Best Budget Option
Giro Ledge MIPS

The Ledge is one of the more bare-bones options on our list. But that doesn’t mean it’s low quality. There’s beauty in its simplicity. Sometimes more features feel like more fuss. So long as you’re covered on the protection front, who cares what else it does?

The Ledge is a leader in value. Though there’s another, simpler version out there for a little cheaper, we think the extra insurance is well worth it. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Ledge is one of the only sub $100 helmets that offer MIPS or any other form of angled impact protection.

The Ledge is Giro’s most pared-down helmet and comes with the option to make it even simpler. Both the earpads and goggle retainer are removable, a great feature be it stylistic or as a way to make up for the somewhat lacking ventilation system.

All told, the sleek and subdued look of the Ledge compared with its practical nature makes it an easy pick for skiers or boarders on a budget.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Best budget helmet in the industry, period
  • check-mark
    It has essential safety features, decent customization capabilities and is available in a wide range of colors

Things we don't like:

  • check-markFixed vents make temperature regulation a little more difficult
  • check-markIt lacks a lot of the updated tech that we see out of other reimagined "simple" helmets

Where to buy:

The reasons that Giro’s Ledge helmet is a favorite among gear connoisseurs are easy to see.

Its unquestioned style, sensible safety features, and focus on versatility make it an obvious choice for career minimalists and safety-conscious skiers on a budget.

As far as reliable helmets under $100 go, there isn’t much better on the market.

Giro has been a mainstay in the outdoor sports helmet industry for nearly four decades now, so it should come as no surprise how successful this very practical model has become.

Below, we’ll dig into the Giro Ledge and discuss the anatomy of what makes a great budget helmet and get into how this model stacks up against top-rated alternatives from this year.

Specs & Features

  • Hard Shell Construction
  • MIPS Angled Impact Protection
  • Stack Ventilation over goggles
  • Fixed Ventilation Channels
  • AutoLoc 2 Fit System
  • Vertical Tuning
  • Removable Earpads
  • Removable Goggle Retainer
  • Audio Compatible Ear Pads
See the complete list of the best Ski and Snowboard Helmets here!
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Safety Considerations

As always, safety comes first when dealing with helmets. The Ledge doesn’t have the full complement of features that we see from forerunners of the season, but it does have more going for it than most anything in its price category.

The Ledge has a hard shell fused to an EPS liner. Like most helmets, it’s a single impact ordeal, as the foam of the liner crushes down to absorb the force of impact, making it less effective as time goes on.

Keep in mind that a “one and done” big crash policy should be your norm regardless of the model of helmet you ultimately purchase.

Aside from its ability to absorb a solid head on strike, our favorite version of the Ledge also comes equipped with MIPS rotational protection to help absorb some of the shock delivered by glancing blows. There’s a slightly less expensive version without this addition, but I think it’s more than worth including.

For a little bit more information on MIPS technology and why we think it matters, take a look at our helmet buyer’s guide for a quick overview of both sides of the debate.

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Related Reviews

Comfort

The Ledge is a very pared-down helmet with limited comfort features compared to premium alternatives currently leading the market. Austerity aside, those features that it does have are well-executed, and I’ve yet to have any issues with comfort in a couple of seasons of heavy use.

The most complicated is their Auto Loc 2 fit adjustment system. While not as intuitive or tunable as other helmet systems (even other budget helmets like Wildhorn Outfitters’ Drift Helmet), it is adjustable in both the circumference and the vertical capacity.

I found that the flexible, elastic-based interior didn’t require much adjustment between the different layers that I added. I could pretty much set it and forget it regardless of whether I was wearing a buff, a beanie, or even a trucker cap under the helmet.

The Ledge also has removable ear pads and a removable goggle strap if you really want to hammer in that skateboarder look (I did). That makes this board automatically a popular one with snowboarders and potentially the best snowboard helmet.

If you tend to be a little warmer and prefer to wear a layer beneath your helmet, not having ear pads can be nice.

As a final note, it’s also a comparatively lightweight helmet. Sometimes a limited feature set goes a long way towards keeping things portable. More so than preventing a burdensome feel over a ski day, it makes for good packability. The Ledge has been my primary touring helmet for a couple of seasons, and I have no complaints about carrying it around.

Warmth

By itself, the Ledge isn’t a particularly warm helmet. Its liner is a far cry from the merino ordeals we see out of industry favorites, and even with the ear pads in, I needed to wear a layer under my helmet most of the days I used the Ledge midwinter in Colorado.

It doesn’t hug your head quite in the same way the Smith Quantum or another more aggressively fitted helmet might. By no means does this mean it has a loose fit, just that the contours of the helmet don’t as effectively seal out the wind from rushing in when you pick up speed.

