Built with heavy-duty ABS shell and shock-absorbing EPS core. Has 14 individual vents for temperature control. Includes washable ear pads and inner fleece liner. Size is adjustable. Available in many colors.
Some noted removable ear pads fall off easily.
Built with tough ABS shell exterior and shock-absorbing EPS interior. Has 10 vents to keep it at the desired temperature. Available in different colors. Includes removable plush earmuffs for added warmth. Comes with goggle clip to keep eyewear in place.
Not compatible with headphones.
Constructed with durable outer shell and strong internal EPS liner. Designed with air vents for temperature regulation. Comes with removable earpads and inner liner for extra warmth. Available in different colors. Meets ASTM standards.
Some noted size discrepancy.
Constructed with impact-absorbent outer shell and ultra-plush interior liner. Designed with shock-absorbing EPS foam and 13 adjustable vents for temperature regulation. Size is adjustable. Includes audio-compatible earpads and secure goggle strap.
More expensive than other options.
Made with durable ABS shell and shock-absorbent EPS foam. Designed with 2 reinforced layers that provide protection both inside and out. Includes adjustable vents to regulate temperature. Rigorously tested for safety. Size is adjustable. Earbuds are compatible with all major aftermarket audio systems.
Some noted poor goggle strap.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
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 an enormous array of choices in 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.
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 this initially 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 in 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.
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.