Snow may seem soft when you’re skiing on it, but if you have the misfortune of falling on it and smacking your head you’ll know that powder isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t take the risk of banging up your head when you come up against a patch of ice or run into a tree branch that you didn’t see coming. Your head is worth protecting – so you need a quality ski or snowboard helmet to help you stay safe.
When it comes down to it, a ski or snowboard helmet is a no-brainer. There are simply too many things that can go wrong on the mountain, and you don’t want to put your head at risk. Even if you’re an expert skier or rider, there’s always the chance that someone else will come flying down the hill into you.
That’s why an ever-increasing number of skiers and riders are choosing to invest in ski and snowboard helmets. They not only protect your head, but also provide warmth on cold days and fun features like integrated music players.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing the best helmet for skiing or snowboarding. Plus, we’ll highlight 10 of our favorite ski and snowboard helmets available this winter.
How to Choose Best Helmet for Skiing and Snowboarding
When it comes to choosing a helmet for skiing or snowboarding, protection is a guarantee. Every helmet on the market today is tested to rigorous safety standards, so you can rest assured that your head is protected. However, there’s a lot more to helmets than just protection to consider. Here, we’ll walk you through the most important factors you need to consider when choosing a helmet.
- Chin Strap
Most of the ski and snowboard helmets on the market today come with padded chin straps that won’t rub up against your face when you’re skiing and riding. If you do find a helmet without padding, think twice about it. If your chin strap is uncomfortable, you’ll be more tempted to leave it unbuckled – and then your helmet won’t provide any protection at all if you do end up in a collision.
- Ear Covers
Ear covers are insulated inserts that extend from the edge of the helmet down over your ears. They’re a life saver on those cold days, when you just can’t seem to fit enough hats and gaiters under your helmet. Plus, many skiers and riders appreciate the fluffy feel of ear covers.
However, you may not be as into ear covers if you mostly ride on warm days, like in the spring. In that case, you can opt for a helmet without ear covers, or choose a model that allows you to easily remove the ear covers.
- Air Vents
Almost every ski and snowboard helmet has some type of air vent to allow air to flow through the helmet. That way, your head isn’t heating up and sweating while your working your way down the mountain.
However, some ventilation systems are better than others. Look for ventilation systems that allow you to open and close the vents so you can adjust your temperature for warm and cold days.
- Goggle Compatibility
Fitting your ski goggles up against your helmet used to be an issue, but that’s been solved with modern ski and snowboard helmets. These days, ski helmet brims are designed to form a tight seal with the top of your goggles, so there’s never a “gaper gap” between the top of your goggles and the bottom of your helmet. In addition, having a tight fit ensures that your goggles won’t fog up as you’re skiing and riding.
Still, it’s a good idea to check that your goggles will fit seamlessly. If possible, get your goggles and helmet from the same manufacturer, since they’re almost guaranteed to be compatible in that case.
- Earphone Integration
If you like to listen to music as your cutting turns in the snow, never fear – there is a wide variety of helmets that allow you to play music directly through your helmet. That eliminates the need for earbuds, which can be uncomfortable if your helmet has ear covers. Instead, earphone integration helmets have a small speaker in each of the ear covers and an auxiliary cable or Bluetooth receiver so that you can connect to your phone or music player.
- Camera Mount
If you like to ski with a GoPro or another action camera so you can relive the ski day later, look for a helmet with an integrated camera mount. These mounts are much sturdier than anything you can glue onto your helmet later, which adds a lot of confidence that you won’t lose your expensive camera if you end up crashing into the snow.
- MIPS Technology
One protective technology that’s not standard on helmets is MIPS – multi-impact protection system. This is a relatively new technology that’s designed to reduce the rotational forces on your head during a collision, and thus cut down on the prevalence of concussions. The science on how effective MIPS technology actually is is still out, but if you’re really concerned about safety it’s worth looking into these helmets. Just keep in mind that MIPS helmets are generally more expensive than standard ski and snowboard helmets.
Fitting Your Ski or Snowboard Helmet
Ensuring that your ski or snowboard helmet fits snugly is key to getting the most protection for your head. You should be able to put the helmet on comfortably, but it should be tight enough that it won’t move when you shake your head from side to side or up and down. In addition, your helmet should cover your entire head – if it sits on top of your head or off to one side rather than completely encompassing it, it won’t do its job properly.
Ideally, your helmet will have an adjustment system like a Boa system that allows you to constrict or loosen the inside of the helmet slightly. This adjustment system won’t fix a helmet that doesn’t fit to begin with, but it can allow you to adjust your helmet for days when you want to add another hat for warmth.
The 10 Best Ski & Snowboard Helmets of 2020 – Compared and Tested
1. Wildhorn Drift Snowboard & Ski Helmet – Best Helmet for Ventilation
This well-designed ski and snowboard helmet from Wildhorn is ideal for those hot spring days on the slopes. The proprietary VNT active ventilation system includes 13 vents, which allows the helmet to efficiently move hot air away from your head. When the weather turns cold, you can easily close up the vents to lock that warm air in.
