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Reviewed by our gear Geeks:

THE BEST SKI AND SNOWBOARD HELMETS IN 2020/21

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Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 22 different Ski and Snowboard Helmets and write reviews of the best.

The result is 10 of the best Ski and Snowboard Helmets on the market today.

hunter bierce

Hunter Bierce

PSIA Ski Instructor
Hunter Bierce is a PSIA Ski Instructor and multidisciplinary outdoor professional.

torben lonne

Torben Lonne

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for traveling and gear.

No matter what kind of riding you’re doing, a dependable helmet is an essential component of your kit. The best ski helmets are comfortable, adjustable, and will adequately protect you from both impact and rotational forces. Beyond the essentials, higher-end models can offer more insulation and comfort-based features worth investing in, but there are plenty of inexpensive helmets out there that favor simplicity and functionality.

Historically, brands like Giro and Smith have dominated the winter sports ski helmet industry, but this season’s top contenders feature some rising stars and new faces alongside the old favorites.

While all of our favorite helmets are rated to keep you safe while on the slopes, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the specific details. Check out our buyer’s guide at the end of the article to help you narrow down the selection and choose the perfect helmet.

The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets In 2020/21

See our quick top 10, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

Still unsure as to what ski and snowboard helmet to choose? Check out our buying guide to know what to look for when buying a ski helmet.

The Raider 3 is a spartan take on a ski helmet. Its design is heavily influenced by skateboarding, so much so that it’s one of the only products on this guide rated for multi-season use. It’s a solid, traditional ABS (see guide at end) shell that doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to durability. Heartiness aside, the Raider 3 certainly isn’t the most comfortable helmet on the market. It weighs more than most other options, has minimal ventilation, and lacks an adjustable fit system aside from the chinstrap. It also doesn’t have MIPS or other angled impact protection (see guide) which may be a deal-breaker for some. 

The Raider 5 takes a heavy-handed approach to protection. It’s quite literally a solid choice for anyone seeking a no-frills budget helmet; and one of the more obvious choices if you’re the type to rip out the side padding and liners anyway. If you’re a multi-sport border, it could be your one stop solution for protection. 

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Anon Raider 3:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • ABS shell
  • Fixed ventilation
  • No rotational impact protection
What we like:
  • Heavy handed construction
  • Rated for multiple seasons
  • Comparatively warm
  • Good price for protection
What we don’t like:
  • Heavy and not well-ventilated
  • No rotational protection

The Revent+ Amid is a rigorously-engineered ski helmet that excels across the board in resort conditions. To start, it’s definitely safe. Atomic uses the somewhat dubious wording “up to 40% higher impact protection than industry standards”, but the Revent+ has at least all of the essential safety features that you’ll see from other top contenders. Its hollow core is designed to give way under heavy impacts to reduce the amount of energy transferred to your head. An extensively adjustable liner system allows a custom fit to your head, or whatever additional layers the weather requires. Atomic even goes so far as to brand their own rotational-protection system (Amid) that functions similarly to MIPS.

The Revent+ is a solid option for a feature-heavy ski and snowboard helmet at a fair price. It’s safe, well-ventilated, and the hybrid build cuts-off a lot of the weight. Paired with a set of Atomic Revent+ goggles, and you’ll have an all-season setup that you can depend on. The only drawbacks we could find regarding the Revent+ have to do with sizing. Certain models can be hard to get a hold of, and some folks with wider heads have an issue getting them to fit comfortably around the ears.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Atomic Revent+ AMID:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Hybrid shell
  • Adjustable ventilation
  • AMID (functions similarly to MIPS)
What we like:
  • Good price for a helmet of this quality
  • Places a high priority on safety (even for a helmet)
  • Comfortable if it fits right
What we don’t like:
  • Subject to limited availability
  • Sizing can be difficult

Giro is one of the most trusted brands in ski helmets, and for good reason. From angled-impact protection onward, they’ve garnered a reputation for prioritizing protective features. Presumably named after the infamously technical Jackson Hole sidecountry, the Jackson is Giro’s take on a freeski-oriented helmet that will also serve a snowboarder well off-piste. But, given its sleek profile and aerodynamic design, it seems like it would be very practical for resorts as well. 

