Whether you’re planning for a winter getaway or live near some resorts, strapping on a set of skis or a snowboard is an activity enjoyed by countless adrenaline junkies. Top ski resorts can be found all over Europe, the US and even here in Australia (although we’ll admit they can’t quite compare when it comes to run selection) all of which offer a chance to get your chilly thrills.
But aside from wanting to look the best-dressed on the slopes – and with a wide range of brands offering sublime ski jackets and pants, it’s pretty easy to – you’re clothing will go to waste if you have a fatal accident and end up in hospital, or worse. That’s where a ski helmet comes in. The majority of resorts won’t let you step foot into your boots without having one, but you’ll often see that one guy who thinks he’s invincible.
He’s not, and neither are you. So investing in some serious head protection is absolutely vital and should really be your first port of call when stocking up on ski and snowboard gear. There are myriad manufacturers of high-performance helmets, and we’ve sifted through the vast baulk to bring you the go-to guide for the best ski helmets for men currently available.
But what should you be looking out for when investing in a new helmet? There are countless construction methods, materials and technologies to help keep your noggin safe, along with other third-party products that add to their protectiveness, comfort and ease of use.
MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It’s been developed by brain surgeons and scientists, and is an added layer fitted to helmets to help reduce rotational forces applied to your head in crashes. When you fall off your skis or snowboard, you’re likely to fall at an angle.
Helmets that don’t have MIPS will rotate with your head, which can apply potentially damaging forces on your brain. What MIPS does is allow the helmet to move by up to 15mm during an impact, absorbing more of the energy and transferring it around the rest of the helmet to take the stress away from your brain.
Not all helmet manufacturers have adopted MIPS, but the ones that have will rock a yellow logo, so be sure to look out for this.
In-Mould is a form of building method that sees an inner foam layer fused directly to the outer helmet layer. Some manufacturers have their own various ways of referring to it (in-mould, in-mould, co-moulded) but they all relate to the same thing.
In-Mould helmets are tough-as-nails, being highly resistant to cracks from impacts and they allow for larger vents to be integrated too, improving airflow and keeping your head cool.
Fitting & Adjustment
It should go without saying that a ski helmet will only be truly effective if it is well-fitted to your head. You may need to try a few different models on to find one that works for you, and much of that will depend on the adjustment system it provides. Helmets come in sizes such as S/M and M/L, to cater for a range of head sizes, but then offer an adjustable inner layer to secure it in place.
Different manufacturers may use their own in-house systems, K2, for example, has a K2 Dialed system. Others, such as Smith and Oakley, have adopted the BOA Fit system. This third-party system is used on snowboard boots and ski helmets and allows the wearer to turn a dial to tighten or loosen the fit. Once you’ve found a fit that works, you simply push the dial in to hold it in place (and push to release it to make changes).
Chin Strap & Fastening
With the fit snug to your head, all that’s left to do is fasten the chin strap. With thick ski or snowboard gloves on though, it can sometimes be tricky, especially if your helmet has a conventional clasp fastening. Helmet manufacturers are now turning to magnets to make the process much easier.
The most common system – and arguably one of the best – you’re likely to see, comes from Fidlock, masters of magnetic fastenings. Helmets with Fidlock buckles can be operated with one hand and without looking. All you need to do is slide the opposing pieces together and they’ll remain securely in place until you need to take it off.
Ski Helmet FAQ
Yes. You can put your ski helmet in your carry-on bags when travelling through airports. Others can also get away by clipping them outside their cabin bags. To know your ski helmet size, use a fabric tape measure around the circumference of your head, about 2.5 cm above your ears and eyebrows. Absolutely not. A bicycle helmet is not designed for skiing or snowboarding. You must wear the proper gear to protect yourself from injuries in case of accidents.
Can you take a ski helmet as hand luggage?
How to measure for ski helmet?
Can I use a bike helmet for skiing?
Yes. You can put your ski helmet in your carry-on bags when travelling through airports. Others can also get away by clipping them outside their cabin bags.
