Not only are helmets warm and comfortable to wear while skiing and snowboarding, they can prevent head injuries and even save your life. Now that’s a no brainer! For winter sports, skiing and snowboarding, there are specific helmets that are designed for cold weather activities, work with your goggles and are certified to protect you. The following guide will take you through how to size and choose the right helmet for you.
Take a soft measuring tape and wrap it around your head about 1 inch above your eyebrows and ears. Most helmets are measured in centimeters, so unless you love calculations, measure your head in centimeters. For example, if you measure the circumference of your head and it is 56cm, you will wear a 56cm helmet or Medium (55-58cm) depending on the helmet’s size scale.
Don’t have a soft tape measure? Take a piece of string and wrap it around your head and then measure the string.
2. Try It On
After you receive your helmet put it on. The helmet should feel snug. A properly fitting helmet needs to be snug all the way around your head so that it doesn’t move around. You don’t want any excess space between the helmet and your head. Be careful to pay attention to any pressure or pain points.
3. Shake Test
With the helmet on your head, shake your head around. If the helmet moves on its own or shakes separately from your head, it’s too big. Use your hand and move the helmet to the left and right, up and down. The skin of your head should move with the helmet without the helmet shifting on its own. You can choose to buckle the helmet at this point if you wish, but it will not impact the fit of the actual helmet, just keep the helmet on your head.
4. Double Check Your Fit
Is the helmet too tight? If your head is feeling squeezed or doesn’t fit all the way onto your head, then your helmet is too tight. You should comfortably be able to wear your helmet all day.
5. Go Skiing or Snowboarding!!
What about kids helmets?
All of the same rules described above for helmets apply to kids helmets. However, fitting kids for helmets can be more difficult because they don’t know exactly how to describe to you how snug their helmet feels. Be sure to pay extra attention to how snug the helmet is and if your kids complain about anything that hurts. Do not size a helmet with room to grow: if it is too large, it is unsafe.
Adjustable Fit Systems
With the turn of a dial, you get even, fine tuning adjustability to make sure your helmet fits as snuggly and comfortably as possible. It’s lightweight, fast, secure, and can be adjusted on-the-fly. An example is the Smith Variant Brim Helmet.
In Form Fit System
Dialed adjustability at the touch of a wheel or ratchet that tightens and loosens the helmet’s head fit as well as vertical adjustability so you don’ t become a loser with gaper gap. An example is the Giro Seam Helmet.
Removable pads add thickness to the interior of your helmet increasing snugness and comfort at the same time. These can be good for children so that you can remove the pads as they grow without sacrificing safety. An example is the Giro Shiv 2 Helmet.
Air-fueled comfort in the form of a low-profile headband attached inside the helmet. At the touch of a button, you can add or decrease air to fine-tune fit your helmet and avoid pressure points. An example is the R.E.D. Hi-Fi Helmet.
Note: R.E.D. Helmets are now Anon Helmets. The Airband Fit system is no longer being used by Anon.
The interior of the shell is usually made of polyurethane foam that should be treated with an antibacterial agent. Shock absorption takes places in the middle of the helmet. There are a couple different types of constructions in this layer.
In-molded construction utilizes a thin, hard plastic outer shell that is molded to an EPS foam liner to absorb shock. This setup allows for less rebound during impact because it will collapse under hard impact. It is also lightweight.
Photo Courtesy: Pro-Tec
Hard Shell ABS
ABS construction uses a thick, tough ABS plastic shell that is pre-formed and glued onto a pre-molded hard foam interior and liner. This design offers good protection that is still budget-friendly.
Photo Courtesy: Pro-Tec
Most helmets are designed for a single large impact. In the occurrence of an impact where the hard foam interior collapses or cracks to soften impact, the helmet should be replaced as it is no longer safe. There are some helmets designed for multiple impacts. Made with a softer foam, these helmets are not certified for snow nor will they protect as well in larger impacts. Bern Hard Harts are an example of this.
Almost all helmets have some form of open, passive venting built into their design that allows for excess heat and moisture to escape. These systems are generally simple and cannot be personally adjusted. Each company sets up their venting systems in different ways to reflect what they see as necessary.
Helmets with adjustable venting systems in them give you the ability to close the holes to fit your needs depending on the weather conditions. A variety of adjustable systems are used by companies including plugs, sliding mechanisms, and one-push buttons. Choosing a specific system is mostly up to your personal preference.
Left to right: Dual adjustment, single adjustment and fixed venting.
Photo Courtesy: Smith
What about my goggles?
You want your goggles to fit comfortably with your helmet. Your goggles should fit comfortably with your goggle strap over the helmet. There should be no gap between the top of your goggles and the helmet; this is referred to as a “goggle gap” or sometimes “gaper gap.” Besides, “goggle gap” can give you a brain freeze.
It has become increasingly popular to wear goggles underneath helmets. This is mainly for style and should only be done if the helmet fits properly over your goggles. The Giro Revolver Helmet is an example of a helmet with a removable pad to accommodate a goggle strap worn under the helmet.
While wearing a helmet is not a requirement in most states, skiers and snowboarders are voluntarily choosing to don lids to protect their noggins. New Jersey is currently the only state that requires helmets for children 18 and under, but several other states are trying to pass helmet law legislation because they believe strongly in the value of wearing a helmet.
There are three types of helmet styles: Full Shell, Half Shell, and Full Face.
Full shell helmets provide complete coverage and help block out the elements. Racers wear full shell helmets, and often kid’s helmets are full shell. Go fast and hard, attempting tricks and new moves, this helmet provides full ear coverage that can help increase protection of the side of the head and ears.
Half shell helmets are very popular as they incorporate soft shell ear protection into standard helmet design. This allows for a more comfortable fit and better hearing.
Full Face helmets provide the most complete protection with a solid one-piece shell plus jaw guard but sacrifice weight and comfort. These are most commonly worn by big-mountain skiers who go big and fast with the chance of falling hard.
Additional Factors to Consider: Safety Ratings
There are two main bodies that certify helmets with safety ratings:
The American Society of Testing Materials, International (ASTM) is the United States standard for helmet safety rating. The standard for helmets used for recreational snow sports is ASTM F2040 and requires that these helmets pass positional stability (roll off) and strength retention tests.
The second rating is through Central European Norm (CEN), a European company setting safety standards. Their snow sports helmet rating is CEN 1077 and requires the helmets pass impact tests.
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