Like your skis, boots, and poles (or your board and boots), a helmet should be at the top of your equipment list when you go skiing or riding. It’s an essential piece of safety gear, and it’ll protect your head during falls or collisions with trees, rocks, and other obstacles. A good helmet will also keep you comfortable: Today’s helmets are warmer than ever, and many are adjustable for better airflow come spring. Here’s how to find the right one for you.
Consider the Conditions
Skiing and snowboarding are winter activities, so snowsport-specific helmets are designed for warmth. But the amount you’ll need depends on whether you’re nailing a first descent in Antarctica or a schussing corn on a spring afternoon in Aspen. Consider the conditions you’ll be riding in most often, and use that to guide your shopping. In addition, many helmets offer closable vents and removable earmuff pads so they’ll be comfortable on both cold and warmer days.
Find the Right Fit
Before shopping, measure your head circumference using a flexible tape measure or a piece of string (wrap the string around your head at its widest point, cut it at that length, and measure the string). Review the manufacturer’s sizing chart and select a helmet that fits your head size. Most ski and snowboard helmets have an adjustable fit (via a rear dial or additional padding), which helps you fine-tune the sizing. The helmet should feel snug but not uncomfortable, all of the padding should rest against your head, and it should stay in place when you shake your head or push on the helmet.
The chin strap should also be snug yet comfortable. No more than two fingers should fit between your chin and the strap once tightened. Pro tip: If you yawn, the helmet should pull down on your head. If it doesn’t, tighten up the chin strap.
“Gaper gap” is more than a fashion faux pas; it also creates a cold spot on your forehead between your goggles and helmet. Avoid this by trying your helmet on with your goggles. Together, they should create a seamless fit without any space between the helmet brim and the top of your goggles. However, the helmet shouldn’t sit so low on your head that it pushes your goggles down.