Skiing is a risky activity. Blown knees and dislocated shoulders are pretty common, and more serious problems can arise. Head injuries are the most dangerous, which is why you should always be sure to get a strong helmet whenever you’re on the slopes.
I’m Christine, a lifelong skier and founder of this blog. I’m a big supporter of always being as safe as possible on the mountain, and helmets are a crucial part of that. I know what to look for in the best helmet options currently available.
The Smith Vantage MIPS is my pick for the best ski helmet of the year. It’s one of the highest-quality models around in terms of safety, comfort, and style. If you want to stay protected and look good while doing it, this is the helmet for you.
There are a ton of helmet options available, and it can be hard to sift through all the choices. That’s why I made this post – to take the guesswork out of the search for good helmets. Every top model will be reviewed in the sections below.
Let’s buckle up and get started.
- Who Should Get This
- Top Picks of Best Ski Helmets
- How to Choose a Ski Helmet That Fits
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Verdict
Who Should Get This
If you ski, you should get a ski helmet. I’ll be honest, I do not always ski with a helmet on, and every time I do, I always get comments from fellow skiers telling me how important and easy it is to wear a helmet while skiing.
There is really no excuse not to these days, as there are plenty of options and styles on the market. Modern ski helmets are warm, comfortable, and the protection they offer is priceless.
While you might be able to ski safely on your own on a wide-open slope, you never know what could happen. Just having a helmet, regardless of where you are, exponentially increases your safety and ensures you won’t suffer any unfortunate injuries during a hard fall.
Putting on a helmet has saved many lives over the years. It’s not worth skiing without one, and it’s as simple as that. Plenty of skiers die every year because they choose not to wear a helmet. It’s a serious issue that is easily avoidable.
Do you need a special helmet for skiing?
Technically any helmet is better than no helmet at all. But models specifically designed for skiing will give you additional warmth, ventilation, and performance that are built to handle the rigors of winter weather.
Why is it important to wear a helmet when skiing?
Head injuries are common when skiing, and can often be fatal. Many of these injuries can be prevented or greatly reduced when wearing a helmet. A helmet can quite literally save your life, and that’s why they’re important.
Do beginner skiers need helmets?
Yes, every level of skier needs to wear a helmet. Beginners may not be going as fast as advanced skiers, but they still put themselves at risk every time they go down a run. They tend to fall more than advanced skiers as well.
Can a ski helmet be a bike helmet?
Sure, you can use a ski helmet as a bike helmet. But there is a good chance that you will overheat or be uncomfortable. Ski helmets are designed to handle cold weather and are more heavy-duty than bike helmets.
Can a climbing helmet be used for skiing?
Technically, yes. But I wouldn’t recommend it. Climbing helmets aren’t built to handle cold weather as well as ski helmets. They will still provide you with plenty of protection from impacts, but they won’t provide protection against the elements.
What is the difference between a ski and snowboard helmet?
Nothing, really. It just comes down to how they are marketed. You can wear a skiing helmet for snowboarding and a snowboarding helmet for skiing. It’s just brand recognition at the end of the day.
Can you rent just a helmet at ski resorts?
Most resorts and ski towns will have rental helmets available. You should call ahead to double-check and/or make a reservation to ensure that the location you are visiting offers this service.
Top Picks of Best Ski Helmets
Here are my picks for the best ski helmets of the year. Each of the models reviewed here offers excellent safety features, plenty of comfort, and other traits that come in useful for skiers.
1. Smith Vantage MIPS
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Hybrid SL Shell, 21 vents, climate control, BOA fit system, MIPS equipped
- Safety: ASTM F 2040/ CE EN 1077:2007 B
- Weight: 500 grams
- Cost: $$$$
Ski helmets don’t get much better than the Smith Vantage MIPS (review), and this model earns my pick for the best ski helmet of the year.
This is a very high-quality helmet that performs well with protection and safety in mind. It’s constructed of a hybrid-in mold design that makes it both lightweight and comfortable.
The Vantage helmet weighs a comfortable 500 grams and comes with an adjustable fit thanks to a supportive liner and BOA dial.
It has a total of twenty-one vents for some serious ventilation and utilizes Smith’s Aerocore construction to better absorb and disperse energy upon impact.
