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The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets in 2020

Whether you’re taking your first set is skis to the baby slopes or you’re a seasoned park monkey, a quality helmet is an absolute must. A well-fitted helmet helps to keep your head from freezing on the slopes. Some even give you a convenient place to attach your sports cam or store an audio device. But most importantly, the best ski and snowboard helmets will protect your head from both minor and serious head injuries.

As well as helping to keep you alive on the slopes, the best ski helmets are ventilated, insulated, goggles compatible, and highly adjustable. Choose the right one and it will perform in all weather conditions. A good helmet doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Top of the range models will set you back over $200 but there are plenty of budget helmets for under $100 that provide sufficient protection.

Summary of the best ski and snowboarding helmets in 2020

Below, we’ve picked out our favourite ski and snowboarding helmets for this year’s snow season. We’ve also explained the tech specs of snow helmet so you can choose the right one for you.

ProductFeaturesWeightMIPSCost
Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet21 adjustable vents1.1 lbs / 500gYes$$$$
Anon Greta 3 Snow HelmetAudio compatible1.3 lbs / 580gNo$
Giro Ledge Snow HelmetRear goggles strap1.1 lbs / 500gNo$
Wildhorn Drift Snowboard and Ski HelmeAdjustable vents0.9 lbs / 410gNo$
Oakley MOD1 Snow HelmetMagnetic chin strap1.3 lbs / 580gNo$$
Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS Snow HelmetAudio compatible1.3 lbs / 580gYes$$$$
Smith Maze MIPS Snow HelmetRear goggles strap1 lbs / 450gYes$$
POC Obex SPIN Communication Snow HelmetBuilt-in Bluetooth headset1.1 lbs / 500gNo$$$$
Smith Prospect Jr. MIPS Snow HelmetAdjustable size as child grows1 lb / 45ogYes$$
Pret Kid Lid Snow HelmetAudio compatible0.8 lbs / 390gNo$

FAQs when choosing the best best ski and snowboarding helmets

Should you wear a helmet for skiing and snowboarding?
No matter your ability level, you should always wear a ski or snowboarding helmet on the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding are classed as extreme sports for a reason. They’re extreme. Injuries are common. And without adequate head protection, a minor fall can cause a major head injury.
What are the best snowboard helmets?
High impact protection is essential but the best snowboarding helmets should also be comfortable, heat-regulating, and goggle compatible. Beyond this, which helmets are best depends on your needs and usage. Most helmets are suitable for resort skiing but the best backcountry helmet should also be lightweight and well ventilated because you’re sure to get sweaty on the uphill slogs.
Who makes the best snowboard helmets?
For our list, we’ve selected helmets from some of the leading ski and snowboarding companies. Smith, Giro, and POC, for example. These names have been in at the top of the market for years but there are many more quality brands out there.
Is there a difference between snowboard and ski helmets?
There may be some minor style differences between ski and snowboarding helmets but both use the same technology for sizing, fit, ventilation, and protection. A ski helmet can certainly be used for snowboarding and vice Versa.
What does MIPS stand for?
MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It’s also known as slip-plane technology and is designed to mimic the natural protection system of the brain. In short, it’s designed to better protect the brain from rotational forces when you take an impact from a side angle.
Is a MIPS ski or snowboard helmet worth it?
Statistics show that head injuries often come at a side angle and the brain is more sensitive to side impacts than it is to impacts from the back or front. A helmet with MIPS provides an extra layer to absorb that impact. MIPS is not a particularly expensive feature; it’s already present in many mid-priced helmets. It’s not bulky either and we think the extra protection is certainly worth it.
How tight should a snowboard helmet be?
The helmet should fit securely on your head without being uncomfortable. You should be able to shake your head back and forth/side to side and push on the front and back edges without any movement. If it moves then the helmet is too loose or too big. If the helmet feels tight, rather than snug, then loosen it a notch or try a size up.
How long does a ski helmet last?
There’s no single answer to how long a ski helmet lasts. Each manufacturer will have their own recommendation depending on the model and materials. The outer shell can wear out after prolonged exposure to UV rays and the general advice is to replace your ski helmet every five years, or immediately after a substantial impact. Frequent skiers may need to replace a helmet every two or three seasons. If you’re an occasional skier and you take care not to damage the helmet, it may last longer.