To know your ski helmet size, use a fabric tape measure around the circumference of your head, about 2.5 cm above your ears and eyebrows.
Absolutely not. A bicycle helmet is not designed for skiing or snowboarding. You must wear the proper gear to protect yourself from injuries in case of accidents.
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POC Obex SPIN
The SPIN nomenclature refers to the company's Shearing Pad INside (SPIN) silicone pad technology system, which gives you the wearer the ultimate in comfort, fit and performance. Adjustable ventilation panels can let more or less air in, it's designed to work best with POC's goggles (although others are still fine) and an interior adjustment system means you can find a snug fit without having to change out the pads.
The Maze helmet can be had with or without the MIPS system, but in either case, you get the same lightweight in-mould construction and has nine vents to improve airflow and prevent your goggles from fogging up in the process. A removable goggle lock can be found on the back of the helmet to keep your goggles secure and if you find your head is still too cold with the helmet on (unlikely, but possible) it's compatible with beanies for extra warmth.
Oakley Mod 3
All Oakley Mod helmets feature the company's patented Modular Brim System which allows you to change the size of the brim at the front of the helmet to accomodate whatever goggles you may be wearing.
A clever ventilation system channels air from up underneath your goggles and out over the top of the helmet to keep your head cool and your goggles mist-free, while a tough and durable exterior made from a combination of ABS and In-Mold, coupled with the MIPS system, means your head is effectively protected. Oakley has enlisted the BOA Fit system to make size adjustments, and a Fidlock magnetic buckle makes strapping it on incredibly easy.
It employs in-mould construction for a lightweight yet protective build, along with XT2 anti-odour technology to prevent it from smelling after several sweat-inducing runs. A dial-controlled In Form Fit system makes adjustments a doddle and MIPS ensures all-round head protection from impacts.
Salomon Brigade+ Audio
It has a comprehensive ski helmet range to back that up, and we've picked out the Brigade+ Audio for its blend of safety features for protecting your head and its technologies for delivering music to your ears.
Salomon's own EPS4D technology is employed here, which helps to absorb energy from any impacts, and you can ensure you get a secure fit thanks to the integrated dial control system. But we all know there's nothing better than listening to some sick tunes when hurling down a mountain, and with the built-in audio system on the Brigade+, you don't have to worry about having earphones being shoved deep into your ears.
Rossignol Templar Impacts Top
The Templar Impacts Top helmet rocks an incredibly minimal silhouette, but one that is more than up to the task of protecting your skull. It benefits from the company's own IMPACTS technology that is designed to withstand multiple impacts without affecting the longevity.
The Templar also uses the BOA Fit system to make quick and easy adjustments for a secure fit and the Fidlock buckle makes an appearance for easy fastening.
It utilises a hybrid construction which combines lightweight materials with all-round protection.
K2's proprietary K2Dialed fitment system lets you easily make size adjustments and Active Matrix Venting lets you increase airflow through the helmet at the touch of a button and a built-in audio system delivers tunes to your lugs.
Sweet Protection Switcher
That inlcudes the Switcher, one the company's latest models designed for the regular freerider (if you partake in specific snow race events, Sweet offers other helmets to suit). If ventilation is top of your priorities, the Switcher is the ski helmet for you, as it offers 22 vents, all adjustable with just one hand.
Sweet has used a combination of in-mould and hard shell construction methods, resulting in a supremely lightweight helmet that offers top-level protection. MIPS has been utilised too to help reduce forces on the brain during impact, and a magnetic chin buckle makes fastening and unfastening a cinch.
MIPS is included for protection against angled impact, and if you happen to have an accident and need assitance, ICEdot Emergency ID stores your contact and medical information. 23 adjustable vents make finding the perfect amount of airflow easy and the Fidlock buckle makes fastening it even easier.
The company's own Crank Fit dial system makes an appearance for quick and easy adjustments, and a hybrid EPS/ABS build provides comfortable yet durable protection. It arrives with a moisture-controlling liner by default, but if you really feel the cold you can attach Bern's Winter Knit liner for added comfort.