Whatever your skill level when it comes to skiing or snowboarding, getting yourself a ski helmet is a smart decision. Even the best skiers and riders can take a tumble now and then, find themselves involved in a high-speed collision, or have a big crash off the kickers. With that in mind, spending some time thinking about how you’re going to protect one of your body’s most vital organs (your brain) in the mountains is definitely a sensible approach. Accidents can happen to anyone.
Whether you’ve got an old helmet that’s seen better days or are totally new to the sport, you’ll be glad to know that ski helmet technology has advanced greatly in recent years. Ski helmets are now lighter and safer than ever before. From cutting edge helmets to more basic, yet effective, budget options we’ve got your head covered this ski season. Once you’ve chosen your ski helmet for this season, be sure to head on over to our best ski jackets and best ski mitts round ups. It’s time to get kitted out.
The Best Ski Helmets For Winter 2022
Before we discuss the best ski helmets for this winter, we thought we’d take this opportunity to answer some frequently asked questions when it comes to buying protective headwear.
When should you change your ski helmet?
Your ski helmet serves a vitally important function so it’s crucial that you keep track of what condition it’s in, and whether it’s due for a replacement. Ski manufacturers recommend you change your helmet every five years. This might sound like a cynical ploy to make you spend more of your hard-earned cash with them, but there’s actually some sound logic behind it.
“Ski manufacturers recommend you change your helmet every five years”
Ski helmets, you see, are actually made from materials that will gradually weaken over time. This is particularly true of the EPS foam you’ll find in the inner part of your helmet. Over time, a combination of storage conditions and regular small impacts will alter the safety-enhancing properties and protective characteristics of EPS. Obviously, the more you go skiing and snowboarding the likelihood of this EPS suffering from general wear and tear will only increase.
If you’re involved in a fall or a collision that involves a shock to the head, you’ll need to change your helmet even if the outer part of it appears to be intact. When a helmet impact occurs, the EPS foam which is there to absorb some of the energy and therefore protect your head becomes compromised. Once the foam has been crushed or compromised in any way, the helmet won’t provide anywhere near the same level of protection if there’s another impact. Buying yourself a new helmet might be a hassle, not to mention a hit on the wallet, but the potentially harmful consequences of sticking with a busted helmet isn’t worth the risk.
Should you buy a second-hand helmet?
Never buy a second-hand ski helmet, even if the discounted price is incredibly tempting. The helmet in question might look fine on the outside, but it could have suffered an impact that’s imperceptible to the naked eye. This historic impact or shock may have compromised the helmet’s level of protection, and could mean its useless in a collision scenario on the slopes.
For this reason above, it’s always better – if you can afford it – to buy your own ski helmet rather than renting one. A rental helmet may have suffered a significant impact unbeknownst to the ski hire shop you’re borrowing it from, and mean you’re ultimately wearing something that might not keep you safe.
How to choose the right ski helmet
It might sound obvious but if your ski helmet doesn’t fit properly, and isn’t the right size for your head, it won’t protect you in the way it’s supposed to. Before buying your helmet, take a soft tape measure and wrap it around your head marginally above your eyebrows and ears. The tape measure should cross the middle of your forehead. If you don’t have a tape measure, use a piece of string and wrap it around your head in the same way before measuring the string to the point where it crosses on your forehead.
In an ideal world, the measurement will fit comfortably in the middle of a size bracket leaving you with an easy decision to make. If, however, you are on the line between sizes we’d recommend going up a size although you’ll likely want to try both to be sure.
“It might sound obvious but if your ski helmet doesn’t fit properly, and isn’t the right size for your head, it won’t protect you”
To check the fit is correct, place the helmet on your head so it’s aligned in the correct manner before pulling the strap down and under your chin. The helmet should feel snug, but not uncomfortable. A correctly fitting helmet should have no significant gaps between the lining of the helmet and your head.
Once the ski helmet is on, with the strap clipped, shake your head around gently. If the helmet moves around or you feel it shaking separately from the movement of your head, it’s almost certainly too big. At the other end of the sizing spectrum, if you’re feeling pressure around your head when the helmet’s on (as if it’s being squeezed) or the helmet doesn’t fit all the way on it’s too small and you need to go up a size. Your helmet needs to be comfortable enough to wear all day, otherwise you might be tempted to take it off at a time, or in a scenario, where you might need it.
Oakley Mod 1 Pro Ski Helmet
The Oakley Mod 1 Pro Ski Helmet is lightweight, highly protective, fully adjustable, designed for optimum on-the-hill comfort and has a cool skate-style aesthetic. Unsurprisingly, for a helmet with ‘Pro’ in the name, this has been made with core, can’t stop skiing, skiers very much in mind.
The Mod 1 Pro Helmet gives off the impression that it could survive a direct hit from a trident missile. It (probably) couldn’t, to be fair, but it does just inherently feel like a properly tough and dependable shell for your head whenever you put it on. And, not just because it’s got an ever-reliable Oakley logo on it.
