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Types of Ski Helmets

Man skiers wearing white ski helmet.

What is a ski helmet? It is a headgear that has been designed to protect the head from traumatic events when skiing. Until the turn of the century, the year 2000, ski helmets were a rare commodity.

However, it became more popular around 2010 to see snowboarders and skiers wearing helmets in Europe and the United States.

There are several styles of ski helmets available on the market today. The most popular ski helmet is constructed from heavy plastic or resin material with padding inside.

Helmets today come with extra features, such as headphones, earmuffs, vents, a camera, and goggle mounts.

Interesting Statistics About Snow Accidents

A skiers with ski helmet skiing in a slope area.

Statistics regarding snow injuries are measured per every 1,000 skiers.  Over one-half of all head injuries in the United States during ski season are attributed to not wearing a helmet.

Worldwide those stats are variable-for instance, Switzerland has reported about 3.5; Canada 2.5; Norway is 1.5, and Vermont in the USA is 1.9.

Head injuries during ski and snowboarding season are estimated at 16% for snowboarding and 15% for skiing. These stats come from studies done in Canada, Austria, Norway, Germany, and Switzerland.

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Accidents involving a skier’s head being hit on the snow account for 74% of these head injuries. 13% of snow injuries are due to a collision into an object that is fixed, and 10% are when skiers collide with each other.

How do I get fitted for a Ski Helmet?

The way to get fitted for a ski helmet is to first measure your head at its largest point. Use the packaging the helmet comes in to determine the size you need. The helmet should not be tight, but it should fit snugly. You do not want the helmet to have a lot of back and forth movement.

Different Types of Ski Helmets

Different types of ski helmet displayed in store.

One popular type of ski helmet is the in-mold kind. This helmet is constructed through a single molding process of connecting a foam that is shock-absorbing to the shell. Incredibly lighter in weight and sleeker than helmets that are injection molded.

Helmets that are injection molded are typically created with ABS plastic for high-impact. They are then bonded to a shell that is separate using an EPS foam.

The Pros of a Ski Helmet

A man wearing white ski helmet in snow area.

Not everyone wears a helmet when they go skiing; however, it is my experience that for safety’s sake you should. Just as when riding a bicycle or motorcycle, a helmet protects the most valuable body part–the brain!

Below are some of the top reasons for wearing a ski helmet:

  1. The number one reason to wear a ski helmet is to prevent or reduce the severity of injury to the head. If you have ever witnessed a person suffering from a traumatic head injury, it isn’t a nice experience.
  2. Keeps you warmer. It is a known fact that heat rises, and is released through the head. When I wear my ski helmet I am trapping all that heat inside my body, hence, keeping me warm and toasty!
  3. I like to wear goggles when out on the slopes. They help to keep the bright sun from blinding me! When I wear my ski helmet, there is a place on the helmet that holds my goggles in place.
  4. When I wear my ski helmet, I am setting an example for the younger, less experienced skiers on the slopes! Wearing a helmet lets others know it’s “cool” to take precautions while having fun.
  5. Wearing a ski helmet aids in keeping the snow and bright sun out of my eyes. When I am wearing my helmet, I am able to focus on my surroundings and be aware of any obstructions.
  6. A helmet is an excellent way to display personal beliefs and show your uniqueness. I like to put my favorite designs, stickers, and quotes on my helmet. In addition, a bright-colored helmet will help others spot you in a crowd on the slopes. I tell my friends, “just look for the hot pink helmet!”
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The Cons of Wearing a Ski Helmet

A skier skiing risky in a slope area.

I just mentioned all the advantages to wearing a ski helmet, and it’s hard to imagine any “cons,” yet there are a few. Below are 5 of the disadvantages of wearing a ski helmet:

  1. The number one complaint is weight. Actually, about 2 kgs of weight are being added to the head when a helmet is on it. A lot of skiers feel wearing a helmet is more of a punishment and burden. Since no one “plans” to crash, it’s not really worth the hassle.
  2. Wearing a helmet might encourage a person to attempt risky stunts. Having the protection of a helmet makes us feel a little over-confident, this often results in accidents on the slopes.
  3. Not in style. To some, safety takes a back seat to look stylish and trendy; however, this is not a good reason to not wear a helmet.
  4. Uncomfortable. Buying a helmet that is poorly constructed can become uncomfortable. Particularly if there is no proper ventilation and humidity and the heat starts to increase around your head.
  5. Lastly, a helmet can be hard to travel with. Helmets are bulky, and when packing a suitcase for an overnight or weekend ski trip can be hard to do when trying to make room for a helmet. Packing a helmet and other essential ski trip needs can be a frustrating feat.