The shell itself has two pieces: a hard outer casing, and a molded polycarbonate inner liner. It’s engineered to save on weight, add padding to dead space, and create channels for air to flow through the interior of the helmet. In addition to these passive air channels, the Jackson is equipped with stack vents placed directly over top of the goggle’s vent channels to help prevent fog buildup on hot or moist days. 

All Giro helmets are designed to fit seamlessly with their goggle brand and optimize the stack flow ventilation. The Jackson is also compatible with aftermarket speakers if you want to eventually upgrade to a bluetooth connection for music.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Giro Jackson MIPS:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Hybrid- in-mold inner shell
  • Stack fixed ventilation
  • MIPS
What we like:
  • Very well ventilated
  • Feature-heavy helmet for a good price
  • Many color options are available
What we don’t like:
  • The vent system isn’t adjustable

Keeping with their theme of safety as a priority, the Ledge, Giro’s most pared down ski helmet, still exceeds in areas where other similar options fail. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Ledge is one of the only sub $100 dollar helmets that offers MIPS or any other form of angled impact protection. It’s ABS shell is skate-inspired, meaning durable and capable of a few seasons of heavy use. Good news for the snowboarder. It’s an easy choice if you want to save money, but still walk away confident you checked all the boxes safety-wise. 

The Ledge is one of the more bare-bones options we’ve selected for this season. But that doesn’t mean its low quality. It’s available in a wide array of sizes and colors, and the simplicity of its design should attract any style of rider. This is for people who feel like more features mean more fuss, and who find a little bulk reassuring, and don’t want to compromise on rotational protection. 

 

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Giro Ledge MIPS:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • ABS shell
  • Fixed ventilation
  • MIPS
  • On the lower end of the price range
What we like:
  • Cheap helmet that offers maximum protection
  • A lot of variation in color and size
What we don’t like:
  • Not as comfortable as other inexpensive options

Finding a way to reliably play music and make phone calls on the slopes is difficult, so much so that it begs the question of whether or not it’s even worth attempting. If you want to forego having to fish your phone out of your jacket in sub-zero temperatures, then a Bluetooth integrated helmet may be the way to go. POC’s Communication technology isn’t the perfect solution to this problem, but it’s the best one so far. Though some complain about the actual quality of the audio, the Communication series of inserts as well as the integrated Obex Spin helmet provide dependable two-way audio in a market where reliable alternatives are rare. 

Beyond hands free music and phone calls, the Obex Spin is a sturdily built helmet. It has all the features you’d expect from a high-end helmet: a hybrid shell, adjustable vents, and a great fitting system. It also features POC’s Spin technology, which is essentially their proprietary take on MIPS or other angled impact protection systems. The liner is held in place by silicone pads that shear away on impact and allow the helmet a little free movement.  According to POC, they offer nuanced protection from a greater number of angles than other systems and you can buy replacement pads on their website.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the POC Obex Spin Communication:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Hybrid shell
  • Integrated vents
  • Spin pads for rotational protection
What we like:
  • POC’s unique approach to rotational protection
  • Well-built hybrid shell
  • One of the only integrated audio systems done right
What we don’t like:
  • Feels pretty bulky

The Quantum from Smith is one of the most tediously engineered helmets on the market, built with the needs of the 100+ day skier in mind. Smith is another huge name in the industry, and the Quantum integrates just about every safety feature available across their snow line. The foundation is a quality hybrid molded shell, reinforced with rigid polymers at common impact points. The interior is reinforced by Smith’s Aerocore tech, plates of force-dampening tubes that have the additional perk of increasing airflow. Smith tops off the heavy construction with an impressive 22 slide-adjustable vents, letting you dissipate all of the heat that it’s admittedly considerable bulk is sure to accumulate.

The Quantum is a great helmet for the right skier. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it, and its extensive list of safety features. But, it does weigh a lot. And clocking in somewhere around $300 USD, it’s definitely one of the most expensive helmets in this style. For all of it’s bulk, it’s still a very comfortable helmet, and its quality is undeniable despite its high price.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Smith Quantum MIPS:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Hybrid shell
  • Adjustable vents
  • MIPS
  • Among the most expensive helmets
What we like:
  • Provides high quality protection
  • Very effective ventilation system
  • Sleek and stylish
What we don’t like:
  • High weight

The Smith Vantage has gotten a lot of buzz this year, and for good reason. You won’t find another helmet as comfortable as the Vantage, certainly not one that manages to cram all of the current market-level safety features inside of a lightweight, compact shell. It’s a do-all snowsports helmet that can keep you protected from high-velocity impacts, but is also one that you won’t grumble about wearing on the skin track. It comes at a premium, but taking a closer look at the specs might convince you that it’s worth the investment.

