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.