflow. Comfortable on most and warm.
Awkward to wear with most goggles, as it has the tendency to make them slide out of place. Runs a bit large, but the fit is fairly easy to adjust.
In addition to being a tough, comfortable kids' helmet with a soft fleece lining, it comes in several color options for girls and boys. Includes matching goggles.
Costly for a kids' helmet, but the quality matches the price. A few customers received the wrong colors.
Not only does this helmet provide reasonable protection and come with a handy face mask, but it also has built-in audio in the ear pads. Comes in a variety of sizes and several colors.
The chin strap tends to be uncomfortable, difficult to adjust, and isn't long enough for some wearers. Construction doesn't seem quite as rugged as some competitors. Cord that operates the sound system is flimsy.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Whatever your favorite snow sport, you need good head protection. A mild concussion can leave you nauseated, dizzy, and unable to function properly for a week or more. Serious head injuries can result in permanent disability.
Fortunately, you have enormous choice when it comes to high-quality snow sport helmets. If you’re an occasional skier or snowboarder, there are plenty of models that are very affordable, so there’s no excuse not to protect yourself. On the other hand, if you take to the slopes every chance you get, you’ll probably want to invest in something a little more lightweight and high tech.
We’ve been looking at the current generation of snow sports headgear so we can help you pick the helmet that’s right for you. Our recommendations underline the variety of performance and price options available, and in the following comprehensive review we look at construction, comfort, and other features you should be thinking about before you buy.
Most snow sport helmets are made from ABS plastic (technically, a thermoplastic polymer), which offers high impact resistance at a reasonable price. Fiberglass models arguably offer more protection, but weight and cost mean they’re no longer very popular. Carbon fiber is extremely tough and lightweight but also very expensive.
Snow sport helmet shells are constructed in two ways:
Injection molded: Also called hard shell, these are made with the shell and inner liner as different items that are then bonded together. The shell is tough but comparatively heavy. It is resistant to penetration impact and thus more durable, but it’s less good at dissipating impact forces. It’s also more difficult to add venting.
In-mold: These helmets are made as a single item. They’re lighter, more compact, often have more venting, and absorb impact better, though in the event of a crash they may sustain more shell damage. While that makes them more likely to need replacing, it’s recommended you do so after a serious crash anyway.
Liners are invariably made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which acts as a shock absorber. It does the job very well for lateral forces, those that impact in a straight line, regardless of direction. Where it isn’t so good is in rotational impacts in which the head is twisted. This has an obvious effect on neck muscles, but it can also make brain injuries worse.
Big improvements have been made with the introduction of the Multidirectional Impact Protection System (MIPS), originally developed by scientists in Stockholm, Sweden. However, it’s complex and therefore adds quite a lot to the cost. For casual skiers and snowboarders, it’s perhaps a question of budget. If you’re an avid snow sports enthusiast, it’s highly recommended.
Fit is extremely important. A poorly fitting snow sports helmet won’t provide adequate protection and could even come off in the event of a major crash. A moderate amount of adjustment will be provided, but it’s important to get the size as close to right as possible in the first place. Manufacturers should provide sizing charts, although it’s not unusual for cheaper models to be a little larger or smaller than expected. Some retailers offer guidance as to the precision of the fit and checking online buyer feedback is also a good idea.
It might be chilly when you first get out in the snow, but with a bit of vigorous exercise you’ll soon warm up — and start to sweat. That can make the inside of your helmet pretty unpleasant (it can also make your goggles fog up). The solution is increased airflow, which can either be passive, through simple slots cut in the shell, or active, with adjustable ventilation.
A variety of materials are used for the inner fabric to improve comfort. Fleece is common. Some offer wicking, which helps remove moisture. You may find some helmets with removable ear pads and/or liners, so you can adjust the padding to suit the conditions and remove it wash from time to time.
Some snow sports helmets come with goggles included, which should make for a good match. Whether they do or not, a visor clip at the back of the helmet is a valuable addition to keep the strap securely in place. A few helmets have built-in visors. While initially it seems like a good idea, they aren’t particularly popular. We feel it’s largely a question of personal preference.
If you like to listen to music while you’re out on the snow, look for earpieces that offer audio support. This varies from those designed to accept your existing earbuds to fully integrated systems that can include two-way communication. Several snow sport helmets also have an action camera mount preinstalled.
Goggles: Wildhorn Roca Ski and Snowboarding Goggles
You need a good pair of goggles for clear vision on the slopes, but the cost of the best will put off many. The Wildhorn Roca goggles offer similar top-quality style and features at a fraction of the price of some models, and they’re the official goggles of the United States Ski Team.
Action camera: GoPro Hero 7 Black
If you want to record and share your adventures, there’s nothing better than this rugged, waterproof, high-resolution device. Advanced video stabilization provides superb playback regardless of conditions. Voice activation means your hands are free for balance and control, and a range of mounts makes it easy to fit to just about any helmet.
Inexpensive: Every model sold in the US should be built to the ASTM International safety standard, so even the cheapest snow sports helmets, in the $30 to $50 range, provide a good level of protection.
Mid-range: For between $60 and $100, you get lighter helmets with air vents and sometimes audio capability. Goggles might also be included.
Expensive: High-end skiing and snowboarding helmets usually offer MIPS, more complex adjustable ventilation, and greater comfort. Prices for ABS models start at around $120, and a few top $200. If you’re looking for carbon fiber, you can add another $100 to that.
The OMORC Ski Helmet is low cost, yet it has many of the features you’ll find in more expensive models. It’s certified to United States and European standards, has regulated ventilation and easy adjustment, and the earmuff lining is detachable for washing.
If you’re looking for a snow sport helmet with a great recommendation, check out the WildHorn Outfitters Drift Snowboard and Ski Helmet worn by the US Ski Team. Light, with a patented ventilation system, audio compatible, and competitively priced, it’s no wonder it’s popular.
The Oakley brand always means quality, and its Mod 5 Ski/Snowboarding Helmet is no exception. The super-tough outer shell comes with MIPS, variable ventilation, and pressure regulation, plus audio compatibility. The one-piece liner is removable for cleaning, and there’s a one-handed magnetic buckle system. It’s pricey, though.
Q. Are snow sport helmets compulsory?
A. It depends on your age and where you go for your winter sports. In the United States, some resorts require children to wear them, but it’s still a matter of personal choice for adults. However, laws can change at any time, so it’s always worth checking if you’re traveling any distance. If you’re on vacation, you should also check the terms of your travel insurance. Regardless of regulations, we strongly recommend that you use a helmet. In the event of a fall, it could save your life.
Q. Should I wear anything under my snow helmet?
A. Hats and scarves are not recommended. If it fits properly, your helmet should be comfortable and warm. Adding an additional layer won’t improve things, and in the event of a fall or collision, it might cause the helmet to slip, reducing the protection it provides.
Q. How long should my snow sport helmet last?
A. All helmet materials begin to deteriorate eventually. Most manufacturers suggest you replace your helmet every five years whether there is visible damage or not. If there are cracks in the shell or the chin strap has gotten stretched, safety could be compromised. Also, if you’ve experienced a heavy impact, there could be damage beneath the surface that you can’t see. In either case, the helmet should be replaced immediately.