The most important criteria in judging a helmet is, of course, safety. The Vantage checks all of the boxes that you’d expect based on the competition–an accurate fit-adjustment system, molded impact-resistant hardshell, and MIPS rotational impact protection. But they go a little further by including their shock absorbing Aerocore inserts right underneath the vents. Aside from the safety specs, the Smith Vantage is incredibly well ventilated with 21 slide track adjustable vents. The only thing that we can think of to criticize is the price, at nearly $300 USD, you won’t have any trouble finding cheaper alternatives that do the job nearly as well. But if you want the best that the industry has to offer, then look no further.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Smith Vantage MIPS:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Hybrid shell
  • The most adjustable vents of any helmet we’ve seen
  • MIPS
  • One of the most expensive helmets on the market
What we like:
  • Best combination of safety and comfort
  • Great adjustability in additional safety features
What we don’t like:
  • Actual sizes are smaller than listed

Sweet Protection is steadily carving out their niche across the ski and snowboard helmet world through crafting high-quality protective equipment for snowsports, paddlesports, and mountain biking. The Switcher is their take on a resort-focused helmet, and has received numerous well-deserved accolades from some big names in the outdoor industry. While there have been some complaints about the sizing, the consensus is that once you get it fitted to your head correctly, you won’t find a more comfortable helmet out there.

They’ve included all of the typical safety features, and added an additional impact shield designed to distribute the force of impact across a wider area. It has a litany of vents designed to facilitate airflow while underway, and additional ventilation to shunt moisture away from your goggles. The Switcher shines in it’s capacity to make fine adjustments in a hurry. The vents are adjustable with easy-to-use sidetracks, fit is adjustable through an easy-access dial in the back, and the chinstrap is magnetic. Ideally, your helmet is never going to be the reason you have to take off your gloves. It’s one of the best resort specific helmets of the decade, and offers adequate protection to all but competitive freeride skiers.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Custom hybrid shell
  • Many adjustable vents
  • MIPS
  • Up there with the most expensive helmets on the market
What we like:
  • Offers all of the features and protection you could want
  • Accolades from three of the biggest outdoor gear distributors
  • Better audio integration system than most other helmets
What we don’t like:
  • Airflow can get pretty loud when the vents are all of the way opened
  • Up there with the most expensive helmets
  • There have been reported issues with sizing

Though it’s a bit of a niche option, the Salomon MTN Lab is an excellent helmet, and should be a strong contender for any dedicated backcountry skier who still spends a handful of days at the resort every season. The MTN Lab is up to specifications for both skiing and rock climbing, but it’s more for the skier who spends a few days at the crag than the inverse. The rocks specs have more to do with its potential for ski mountaineering where you may see occasional rock or ice fall than a dedicated climbing helmet.

The MTN Lab is one of the lightest helmets out there that offers dependable protection. It has a hybrid molded shell with a generous amount of fixed vents. It’s a helmet you definitely won’t ever get too warm in, and has the additional benefit of keeping moisture off of your head so your goggles don’t immediately fog up after a tough climb. Due to the minimalist trappings of its design, the MNT doesn’t leave much room for features, but still retains a functional goggle or headlamp strap.

When talking about helmets it’s easy to start splitting hairs between safety and weight, this is particularly true if you’re doing most of your riding outside of the ropes. The Salomon MTN Lab offers a beautiful compromise.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Salomon MTN Lab:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • In-mold construction
  • Fixed ventilation
  • No rotational protection
  • Middling price
What we like:
  • Excellent choice for exploring the winter backcountry
  • Super lightweight while still offering enough protection
  • Compatible as a climbing helmet
What we don’t like:
  • No rotational protection
  • Vents aren’t adjustable if you end up getting cold

Oakley is a widely recognized name in sports eyewear, and the Mod series is their first foray into making full-protection helmets specifically designed to fit their goggles. It’s a hybrid style helmet with a molded interior shell that is armor-plated by sturdy ABS panels. The helmet is also equipped with MIPS, and is reinforced at specific impact points to help mitigate impact force. The Mod 5 has adjustable vents, but these tend to work better while underway rather than standing around at the base. The chin buckle is also magnetized, so you don’t have to take your gloves off to make adjustments.