The only real downside of this helmet is that it’s very expensive. But the cost is well worth it if you want the best of the best.
2. Oakley MOD 5
- Best for: Fit
- Key features: Comfortable, no pressure ear cup, FIDLOCK buckles, removable liner, BOA fit system
- Safety: ASTM F2040/ CE EN 1077
- Weight: 1 pound 4 oz
- Cost: $$$
The Oakley MOD 5 (review) will give you a fantastic fit that will let you ski long and hard without worrying about what is attached to your head.
It features a hybrid style construction with a modular brim system that stresses a secure, protective fit alongside plenty of style considerations.
The outer shell is made with durable ABS plastic, and it has plenty of ventilation holes. You also get a BOA fit system to dial in a comfortable and secure custom fit.
The helmet also comes with a removable liner, FIDLOCK magnetic strap, and no pressure ear cups.
The option listed here doesn’t have a built-in MIPS system, but you can pay a little extra and get this feature in the same helmet.
3. POC Obex Backcountry Spin
- Best for: Backcountry
- Key features: Lightweight, comfortable, adjustable venting, removable earpads, NFC Medical ID chip
- Safety: CE EN 1077B/ASTM F2040
- Weight: 500 grams
- Cost: $$
The POC Obex Backcountry Spin is a great helmet to choose from when your skiing adventures take you deep into the wilderness, and you want to stay safe and secure the entire time.
This helmet is specially designed with backcountry skiers and snowboarders in mind, and it includes additional safety features that you won’t find on a typical resort helmet. An NFC medical ID chip can help first responders aide you in an emergency.
It’s also an extremely durable and comfortable helmet built for long days in the backcountry. The helmet has traceable reflectors built-in to assist search and rescue efforts. It is also audio compatible.
My only negative comment on this helmet is that you don’t get many color options to choose from if you’re looking for style.
4. Giro Ledge MIPS
- Best for: Budget Option
- Key features: Affordable, MIPS equipped, stack ventilation, Auto Loc 2 fit system, removable earpads
- Safety: CE EN 1077B
- Weight: 500 grams (medium)
- Cost: $$
If you want to stay safe while skiing without breaking the bank, take a look at the Giro Ledge MIPS ski helmet (detailed review here).
This is one of the only affordable options that still offer the MIPS safety system, and GIRO has been using this technology in its helmets for some time now. Along with the low price point, that feature makes this helmet an enticing option for any skier.
The Ledge has a two-piece durable Hard Shell Construction that is molded and then attached to an EPS foam liner. That design makes for a bulkier and heavier product, but it’s still sturdy and feels great on your head.
The helmet also features a stack-vent technology that’s said to help reduce goggle fog and keep you cool during long days. Removable ear pads and an Auto-Loc 2 fit system are other stand-out features.
This is a pretty bulky helmet compared to other high-end options.
5. Anon Invert MIPS
- Best for: Style
- Key features: Great style, adjustable venting, MIPS equipped, auto-adjust fit system, removable ear pads
- Safety: ASTM 2040/CE 1077B
- Weight: 410 grams
- Cost: $$
The Anon Invert MIPS ski helmet offers classic style at an affordable price point and is a solid all-around option for a variety of skiers.
This model features an in-mold shell construction that combines a lightweight shell with an EPS liner to keep bulk down and safety up.
It also comes with MIPS technology for the added safety it provides, while passive ventilation channels create natural airflow to keep you cool and comfortable as you ski.
It doesn’t have as many adjustable features as some other helmets, but I think this one looks and feels great.
6. Smith Optics Valence Women’s
- Best for: Women
- Key features: Women’s specific design, hybrid shell construction, low profile, adjustable climate control, BOA fit system
- Safety: ASTM F 2040/CE EN 1077:2007 B
- Weight: 530 grams
- Cost: $$$
The best women’s ski helmet is the Smith Optics Valence Women’s. This is another excellent option from Smith, and a reliable helmet for safety, comfort, and performance.
The model features a hybrid shell construction that gives you plenty of protection from impact. This is further enhanced by MIPS technology for even more effective performance.
Other solid features include an adjustable climate control system, eighteen different vents, and an adjustable BOA fit system.
