How to Choose a Ski and Snowboard Helmet
Not only are helmets comfortable to wear while riding, they can prevent head injuries and even save your life. Helmets for skiing and snowboarding are designed for cold weather, keep your head warm and comfortable, work with goggles and are certified to protect you. While wearing a helmet is not a requirement at some ski and snowboard resorts, many are now requiring that adults and kids wear a helmet on the slopes.

Helmet Sizing

1

Take a soft measuring tape and wrap it around your head about 1 inch above your eyebrows and ears. Most helmets are measured in centimeters. If you measure the circumference of your head and it is 56cm, you will wear a 56cm helmet or Medium (55-58cm) depending on the helmet’s size scale.

Don’t have a soft tape measure? Take a piece of string and wrap it around your head and then measure the string.

2

Try on the helmet. The helmet should feel snug. A properly fitting helmet needs to be snug all the way around your head so that it doesn’t move around. You don’t want any excess space between the helmet and your head. Be careful to pay attention to any pressure or pain points. If you plan on wearing a facemask or balaclava with your helmet, you should try on the helmet with the balaclava to make sure they are comfortable together.Try on helmets from multiple manufacturers as their molds will come up slightly different from one to the other, changing the fit style for different head shapes.
S&B Pro Tip: Try your helmet on with the goggles you will be using. Not only to you want to make sure they fit and are integrated properly, but the overall look is much more pleasing. It's hard to love the look of a helmet without goggles on!

3

With the helmet on your head, shake your head around. If the helmet moves on its own or shakes separately from your head, it’s too big. Use your hand and move the helmet to the left and right, up and down. The skin of your head should move with the helmet without the helmet shifting on its own. You can choose to buckle the helmet at this point if you wish, but it will not impact the fit of the actual helmet, just keep the helmet on your head. If your head is feeling squeezed or doesn’t fit all the way onto your head, then your helmet is too tight. You should be able to wear your helmet comfortably all day.
S&B Pro Tip: Do not size a kids helmet with room to grow: if it is too large it is unsafe.

Adjustable Fit Systems

Adjustable Wheel or Boa

With the turn of a dial, you get fine tuning adjustability to make sure your helmet fit as snuggly and comfortably as possible. It’s lightweight, fast, secure, and can be adjusted on-the-fly.

In Form Fit System

Dialed adjustability at the touch of a wheel or ratchet that tightens and loosens the helmet’s head fit as well as vertical adjustability.

Pad Systems

Removable pads add thickness to the interior of your helmet increasing snugness and comfort at the same time. This system is great for anyone that wants to ride with a beanie, and can also be good for children so that you can remove the pads as they grow without sacrificing safety.

Proper Fit with Goggles

Removable pads add thickness to the interior of your helmet increasing snugness and comfort at the same time. This system is great for anyone that wants to ride with a beanie, and can also be good for children so that you can remove the pads as they grow without sacrificing safety.
S&B Pro Tip: It has become increasingly popular to wear goggles underneath helmets. This is mainly for style and should only be done if the helmet fits properly over your goggles.

Venting

Adjustable Venting

Helmets with adjustable venting systems give you the ability to open or close the holes to fit your needs depending on the weather conditions.

Helmet Types

Half Shell

Half Shell helmets are the most popular, incorporating soft ear pad protection. This allows for a more comfortable fit and better hearing.

Full Shell

Full Shell helmets provide complete coverage and help block out the elements. Racers and sometimes halfpipe riders wear full shell helmets. There are also some great kids options in Full Shell. If you go fast and hard, attempting tricks and new moves, this helmet provides full ear coverage that can help increase protection to the side of the head and ears.

Sweet Protection offers Quick Release Emergency removal ear pads on its full shell race helmets for added safety in a serious crash.

Visor Helmets

Visor helmets feature a built in goggle visor which can be flipped up or down. These helmets are very popular with people who wear prescription glasses as well as those who prefer wearing sunglasses to goggles. By having a built in visor, you can easily switch between sunglasses for bright light, and a built in low light lens.

In-Mold Construction

Uses a thin polycarbonate (PC) shell or other shell material filled with a very dense expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner. This produces a very lightweight, sleek and comfortable helmet Additions such as Koroyd or MIPS can be used within the EPS liner to increase impact resistance.

For example: Smith Zoom Junior Helmet

Bombshell/ABS/Hardshell Construction

Uses an injection-molded ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) shell which is super tough and impact resistant plastic. Tough and rigid expanded polystyrene is then bonded to the inside. This type of helmet tends to be heavier and bulkier with a more skate-style.

Hybrid Shell Construction

Combines separate and distinct areas of ABS and In-Mold technology, thus optimising the favorable traits of each material. This produces a helmet with a modern design, that is lightweight, low-profile and perfectly fitting.

For example: Smith Vantage Helmet

Women Specific Style

Women specific helmets will have a style that is more flattering on a woman's head. These are usually cosmetic details, such a plush interiors, low profile designs, and lighter overall weight, that are often preferred by female skiers are snowboarders.

Asian Fit

Asian Fit or Alternative Fit (AF) Helmets are designed to fit differently from other helmets and may better fit your head shape. If you have a hard time finding a helmet that fits your head properly, you may want to try an alternative fit helmet.

Race Helmets

For giant slalom (GS), super giant slalom (SG) and downhill (DH) races, athletes wear full shell race helmets. For slalom (SL), athletes can wear a GS/SG/DH helmet with a compatible chinguard or they can use a half shell race helmet with a chinguard. Many athletes will have a full shell helmet for GS/SG/DH and another half shell helmet with chinguard for SL so that they don't have to add and remove the chinguard to their full shell helmet.

