How to Choose the Best Ski or Snowboard Helmet

Mad Jack Outdoor offers a huge selection of Winter Sport Equipment.  We also have expert guides to help you make an informed decision.

You don't have to race slalom, ski the trees, or catch massive air to appreciate a helmet. In fact, these days, almost all skiers or snowboarders wear one — why not protect your noggin?!  Helmets also provide skiers and riders the added benefit of warmth. That being said, when wearing your helmet, remember that they are valuable but not invincible, and any protection they may provide is limited.

Ski & Snowboard Helmet Components

Just like hiking boots differ from running shoes, snow helmets are different from bike or skateboard helmets. They have specific features such as ear coverage, moisture-wicking liners and temperature-sensitive materials.

Shell: The shell, or outer layer of the helmet, is a rigid surface (typically ABS high-impact plastic) that protects the head against sharp objects, knocks and abrasions. It also helps spread impact energy over a larger portion of the helmet during a fall.

Inner liner: This is typically made from EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam, the material that looks like Styrofoam®. It's designed to absorb impact. In a crash, the liner foam gets compressed, a condition that you may or may not be able to discern. Note : a helmet should always be destroyed and replaced after a serious fall.

Ski & Snowboard Helmet Assembly

In-mold helmets: These are made by attaching the shell and shock-absorbing foam in a single molding process. They are sleek and much lighter than injection-molded helmets.

Injection-molded helmets: These use an EPS foam bonded to a separate shell, usually made of high-impact ABS plastic. These helmets are very durable against everyday knocks and falls compared to in-mold helmets.

Some helmets have detachable ear pads and liners for adjustable warmth.

Ski & Snowboard Helmet Sizing and Fit

Helmets should fit comfortably and sit on your head correctly for best protection.

Measuring for your size: You can find your correct size by measuring your head with a tape measure — position it just above the ears and about 1" above your eyebrows. Measure around the largest part of your head to determine the circumference of your head. Look at the chart on the helmet product page to find your best size.

Checking the fit: A good helmet should feel secure but not tight. If the helmet rocks back and forth, the fit is too loose. Shake your head from side-to-side. If the helmet moves, try a smaller size, adjust the sizing mechanism or use thicker sizing pads. Push up the front and back edges. If they move, tighten the straps.

There should be no gap between the top of your goggles and the helmet. Make sure the helmet fits snugly to the top of the goggles, but not so low that it obstructs vision or pushes down the goggles.

The helmet should be positioned low enough in the front to protect your forehead. It should sit level with its front edge no more than 1" above the eyebrows. Lastly, check to ensure there are no gaps between your head and the helmet lining.

Chinstrap/buckle: The chinstrap needs to fit back against the throat to reduce the chance it will come off when it is impacted. The strap should fit snugly but loose enough for you to be able to chew food without feeling choked or pinched. Always fasten the strap before riding.

Ski & Snowboard Helmet Features and Accessories

Vents: Vents bring cool air in and warm, sweaty air out. Some helmets have removable plugs, which means you need to take your helmet off to adjust the airflow. More popular helmets have adjustable vents. With the push of a lever you can instantly adjust your airflow level.

Camera Mount: Helmet mounted cameras,such as the GoPro are a popular add-on, and some helmet styles now include a built-in camera mount.

Audio: Some helmets come with built-in speakers that let you listen to your cell phone. For others, just add earbuds and you're ready to rock.

Liners: Detachable ear pads and drop liners let you customize warmth levels. Removable liners can be washed, which is a value add after a long day on the mountain.

Goggles compatibility: Most helmets allow for direct attachment of your goggles, but they accomplish this in several ways. Read the helmet's instructions.

Hard case: A hard storage/travel case (sold separately) helps to keep your helmet looking shiny and new.

Ski & Snowboard Helmet Safety Certifications

ASTM F2040: This is the most common snow helmet certification. This U.S.-based standard covers non motorized recreational snow sports including skiing and snowboarding. Look for the ASTM sticker on the inside of the helmet to ensure its certification.

CE EN1077: This is a European certification for alpine skiing and snowboarding helmets. Some helmets are certified to both ASTM and CE EN standards, though one could conceivably meet the CE EN standard but not the ASTM standard.

Important note: Helmets are valuable but not invincible. Per the ASTM website: "Although a helmet that meets this specification will help reduce the risk of some types of injuries to the head at slower speeds, the protection is limited."

Check out Mad Jack Outdoor for Winter Gear · Ski and Snowboard Helmets · Snowboards Skis · Snowboards · Ski Boots · Snowboard Boots · Ski Bindings · Snowboard Bindings · Kids Snowboards · Kids Skis

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