The best ski and snowboard helmets in 2020

Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet

Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet

Construction: hybrid in-mould
Weight: 1.1 lbs / 500g
Sizing: both men’s and women’s versions are available in three sizes. Sizes run a small due to the MIPS liner.

The Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet is low-profile, lightweight, and stylish. But most importantly, it’s also one of the safest snowboard helmets on the market. The helmet is built with Smith’s trademark honeycomb Aerocore construction, featuring bombproof Koroyd material. This is combined with a MIPS liner to increase protection from multi-directional impacts. Not only does its outer shell construction protect your noggin, but it also helps to regulate temperature. The helmet has 21 adjustable vents which are controlled by two, easily-accessible sliders. On cool days the helmet’s removable ear pads and anti-bacterial liner provide extra warmth and comfort. The helmet is also ski goggle and audio compatible. Naturally, this top of the range helmet comes with a top of the range price tag which is the only major drawback.

Pros

  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Very tough construction
  • Adjustable ventilation
  • Boa tension system

Cons

  • Expensive

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Anon Greta 3 Snow Helmet

Anon Greta 3 Snow Helmet

Construction: in-mould ABS
Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580g
Sizing: women’s specific fit, three sizes, men’s version available (Anon Raider 3)

At the opposite end of the scale is the Anon Greta 3 Snow Helmet. It features a women’s specific fit with a skate-inspired design and an affordable price tag. Although there are very few additional features, this Anon snowboard helmet is made with a highly durable 2-piece Endura-shell construction. It’s also multi-season certified so you can use it for summer sports too. Ventilation is provided by six fixed-open vents while a classic fleece liner and removable fleece-lined ear pads keep you feeling toasty. The helmet is also ski goggle and audio compatible.

Pros

  • Multi-season certified
  • Durable outer shell
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • One of the heaviest on this list
  • Auto-adjustment system doesn’t suit everyone

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Giro Ledge Snow Helmet

Giro Ledge Snow Helmet

Construction: hard-shell
Weight: 1.1 lbs / 500g
Sizing: available in four sizes

Another favourite for budget and beginner skiers is the Giro Ledge Snow Helmet. It’s made with a durable hard-shell outer and EPS foam liner. A MIPS liner can be purchased separately. The helmet is compatible with some ski goggles and fitted with stack vents. As the vents cannot be closed, an adjustable and removable Auto Loc 2 fit system allows you to add extra base layers.

Unlike most adjustment systems, this one can be set to one of three circumference sizes. It then automatically adjusts to cradle the head. You won’t be able to adjust the circumference size on the fly but, for most skiers, this won’t be an issue. Overall the Giro ski helmet offers excellent value for money.

Pros

  • Simple and practical design
  • Removable earpads and goggles retainer
  • Good price

Cons

  • Not compatible with all ski goggles
  • Vents cannot be closed

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Wildhorn Drift Snowboard and Ski Helmet

Wildhorn Drift Snowboard and Ski Helmet

Construction: in-mould
Weight: 0.9 lbs / 410g
Sizing: three sizes available

Eco-Conscious: Wildhorn Outfitters donates a portion of its revenue to wildlife and conservation causes.

As a supplier for the U.S. Ski Team, Wildhorn Outfitters is known for making quality helmets at a reasonable price. The Wildhorn Drift is a low-profile ski helmet that balances protection with weight and comfort. It’s an in-mould helmet with an EPS foam liner. A fine-tune adjustment system lets you adjust the fit from a dial at the back of the helmet. There’s also an adjustable goggle strap. Additionally, the helmet features adjustable vents, allowing greater temperature control. Just open and close the vents as needed. This is a rare feature for ski helmets in this price range.

Pros

  • Comfortable and adjustable design
  • Good ventilation
  • Removable earpads
  • Audio and goggle compatible

Cons

  • Vents are difficult to open with gloves on

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Oakley MOD1 Snow Helmet

Oakley MOD1 Snow Helmet

Construction: hybrid in-mould
Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580g
Sizing: three sizes available

A trendy skate-style ski helmet with plenty of practical features, the Oakley MOD1 Snow Helmet is one of the best ski and snowboard helmets on the market. Its slim-line design has six fixed-open vents, including a googles/brim ventilation system that helps to keep your vision fog-free. As with most ski helmets, the MOD1 is fitted with a removable and washable liner and earpads. One stand out feature is the magnetic fidlock buckle on the chinstrap. This makes it easy to fasten and unfasten the helmet without taking your gloves off. It’s easy to adjust whilst wearing too, due to the Boa 360-fit system.

