How to Buy a Ski Helmet

How to Buy a Ski Helmet
Skiing and snowboarding come with inherent risk. Health and safety organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, recommend that all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets specifically designed and safety tested for skiing. Ski helmets not only provide impact protection when fitted properly, but also they are insulated for cold weather.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to Buy a Ski Helmet

Things You’ll Need:
  • Soft measuring tape
Step 1
Measure your head circumference in centimeters using a soft measuring tape. Measure the widest part of your head, slightly above your eyebrows and ears.
Step 2
Determine the shape of your head. If the length of your head is about 1 1/2 times the width, you have an oval-shaped head. If the length and width are about the same, your head is round.
Step 3
Decide how much ventilation you will need. Cold-climate skiers will not need a lot of ventilation. The warmer the climate, the more ventilation you will want.
Step 4
Decide if you will need an full-face or open-face helmet. Full-face helmets are generally designed for speed and slalom event competitors. Full-face helmets are equipped with a rigid chin bar that covers the lower part of the face and might provide some protection from facial injuries. According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, some helmets that come with removable chin bars, often intended to deflect debris, might not effectively provide facial protection in falls and accidents.

Open-face helmets are more commonly used by recreational skiers.
Step 5
Decide if you will want a full-shell or a short-shell helemt. Full shells provide more coverage and protection from wind and precipitation. Consider a helmet with a full shell if you plan to do tricks or ski fast.

Consider a short shell if you want a lighter, less-restricted feel. Short shells might not muffle sounds as much as full-shell helmets.
Step 6
Bring your goggles with you when you shop.
Step 7
Choose a helmet that meets safety standards set by the Common European Norm (CEN1077), the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM F2040) or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell RS-98 or Snell-98).

According to the National Ski Areas Association, CEN standards are the least stringent. The ASTM standard has become the standard to which helmets should be manufactured in the United States. And the Snell RS-98 standard is the most stringent ski-helmet standard in the world.
Step 8
Choose a helmet that fits your head circumference and your head shape.
Step 9
Choose a highly visible helmet. Bright colors and reflective patches will make you more visible to others.
Step 10
Position the helmet on your head. It should sit low on your forehead, about 1 inch above your eyebrows. You should barely see the edge of the helmet when you look way up.
Step 11
Adjust the chinstraps. When buckled, the strap should hold the helmet firmly in place. Take the time to position and adjust the helmet until it fits comfortably and does not shift in any direction. You want a snug-but-comfortable fit.
Step 12
Check your vision. Make sure the helmet gives you adequate peripheral vision.
Step 13
Put your goggles on with the helmet. Or, if the helmet has a face shield, check the view with the face shield down. The view should be clear and undistorted. The goggles/shield should resist fogging.
Step 14
Try on several brands. If one helmet cannot be adjusted adequately to your head, try another. Look for the best fit.

Tips & Warnings

Higher-priced helmets do not always provide more protection. A helmet might be priced higher because of the design, graphics or airflow features.
Helmets might impede the wearer's hearing. You might need to raise your voice to get the wearer's attention.
Do not purchase a helmet for your child to grow into. If the helmet does not fit correctly, it might not provide the needed protection.
A helmet provides limited protection. The wearer must follow the rules of ski safety and ski within his abilities to help reduce the risk of personal injury.
Helmets might help to prevent some head injuries. However, helmets offer no protection against neck and other types of injuries.

Article Written By Karen Plant

Karen Plant earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Montana, School of Journalism. Her work has been published in several newspapers, online and in the Montana Journalism Review. As a native Montanan, Plant's love for the outdoors is evident in her frequent hiking, camping and other outdoor activities.

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