How to Choose a Snow Helmet

Skiiers on a mountain

You have your board, skis, boots, bindings, and clothing—now it’s time to make sure you have the perfect ski or snowboard helmet for the slopes. It’s important to make sure you choose a high-quality snow helmet that fits correctly and protects you from the elements. Modern ski and snowboard helmets are constructed with innovative technologies and features that perform on the slopes. Our guide will help you learn exactly what to look for in a snow helmet so you stay comfortable and safe while skiing or snowboarding.

Different Types of Snow Helmets

  • In-Mold Snow Helmets feature a molded combination of a thin, hard plastic outer shell and a shock-absorbing EPS (expanded polystyrene) liner. This type of snow helmet is designed to collapse on impact, softening the blow and creating less rebound. In-mold snow helmets are also much lighter in construction than their counterparts, making them a popular option for most winter sports athletes.
  • Hard Shell Snow Helmets are ultra-durable, making them one of the safest options and a great choice for beginners. With these ski and snowboard helmets, a hard ABS plastic shell is bonded to EPS foam. Because of their sturdy construction, hard shell snow helmets are usually heavier and offer less ventilation than in-mold helmets.
  • Hybrid Snow Helmets combine the best features of hard shell and in-mold helmets. With this type of ski helmet, the hard ABS plastic is only placed in strategic, high-impact zones, and the lower section is made of in-mold material. Hybrid helmets provide durable protection on impact without too much bulk.

How to Size a Snow Helmet

  1. Measure Your Head Circumference: Use a sewing tape measure to find the circumference of your head in centimeters. Wrap it all the way around your head about an inch above your ears and eyebrows.
  2. Consult the Helmet’s Size Chart: Most manufacturers will have a size chart or scale indicating which size your helmet should be based on your head circumference.
  3. Try The Helmet On: Once you’ve chosen your helmet, put it on. It should feel snug all the way around your head so it doesn’t shift. Extra space between your helmet and head can be dangerous. Giving your head a shake is another good indicator of fit—if the helmet moves on its own when you shake your head, it’s too big.

Fit Note: Keep in mind that you will be wearing your snow helmet for an extended period of time so it’s not good for your helmet to be too snug. You shouldn’t feel squeezed on any point of your head.

Pro Tip: Neck gaiters and balaclavas are great accessories for skiing and snowboarding. Lightweight neck gaiters help block the wind in mild weather, and full-face balaclavas and thermal neck gaiters offer plenty of coverage and protection for your ears and face in extreme weather. While many options are thin enough to easily tuck into your jacket or helmet, it’s important to keep in mind that any face covering you tuck under your helmet or goggles should fit seamlessly.

When to Replace Your Snow Helmet

Most ski and snowboard helmets are designed to withstand one big impact. After a significant impact, the snow helmet needs to be replaced. If the hard foam interior collapses or cracks, this is an indicator that your snow helmet is no longer safe. Helmets with EPP (expanded polypropylene) liners can withstand multiple impacts but require close inspection with every use to ensure all components are intact. Regardless of type, experts recommend replacing your skiing and snowboarding helmets every 3 to 5 years due to the natural breakdown of materials.

With the help of this guide, you can choose the right ski or snowboard helmet for you and hit the slopes with confidence. Understanding the different types of snow helmets will help guide you to find the perfect snow helmet. Plus, you can check out even more expert advice on how to pick the perfect skiing and snowboarding helmet with our guide to the Best Skiing & Snowboarding Helmets.