What To Wear Under Your Ski Helmet To Keep Warm? Balaclava Vs Skull Cap

by Alaina Johnson | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

If you're new to the sport of skiing, you may be wondering if it's the norm to wear an extra hat underneath your ski helmet — after all, everyone else seems to be doing it!

It's not necessary to wear anything underneath your helmet, as they're often insulated and designed to keep your head warm. However, you have several options if you find that you want to add an extra layer while still ensuring that your head stays protected against any potential falls.

Ski Helmet

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Should You Wear Anything Under Your Ski Helmet?

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While an extra layer may not be necessary, you may see other skiers on the slopes wearing winter hats underneath their helmets. Today's ski helmets are often lined and properly insulated, so your head shouldn't be getting too cold.

If it's a frigidly cold day and you want to add something extra, a thin wool hat or a balaclava underneath your helmet will give you additional protection from the temperature. You may notice some people wearing another layer for fashion over function, and this is a personal choice as well.

Your ski helmet should fit properly and be relatively snug to your head. Adding an extra component underneath it may cause the hard helmet to become uncomfortably tight.

If this is the case for you, opt for just the helmet by itself, as you want it to fit correctly to provide you with adequate protection.

On the other hand, if your helmet feels too loose — it's best to get one that fits a bit better. Even if the fit becomes snug by adding a beanie underneath, you want to be confident in the helmet itself.

How Do You Keep Your Head Warm Under Your Ski Helmet?

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If your ski helmet isn't doing enough to keep your head toasty while you're skiing, you can add a multitude of different warm hats or balaclavas underneath it. So long as they don't affect the fit, you're good to go.

Though ski helmets should be insulated enough to keep you warm on their own, sometimes it's just overly cold and you need a little something extra. If your helmet doesn't feel like it's insulated at all, perhaps it's time to look into getting a new one.

Whether you choose a skull cap, neck gaiter, balaclava, or thin beanie underneath your helmet, just make sure they fit snugly on your head without being uncomfortable. Many brands on the market cater to skiers and snowboarders and create lightweight and insulated hats.

Choices For Hats Underneath Your Ski Helmet

Balaclava vs Neck Gaiter vs Skull Cap

When you're looking to purchase something to wear under your helmet, you'll be greeted by a variety of options at the store. Whether ordering in-person or online, you'll want to make sure that you're purchasing the correct size so it won't be too big on you.

Balaclavas vs Skull Liners

Both balaclavas and skull liners are very thin and lightweight and don't add a significant amount of thickness underneath your helmet. They're effective at keeping the heat in, so many skiers and snowboarders choose them.

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Beanies offer a great deal of extra warmth but are often thicker than the other options. They may seem stylish off the mountain, but they're generally not the best choice for skiing or snowboarding.

Neck Gaiters

Neck gaiters are another lightweight option that can cover your head and neck area without interfering with your helmet. It really comes down to the preference of the wearer.

What Wear Under Ski Helmet?ProsCons
Neck Gaiter Multiple configurationsCan become untucked easier
BalaclavaInsulates face & headMight be too sweaty for some
Skull CapInsulates headNeed a separate face protector
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Is It Safe To Wear a Hat Under Your Ski Helmet?

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Avoid Goggle Gap

In some cases, people who wear hats under their ski helmets tend to push the helmet too far back. This leaves their forehead and frontal skull area exposed in the case of a crash.

The most important thing to ensure is that your head is completely protected. If you're going to wear a helmet, you want it to do its job and protect your head from a serious injury.

The proper fit for a helmet is to wear it low on your head. It should fit against your goggles and there should be no excess space between them. If there is, reconsider the fit and remove any objects (hats, beanies, balaclavas) that are in place.

Keep Helmet Padding In Place

To wear a hat under your helmet, it's not recommended to pull out any of the inner linings to make it fit. If you need to do this, go without the hat or find a warmer helmet to wear. Altering the protective materials within the helmet directly affects the usability and overall durability of the piece of equipment.

If you're unsure whether or not your helmet is fitting correctly, it's best to take it into a store to speak to a professional and have them fit-test you. It can give a skier confidence if they know that their helmet is being worn correctly.

Ski helmets protect skiers from head injuries however once you get past 12-14 miles per hour, they become less effective.

How Should You Wear Your Hair Under a Ski Helmet?

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For women, this question is of great importance while on the mountain. Due to their long hair, they have several options for styling it under their helmet. For the guys with long locks, they can always braid it as well — nobody is judging!

Long Hair & Helmets

Typically, you'll want to opt for low-hanging hairstyles such as braids, buns, or even ponytails. This ensures that your hair is kept secured and out of your face while not interfering with how your helmet fits on top of your head.

If you choose to wear your hair down without being tied back, you may find that it whips into your face while you're shredding down the slopes, which can get annoying. It may interfere with your vision from your goggles if your hair is flying in front of your face.

You don't want to wear your hair in an updo, as this can affect how your helmet can fit. If you have a bun on top of your head, your helmet will be an inch or so of your head which doesn't allow it to provide adequate collision or fall protection.

The CDC recommends wearing your ski hairstyle in the store when you try on ski helmets. Your hair will determine the fit, so to make an informed buying choice, you should ensure the helmet can be adjusted adequately.



While it's not required to wear anything under your ski helmet, people often do it for either style preferences or to keep their heads warmer. If you choose to wear another layer, make sure that it doesn't affect your helmet's fit.

When deciding on a hat, you'll want to ensure it's not too thick to make your helmet uncomfortably tight. If your helmet is fitting too loosely, this is an issue with the sizing, and you should get fit tested for a new one ASAP.