A ski helmet is, without doubt, the most important item you need to have with you when you’re going skiing or snowboarding. While it’s also imperative you arm yourself with a jacket, some gloves, and some goggles, a ski helmet is the only thing that can truly minimise your chances of injury.
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. And of course, if you want to dabble in a spot of après-ski, then you’re definitely going to want to wear a ski helmet for the inevitable tipsy slalom back to the bottom of the slopes.
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.
In this ski helmets story…
What to look for in a ski helmet
There are countless construction methods, materials, and technologies used within ski helmets to help keep your noggin safe, along with other third-party products that add to their protectiveness, comfort, and ease of use. But for the best ski helmet, you ought to look out for the following features:
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, you’re likely to fall at an angle.
Ski 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 surface area to take the stress away from your brain.
Not all ski 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 but they all relate to the same thing.
In-Mould ski 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 on a few different models to find one that works for you, and much of that will depend on the adjustment system it provides. Ski 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.
WATCH: YouTube account Sierra explains how to properly fit a ski helmet
Different manufacturers may use their own in-house systems. The brand K2, for example, has its own ‘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).
To find the perfect fit of ski helmet for your head, it’s best to measure the circumference of your head at the widest part. If you’re taking the measurement in centimetres, divide the number you get by 2.54 to get the measurement in inches. You should then find ski helmet manufacturers will list the size of head each helmet will fit. This will usually be a broad measurement that will be appropriate for a small range of head sizes.
Chin Strap & Fastening
With your helmet fitted snugly to your head, all that’s left to do is fasten the chin strap. With thick ski gloves on, this can sometimes be tricky, especially if your helmet has a conventional clasp fastening. Ski 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 FAQs
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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Best Ski Helmets
There are myriad manufacturers producing high-performance ski helmets, so we’ve sifted through the vast baulk to let you know which ones are really are the best.
POC Obex Pure
Customer Reviews: “This helmet fits very comfortably, is easy to adjust, and is super lightweight, yet protective. The buckle is very convenient and makes it easy to put the helmet on and off.”
POC is to ski gear what Nike is to running gear. The brand is one of the absolute best around and has products in virtually any category you can think of. To that end, POC manufactures quality ski helmets that are guaranteed to keep you protected.
Some of POC's best ski helmets fall under their Obex moniker, as many of them use MIPS technology. These ski helmets are engineered to be as durable as possible, and a thick outer shell makes them perfect for backcountry skiing. They benefit from EPS foam to absorb and disperse shock, and POC's own fully-adjustable fit system will allow you to find the perfect fit.
Customer Reviews: “Worth every penny. Great looking and perfect, comfy fit. Seamless integration with Smith goggles and light weight design.”
Smith launched in 1965 after dentist and ski enthusiast Robert Smith began selling the world's first thermal goggle lenses out of his own van. Since then, Smith has revolutionised the world of skiing and snowboarding through innovation and game-changing technology. Located in Sun Valley, Idaho for over 50 years, Smith has created top of the market products tailor-made to enhance your performance.
Smith makes some of the best-looking ski helmets around, such as the Level helmet. It takes full advantage of the MIPS protection system, along with Smith's own Aerocore hybrid shell construction for maximum durability and strength. Other features worth noting include the VaporFit adjustment system, removable ear pads and an XTX anti-bacterial lining. You also get Smith's own Air Evac ventilation system, which generates airflow and helps clear the fog out of goggles, promising crystal clear vision.
Oakley ARC5 Pro
Customer Reviews: “Typical Oakley quality: the MOD5 fits well, looks good, and is built to last.”
Founded in 1975, Oakley has become one of the top sports manufacturers in the world, as they incorporate high tech materials with their slick winter apparel and accessories. Chosen by pro athletes to compete at the highest level possible, Oakley offers an endless collection of ski helmets, designed for you to perform at your peak.
Oakley's ARC5 Pro ski helmet is our pick here (the one pictured is part of the company's limited edition Unity collection) as it promises to be one of the best performers when out on the slopes. Designed in collaboration with World Champion skier Aleksander Kilde, you can be sure of top notch protection. What you get is an M-Forge Composite shell for a lightweight build with exceptional protection, along with MIPS integration too.