The Mod 5 differs from other models because of its unique modular visor. Users can select either a small or large visor depending on which goggles they’re using that day. It was designed for use with specific models of Oakley goggles, but it has the potential to provide a good fit with other manufacturers as well.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Oakley Mod 5:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Hybrid in-mold
  • Adjustable ventilation
  • MIPS
What we like:
  • One of the toughest helmets on the market
  • Modular visor system is great
What we don’t like:
  • At 21.6 oz it’s a tad heavy

Ski Helmet Buyer’s Guide

The importance of protecting your brain is difficult to understate, particularly if you’ve ever sustained a concussion. All of the helmets on this guide are rated to alpine ski standards. There are different takes on the best way to keep you safe, but aside from some alternative takes on rotational protection ultimately choosing the right helmet is based around budget versus comfort and features. Things like adjustable vents, lighter weight, and more comfortable fitting systems can be found across any budget, but the highest quality helmets will likely do them a little better.

What Does MIPS Mean?

If you’ve done any reasonable amount of digging around for a new helmet, you’ve probably heard reference to MIPS on many occasions. MIPS (Multi-directional impact protection system) technology has been around for a little more than two decades. The idea behind the system is allowing the helmet to have a little bit of lateral give, so it absorbs some of the “rotational” energy from an oblique fall. Basically, if you should fall and smack the side of your head, the MIPS liner will shift and eat that energy before your brain starts spinning in your skull. Your head is pretty good at handling impact force head-on, but angled impacts have proven  potential to be more devastating on your brain tissues.Given that falls from aggressive sports such as skiing, cycling, and horseback riding are much more likely to be oblique than head-on, having some kind of rotational protection seems like a really good idea. 

MIPS, or other proprietary means of angled impact protection has become a near essential safety-feature for top contenders in the helmet market. But the industry is hesitant to claim that these technologies actually make a given helmet any “safer”. A MIPS helmet will offer the same degree of protection from pure impact force as a similarly rated alternative. Instead, they say the helmet is “10% better at absorbing rotational impact”. At least in the U.S., the way that helmets are rated is determined by their ability to protect the skull from catastrophic injury i.e., getting cracked open from a direct impact. Manufacturers don’t want to get raked over the coals with litigation by claiming a helmet is “safer” because there’s no certified way to qualify the level of protection they offer. 

Does this mean that rotational protection isn’t important? The jury is out on this one. MIPS has done a ton of in-house research that indisputably backs the efficacy of their technology. But some industry professionals are convinced that the whole “rotational protection” thing is more of a ploy to sell more expensive helmets than anything else. They don’t debate the influence of rotational impact, but claim that a properly fitting helmet will slide across your hair or scalp on impact the same way it would with MIPS technology. While the comparative effectiveness of MIPS-equipped helmets versus other options remains hotly debated, we can say for certain that investing in a solid helmet is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to invest the money into something with MIPS. Because, while MIPS can’t currently be proven to make a comparative difference, it certainly can’t hurt.

ABS vs. In-mold vs. Hybrid Shells

Ski helmets are designed to withstand the same kinds of impacts, and to a certain degree are made out of the same kinds of materials. We get our variance in weight and function through the way these materials are put together, and any proprietary methods companies use to give their products an edge. The two extremes of helmet design are ABS and in-mold. ABS helmets such as the Ledge from Giro are characterized by their single piece hardshell, made up of the polymer acrylonitrile butadiene styrene from which they derive their name. In-mold helmets (injection mold) are going to be made up entirely from a lightweight shell, and are much more susceptible to dings and damage from daily use. 

Most ski helmets are going to be a hybrid somewhere between the two styles, some favoring the lightweight design such as the Salomon MTN Lab, others opting for more comprehensive protection like the Smith Quantum. Hybrid helmets are made by fusing protective hard plastic layers to the outside of an injection molded shell. They benefit from a degree of the strength and longevity offered by a full-ABS helmet, without taking on the weight. All high-end helmets tend to be hybrids, but there are wildly different takes on the best way to go about building one. With so much variation, it’s easy to find a helmet to meet your specific needs.