As a final note on warmth, I’m a big fan of layering underneath the Ledge, and I’ve never had trouble with it accommodating a rapidly evolving layer set over a day of skiing.

Ventilation

The biggest issue I have with the Ledge is its somewhat limited set of nine fixed vents. Above, we mentioned that it’s far from the warmest piece of gear you’ll wear on your head, but not every day will be exceptionally cold, or even below freezing for that matter.

The choice to limit the number of vents makes sense seeing as they’re not adjustable. Otherwise, the Ledge would likely be excessively drafty and too easy for wind and rain to make their way inside. The detriments of this compromise are most evident near the tail end of the season.

The only examples of note are their “Stack Vents” that siphon moisture and hot air up away from your goggles. This is quickly becoming a key feature in any helmet that I consider for regular use, and I’ve found the ones in the Ledge compatible with most pairs of goggles that I’ve tried out.

For hard-riding spring skiing, I found myself foregoing goggles in favor of sunglasses. Not because I had issues with fog buildup, only to stay a little cooler. For this the stack vents don’t make any difference.

Feature Breakdown

Audio Compatible Ear Pads

Bluetooth-ready ear pads are quickly becoming a standard feature across the helmet industry. The Ledge offers a serviceable yet not extraordinary example of this phenomenon.

In terms of audio quality, the helmet was a bit too breezy to be considered unique. As such, I skied without the ear pads most of the time. Like many models these days, your own noise-canceling headphones are the often go-to for those that like tunes on the mountain.

Auto Loc 2 Adjustment System

Though it might not be the easiest or swiftest to operate, I was a fan of the Ledge’s fit adjustment system. It gives you the option of three circumference settings, adjusted by popping the struts of the system into the corresponding pre-punched holes and letting the elastic near the back handle the rest.

You can change how high the helmet rides by tinkering with the vertical adjustment under the liner. Similar to the circumference, you only need to separate the support system from the helmet’s shell and punch it back into whichever of the four height settings you desire.

Removable Ear Pads/Goggle Retainer

For some people, removable ear pads are no big deal. I love the option to ski without them. It lets me get a little more creative with the layering under my helmet and looks pretty cool to boot.

A removable goggle retainer is less critical, but if you like to ride with your goggles under your helmet, it removes a redundant piece of plastic and frees up a little more space for stickers.

Stack Ventilation

Stack vents just over the helmet’s forehead are pretty simple, but they ultimately do a lot of good towards keeping your vision clear of fog. The vents line up with the largest ventilation sites on the vast majority of goggles and keep air circulating while you work up a sweat ripping down the hill.

Who’s it for?

In our best-of list, we ranked the Giro Ledge as one of our favorite budget models. It’s a high-value option with a solid feature set, prioritizing practicality at every turn. In addition to this, it looks good. Skate-inspired helmets never go out of style, and the ability to strip off the clip and ear pads could potentially up your terrain-park swagger.

As earlier noted, snowboarders will naturally look at this as one of the best helmets for riding. If they want the skateboard style, that is.

In the interest of full disclosure, I got mine from a certain ski resort I was working for at the time as a replacement. If I were looking to buy a helmet back then, I probably would have sprung for something with a little bit more of a polished design.

The Ledge is an excellent option for anyone looking to save some dollars but still wants a helmet from a company with some rapport. It’s one that I’ve used in my personal skiing on and off for several seasons, both on the mountain and tackling springtime backcountry lines.

The Competition

It’s pretty clear that I’m a fan of the Ledge, so what else is out there? This largely depends on the kind of skiing you want to do.

If the lack of emphasis on comfort amenities is scaring you off, the market for premium helmets is better than it’s ever been before. Currently, Smith’s Quantum and Vantage helmets are capturing a sizable chunk of attention with their feature-laded, safety-focused collection of top dollar options.

Aside from Smith, we also thought that the Sweet Protection Switcher MIPS was impressive. Another trusted name in outdoor sporting helmets, the Switcher keeps up with all the other top performers and boasts of some of the best audio quality you can find on the slopes.

If the versatility of the Ledge appeals to you, you may also want to check out Smith’s Mission helmet, which was our favorite for splitting time between the resort and the backcountry. It has a similar lightweight and simplified approach but offers skiers a little more in the way of features.

Finally, if you want to take simplicity to its logical conclusion, the Salomon MTN Lab is about as light as it gets and is also certified for rock use. It’s an excellent option for people who like the portability of the Ledge and want to take it even further.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Best budget helmet in the industry, period
  • check-mark
    It has essential safety features, decent customization capabilities and is available in a wide range of colors

Things we don't like:

  • check-markFixed vents make temperature regulation a little more difficult
  • check-markIt lacks a lot of the updated tech that we see out of other reimagined "simple" helmets

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