Best Snow Sport Helmets

Updated November 2021
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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.

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Buying guide for Best snow sport helmets

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.

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Wearing a helmet does not make you indestructible! For your safety and the safety of those around you, always follow the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) rules of conduct, found at www.superskicard.com/en/service/FIS-rules.

Key considerations

Shell

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.

Liner

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.

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For your safety
Even wearing a skiing or snowboarding helmet, you might still suffer a concussion. Make sure you know the signs so you can seek appropriate medical assistance.
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Features

Fit

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.

Vents

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.

Comfort

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.

Straps

Chin straps are adjustable, another important element in getting a snug fit. Most have quick-release buckles. Some have magnetic clasps that can be undone with one hand even when wearing ski gloves.

Goggles and visors

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.

Audio and video

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.

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Expert Tip
If you’re buying a children’s snow sport helmet, don’t be tempted to allow for “room to grow.” For safety’s sake, it should be the right size, right now.
STAFF
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Accessories

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.

Snow sport helmet prices

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.

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Caution
A bicycle or motorcycle helmet is not a substitute for a properly fitting snow sports helmet!
STAFF
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Tips for the right fit

  • When measuring your head, run the tape horizontally around the widest part. It’s usually about 1/2 to 3/4 inch over the top of your ears.
  • The helmet should be snug, with no rotational movement.
  • Do not tilt the helmet onto the nape of your neck.
  • The goggle strap should always fit over the helmet, not underneath.
  • The chin strap should hold the helmet firmly in place, but not so tightly that you can’t swallow normally. Check it every time before you set off for the slopes.
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The US standard for snow sport helmets is ASTM F2040. They may also be certified to Snell RS-98 (which many say is better). European helmets are made to CE standards, and CEN 1077, in particular.

FAQ

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.

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