Ventilation

It pays to be prepared when the sun comes out from behind the clouds and things start warming up. Having adequate ventilation in your helmet is a quick way to dump a lot of heat without having to take off a layer. Allowing heat to escape from your head also goes a long way towards keeping your goggles clear, and making sure you don’t sweat, potentially subjecting yourself to hypothermia. Ventilation can be as simple as punching a hole in the shell, most ABS models will feature a dozen or so strategically placed vents and call it good at that. Hybrid shells will have more vents due to the adaptability of their design, usually these vents will be adjustable by either dial or track system. 

Major manufacturers have their own unique approaches to airflow. Giro’s Jackson helmet, for example, has “Stack Flow” channels lined up to vent air up out of your goggles and keep heat from building on your forehead. Smith’s unique Aerocore build featured in the Quantum and the Vantage allow airflow through a layer of shock-absorbing tubes. Beyond pure safety features, a quality ventilation system is something to seriously consider when making your helmet selection. Overheating while skiing is a universally unpleasant experience, and having a way to cool off quickly alone is justification enough.

Additional Features

Beyond what we’ve listed above, there are plenty of other things to consider when choosing a helmet. An adjustable fit system is great to have,  it allows you to wear things under your helmet if the weather is subject to frequent change throughout the season. You can also get a much more accurate fit. Not all adjustable helmets are made the same, so take note if you think that’s likely to be an issue for you. Magnet or easy-access chin straps are also great because you don’t need to take off your gloves to cool off. Compatibility with goggles from the same brand is nice, but can limit your selection, earpads that hold aftermarket wireless speakers, or even a bluetooth integrated helmet such as the Obex Spin Communication are great things to consider as well.

If you found this guide helpful, and need a pair of goggles to go along with your new helmet, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best options of the season.

If you already have a ski helmet or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about ski and snowboard helmets

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    🤓 Why do I need a helmet?

    Helmets only started to make appearances in the recreational ski industry two decades ago. They’ve since gained much more traction and are now the “standard” of protection from the race gates to the bunny slopes. A properly fitting helmet is an essential piece of equipment for skiers of any skill level, for every day. They’re a good last resort if you lose control in a high-risk situation, but more importantly, provide consistent protection from the little repetitive knocks that happen to everyone. Taking proactive measures against concussions is an important thing for any downhill athlete to consider. The safety benefits of wearing a helmet far outweigh any inconveniences such as bulk or discomfort. They’re a great, waterproof way to keep your head warm and prevent brain injury.

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    ❓ What is a “MIPS” Helmet?

    Most falls on the slopes thankfully aren’t going to involve smacking into a tree. Unfortunately your brain is much more vulnerable to rotational forces caused by glancing blows you’re likely to see while skiing than it is direct, head-on impacts of similar velocities. It’s the reason why boxers can eat so many punches to the face, but a single well-placed hit will knock them out. 

    MIPS and other proprietary forms of rotational protection are quickly becoming the norm for safety standards across every price point. The jury is still out “officially” regarding how much more effective a helmet with MIPS is than alternatives without rotational protection, but the consensus across the industry is that it certainly can’t hurt. For more on MIPS see our note in the buyer’s guide.

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    🧐 Which helmet is the best?

    There is no be-all, end-all, best helmet on the market. The industry is so flush with competitors that top-quality safety gear, that features and specialization have become the focal point of the conversation. So the “best” helmet is going to depend largely on your budget and what kind of rider you are. If you trust tradition, then the high-end options from brands such as Giro, Smith, and Atomic are reliable options. More casual riders may wish to forgo comfort and style for practicality, there are plenty of helmets such as the Anon Raider 3 that offer adequate protection without having to pay for the bells and whistles of a piece of technical gear.

    Men’s versus Women’s Helmets

    Most helmets are unisex, the differences between women’s and men’s helmets when distinguished is cosmetic, oftentimes just a change in name and expanded color palatte. The technology that goes into the helmet is always going to be the same, as will the price tag. But sizing on a women’s specific helmet is going to be scaled down, something worth keeping in mind if you’re used to buying unisex models.

    Helmet Sizing

    Having the highest rated, most expensive helmet doesn’t do you much good if it doesn’t fit. A properly sized helmet is key to having a safe and comfortable season. Quality ski helmets should come in a range of sizes, and specific measurements are easily found in the specifications of each model. You can find the circumference of your head with a piece of string, which can then be measured in cm and compared to the size ranges of the helmets. 

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