Pros

  • Adjustable fit
  • Easy-open buckle
  • Compatible with MIPS liner (not included)
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Vents do not close

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS Snow Helmet

Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS Snow Helmet

Construction: hybrid in-mould
Weight: 1.3 lbs / 580g
Sizing: three sizes available

Made to be used in any weather, the Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS Snow Helmet is built with 24 adjustable vents – more than any other helmet on this list. Just turn the dial with one hand and you can switch between open and closed. Inside, the helmet is fitted with a removable and washable moisture-wicking 3D vented liner. Like the MOD1, this model has a quick-release magnetic buckle and dial fit-adjustment system. The earpads are audio-ready too.

When it comes to protection, this is up there with the safest ski helmets on our list. The variable elasticity shell combines an ABS hard-shell with polycarbonate in-mould technology. This is coupled with a shock-absorbent EPS liner and MIPS system.

Pros

  • Superior protection
  • Great ventilation
  • Easy-adjust components

Cons

  • Pricey

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Smith Maze MIPS Snow Helmet

Smith Maze MIPS Snow Helmet

Construction: in-mould
Weight: 1 lb / 450g
Sizing: three sizes available

The Smith Maze MIPS is a minimalist helmet that delivers on both functionality and price. It’s far simpler than the high-priced Smith Vantage, but what it lacks in features it makes up for in low weight. The in-mould construction keeps the weight and bulk to a minimum while an integrated MIPS system provides extra protection. The helmet is beanie compatible and ventilation is provided via nine fixed-open vents. On a warm day, you can also remove the ear pads. Without a dial, the Smith Maze isn’t as easy to adjust as others on this list. That said, the cage does have three adjustment settings, removable padding, and an elasticated fit-system.

Pros

  • Lightweight and well ventilated
  • Fitted with MIPS
  • Goggle and audio compatible

Cons

  • Vents fixed open
  • Can’t adjust the size whilst wearing

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


POC Obex SPIN Communication Snow Helmet

POC Obex SPIN Communication Snow Helmet

Construction: hybrid
Weight: 1.1 lbs / 500g
Sizing: three sizes available

Our winner for the best Bluetooth snowboard helmet in 2020 is the POC Obex SPIN Communication. This high-tech helmet allows you to connect your smartphone and communicate with fellow skiers or listen to music wirelessly. This POC snowboard helmet is ahead of the crowd on safety features too. The durable ABS top shell is reinforced with lightweight polycarbonate inner-shell and ESP liner. This model also features SPIN technology which, like MIPS, protects your head from the rotational forces of an angled impact. Other useful features include 11 air vents with sliding covers, a 360 easy-adjustable tension system, and fixed goggle clip.

Pros

  • Built-in Bluetooth headset
  • Adjustable vents
  • Easy-adjust size
  • Superior impact protection

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Feels a little bulky

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


The best ski and snowboard helmets for kids

Smith Prospect Jr. MIPS Snow Helmet

Smith Prospect Jr. MIPS Snow Helmet

Construction: in-mould
Weight: 1 lb / 45og
Sizing: one size

Designed with growing skiers in mind, the Smith Prospect JR. MIPS Snow Helmet is made with a dual-stage liner system. This should fit kids aged between 2 and 12 years old. Simply remove the liners as your child grows and fix the lid in place with the adjustable dual-fit system. The helmet also features a soft fleece liner and 14 vents. Most importantly, this Smith snowboard helmet provides excellent impact protection thanks to the Aerocore in-mould construction with koroyd and MIPS technology.

Pros

  • Will fit your child for years
  • Durable construction
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Vents are fixed open

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Pret Kid Lid Snow Helmet

Pret Kid Lid Snow Helmet

Construction: in-mould
Weight: 0.8 lbs / 390g
Sizing: two sizes available

The Pret Kid Lid Snow Helmet protects your child with ACT in-mould multi-shell construction. It’s lightweight and well ventilated. Meanwhile, an ultra-fleece lining and RCS quick-fit system ensure a comfy and cosy fit. The lining is also removable and washable so there’s no need to worry about bad odours or bacteria. This helmet is audio ready too, so your kids can listen to music whilst enjoying the snow.

