Guide to buying a ski helmet

a skier in a white helmet looks down towards their feet in a very snowy setting, trees blurred behind

Modern-day skid lids have come a long way since those early days when you’d pop one on your head and excitedly go to check yourself out in the mirror only to realise you looked like you were about to be shot out of a cannon. While the purpose of a helmet hasn’t changed – i.e. to protect your noggin should you have a fall or be taken out from behind by an out of control eejit – the latest line of lids not only look better, they feel better to wear and they’re better at keeping you safe, too.  

With high-tech materials bringing down weight, huge improvements in fit, the emergence of a new breed of triple-certified helmets, the addition of visors/shields, magnets and MIPS tech being increasingly integrated across the board, it’s safe to say (see what we did there?) that latter-day lids inspire confidence while offering style, comfort and versatility. From a strange-looking optional bowling ball to an essential bit of kit for resort riding and backcountry exploring, it’s a super-fast growing sector that’s evolving all the time.  

Things to consider

❄ Head size 

Firstly, measure your head at its widest point, above the ears and in the centre of the forehead in cm, this will give you a guide to the size you need. 

❄ Try it on 

Next, get into your local ski shop and try one on. Like footwear, shapes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The helmet wants to be relatively snug on your head when the adjustment is at its loosest, then take up any slack with a twist of the helmet’s fit system. 

❄ Pair it up 

Take your favourite goggles with you to make sure they fit nicely with the helmet, or splash out and buy some new goggles to complement your shiny new lid. 

❄ Do your research 

Ask your shop about the helmet’s intended use. It’s pointless buying a lightweight, low-profile touring helmet if you are going to spend all your time in the park where a hard shell would be a much better option. 

❄ Down with the kids 

And mums and dads, please please please don’t buy a helmet for little Johnny or Jane to grow into! I know you want it to last, but if it’s too big, it’ll be uncomfortable at best and totally useless at worst.

That’s our guide to buying a ski helmet. Ready to dive in to what’s on offer? Take a look at our top picks of the best helmets of 2023:

Helmet gobbledegook explained

❄ In-mould helmets bond a lightweight plastic shell to an impact-absorbing foam liner. They are a lightweight option, but are more likely to suffer from small dings and wear and tear than hard shell ones because they deform more easily. 

❄ Hard shell helmets do exactly what they say on the tin – they are more impact resistant and they’re stronger too. They often comprise an injection-moulded ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) shell that is fused with a foam liner. 

❄ Hybrid construction helmets combine the two ideas described above. Hard plastics are added to key, high-impact areas in a bid to offer the best of both worlds when it comes to top-notch noggin protection.

❄ MIPS technology was developed by brain surgeons and scientists to reduce rotational forces on the brain caused by angled impacts to the head. If you take a big crash the outer helmet rotates independently around your head, redistributing the impact.

❄ Boa’s 360° Fit System is used by many helmet brands. It gives a precise fit, with the added advantage that you can make easy micro-adjustments with the turn of a dial.

❄ Fidlock is the award-winning designer of a new breed of ultra-fast and secure fasteners. Their magnetic helmet buckles are easily operated with one hand.

❄ Ear pads are removable on most lids. Some linings are also removable so you can wash them. You can get helmets with fixed or adjustable vents, or a mix of both.

❄ Audio-compatible helmets allow you to add audio kits, which are sold separately from various companies. They usually have zippered or Velcro pockets in the ear pads. A few helmets have a built-in audio system so you can just plug in and play.