Skiing is a fast and intense activity. As such, it should come as no surprise that helmets are extremely important. Injuries are part of the sport, but you can mitigate any damage with the proper protection.
A lot of your body is at risk while skiing. Blow knees and dislocated shoulders are quite 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 when cruising along at high or slow speeds.
While helmets have not always been commonly used, it’s now rare to see skiers without one. Modern technology has made ski helmets both effective and comfortable, making them a necessity on the slopes. In this guide we will look at some of the best ski helmets to help you stay safe and enjoy the snow.
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This
- Best Ski Helmets in 2020: What to Consider
- Best Ski Helmets in 2020: Our Picks
- 1. Best Overall Ski Helmet: Oakley Mod 5 Helmet
- 2. Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet
- 3. Best Backcountry Ski Helmet: POC Obex Backcountry Spin Helmet
- 4. Solomon MTN Lab Helmet
- 5. Best Budget Ski Helmet: GIRO Ledge MIPS Snow Helmet
- 6. Smith Holt Snow Sports Helmet
- 7. Best Ski Helmet with Audio: Solomon Brigade Audio Helmet
- 8. POC Auric Cut Backcountry Spin Helmet
- 9. Best Women’s Ski Helmet: Smith Optics Valence Women’s Ski Helmet
- 10. Best Lightweight Ski Helmet: Sweet Protection Ascender Helmet
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Thoughts
- One of the best ski helmets you can find is the Oakley Mod 5. Oakley is known for its eyewear, but their ski helmets are extremely high-quality. Another good option is the Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet.
- If you want a helmet that’s designed for the demands of backcountry skiing with added features to fit this style, check out the POC Obex Backcountry Spin Helmet or the Solomon MTN Lab Helmet.
- If you want an affordable helmet that will save you some money, take a look at the Giro Ledge MIPS Snow Helmet. Another solid budget option is the Smith Holt Snow Sports Helmet.
- Modern ski helmets have some cool built-in technology with audio capabilities being one feature that many skiers look for. Both the Solomon Brigade Audio Helmet and the POC Auric Cut Backcountry Spin Helmet make great options for skiers who want audio and communication capabilities out of their helmets.
- Most ski helmets are unisex, but if you want a great women’s specific option, the Smith Optics Valence Women’s Ski Helmet is a great choice.
- Skiers who want a comfortable, lightweight helmet for backcountry use or ski mountaineering should look into the Sweet Protection Ascender Helmet. It is lightweight and offers exceptional protection.
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 or difficult fall. Putting on a helmet has saved many lives over the years. It’s not worth skiing without one.
Best Ski Helmets in 2020: What to Consider
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 important because it will stay on your head without being too tight.
If you don’t know your head size, always measure it before getting a helmet online. All you need to go 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 large difference.
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 does increase 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 have on.
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 on 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 strong 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 keeping you warm during the winter, it also can cause you to sweat and overheat. That is why ventilation is another important 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 obviously a nice feature for changing weather conditions, but it can also allow you to customize the fit and feel as well.
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 also 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.
Best Ski Helmets in 2020: Our Picks
1. Best Overall Ski Helmet: Oakley Mod 5 Helmet
The Oakley Mod 5 Helmet is one of the best helmets on the current market. Oakley is best known for the sunglasses and goggles, but they make fantastic helmets as well. This model is very comfortable, but also has enough reinforcement to withstand serious impacts.
The Mod 5 features a hybrid style construction with a modular brim system that stresses both a secure, protective fit, and style considerations. The outer shell is made with durable ABS plastic and has adjustable ventilation holes. It also comes with a removable liner, magnetic chinstrap, and adjustable fit dial on the back to customize the helmet to your head.
- Hybrid in-mold construction
- Great fit
- MBS System creates solid goggle fit
- Excellent protection
- Removable liner
- Earpads can feel bulky
- Ventilation not the best for high heat skiers
Another great choice for a ski helmet is the Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet. This is a very high-quality helmet that performs well with protection and safety in mind. This helmet is constructed of a hybrid-in mold design that makes it both lightweight and comfortable. It will meet the needs of any skier, no matter how much experience they have.
The Vantage helmet weighs in at a comfortable 18 ounces 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.
- Hybrid in-mold construction
- Extremely comfortable
- Aerocore construction for added safety
- 21 vents
- Nice liner
- Looks great
- Goggle lock
- Audio compatible
3. Best Backcountry Ski Helmet: POC Obex Backcountry Spin Helmet
If you’re a backcountry skier looking for a helmet that matches the demands of your style, look no further than the POC Obex Backcountry Spin Helmet. 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. This is an extremely durable and comfortable helmet built for long days in the backcountry.
Safety features are abundant here. In addition to the solid in-mold construction, it also comes equipped with an NFC Medical ID Chip that allows medical professionals access to your medical history in the event of injury. The helmet also has traceable reflectors built-in to assist search and rescue efforts. It is also audio compatible.
- Strong and durable
- Added safety features for backcountry use
- Audio compatible
- Lightweight liner
- Easy to adjust
- Only available in a few colors
Another solid choice in a helmet for backcountry skiers is the Solomon MTN Lab Helmet. This a lightweight option, weighing just 13.3 ounces, that’s quite durable as a result of the in-mold style construction. This model makes our list because it is easy to wear all day long. It’s barely noticeable even after long trips to the backcountry.
