Head Space: The 6 Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets

Aug 10, 2015

Category: Gear

Every year dozens of people die on the slopes. Many of them are experienced skiers or snowboarders who lose control on groomed runs at the intermediate level. The lesson here is it isn’t lack of experience or skill that kills people, it is cockiness. Just because you were born strapped to a greased piece of fiberglass doesn’t make you invincible and just because you think you can handle a blue run doesn’t mean you should start hotdogging. Keep in mind that you are a fragile human with a skull that can easily be cracked and invest in a ski and snowboard helmet.

Helmets built for the slopes are not a guarantee against an accident being fatal, but they will increase your chances of walking away from a little tough love from a tree. They will also protect your head from hidden rocks if you have to ditch out and take a tumble. Even if you’ve seen the worst that alpine hills have to offer, you should still have a helmet on hand. To help you live through a bad day on the mountain (whether you ski or snowboard) we’ve found the 6 best protective helmets to keep your brain on the inside.

Bern Watts EPS

Bern Watts EPS

Pro: Keeps your head very cool
Con: Will only survive a single heavy impact

Summer Lovin’: Not all of these helmets are made for the frigid temperatures that take place in the dead of winter. Spring skiers and backcountry tourists often need something a little lighter to let the heat out but still keep everything between their ears that belongs there. The interior is lined with high-impact foam that will save you once from a head-on collision, but then, like the crumple zones on a car, becomes as useless as a vestigial tail. Adjustment can be done on the fly with a simple velcro strap and the lining can be taken out for even better ventilation and heat removal. The wire mesh vents cannot be closed and will let your head freeze if you get caught in a sudden snowstorm without a beanie or a quality hood. There are a few different models available including a standard type with no top vents and the 8Tracks which has built-in audio if you need to tune out the annoying sounds of nature or your obnoxious buddy on the lift. A special winter liner can be bought that will improve the cold weather abilities of the Watts. [Purchase: $45]

Sandbox Classic

Sandbox Classic

Pro: Customizable padding
Con: Limited Protection

Simply Stylish: This skateboard-inspired helmet is great for minimalists or those who like a very traditional ski helmet style. The array of peacock colors are also good for anyone that is desperate for attention and simply must be seen. The interior doesn’t skimp on padding and while you can’t make changes to its profile between runs, you can swap out the interior foam in 48 different ways for a perfect fit that will also work with your hood, providing just as much protection and cushioning as you need. The ear covers and goggle clip are both completely removable so that you can further alter the Classic to suit your style and keep you comfortable throughout the day. Lack of ventilation over your dome might cause overheating if you’re climbing the hills of the backcountry. Overall protection is minimal, though it can take a hit much better than comparably priced ski helmets with a similar open design. The slight brim is perfect for keeping your goggles up and away. [Purchase: $66+]

Scott Envy

Scott Envy

Pro: Heavily padded
Con: Compressing fit takes some adjustment

Safety First: This is probably one of the least stylish helmets on the market. Frankly, it looks more like you took the short bus to the ski resort, but that is because it is loaded with protection. Scott has put in an aluminum roll cage to back up the ABS shell so that whatever direction you take a hit from, it transfers force all around, thereby diluting the impact. The d3o materials actually harden when struck to give you extra protection at the last second, which can be the difference between a coma and a concussion. The large size is well ventilated so that you’ll never end up pouring sweat. One set of vents moves air over the crown of your head while another helps move air down your face to keep your goggles from fogging up. The broad face opening works with most standard ski goggles and even a few oversized models. The helmet fits very snugly and can make you feel a little claustrophobic at first. [Purchase: $93]

Giro Edit

Giro Edit

Pro: Action camera mount
Con: Slim straps and earpads

Film Buff: Largely considered the snowboarder’s helmet, the Edit combines a very useful gimmick with outstanding protection and light weight. Adventurers who can’t resist a jump will enjoy the smooth 375 gram heft that is built like a plane’s fuselage to slice through the air reducing resistance while also allowing sufficient flow to keep your scalp from overheating. Fit is adjusted by a dial on the back that can easily be operated while your hands are covered and the wide face will accept any aftermarket goggles, though the lack of a brim means putting them up won’t work for long. The best part of the Edit is the integrated GoPro mount that allows you to attach your action camera directly onto the helmet without adding any strange equipment. It holds your gear sturdy and steady to get great shots of every jump, mogul, and wipeout you experience on your powder-carving quest. The straps and earpads have been trimmed down to almost nothing and feel ready to snap at any moment. [Purchase: $99]

POC Receptor Bug

POC Receptor Bug

Pro: Built in Beats by Dre headphones
Con: Very plain design

Downhill Dancer: More and more ski and snowboard helmets are adding audio to their repertoire so that you never, ever have to interact with another human being and can easily ignore such intrusive shouts as “watch out!” or “I’m having your baby!” as you go careening off into the wild white yonder. The Bug is the first for audiophiles since they offer up a pair of excellent Beats by Dr. Dre headphones built right in. They allow for browsing songs, answering the phone, and almost anything else you would normally do with a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The ventilated double shell doesn’t skimp on protection and you can close the vents off when it gets cold and snap them open so that sweat can dry. The Bug is fairly light and won’t get in the way if you’re a trickster hell bent for leather whether hitting the half-pipe or just taking on some jumps. Besides the slightly vanilla design and only two color choices, alpine skiers and backcountry badasses alike will happily catch the Bug. [Purchase: $142+]

Smith Vantage

Smith Vantage

Pro: Very versatile
Con: Adjustment dial is touchy

Transformer: This is the freerider’s ski helmet of note, narrowly hedging out the Lazer Dissent. The stability and aerodynamics show engineering far above anything else on the mountain. The ABS external shell works in conjunction with an In-Mold for a combination of protection and comfort that fits close to your head. The vents have more settings than just opened or closed so that you can create the exact environment inside the helmet that you want. Adjusting the fit is simple and gives you plenty of options whether you need more padding, breathing room, or a snug, low-profile skull-grabber that can slide under a hood. Smith has added in the brand spankin’ new Aerocore technology that absorbs and redistributes more force from an impact to further improve safety. Compatible with Skullcandy and sporting a goggle lock as well as a visor for improved sun protection, the Vantage checks all the boxes. The one issue that comes up is the touchy adjustment dial is easy to accidentally twist or bump. [Purchase: $134+]

More From Gear

TACS’ New AVL II Dark Metal Is A Camera-Inspired Time-Keeping Marvel

Photography meets horology in this handsome timepiece.

Posted By Tim Huber

Partner
Partner
Featured Image

Rimowa’s Legendary Attaché Gets A Gold-Anodized Limited Edition

A premium, opulent makeover for the 'Mission Impossible' briefcase.

Posted By

Dec 6, 2019

Featured Image

Shackleton & Leica’s Cordura & Graphene Jacket Is Rated To Survive -77ºF

A purpose-built photography-focused wonder-garment.

Posted By

Dec 6, 2019

Featured Image

Arai Launches Its First Retro Full-Face Moto Helmet With The Concept-X

An '80s-themed brain bucket born out of 93-years of experiences.

Posted By

Dec 6, 2019

Featured Image

Bond’s ‘No Time To Die’ Titanium Omega Dive Watch Has Been Revealed

007's special-edition timepiece is available for purchase.

Posted By

Dec 6, 2019