Understanding Snow Helmets

Published on 02/28/2023 · 8 min readHelmets are an essential piece of gear for keeping you safe on the mountain! Snowboard Expert Will Koons details everything you'd need to know about snow helmets.
will koons, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert will koons

Photo by Jan Kopřiva

Tl;dr In this article, we will talk all about snow helmets, including features such as their purpose, applications, materials, and specifications. I will also explain how to choose the right snow helmet for you—based on your needs and the type of winter sports you participate in. By the end of the article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of why snow helmets are an essential piece of equipment for winter sports enthusiasts.

What Are Snow Helmets?

Snow helmets (also known as ski helmets or snowboard helmets) are protective headgear specifically designed for winter sports. They also offer protection from the cold and wind, making them an essential piece of equipment for any winter sport enthusiast.

The primary purpose of snow helmets is to protect the wearer’s head, forehead, and brain from potential impacts and injuries that can occur in the event of a fall or collision. Because winter sports often take place in remote and isolated areas, having a reliable and protective helmet can be critical in the event of an emergency.

Types of Snow Helmets: Hard and Soft Shells

Photo by Joshua Reddekopp

Hard Shells

Hard shell snow helmets are made from a durable plastic material that is designed to resist impact. These helmets are molded into a single piece and are then lined with a soft foam padding for added comfort and protection.

The main advantage of hard shell snow helmets is their durability and resistance to impact. Their sturdy outer layer makes them ideal for high-speed activities with a risk of falling or colliding with other objects, such as skiing or snowboarding. They also provide a sleek and stylish look, and are often lighter in weight than soft shell helmets.

However, hard shell snow helmets can be less comfortable than soft shell helmets, as they do not conform to the shape of the head as easily. They can also be more expensive and less breathable, making them less suitable for use in warmer climates.

Soft Shells

Soft shell snow helmets are made from a flexible material that is designed to be comfortable and conform to the shape of the head. These helmets are made up of multiple layers of foam padding that are molded into a comfortable and protective head covering.

The main advantage of soft shell helmets is the flexibility and breathability they offer. They are designed to be worn for extended periods, and the flexible material conforms to the shape of the head, making them more comfortable than hard shell helmets. They are also ideal for use in warmer climates, as they provide lightweight ventilation and keep the head cool.

However, soft shell snow helmets are less durable than hard shell helmets and are not as resistant to impacts. They are also bulkier and heavier, making them less suitable for high-speed winter sports. Additionally, they may not provide as much protection as hard shell helmets in the event of a fall or collision.

Snow Helmet Lining

Photo by Jessica Tuttle

The inner liner of a snow helmet is made from foam padding that is designed to absorb impacts and protect the head from injury. The foam padding is usually made from high-density expanded polystyrene (EPS) and is molded into a comfortable shape that fits the head.

In addition to foam padding, some snow helmets may also feature other materials such as mesh or fleece for added comfort and warmth. Some helmets may also feature removable liners that can be washed or replaced for added convenience.

Additional Features

Adjustable Fit System

A key feature of snow helmets is an adjustable fit system, which allows the user to fine-tune the fit of the helmet for maximum comfort and stability. The fit system typically includes straps that go under the chin, as well as a dial or lever that can be adjusted to tighten or loosen the fit of the helmet. This feature ensures that the helmet stays securely in place while the user engages in fast-paced activities.

Audio Compatibility

Some snow helmets also feature audio compatibility, allowing its wearer to listen to music or take phone calls while wearing the helmet. These helmets provide a hands-free experience on the slopes by the use of built-in speakers or earphone compatibility.

Goggle Clip

Many snow helmets also feature a goggle clip—normally located at the back of the helmet—which offers a convenient and secure way to store one’s goggles when they are not in use. A particularly useful feature for skiers and snowboarders resting their eyes.

Goggle Compatibility

Most modern mold helmets include goggle compatibility features that allow riders to easily attach their goggles to their helmet without the hassle of having to shift the shell or adjust the chin strap.

