As a general rule, if a ski or snowboard helmet does not fit, it serves no purpose. If a helmet does not fit comfortably, it will not be worn. If a helmet is not worn, the likelihood for injury is increased during activities such as skiing. Fortunately, there are a few simple tests that you can perform to determine whether or not your helmet (or your child's helmet) fits, and fits comfortably. We will get to those in a minute, but first we will conduct a little clarification when it comes to the process of selecting a helmet for skiing. If you already are an expert you can shop ski helmets now.
General Ski Helmet Information
We will go ahead and get the most common question out of the way, which is, "I have a bike helmet/skating helmet can I use that?" No, do not use your bike or skating helmet for skiing. There is a very distinct difference in how helmets are designed for specific sports. Helmets for snow sports are designed to protect skiers and snowboarders against the types of crashes most commonly experienced while skiing and snowboarding.
Additionally, in a push to get skiers to routinely wear helmets, manufacturers have developed many different shell styles to accommodate variances from rider to rider. Styles range from traditional full shell helmets to short shell helmets. Features may include audio capabilities, venting systems, visors, and even multi-density shells. Yet all of these features should not take the focus off of the major role of proper fit for a helmet. When it boils down to it, a helmet with audio capabilities is not going to protect you if it does not fit properly.
To ensure that the head is covered, a proper fitting must be conducted. To make certain a ski helmet fits correctly there are few simple steps that can be followed. This will not only ensure you do not waist your money, but also ensure that the helmet is providing maximum safety for the user.
Step 1: Measuring the Head Using a cloth measuring tape, wrap the tape around the user's head. Place the tape just above the eyebrow, making sure the tape is tight. Take the measurement from the point of overlap. This measurement can now be used with our sizing guide to find the properly sized helmet.
Step 2: Putting on the Helmet Place the front of the helmet just above the eyebrow line. While holding either the ear covers or helmet straps, roll the helmet over the back of the head.
Step 3: Checking for Gaps All padding from the helmet should be flush against the head. The ear covers or cheek padding should also fit closely. The back of the helmet should fall around the hairline, but not reach the nape of the neck.
Step 4: Twist Testing Once the helmet is on, fasten the chin strap and make certain everything is snug. Hold the helmet and try to roll it off the back of the head. If the skin on the forehead is being moved then the helmet fits properly. Also, twisting the helmet side-to-side should cause the head to turn, and not allow the helmet to twist on the head. If the helmet passes these simple requirements then you have found a properly fitting helmet. Many companies will also have a fine tuning system to help compensate for small changes in the padding. One such system is known as In-Form. This system originated in bicycle helmets and utilize a floating carriage at the back of the head. A dial or slide lock allows the user to loosen or tighten the carriage to fine tune the fit of the helmet.
Video Tutorial: How to Fit a Helmet
CE: The European standard which all helmets must meet or exceed to sold in the European marketplace.
ASTM: The safety standard which all helmets must meet or exceed to be sold in the United States marketplace. All helmets found in the United States will meet the ASTM standards. Some helmets will also be marked CE, meaning they meet the standards of both the ASTM and CE.
Full Shell: A full shell helmet is the traditional style of helmet. A full shell design has a hard shell that covers the ears. The covers provide a small increase in protection for the sides of the head, and of course the ears. Most racers will utilize a full shell helmet because most models are compatible with jaw guards.
Half Shell: A half shell helmet has become increasingly popular in the last few years. A half shell helmet incorporates soft ear covers into a standard helmet design, which has allowed manufacturers to increase the comfort of a helmet, without sacrificing much in the way of safety.
Full Face: The full face helmet is going to provide the most protection available. It uses a solid one-piece shell and molded jaw guard. Comfort and weight are sacrificed, but the full enclosure of the helmet provides maximum protection for the head and face.
Given the three basic styles outline above, variations can exist from a features standpoint. Different material can be used for specific applications, different venting systems, and even audio technologies. Here is a quick overview of some of the many items you may see on a helmet when shopping around.
Your helmet is guaranteed to trap heat and get very warm from time to time. Most manufacturers try to cater to this issue by incorporating some type of venting system into the inner shells. Ventilation designs can range from the very simple to the complex, offering varying levels of comfort.
Fixed Venting: Fixed Ventillation helmets provide the most basic style of venting. This system utilizes grooves or holes that are shaped into the inner shell. This will allow a small amount of heat to escape the head, but it does not offer any type of adjustability.
Plug Venting: This venting style builds on the concepts of open venting. Plug venting will typically have additional vent holes built into the inner shell. The primary difference is that the holes will have foam plugs that can be pulled individually to allow ventilation in specific areas. This offers a good amount of adjustability, but it relies on the user keeping track of the plugs. If you choose a helmet with this venting style, be sure you are aware of where your plugs are after you remove them.