It’s a somewhat expensive option, and there isn’t a vast selection of colors available.
7. Smith Optics Mission MIPS
- Best for: Glasses
- Key features: Lightweight, adjustable venting, MIPS equipped, Areocore construction, adjustable fit system
- Safety: ASTM F 2040/CE EN 1077:2007 B
- Weight: 450 grams
- Cost: $$
If you are worried about getting a helmet that won’t affect your ability to wear glasses, the Smith Optics Mission MIPS (review) offers an open-face design that won’t restrict your corrective lenses.
The helmet also features an in-mold construction that is very lightweight while still offering plenty of protection against impacts, thanks to MIPS technology.
An adjustable ventilation system lets you dial in the perfect amount of airflow, and you also benefit from a dial fit system that allows you to get set up with the twist of a knob.
If you want to take advantage of audio compatibility, you’ll have to pay for that separately.
8. Triple Eight Snow Audio
- Best for: Speakers
- Key features: Built-in headphones, dial fit system, goggle clip, ten vents
- Safety: ASTM F 2040/CE EN 1077
- Weight: Unknown
- Cost: $$
The Triple Eight Snow Audio ski helmet comes with built-in speakers, which is a great feature on an already affordable helmet. Most helmets require you to purchase this feature separately, so it adds immediate value.
The helmet also has a strong ABS shell and EPS liner that provides adequate protection from impacts, and it holds multiple safety certifications.
An adjustable fit dial system lets you get customized comfort, and ten ventilation holes allow for plenty of airflow on warmer days or when you are skiing hard.
This helmet isn’t packed with high-end features, but if you want to jam tunes while you ski at an affordable price, it’s a great choice.
9. Wildhorn Drift
- Best for: Racing
- Key features: Official US Ski Team helmet, lightweight, active ventilation, ultra-plush liner, audio compatible
- Safety: ASTM F2040/CE EN 1077B
- Weight: Unknown
- Cost: $$
The Wildhorn Drift is the official US Ski Team helmet and is a perfect option for aspiring ski racers.
This is a lightweight and comfortable model that delivers excellent safety and protection from impact.
It also has an ultra-plush interior liner that gives you a lot of comfort to ski fast all day long. It’s built to be audio compatible, though you’ll need to purchase speakers separately.
It doesn’t have extremely great ventilation, but if you’re going fast on the racecourse, you’ll hardly notice.
10. Bern Kids Camino
- Best for: Toddler
- Key features: Small sizes, visor, cool design, secure fit, lightweight, ZipMold cold-weather knit
- Safety: ASTM F2040
- Weight: Unknown
- Cost: $
The Bern Kids Camino is the best ski helmet for any tiny toddlers you want to get started on the ski slopes.
This option is available in extra small sizes that will fit kids’ heads, and it also has a visor to help block out sun and snow.
A ZipMold cold-weather knit increases warmth, and the helmet features graphics such as shark teeth that children are sure to love.
This is intended for tiny skiers who are just getting started, and you’ll probably want to go with a more advanced option once they grow a bit and learn the basics.
How to Choose a Ski Helmet That Fits
Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing a ski helmet that fits. You always want a snug fit, but there are other considerations as well.
You’re going to spend a lot of time in your helmet, which means it needs to fit properly. Helmets are typically available in varying sizes to accommodate different-sized heads, and some are even fully adjustable.
A properly-sized helmet is essential because it will stay on your head without being too tight. If it’s too tight, it will be uncomfortable, and if it’s too loose, it won’t provide as much protection from impacts.
If you don’t know your head size, always measure it before getting a helmet online. Figuring out your size is pretty straightforward.
All you need to do is get a soft-sided measuring tape and wrap it around the largest part of your skull from the center of your forehead to directly around the back. Pinch the tape where it meets together and note the measurement in centimeters. That is your head size.
Some ski shops will also allow you to try various helmets on. This is a recommended method to get a ski helmet that fits the best. Various brands will have a different feel even when the helmet is the same size.
Physically trying on ski helmets is the best way to figure out your preference, as well as how each helmet varies from brand to brand.
Always pay attention to the weight and size of your helmet. Different models come with different constructions or styles. While most helmet materials are lightweight, the difference of even a few ounces between designs can make a significant change in feel.