One of the headline acts with this ski helmet is the MIPS Brain Protection System. Integrated cleverly into the helmet, this low friction layer is designed to reduce rotational motion that can be transferred to the skier’s brain during an impact. It’s clever, health-preserving, stuff and you won’t find it on the more budget lid options out there. If you’re all about charging hard and sending it big, and want an extra bit of reassurance to help you shred in confidence, getting a helmet with MIPS included is a no brainer.
“This has been made with core, can’t stop skiing, skiers very much in mind”
The brim / goggle ventilation system here is genuinely excellent. It allows hot air to flow unobstructed from your goggles through the helmet’s brim ventilation. This enhances the anti-fog performance of your goggles, and is the primary reason you should consider going for an Oakley goggles and helmet combo on the snow this winter.
Other aspects of the helmet worth mentioning here include the Fidlock Buckle and the BOA 360 Fit System. The Fidlock Buckle serves up seamless magnetic functionality, and allows you to fasten your helmet easily and quickly – even when you’ve got ski mitts on. It works brilliantly, taking the faff out of things when you just want to get the show on the road.
The BOA 360 Fit System is a fully adjustable aspect of the helmet, a feature that allows the wearer to fully optimise and lock in the fit. It’s particularly useful if you’re between sizes and want a bit of extra security regarding the way it feels on your head.
When you consider everything this helmet brings to the party, and the price of some other helmets on the market, it’s actually a bit of a bargain.
This product was selected for our Ski 100.
Read our Oakley Mod 1 Pro Helmet review.
Giro Grid MIPS Helmet
If you’re all about heading into the backcountry, and ski touring from sunrise to sunset, you’ll want a helmet on your head that doesn’t weigh you down. The same, of course, could be said for the corduroy carvers who wake up early, get the first chairlift, and don’t stop until it starts getting dark. For dedicated skiers who live large chunks of their lives in the mountains, a comfortable helmet that feels like a second skin rather than something clunky and annoying is worth its weight in gold.
Introducing the Giro Grid MIPS (and Giro Envi MIPS for women). It’s an extremely lightweight (400g, medium) ski helmet that brings highly protective qualities to your mountain adventures. Enjoy blasting through the powder to your heart’s content, before touring back to the top, without the burden of feeling like you’ve got a small kitchen cupboard balanced on your head. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
“A comfortable helmet that feels like a second skin rather than something clunky and annoying is worth its weight in gold”
Feel like things are heating up on the hill? You can easily control your temperature with the incredibly well-implemented Thermostat Control and Stack Ventilation. The Grid also features MIPS Spherical technology. In short, this tech reduces potentially harmful rotational energy that can be transferred to your head in certain impacts and scenarios. The Ball-and-Socket design helps to redirect impact forces away from the wearer’s brain. It does this by allowing the outer layer to rotate around the inner layer during a crash. It’s clever stuff, the kind of thing that’d definitely impress your old physics teacher.
Delivering seamless compatibility with your Giro goggles, this Giro helmet works best as a double act with Giro goggles. Something to consider if you’re looking to buy some new ski goggles as well, and a clear indicator of the brand’s intelligent approach to design.
We’re big fans of the Fidlock Buckle technology that, thanks in part to the magnets used, makes it easier to snap in and out of the helmet. A special mention, as well, must go to the In Form 2 Fit System. It allows the wearer to dial in the fit rapidly, even if they’re wearing gloves, and provides up to 6cm of adjustment in terms of sizing. Lock that fit in for added stability, and spend your day enjoying backcountry exploration rather than worrying about annoying helmet wobble.
Smith Level Helmet
Whatever your level of skiing or snowboarding, the Smith Level ski helmet will do a job for you when you need it to. Combining the widely acclaimed and highly reassuring impact protection of MIPS with the added energy absorption of zonal Koroyd, skiers with this helmet up top can let rip on the high speed arcs safe in the knowledge their skull is covered. If you’re all about chasing fresh lines in amongst powder-flecked trees, look no further.
Thanks to the hybrid shell design of the Smith Level, there’s a sense of durability meeting a ‘strip it back’ approach to helmet design somewhere in the middle. It means both bases are well covered, but not to the noticeable detriment of the other. Your head will be well protected from day’s start to day’s end, without it ever feeling like this helmet is a heavy burden to carry.
“If you’re all about chasing fresh lines in amongst powder-flecked trees, look no further”
Designed to be integrated with Smith goggles for optimum comfort and venting, the AirEvac ventilation system helps to ensure fog-free lenses when the temperature’s going up and / or your getting seriously active. It might seem weird to be focusing on ski goggles in a helmet review, but it’s now commonplace for brands to essentially create helmets that function best with that particular brand’s goggle offering and vice versa. You don’t need to have a masters in business studies to understand the commercial thinking behind this but, when everyone’s doing it, not doing it would clearly be a road to nowhere. What’s more, it’s a move that’s clearly helped to progress ski headwear / eyewear to the next level.
Re: the Smith Level, we also like the VaporFit Snow dial adjustment system. With the simple turn of a dial, you’re able to really lock this lid’s fit in to a place and comfort level you’re happy with. The XT2 antimicrobial lining is another smart addition to the helmet, delivering sweat-activated odour control for the wearer. As you can imagine, you’ll really come to appreciate this feature when it’s a warm day and you’ve just spent close to six hours ascending and descending off-piste parts of the mountain.