A ski or snowboard helmet is an essential piece of kit, but how can you tell a good one from a bad one? What should we consider when buying the best helmet?
We spoke to Managing Director of The Skier’s Lounge, Scott Hargrave, to find out exactly what you should be looking for.
What do we need in a ski helmet?
Correct fit and comfort, in that order.
How snug should the helmet feel?
The best ski or snowboard helmet should feel like wearing a beanie hat, with no pressure points, and no spaces. If a helmet is not fitting correctly, it won’t be protecting your head! For correct fit, measure the circumference of your head with a piece of string or measure above your ears. This is your head size. Ski and snowboard helmets come in different shapes, generally the best helmets are round or oval as these shapes will fit your head better.
Different types of helmet?
There are hundreds, ranging in price from £40 to over £600 for race helmets, although the average price for a high quality, ventilated and easy to adjust ski helmet is around £100.
Is it possible to buy too basic?
No, but there is buying unsafe! The ski helmet MUST fit correctly to work, and must be to an approved standard to be safe for mountain sports use.
What are the essential features?
1. Easy to fit – such as with a dial adjustment for fine tuning of the fit
2. Ventilation – to make the helmet comfortable in all conditions
3. Removable liner – for easy cleaning
4. Good goggle retainer – so that you don’t lose your goggles
5. Padded chin strap – to stop chafing
6. M.I.P.S – a head-protection system designed to enhance the safety of various helmets
Integrated technology – Once the fit is sorted, then you can consider other options such as audio compatible ear pieces, integrated action camera mounts such as Go-Pro Audio compatibility, or removable ear pads, to make your time on the mountain even more enjoyable, and most importantly safer!
Additional safety – Some ski helmets come with additional features such as MIPS or impact protection. These systems reduce the forces going to your brain in the event of a fall or strike and are becoming more common and affordable.
Venting – Ski helmets come with a variety of venting options. Some have removable plugs for spring conditions. Others have a slider to adjust the air circulation on the fly, ideal for those who often get hot-headed!
Goggle compatibility – Modern ski helmets now cope with most goggle designs including the latest larger lens models, but you should check the fit with your goggles. You don’t want that gap too big between you helmet and goggle – A.K.A the “gaper gap”, or sometimes worse!
Do expert skiers need a different helmet?
All ski and snowboard helmets are required to be of a certain standard to meet EU certification. For freestyle skiing, skiers/snowboarders may go for a slightly more durable outer shell for durability – although it is heavier, and a helmet should still be replaced after any impact!
Safest and best helmets?
If a ski helmet meets the EU certification then it is a safe helmet. Although different models are not certified as ‘safer’ or ‘better’ than others, those with energy absorbing designs such as the M.I.P.S system offer additional protection for the user from the initial impact, reducing the energy reaching your brain.
Is there a European standard?
There are 3 standards to look out for – The European EN1077, North American ASTMF2040 or Canadian CSA Z263.1 standards. A certified helmet will normally have one of these standards. For ski racing helmets, these are required to meet EN1077A AND ASTMF2040. There are even additional standards within these. For the rest of us, just one standard is good. If it is not certified then my advice is not to buy it!
Thank you for your advice Scott!
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