So you’re looking for a new ski helmet. But you don’t want that just looks cool or is the cheapest, you want the absolute best and safest helmet that you can get your hands on. Smart idea!
After many hours of research, looking at reviews and reading the research I have narrowed down the absolute safest ski and snowboarding helmets.
1. Giro LEDGE MIPS Snow Helmet
When tested by the Snowboarding Transworld in a crash simulation of punching a pole with a 3kg weight at high speed there was no penetration (source).
- MIPS Hardshell construction with a rugged outer shell and an EPS foam liner.
- Fog-free ventilation and removable ear pads.
- No self-adjusting fit.
Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon
2. SANDBOX Legend Snow Helmet
The Sandbox helmet has a low-profile skater style and comes with adjustable padding to comfortably fit on most skiers and snowboarders heads. The ear pads are removable and can be worn with or without (spring weather or for wearing beanies.)
Scored highest in Snowboarding Transworld’s Crash Simulation of dropping a helmet strapped to 5.7 kg or weight onto a flat anvil from 2 meters (source).
- ABS construction & robust EPS foam designed to withstand high impacts
- Lightweight and very comfortable.
- Audio ready ear pouches.
- The fit not as adjustable as the K2 Diversion.
Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon
My top pick
3. K2 Diversion Ski Helmet
The K2 Diversion Hemet is a very robust and safe ski and snowboarding helmet. It uses K2’s 360 fit, which makes this a very versatile helmet for a variety of head shapes. The dial at the back of the helmet allows for a not just a linear adjustment (like many helmets) but a full fit adjustment around a full 360-degree arc of the head.
Scored highest in Snowboarding Transworld Crash Simulation of swinging a dummy at high-velocity and slam it into a hard slope (source).
- 360 fit reduces negative space and makes this a comfortable and safe fit.
- In-mold construction with a secondary hard-shell upper.
- Audio ready with built-in jack so you can easily upgrade with ski headphones– wired or wireless.
- Some complaints on the packaging.
Where to Buy: Check Price on Amazon
Key features of a safe ski helmet?
Look for safety certifications ⛑
Ski helmets sold in the EU and North America must conform to specific safety standards. Most helmets you can commercially buy will have these standards, but some off-market, imported or fake helmets may not conform to these standards.
If you buy a helmet from a respected brand or one that conforms to the below safety standards then you’re in good hands. The certifications below are an indicator that the brand is manufacturing safe helmets that have been tested specifically for use in snowboarding and skiing (and other similar snowsports but not snowmobiling).
These are the most common safety standards that will be shown on stickers attached to the helmet and in the product description:
- 🇪🇺 In Europe, the common norm is CEN 1077 (satra.com)
- 🇺🇸In the United States, ASTM F2040 (astm.org)
- 🌎Snell RS-98 or S-98 is another stringent safety standard (smf.org)
These are stringent safety standards but not all helmets that have these certifications are equal, some perform better and do a better job at different types of impacts. In the reviews above I’ve picked out some of the absolute safest ski helmets that you can commercially buy.
Get the right fit 📏
Even the safest ski helmet is not as safe as a competitors helmet that fits better. A helmet should be comfortable yet snug around the shape of your skull. The less negative space the more the helmet is able to protect you from impacts and stay firmly in place during a violent crash.
Helmets are at their safest when they fit properly and stay firmly in place when your collide, fall or have an impact. On the other hand, a helmet that is too tight or puts pressure on areas of your head will give you a headache and make it more difficult to enjoy your time skiing. This could potentially make your loose concentration and cause you to fall more often. It’s also no fun to wear a helmet that occasionally blocks your vision or hurts your head.
To get the right fit measure the circumference of your head just above the eyebrows. Then buy a helmet that is equal to or slightly above this measurement. The best fitting helmets have micro-adjustable buckles or dials that pull the liner in or outward. While you may have the exact fit in circumference, every person head shape is slightly different and has a unique contour.
Hair can also get in the way and if you’re hair length changes from one season to the next, a micro-adjustable dial allows you to wear the same ski helmet aross the seasons.
When to replace ski helmets?
Ski helmets do have a lifetime and even without clear evidence of damage, most manufacturers recommend replacing your ski helmet every 5 seasons.
The reason is that over time, the materials will naturally degrade (even without use) due to exposure to UV and natural breakdown of the foam and plastics over time. While a 5-year-old helmet is still safer than no helmet – if you want to stay as safe as possible on the mountain it’s worth upgrading to take the risk out of the equation.
Even if you never crash in a helmet, the Snell Foundation suggests replacing the lid after about five years.
If your helmet is involved in a substantial crash or has visible signs of damage then you should replace it right away. Hairline cracks (visible in the shell or liner) also indicate that the helmets ability to sustain impacts is significantly impaired.
Some companies are working on developing EPP foam which is able to take multiple impacts over a long period of time and still remain as robust (source). In the meantime, the best thing you can do to keep your helmet in good order is to keep it out of the way of direct sunlight (when not in use) and store it at room temperature.
P.s I have a full guide on replacing ski helmets here.
Why wear a ski helmet?
Chances are if you’ve read this far then you’re already an advocate of helmet use. If you need a little reminder of why it’s important to stay protected on the mountain.
In one study from Canada (2005), showed a 29% reduction in the risk of any head injury with helmet usage (source). The evidence shows that helmets are by no means a magic bullet but they do reduce head injuries.
In Doctor Halder and Saleem’s paper they recommend that:
All recreational skiers and snowboarders should wear safety helmets to reduce the incidence and severity of head injury during these sports.
An Evidence Based Review: Efficacy of Safety Helmets
According to the NSAA helmet use is up from 22% to 83% in the last 15 years (source) which is only a good thing. In some countries like Italy children under 14 years have to wear a ski helmet and many ski schools will not accept kid into their lessons without helmets. While I personally believe that in personal choice when it comes to wearing a helmet or not, my own experiences lead me to conclude that wearing a helmet is, without doubt, a simple an effective way to be more protected.
Aside from safety, there are also plenty of other benefits of wearing ski helmets. I cover many of those reasons here.
Is skiing dangerous?
Skiing is a high action high-speed sport that involves hurtling down a mountain on two planks of wood. While it sounds and looks scary from the outside skiing is in fact a relatively safe outdoor activity if you follow a sensible path of progression.
Skiing can be very dangerous if you go about it in the wrong way or attempt to ski steep slopes that do not match up to your level of ability. However, if you avoid peer pressure, learn to stop before you move off the green slopes and stay alert to your surroundings, your chance of injury is very low.
Skiing is also getting safe as time goes on, advances in the ski boot and bindings have reduced leg breakages significantly.
the overall rate of reported skiing injuries has declined by
50 percent since the early 1970s.
National Ski Areas Association / Facts about Skiing Safety.
I cover the safety of skiing and snowboarding in much more detail in my full guide.
How to fall
Wearing a helmet is a smart move, but it only protects your head. Most injuries happen because of falling incorrectly which puts pressure on specific parts of the body and result in sprained ligaments or bruises. The key is to distribute your weight.
The best way to do this is to always try to land on your skis. If this is not possible then the next best way is to fall with your arms by your side and an outstretched leg to distribute the force.
Read my full guide: How To Fall On Skis & NOT Hurt Yourself for specific run through of all the techniques (with images and videos).