Requirements & Certifications of Ski Helmets

When I go shopping for a ski or snowboard helmet, I look at what certifications the product has. Protective standards regarding helmets for snow sports are not legally mandated within the United States.

However, there are two organizations that independently certify the safety standards of snow helmets. The majority of United States retailers sell specific products that meet at least one (sometimes both) of these safety standards.

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The first standard is the ASTM-American Society for Testing and Materials. This American Standard is a requirement for helmet brands that are up for retail sale in the United States.

Once a helmet has passed the requirements for ASTM testing, it is assigned the certification of ASTM F2040. When I see this certification on a helmet, I recognize it means the helmet possesses stability for position, retention, and dynamic strength.

The next certification is the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).  This standard sets helmets into classes-Class A and Class B.

A Class A helmet possesses the most protective benefits-requiring the style to have a full face or full shell.

The Class B helmets are less strict about the protective requirements. However, they do require the ears to be exposed to allow for improved communication and hearing. A certification title of EN 1077A/B the CEN provides has a primary focus on testing for impact resistance.

Special Features to Look for in a Ski Helmet

A woman choosing ski helmet in store.

When I am shopping for a ski or snowboarding helmet, there are several specific features that must be present. Here is a summary of some of the features to look for when shopping for the right helmet:

  • Ventilation system: It is imperative for a snowboard or ski helmet to have a ventilation system that is efficient. The right vents provide us to sweat out the warm air and allow the cooler air in. When shopping for a helmet, ensure one accessory is a removable plug–this permits you to adjust the amount of air flowing in and out of the helmet.
  • A camera mount on the helmet: a popular add-on to a ski helmet is a camera that can be mounted, such as a GoPro. This is a feature a lot of skiers enjoy because they can do live accounts of their skiing tricks and stunts to post on social media later.
  • Compatibility for goggles: Many helmets I shop for have an attachment that allows a place for my goggles. If this is a feature you are looking for, inquire with the REI sales specialist.
  • Audio capability:  If you enjoy listening to your favorite music on an MP3 player, 2-way radio, or cell phone, this is a feature to ensure your helmet has. Make sure the helmet you plan to buy comes with speakers that are built-in so you never miss a minute of your favorite tunes.
  • A hard case:  Everyone wants their new possessions to maintain that new look as long as possible. Therefore, buy a helmet that comes with a hard travel and/or storage case (sometimes sold separately). This case will ensure your ski helmet remains in its new and shiny condition.
  • Liners: When I buy a new product for skiing, I want to customize what my needs are. Purchasing drop liners and ear pads that are detachable is a great way to do this. Liners should be removable, allowing them to be washed, a great way to keep your stuff nice following a sweat-filled day on the slopes.
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Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

What Kind of Helmet do You Need for Skiing?

When shopping for a helmet to use while skiing or snowboarding, it must comply with all standards CE-EN1077 (the standards for European) or ASTM F-2040 (North American standard).

Each of these standards guarantees the helmet provides equal levels of basic protection. Regardless if they are ABS, hybrid, or in-mold construction.

What is Worn Beneath the Ski Helmet?

To give additional warmth and comfort beneath the ski helmet, you need to wear a balaclava. Now you might be asking what a balaclava is?  This is a wool garment that is close-fitting and covers the entire head and neck (excluding parts of the face).  It is often referred to as a ‘ski mask’.

What does MIPS Stand for in the Language of Helmets?

MIPS is an acronym for a ‘multi-directional impact protection system’.  When you see a helmet notated with MIPS it means it has been engineered carefully to ensure all protective systems are integrated within the internal sections of the helmet.

This delivers protection to the brain from the moment of impact to prevent any severe damage from being sustained.

What are Injection-Molded Helmets?

These types of helmets are constructed of a hard, plastic shell. This hard plastic, also referred to as ABS is plastered on an EPS liner of foam that is pre-molded. Injection-molded helmets are usually denser than in-mold helmets.

This design of the helmet is less costly and is able to handle normal wear and tear in a more functional manner.