On top of that, we liked the adjustability of this helmet. It comes with a Boa-style adjustment knob that makes it easy to match the helmet to whatever you’re wearing on your head that day. The chin strap is also simple to adjust, and the comfortable padding ensures you’ll always keep it buckled when skiing and riding.
The helmet also comes with ear covers that include integrations for audio. You can easily connect to your favorite device using Bluetooth, and the ear covers are removable for warm days on the slopes.
- VNT active ventilation system
- Boa-style adjustment
- Bluetooth-integrated ear covers
- Slightly expensive
- Only dark colors available
2. OutdoorMaster KELVIN Ski Helmet – Best Budget Ski and Snowboard Helmet
This inexpensive ski and snowboard helmet from OutdoorMaster is perfect if you’re on a tight budget this ski season. The helmet is available in a wide variety of colors to match any style. Plus, the ear pads and inner liner are removable and can be machine washed, which makes it easy to clean this helmet after sweating through a warm spring day. Hopefully, though, you won’t sweat at all thanks to the 14 vents included throughout this helmet.
However, the helmet does lack a few features that are standard on more premium helmets. The most important of these is that the vents can’t be adjusted to match the temperature. In addition, the construction of this helmet is slightly heavy, which can weigh on your head over the course of a long day on the slopes.
- Available in nine colors
- 14 air vents
- Machine washable ear covers
- Vents can’t be adjusted
3. Demon United Phantom Helmet – Best Helmet and Goggles Combination
If you want to be absolutely sure that your helmet will fit with your goggles, check out this helmet and goggles combination from Demon. The company designed the helmet specifically to fit with the Demon Supra goggles, which are quite premium in their own right. As a result, there’s absolutely no gap and no fogging when wearing these goggles with the Phantom helmet.
The helmet itself is very good, although there were a few minor drawbacks we found. On the plus side, it features a comfortable inner liner, ear covers, and plenty of ventilation. It also has earphone integration and you can connect to your music player via Bluetooth. We liked that the large Bluetooth button makes it easy to connect with your gloves on.
However, we were disappointed to find that the ear covers aren’t removable for spring skiing. In addition, the vents can’t be adjusted to match the outside temperature, and there’s no Boa system for adjusting the tightness of the helmet. None of these are dealbreakers, but they are pretty large oversights for an otherwise high-quality helmet.
- Comes with anti-fog Supra goggles
- Good ventilation on warm days
- Integrated earphones with Bluetooth connectivity
- Ear covers aren’t removable
- No Boa adjustment system
- Vents can’t be adjusted
4. AKASO Ski, Snowboard Helmet – Best Helmet for Customizing Warmth
This inexpensive helmet from AKASO makes it easy to determine how much insulation you want. Both the fleece ear covers and fleece inner liner can be removed from the helmet, and the remaining liner is designed to be comfortable enough to ski with. Plus, the ventilation system allows you to change how open the vents are so you can let more or less warm air out of the helmet.
A Boa closure system on the back of the helmet allows you to adjust its tightness, although the dial is small enough that you’ll probably have to take your gloves off to do it. In addition, the goggle snap can be hard to close without taking the helmet off.
Otherwise, users were quite happy with this helmet, especially given its budget price. The helmet also comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Removable fleece ear covers and inner liner
- Adjustable ventilation system
- Boa adjustment system
- Lifetime warranty
- Adjustment dial is pretty small
- Goggle snap is hard to close
5. Zionar Lagopus H1 Ski and Snowboard Helmet – Best Lightweight Helmet
This lightweight ski helmet won’t weigh your head down while you’re tearing it up on the slopes. In fact, you’ll probably forget you’re even wearing it – that’s how comfortable this helmet is.
The secret isn’t just in the light weight, but also in the plush inner liner that this helmet is constructed with. Both that and the fleece ear covers are removable. The Boa closure system allows you to adjust the tightness depending on what you’re wearing underneath the helmet. Users also noted that while the ear covers don’t have integrated speakers, they leave plenty of space for using earbuds with this helmet.
Another nice advantage to this helmet is that the ventilation system is completely adjustable. The only thing to watch out for is goggle compatibility – while the helmet is compatible with all Zionar Lagopus goggles, it has a slightly odd front shape that may not work with all goggles.
- Removable inner liner and ear covers
- Boa closure system
- Space for earbuds
- Adjustable ventilation system
- May have issues with goggle compatibility
6. MONATA Ski and Snowboard Helmet – Best Snowboarding Helmet
This basic helmet from MONATA perfectly fits the snowboarding aesthetic. It is shaped more like a trucker hat than a ski helmet, and has a slightly elongated brim that’s common among dedicated snowboarding helmets.