Ventilation System

Many snow helmets feature a ventilation system that allows air to circulate through the helmet—keeping the head cool and comfortable. This system can include air vents, channels, or mesh material. A feature especially important for those who participate in winter sports activities in warmer climates

Snow Helmet Specifications

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Certified Standards

Snow helmets must meet certain safety standards in order to provide adequate protection for the wearer. Some of the most common safety certifications for snow helmets include ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), and CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission). These certifications ensure that the helmet has been tested and meets high-impact resistance and safety standards. When purchasing a snow helmet, it is important to look for one that is certified in at least one of these standards. These safety standard certifications will be stamped visibly on the helmet. If a helmet does not have any safety certification, you should avoid purchasing it.

Sizing Chart

Snow helmets are available in a range of sizes to accommodate different head shapes. Most snow helmet manufacturers offer a sizing chart that provides guidance on which size helmet to purchase based on head circumference. It is recommended to measure the head before purchasing a helmet and to consult the sizing chart to ensure the correct fit.


Snow helmets can range in weight from around 400 grams to 800 grams, depending on the materials and features of the helmet. A heavy helmet may be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. So, a lighter weight helmet is typically more comfortable and can reduce neck strain—making it easier to participate in winter sport activities. To avoid discomfort and neck strain generally look for helmets towards the lower end of the weight spectrum. 400-500g is ideal.


Snow helmets may be compatible with other winter sports gear, such as goggles, audio devices, and neck warmers. It is important to check the compatibility of a helmet with other gear before purchasing it, as some helmets may not be compatible with certain types of gear.

Plus, while some helmets may have built-in goggle clips or audio compatibility, others may require additional accessories to be compatible with other winter sports gear. Checking the compatibility of a specific brand’s helmet with other gear before purchasing it can help ensure that the user has a safe and enjoyable winter sports experience.

How to Choose a Snow Helmet

Choosing a snow helmet can be a daunting task, especially with so many different types, features, and styles to choose from. To help make the process a little easier, we've created three mock customers with specific needs and provided some recommendations for which snow helmets they should take a look at.

1. Ben - The Casual Skier

Ben is a casual skier who enjoys hitting the slopes a few times a year with family and friends. He is looking for a budget-friendly option that will provide basic protection and comfort.

Recommendation: Giro Ledge MIPS Snow Helmet. This helmet offers a great balance between safety, comfort, and affordability. It features MIPS technology for added safety, a comfortable fit, and a stylish design. Plus, its in-mold construction makes it lightweight, perfect for a casual skier.

2. Gary - The Advanced Skier

Gary is an advanced skier who spends a lot of time on the slopes and is looking for a helmet with advanced safety features and top-of-the-line comfort.

Recommendation: Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet. This helmet is perfect for the advanced skier, as it offers unparalleled protection and comfort. It features MIPS technology, a hybrid shell construction, and an adjustable fit system for maximum protection and customization. Additionally, its lightweight and low-profile design makes it comfortable to wear all day on the slopes.

3. Jeff - The Freerider

Jeff is a freerider who loves to hit the backcountry and wants a helmet with specialized features for their unique needs.

Recommendation: POC Fornix Backcountry MIPS Snow Helmet. This helmet is perfect for the freerider, as it offers specialized features like an integrated RECCO reflector for added safety and MIPS technology for advanced protection. Additionally, its lightweight and ventilated design make it perfect for backcountry adventures.

In conclusion, when choosing a snow helmet, it's important to consider your specific needs and priorities. By understanding the different types of helmets available and the features they offer, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect helmet for your winter sports adventures.

Final Thoughts

Photo by Greg Rosenke

A snow helmet is an essential piece of gear for anyone who participates in winter sports. So, it is crucial to ensure that yours fits properly in order to provide maximum protection and comfort on the slopes. A properly fitting helmet should be snug and secure, without being too tight or too loose. The helmet should also not move or rotate on your head. Take the time to ensure your’s fits properly.

Are you ready to find the perfect snow helmet for your adventures? Look no further than the Winter Sports Experts at Curated! Our team of knowledgeable professionals are dedicated to helping you find the perfect helmet to meet your needs and budget. From choosing the right size to understanding the features and specifications of specific snow helmets, our team has the expertise to guide you in the right direction. Don't settle for a subpar piece of equipment, reach out for free, customized advice to find the snow helmet that is perfect for you!


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