The Solomon MTN features twelve large ventilation holes that allow heat to escape while keeping you comfortable as well as an adjustable dial on the back for customized comfort. It has a google lock and comes with two different interchangeable liners that allow you to adapt to different snow conditions. This is not the best option for everyday skiers, but it’s incredible for those that like to go off-piste.
- Easily adjustable
- Goggle lock
- Comes with two liner options
- Not a great option for everyday skiers
- Non-adjustable vents
5. Best Budget Ski Helmet: GIRO Ledge MIPS Snow Helmet
If you are looking for a solid ski helmet but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, check out the GIRO Ledge MIPS Snow Helmet. This is one of the only affordable options that still offers the MIPS safety system and GIRO has been using this technology in their helmets for some time now. That feature, along with the low price point, makes this helmet an enticing option for any skier.
This is a two-piece style helmet with a 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.
- MIPS safety
- Goggle hooks
- Removable earpads
- Stack vent technology
- Bulkier two-piece design
- Not as comfortable as other options
The Smith Holt Snow Sports Helmet is another great budget option. This helmet has a classic look, but provides plenty of protection at an affordable price. It is an ABS style helmet, meaning it is heavier than in-mold styles. Even so, the low price point and quality construction make this one of the best cheap options around.
This helmet is easy to adjust thanks to the dial on the back, and it also comes with an elastic band to provide a comfortable fit without much effort. It also features an Airevac Ventilation system with fourteen vents,a removable goggle lock, and is fully audio compatible.
- Audio compatible
- Goggle lock
- Not as bulky as other ABS helmets
- Classic look
- Liner could be nicer
- Not the best choice for larger heads
7. Best Ski Helmet with Audio: Solomon Brigade Audio Helmet
One of my personal favorite capabilities in a ski helmet, aside from safety, is audio capability. I skied for years without listening to music, but once I started to bump some tunes while skiing, I never went back. The Solomon Brigade Audio Helmet is a great choice for skiers who want to ski to their favorite music or have access to their phone while they ride. This helmet looks sleek, but is fully capable of protecting any style of skier.
The Brigade features an injected shell construction that affords skiers with plenty of protection without adding too much bulk. It also comes equipped with a Thermo Control System that uses specifically placed vents to keep you cool when your body heats up. It has a removable liner that can easily be washed, as well as a custom dial on the back.
- Solid audio system
- Affordable option for audio needs
- Classic look
- Audio system can sometimes fail in extremely wet conditions
The POC Auric Cut Backcountry Sping Helmet is another great helmet that has a fully functional audio system incorporated into the design. This helmet has the classic look and fit of most POC helmets. It is not too flashy, but it provides all the comfort and safety you would ever need. The ABS construction is strong and durable, while the EPP liner provides extra protection against falls.
This helmet makes the list because of its quality audio system that you can easily connect to your device or phone. This system makes it easy to listen to music or make calls. The POC communication system can be used to control your phone, and also acts as a two-way device with other skiers. Other features include adjustable ventilation, customizable fit, and a goggle clip.
- Great audio capabilities with the POC communication system
- Built to withstand multiple impacts
- Solid ventilation
- Chinstrap can feel tight
- Some users have complained about poor audio quality
9. Best Women’s Ski Helmet: Smith Optics Valence Women’s Ski Helmet
For a women’s specific option, check out the Smith Optics Valence Women’s Ski Helmet. This helmet features a hybrid shell construction that is both comfortable and strong. It is available in a wide variety of styles and is designed to meet the needs of the modern woman skier. It weighs in at a nice 18.5 ounces, making it comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
This helmet features eighteen vents for superior ventilation, and they can be adjusted using a low-profile regulator adjustable climate control. Select colorways come with the MIPS safety system, and the helmet is fully audio compatible. It also has an adjustable boa fit system, performance liner, and snap-fit earpads. A great choice for any skier.
- Great women’s ski helmet
- Hybrid shell construction
- Multiple colors available
- Good ventilation
- Audio compatible
- MIPS safety not available on all colors
- Not good for large heads
10. Best Lightweight Ski Helmet: Sweet Protection Ascender Helmet
If you love to backcountry ski, safety should be your primary concern. After that, you need a light setup. One of the best lightweight ski helmets currently available is the Sweet Protection Ascender Helmet. This helmet weighs in at 13.4 ounces, making it an extremely light option that holds up to the trials of the backcountry.
The Ascender is made from an advanced hybrid-shell construction that sheds ounces without sacrificing safety. It also features the MIPS safety system, which provides protection from all angles of impact, and has attachments to fully secure your ski goggles or headlamp. It doesn’t come with a liner, so it can be a little cold on severe weather days, but if you are looking for a lightweight option in a ski helmet, this option is worth exploring.
- Extremely lightweight
- MIPS safety system
- Advanced hybrid-shell design
- Goggle lock
- No included liner
Not great for severe weather days
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. 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 bad 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.
Safety is incredibly important out on the slopes, and that all starts with proper protection. Accidents can happen, regardless of where you are or how slow you’re going. Know that, and understand why you need strong, durable gear. A good ski helmet is the first line of defense against preventable head injuries. Helmets are recommended for every skier and any of the above options will help keep you safe.
What type of ski helmet do you like to wear? Do you have any style or design preferences? Let us know in the comments below!