Pros

  • Durable shell
  • Soft lining
  • Audio compatible

Cons

  • Not as adjustable as the Smith Prospects JR.

Find the latest price on:
REI


What to look for in the best ski and snowboarding helmets

Construction types

Hard-shell helmets are the most durable. They’re most commonly made from ABS plastic and lined with ESP foam. Hard-shells tend to be cheaper but are slightly heavier and bulkier.

In-mould (soft-shell) helmets are much lighter, less bulky, and tend to have more vents, however, they don’t offer the same durability as hard-shells. They’re typically made from a thin layer of polycarbonate which is moulded to an internal EPS foam layer.

Hybrids helmets are the best all-rounder option but often the most expensive of the three types of helmet. They combine the lightweight and slim aesthetic of an in-mould helmet with the durability of a hard-top layer.

Size and adjustability

Standard helmet sizes are small, medium, or large. The measurement corresponds with the circumference of your head, just above the ears and eyebrows. Sometimes helmets are available in extra-large, children’s sizes, or in a man/woman-specific fit. You can check the sizing measurements on the manufacturer’s website. Some helmets fit best on rounder heads while others are better for slimmer heads. We recommend trying the helmet before you invest your money.

Adjustability is key to a comfortable fit. The most popular adjustment system in ski helmets is a dial tension system, such as Boa dials, which allows you to tighten or loosen the helmet with one hand. Other useful adjustment features include elasticated fit-systems, removable padding, and an adjustable chin strap.

Warmth and ventilation

The best snowboard helmets keep your head warm but still allow air to circulate. As a rule, the more vents the helmet has, the better the ventilation.

Often, mid to top-range helmets have adjustable vents that can be opened and closed with one hand. One thing to look for is goggles/brim vents, these should sit flush with your ski goggles. If the vents don’t match up, fogging can be an issue.

Some helmets have non-adjustable vents which are better on warmer days or when paired with a beanie hat. Helmets with fleece/wool liners and additional padding are better at insulting. They’re more comfortable too. While helmets with removable earpads offer greater versatility.

Extra features

MIPS compatibility

This is an additional safety feature which has been developed for commercial use in the last few years. It helps to protect your head from side impacts and is generally viewed as providing superior protection compared with traditional helmet designs. MIPS is already built into some helmets; others are MIPS liner compatible.

Goggle compatibility

Most ski helmets are goggle compatible, with goggle/brim vents on the front and a fixed or removable goggle clip on the back of the helmet. Bear in mind that not all helmets will pair with any brand of goggles. Some helmets sit low on the forehead, putting pressure on the top of the goggles, while others sit high, leaving a gap for icy air.

Electronics compatibility

Like to listen to music while you cruise the slopes? Many ski and snowboarding helmets are audio-ready. The best snowboard helmets with audio have a headphone storage space built into the earpads or headspace. Some models even come with built-in Bluetooth speakers and microphone or attachments for mounting an action camera.

Removable liners and ear pads

A washable liner is a real bonus for hygiene, but removable liners and earpads also make a more versatile fit and improve insulation/ventilation. Many of these types of helmets are also suitable for cycling and skating during the warmer seasons.

Travel case

Not an essential, but a protective case can help to extend the life of your ski helmet, particularly if you travel a lot.

Helmet certifications

The best looking snowboard helmet isn’t necessarily the safest. Any helmet you buy should be certified by a credible organisation. Common certifications for skiing and snowboarding safety apparel include:

  • ASTM F2040
  • CE EN 1077:2007 Class A or Class B
  • EN 1078
  • CPSC

About the author

author-beth

Originally from the UK and currently based in Turkey, Beth Carter is a full-time adventurer, former scout, and vegan traveller. When she’s not hiking long-distance trails with an oversized pack on her shoulders, you’ll probably find her peddling up and down scenic roads, or pitching a tent in a far-off mountain range. On the odd occasion, you might even see her sitting at a keyboard, coffee at the ready, typing about her latest outdoor pursuit.

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