If you'd like to get a GS/SG/DH helmet that works with a chinguard, here are some combinations that we recommend:

Sweet Protection Volata Helmet with Sweet Protection Volata Chinguard

POC Skull Orbic Helmets with POC Maxilla Breakaway Chinguard

Briko Vulcano Helmets with Briko Vulcano Chinguard

FIS Helmet Rule

If you are an athlete that is racing at a level that requires a FIS certification safety standards, you should look for the "Conforms to FIS" label on your helmet for GS/SG/DH. The label should never be covered by a goggle strap and attests that the manufacturer has obtained the required certifications (EN 1077 A and ASTM 2040) and obtained a test protocol confirming that the helmet model fulfils the requirements set forth by FIS. For Slalom, the helmet must be certified under EN 1077 (class B) or ASTM 2040 at a minimum and can be soft eared. Be sure to discuss your equipment needs with your coach and refer to the FIS Specifications for Competition Equipment document to understand the current FIS rules.

When to replace your helmet? Understanding Helmet Materials

It's important to know that most helmets are not built to last a lifetime. With the vast majority of action sports helmets using EPS (expanded polystyrene) liners (essentially plastic beads and air packed tightly together), EPS has a tendency to compact and/or crack upon impact. This jeopardizes the protective qualities of the helmet. Consequently, most EPS helmets are rated for "single impact."

The other common impact absorbing material used in ski/snowboard helmets is EPP (expanded polypropylene). Helmets constructed with EPP liners are generally rated for "multiple impacts." Although they have a slightly lower safety threshold than their EPS compadres, EPP helmets are increasingly common amongst freestyle/park skiers and snowboarders as they don't necessitate replacement after a single crash.

So if I never crash, I don't need to worry about helmet replacement? Not exactly. Most experts in the field recommend replacing your helmet after 3-5 years of use. This is primarily due to material breakdown as a result of exposure to sweat, hair products, cleaning chemicals, and exposure to the elements.

Helmet Technology

MIPS

Multi-Directional Impact Protection or MIPS is a safety extra used in several brands of helmet. It's designed to give extra protection from brain injury in falls where you take a hit from an angle rather than straight on. In these cases it's more likely the brain will be damaged by moving around in the skull. The outer shell of a helmet with MIPS can easily move over an additional inner layer, which helps the helmet absorb and redirect damaging rotational forces before they reach the brain. The MIPS layer is located between the liner and the user’s head, giving helmet manufacturers an incredibly easy and effective way of increasing their helmets' angled impact protection.
SHOP Helmets with MIPS

Koroyd

Koroyd is a unique co-polymer construction of extruded tubes which are thermally welded together. These absorb and dissipate energy extremely efficiently in a controlled and predictable manner. This means maximum safety with minimum weight. Koroyd is also extremely breathable making it much more comfortable than traditional helmet constructions.
SHOP Helmets with Koroyd

Marker’s MAP

Positioned in the critical areas at the back of the head, forehead, and temples, MAP can protect up to 22% more effectively compared with regular EPS helmets. Marker is the only helmet maker to implement this innovative material, which regains its initial shape almost instantaneously, protecting against multiple impacts during the same crash. MAP pads also make the helmet more comfortable, since they automatically adjust to the skier’s head shape, and prevent pressure points from forming.
SHOP Helmets with MAP

Race Helmet Technology

POC’s SPIN

The most common type of fall results in an angled, or oblique, impact with the ground or object which can lead to movement of the helmet in relation to the head. Research has shown that compared to a direct, or linear, fall the force required to cause serious injury from an oblique impact is often much lower. To counter oblique impacts, POC has created SPIN pads, which are optimized to provide rotational impact protection based on the precise location inside the helmet. The objective is to minimize the effects of an oblique fall by allowing the helmet to move relative to the head.
SHOP POC Helmets with SPIN

VPD 2.0

If you're a ski racer you may be wondering what the difference is between a good race helmet and the best race helmets. These high end race helmets take high speed, oblique falls and repetitive impact protection to another level. One of the technologies that POC uses to achieve this is VPD 2.0. They use a patent pending deflector panel that combines EPP and VPD 2.0 to minimize the energy transmitted to a skier's head from repeatedly hitting gates or during a fall. The deflector panel is also reinforced with an Aramid Penetration Barrier (APB) which improves the safety and integrity of the helmet. POC also uses VPD in its back protectors and body armour.

Briko’s Protetto

The new FIS 6.8 certification defines that the helmets have to absorb impacts without compromising safety levels up to the speed of 6.8 m/s and Briko makes it available for racers from any competition level. The Protetto system is an additional safety device that gives the back of your head more rear protection while skiing. This ABS, high impact, flexible and resistant appendix with additional anti-shock material improves protection from major concussions.
SHOP Helmets with Protetto

Sweet Protection's Impact and Gate Shields

Sweet Protection helmets with Impact Shields feature a molded shock absorbing EPS liner with Impact Shield inserts that provide unsurpassed performance for shock absorbance. It distributes impact from the inside of the helmet over larger areas in crucial zones where the head needs it in the front and back. In combination with Impact Shields, Sweet Protection also uses in-molded Gate Shields, which are placed in the front and back of the helmets to protect the shock absorbing structure of the helmet from gate impacts.