Choosing the Right Helmet
There are a lot of cool ski and snowboard helmets on the market right now, but before you buy it's important to know how to find the right one for you. Many companies make high-quality, great-looking helmets. New injection-molded foams and plastics create helmets that weight less than some woolen hats, but which provide impact-protection at speeds usually reached only by downhill racers. Easy-to-operate venting systems allow skiers to adjust the 'warmth' of their helmets by tweaking the air flow to different parts of their heads, ensuring they stay warm without overheating. Beyond safety and comfort, though, helmets also match skiers' lifestyle needs. Many helmets now come equipped with high quality headphones, and even Bluetooth connections for cell phones and music players.
Finally, helmets have their own accessories to help encourage helmet use – and boost secondary sales. Goggle designers craft eyewear that not only fits around helmets generically, but which also can be integrated with specific helmets. For instance, Smith offers goggle and helmet pairings that create improved venting from the goggles, through the helmet, to significantly reduce the risks of fogging.
Prices start at about $60 for children's helmets and can often reach $160 or more for one with all the bells and whistles. But before you drop a dollar on fashion, make sure you've investigated its protective function, and make sure you've got one that fits you perfectly.
Try Before You Buy
Do your best to try on a variety of helmets before deciding which one is for you. The same goes for buying one for your significant other, your children, or anyone else. Everyone's head is shaped differently, and some brands and models will fit your melon better than others! If you don't live near a mountain, it might be worth waiting until you get there to buy your newest headgear. Unlike hats, they don't get wet or icy and you'll be surprised by how warm and comfortable the right helmet can be.
Like your boots, a helmet should fit as if it were customized for you. You can start by measuring the circumference of your head to find your standard helmet size in centimeters. If you're in between sizes, there are adjusters in most helmets to tweak it to perfection. Make sure that the one you purchase fits snugly – but isn't so tight that it's going to give you a headache. It should sit just over your eyebrows to protect your forehead – it shouldn't ride too high up on your head. Also try it on with your goggles to ensure the ensemble works well together. A gap between your goggles and helmet could leave you with a frozen forehead on the mountain.
Protection, Not Invincibility
While a helmet decreases the risk of head injury, it can't save you from all of them. In fact, some researchers believe that helmets may cause more harm than good because they offer a false sense of security. When it comes down to it, both research and common sense say thatyou're much better off with one than without one. You've heard both good and bad stories of winter athletes who have survived injuries because their helmet was on, or those who might have survived had they been wearing one.
To ensure that the helmet has been tested to provide adequate protection, look for the SNELL RS-98 or ASTM F2040 sticker on the inside of the helmet.
Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA, National Ski Patrollers and Snowlink.com.