Overall, this helmet is relatively simple. The ear covers and inner liner are removable for cleaning and riding on warm days, and the helmet has an adjustable Boa closure to allow you to adjust the inside a little bit. The goggle strap closure is simple enough to handle with gloves on, which users appreciated.
The helmet features 13 vents, but the vents can’t be closed to hold in heat on warmer days. In addition, it can be hard to put ear buds under the ear covers on this helmet and there’s no speaker integration.
- Snowboarder aesthetic
- Adjustable Boa closure
- 13 vents
- Removable ear covers and inner liner
- Vents aren’t adjustable
- No music integration and hard to wear with ear buds
7. Oakley Mod 5 Ski and Snowboard Helmet – Best Premium Helmet
This high-quality ski and snowboard helmet from Oakley isn’t cheap, but if you’re looking to upgrade your gear it’s a top contender. The helmet uses all premium materials on the inside, so it’s extraordinarily comfortable compared to helmets that use cheaper and scratchier fabrics. Oakley also paid attention to making this helmet as light as possible so that you’ll barely notice it on your head.
Some other premium features include a magnetic buckle closure on the chinstrap, which makes it extremely easy to close up the helmet with gloves on. As you’d expect, it features a Boa closure system for adjustability. The modular brim system works with almost any type of goggles, and the low-profile vents do an impressive job of moving air through the helmet.
In reality, the only downside to this helmet is the cost. If you can afford it, this is a top-notch helmet for skiers and snowboarders.
- Premium liner materials
- Extremely lightweight
- Magnetic chinstrap buckle
- Boa closure system
- Low-profile vents
- Very expensive
8. Giro Ledge Snow Helmet – Overall Best Ski and Snowboard Helmet
This impressively designed ski and snowboard helmet from Giro is one of the best options at a price any skier and rider can afford. The stack ventilation system keeps it extremely cool on warm days, and it’s fully adjustable so that you can close up the vents on colder winter days.
While the helmet doesn’t come standard with earphone integrations, the ear covers are removable and you can pair this helmet with speaker-integrated ear covers from Giro. The helmet brim is designed to offer perfect compatibility with Giro goggles, but users found that it works well with goggles from almost any manufacturer.
What we really liked about this helmet was the auto loc 2 fit system. It provides better control over your fit than standard Boa closures, and it’s easy to adjust on the fly.
- Stack ventilation system
- Auto loc 2 fit system for adjustability
- Ear covers are removable
- Can add speaker-integrated ear covers later
- Earphone integration isn’t standard
9. Smith Optics Vantage MIPS Helmet – Best MIPS Ski and Snowboard Helmet
This helmet from Smith Optics takes advantage of new MIPS technology to provide the ultimate protection for your head. It’s not cheap, but the internal skeleton in this helmet can help reduce the chances of a concussion if you do suffer a crash.
On top of that, this is overall a very well designed helmet. The ear covers are removable with buckle snaps, and the small brim helps reduce glare on sunny days. The helmet is also surprisingly light, which is an advantage for long days on the mountain. Best of all, Smith Optics built this helmet with its patented AirEvac 2 ventilation system. It’s not adjustable, but it does an impressive job of regulating temperature.
The only thing we would have liked to see in this helmet is the option for earphone integration. For a helmet this pricey, that seems like a feature that should be available.
- MIPS technology
- Brim to help reduce glare
- AirEvac 2 ventilation system
- No earphone integration
10. Swagtron Snowtide Ski and Snowboard Helmet – Best Communications Helmet
This unique helmet from Swagtron is an all-in-one communication station. You can play music via Bluetooth through the speakers in the earphones, but there’s a lot more than just that. The side of the helmet features a prominent push-to-talk button, so you can essentially communicate at will with anyone via the Swagtron app on your phone. That’s way more convenient than trying to pull your phone out on the ski lift.
One of the best features of this helmet is that it will automatically call for help in the event of a crash. Sensors in the helmet monitor for a crash, and if you don’t turn off the alarm – perhaps because you’re injured – the helmet will send your location to rescuers through your phone.
All these features make the Swagtron helmet a little bit heavy compared to other options, but it’s otherwise quite comfortable. Note that the ear covers are not removable, but there is a Boa closure system to adjust the fit. Plus, it’s well ventilated.
- Earphone integration in ear covers
- Push-to-talk button for instant communications
- Automated distress signal after crash
- Boa closure to adjust fit
- Good ventilation
- Ear covers are not removable
Frequently Asked Questions
Ski and snowboard helmets are essential pieces of safety gear that can protect your head in the event of a crash on the slopes. But they do a lot more than just that, offering warmth, speaker integrations, and even options to communicate with friends on the mountain. Picking the right ski or snowboard helmet is a big decision, but with our guide to the top 10 ski and snowboard helmets of 2019 you can be sure to get the perfect one for you.