Generally, cheaper helmets are a little bulkier than more expensive options. This is because cheaper materials that offer the same protection come with more weight.
Top-of-the-line helmets can offer the same protection with less material. This decreases the bulk of a helmet, but it increases the cost. All helmets can increase in weight and size depending on how much padding or extra material you use underneath the main protective helmet portion.
Most helmets can be worn without a ski hat as a way to eliminate unnecessary bulk, while others are fully customizable and come with extra padding or ear flaps. What you choose comes down to how much extra weight you want to be wearing.
Every option in this guide uses different materials to create a unique fit and feel. Even with those differences, ski helmets are almost always made in one of 3 different construction varieties. These are ABS construction, in-mold construction, and hybrid construction.
ABS helmets are a bulkier helmet construction that is both strong and durable. This style uses a hard outer shell with a foam liner attached to the inside. This style is strong, reliable, and tends to be the cheapest option out there.
In-mold helmet construction is a step-up in design and technology from ABS helmets. It uses a thin outer shell that is directly molded to a piece of foam underneath.
The shell of an in-mold helmet is usually a strong polycarbonate plastic that blends right into the foam. In-mold helmets are lighter in weight but also typically cost a little more.
Hybrid helmet construction combines elements of the in-mold shell and attached liner. However, it also has an extra outer layer for added protection. That combination makes them quite versatile, which is why they tend to be the most expensive option.
Every skier knows that you generate a lot of heat from your head. While that’s important to keep you warm during the winter, it also can cause you to sweat and overheat. That is why ventilation is another essential aspect to consider.
On a helmet, you will notice various holes and slots built into the design. That will keep the weight down, but it also creates ventilation. A good helmet will give you a way to open or close the vents so you can adapt to different conditions.
More expensive helmets will often have more vents built into the helmet, while cheaper options might only provide a few.
If you know you run hot and ski hard, look for a helmet with adequate ventilation. If you don’t think you generate a lot of body heat on the slopes, ventilation might not be as important.
There are plenty of additional features to consider when purchasing a ski helmet. Many of these come down to personal preference, but they also add comfort and warmth.
Depending on your needs, there is usually a type of helmet or included accessory that can personalize your ski helmet and add a lot to your season.
Liners are often included with your helmet, but you can fit a helmet with a different liner to add extra insulation or take some away. This is a nice feature for changing weather conditions, but it can also customize the fit and feel.
Some helmets also incorporate high-end safety features into their design. It’s always a good idea to make sure your helmet is certified for ski and snowboard safety (all options listed here are) when purchasing.
The MIPS liner found in many helmets is one such attribute that better protects you on the slopes.
Goggle clips on the back of helmets are also nice, as they keep your goggles in place if you fall. Audio compatibility is desirable for many skiers because it allows you to easily listen to music and talk on the phone while on the slopes.
Some models even have built-in camera mounts so you can catch all of your skiing action on film. Be sure to look for such features while shopping for your next helmet.
Useful Tips & Resources
If you don’t know your helmet size, get out a soft measuring tape and follow the instructions in the considerations section above. You can also just use a string and then measure it will a standard tape measure afterward.
If that direction didn’t make enough sense and you want further instruction, take a look here for some more tips and tricks to getting your ski helmet to fit your head just right.
It’s also important to note that the safety of your ski helmet can be compromised after you take a fall. While all of the helmets listed here are designed to protect you from impact, not all of them are designed to take multiple hits.
If you take a terrible fall and your helmet is dented or cracked, you should get a new one immediately.
Ski helmet look and design has come a long way over the years. If you’re curious about what helmets used to be like, or if you simply want to know their history, take a look at this.
The video below also has some good information explaining the difference between a resort and a backcountry helmet that can be useful for advanced skiers.
The Smith Vantage MIPS is my pick for the best ski helmet of the season. This is a great helmet all-around and features some of the latest cutting-edge materials and technology to give you excellent safety and comfort.
Every ski helmet here is high-quality and built to handle the demands of regular winter skiing. No matter what type of skier or how often you get out on the mountain, you need a helmet. Do yourself a favor and get one of the best options listed here.