Customer Reviews: “Totally awesome helmet! The Giro Jackson helmet is super lightweight and warm. Even with my large dome I can wear this helmet comfortably for hours. With just a balaclava underneath I felt totally fine at temperatures that would make Jack Frost shiver. Outdoor Tech Chips Headphones also pair nicely with this helmet.”
Giro is a true heavyweight in the helmet market, having produced them for snow and cycling for over 30 years. The Jackson ski helmet takes that knowledge to produce a ski helmet that delivers the ultimate in protection and style.
It employs in-mould construction for a lightweight yet protective build, along with a relatively new passive aggressive venting system, which is said to be inspired by the aerodynamic properties of cars. This system cleverly controls airflow no matter what you're doing, to ensure you remain cool and comfortable.
The Jackson helmet also uses the In Form 2 fitment system to make easy size adjustments, and MIPS ensures all-round head protection from impacts. What more could you want from a ski helmet? If great looks are also high on your list of needs, then we'd say the Giro Jackson more than obliges.
Salomon MTN Lab
Customer Reviews: “This helmet is excellent as a touring helmet. It's very lightweight, and mostly comfortable.”
Salomon has been operating out of its home country of France since 1947. Founded in the Alps, the company has always had a focus on outdoor sports and is credited with inventing the first ski binding with a self-release heelpiece in 1966. Over the years, Salomon has perfected its craft to become one of the prominent figures within the outdoor sports industry.
The company has a comprehensive ski helmet range to back that up, and we've picked out the MTN Lab as our must-try model.
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.
For added comfort, you get a Merino wool lining and a series of built-in channels allow for constant airflow to keep you cool.
Rossignol Fit IMPACTS
Customer Reviews: “Versatile and highly performant, the alpine specialist helmets are ultra-effective against impacts and cold to allow you to ride trouble-free.”
Rossignol is a French company that in its 100+ years of business has become synonymous with winter sports: just strap on a pair of rental skis and they'll likely bear the Rossignol branding. You can buy your own skis and equipment direct, so it should come as no surprise to learn there is a good range of helmets to browse too.
The Rossignol Fit IMPACTS ski helmet uses the company's own IMPACTS technology, which has been designed to maintain the helmet's protectiveness even after the slightest of knocks. Elsewhere the company's own Dial R-Fit adjustable fit system makes finding the perfect fit a breeze and a lightweight build means you're never going to feel weighed down when speeding down a mountain.
K2 Phase Pro
Customer Reviews: “Great helmet. Slim and doesn't make you look like a mushroom head like some other helmets. The audio wears out after awhile but I installed the ultra Chip wireless headphones.”
K2 was founded in 1962 after businessman Bill Kirscher manufactured the world's first fibreglass skis. Since then, K2 has remained a premier brand for winter action sports as they offer a diverse range of products suitable for all riding styles. They're about tailoring futurist equipment, and their helmet collection is no exception.
K2 designs extremely tough, hardshell ski helmets, as seen on the Phase Pro. Fortunately, the strong construction never compromises comfort as they have added Active Matrix adjustable vents, allowing control of temperature and airflow, while the K2Dialed fit system means you can find a perfectly snug fit. You also get the built-in Baseline Audio System which saves you from using your own earphones to listen to your skiing playlists.
Anon Logan WaveCel
Customer Reviews: “Fits very well, good ventilation, and fits my Anon goggles perfectly (of course)!”
Anon is a sister brand to Burton Snowboards. Initially created to be a goggle manufacturer, Burton now manufacturers helmets under the Anon name. The company's Logan WaveCel helmet uses WaveCel technology, which sees hundreds of individual shock absorbers connected together to reduce the risk of injury to your head. You also get the BOA Fit adjustable fit system and a Fidlock magnetic clasp.
There's not a lot this Anon ski helmet can't do to be honest. It's easily one of the most capable on this list.
Bern Watts 2.0
Customer Reviews: “It is a beautifully designed helmet in a classic visor design, incredibly comfortable and lightweight, has extensive features.”
Bern is primarily a helmet company that has been perfecting its craft for over 15 years, which has resulted in them creating some of the best helmets for cycling, skating, snowboarding, and skiing.
The Watts 2.0 is one of the most iconic helmets in its catalogue, owing to its baseball-hat-inspired visor design, setting it apart from other helmets on the mountain.
Both MIPS and Berns' own Compass Fit dial system make 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.