Active Venting: Active Venting Helmets takes venting to new heights. With the same number of holes, or possibly a few more, as plug venting, active venting incorporates a sliding mechanism to control the amount of venting that is allowed. Without having to remove anything from the ventilation holes, active venting allows users to control which vents are open, how much they are open, and allows it to be accomplished on the fly. All helmet models with this venting system will offer multiple adjustment pieces so different sections can be adjusted separately. As a final note on venting, you will typically see the styles outline above used independently from one another. However, you may run across a model that incorporates a combination of multiple systems.
Advances in technology never cease to amaze, which is why there have been so many advances from a technology standpoint in audio ski helmets over the past few years. Many manufacturers have developed systems that allow users to hook into personal music players and also cell phones. Audio systems range from a basic system that allow for a basic plug and play, to completely wireless systems. Certain helmets will come pre-packaged with audio systems, but for those that do not, there are many styles of add-on kits that are available. As one additional note, audio kits are typically only compatible with soft-shell helmets.
Single Link Audio Systems: This type of audio system will have a single plug for an mp3 player or personal CD player. It will have ear pads that replace the stock pads in a simple snap-and-replace fashion. Most of the plugs will come with an in-line mute button.
Two-way Link Systems: This system offers the exact same functionality as the single link system, but will also allow the user to hard line into a two way radio at the same time.
Bluetooth Link Systems: This system is the same as the single link system; however, it is compatible with Bluetooth cell phones. The in-line mute button for the music device will serve as an interrupt for answer any incoming calls. The audio will be routed through the headphones and a microphone is positioned in the ear pad.
Wireless Bluetooth Link Systems: This system utilizes the same switch over mechanism as the Bluetooth Link system, but it also consists of modular wireless headphones that are attached to the helmet for incoming audio.
Video Capabilities: The success of audio kits for helmets has spawned manufacturers into the world of video capabilities. Many companies are now developing helmets with built-in video cameras. Most of these new systems incorporate a wireless system, which transmits to an mp4 device. The recorders store on a small removable flash drive.
Video Tutorial: Audio Helmets
Most racing leagues require that participants wear protective jaw guards. This means that race specific full shell helmets or full-face helmets are required. For a jaw guard to be attached to a helmet, the helmet must come pre-fabricated for a jaw guard attachment. It is highly dangerous to attempt drilling a hole in any helmet that is not designed for a jaw guard. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt to drill any hole in a helmet as it will compromise the integrity of the helmet and could lead to serious injury. Full shell race helmets are reinforced in the cheek/jaw area to support impacts to the jaw guards. At the basic level, composite vented helmets incorporate comfort and safety for the recreational or high school racer. These shells come from a pre-formed press. The next level is a handmade composite shell that is typically laid with a Kevlar reinforced layer. This will increase the weight, but it results in a stronger product. For the most competitive racers, a full carbon fiber, or carbon/Kevlar hybrid helmet is made. This provides the user with the lightest strength to weight ratio of any helmet. This provides comfort along side high performance.
EPS Foam: EPS offers the most consistent performance across a wide range of conditions. The absorbency characteristics allow EPS to control more impact energy than any other material gram-per-gram. Furthermore, it is incredibly lightweight, which is an additional benefit.
Brock Hardhat Foam: Brock material is breathable, multi-impact, multi-sport foam. It has the ability to circulate air throughout the helmet while simultaneously sucking moisture away. Thanks to these characteristics, the head is kept naturally warm and dry. The material is fused to a hard ABS outer shell for impact dampening and absorption.
Additional Shell Information
In-Mold Shells: Making use of a shell design from the world of cycling, In-Molded liners use a hard plastic outer shell that is relatively thin. Inside of the shell, the design uses EPS foam inners to absorb shock. This allows for less rebound during impact because it will collapse under hard impact.
Semi-Hard Shells: This design incorporates an In-Molded design with a fully enclosed outer shell. This style is far more resistant to penetration on impact. It is combined with EPS foam inners to absorb impact.
Double Shells: A double shell uses a very tough ABS plastic outer shell, making for a viable multi-sport helmet. Inside the shell is a fully developed In-Mold design. It has an outer layer that is more protective than a semi-hard shell, offering more overall protection.
Hybrid Shells: A combination of a hard shell and an In-Mold shell. The use of an In-Mold design with added hard ABS plastics in key, high impact areas provide comfort and safety. The use of multiple styles considers both the weight and comfort so that neither is sacrificed in the construction.
Zip Mold: A zip mold is a foam injection style helmet. Once foam is injected it is fused to a polycarbonate shell. This makes for a multi-sport helmet that is seamless and extremely lightweight.