Buying Guide for Women's Ski Helmets
By Steve Kopitz
As a general rule, if womens ski helmets don't fit, they serve no purpose. If a ski 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 womens ski 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.
Click on a section to jump ahead to that section:
|General Information||Fit||Safety Certifications|
|Styles||Venting Systems||Audio Capabilities|
|Race Helmets||Additional Shell 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. Womens ski helmets are designed to protect skiers and snowboarders from the types of crashes and impacts they may experience while skiing or snowboarding. Due to the differences in the sports and conditions from summer sports like biking or skating and winter sports the helmets aer designed differently. The way the safety standards on ski and snowboard helmets are written they are designed to protect a skier or snowboarder from one serious impact before they should be replaced. In the event of a very serious impact the inner foam or hard outer shell of the helmet may crack. Womens ski helmets are designed to crack upon serious impact to disperse the engergy of the impact and protect your brain.
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 half 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 womens ski helmet. When it boils down to it, a helmet with audio capabilities is not going to protect you if it does not fit properly.
First and foremost when selecting a womens ski helmet is to find one that fits correctly. An improperly fitting womens ski helmet provides about as much protection as wearing no helmet at all. That being said, there are a few simple steps to finding the perfect fitting womens ski helmet.
Measuring the head is simple. Find a cloth or flexible measuring tape. If you don’t have one of these, you can use a piece of string and then measure the piece of string against a regular tape measure. Place the beginning of the tape or string just above the eyebrows and wrap it around the head. Now use the measurement in our sizing guide to find the correct womens ski helmet size.
Grab hold of the helmet's ear flaps or straps and roll the helmet onto your head, starting with the forehead and working back.
After placing the womens ski helmet on your head, check to make sure all the padding on the womens ski helmet is flush against your head. There should not be any gaps between your forehead and the front of the helmet. Not only does this mean the womens ski helmet does not fit correctly, but it also means the womens ski helmet will allow cold air to leak in, making you cold all day. The back of the womens ski helmet should also come down just to the begging of the hair line but not all the way down to the middle of neck.
Once you have placed the womens ski helmet on your head and checked for gaps, it is time for the shake test. Shake your head forward and back as well as from side to side. The womens ski helmet should not slide around on your head at all. If it does, this means the womens ski helmet is to big and could slip off during a serious jolt or fall. Some womens ski helmets now have a way to adjust the helmet size by cranking a knob in the back. If your womens ski helmet does, and you find your helmet is fitting too loose, give the knob a few cranks and see if it fits any better.
If your womens ski helmet passes these four simple steps, then your have found the perfect fitting women’s helmet.
Womens ski helmets can be certified as either ASTM, CE or both. The ASTM certification means that the helmet meets US safety standards. CE means the helmet is certified by European standards. All ski helmets found in the United States will be ASTM certified, but can also be CE certified.
Full Shell: A full shell womens ski helmet is the most traditional. It uses a full hard outer shell which extends down below the ears. This design provides protection for the entire head. Most racers use a full shell design because of its additional protection and its compatibility with jaw guards.
Half Shell: Half Shells ski helmets are the most popular type for women. It combines a hard outer shell on top with soft earflaps on the side. This type of helmet tends to be the most popular because it is the most comfortable, allows for better hearing and is compatible with many audio systems.
Full Face: This style of helmet is almost never used unless you are skiing in the backcountry. A full face helmet combines a full shell helmet and incorporate a fully molded jaw guard as well (they look very similar to dirt bike helmets). Although these provide a high degree of protections, they are very heavy, uncomfortable, and are difficult to hear in. Bottom line, unless you are hitting the backcountry, you do not need a full face helmet.
When most people think skiing, they think cold. However, there are times when you want to let some of that hot air out of your ski helmet because you just get to hot! Most womens ski helmets do this through some sort of ventilation system. There are a number of different ventilation systems on the market, but here are some of the most common found on womens ski helmets. Keep in mind that some ski helmets may also use a combination of these venting systems.
Open Venting: Just like the name sounds, open venting uses slots or holes in the top or sides of the helmet to let hot air out. This is the most basic type of ventilation system because it cannot be closed of you find yourself getting cold.
Plug Venting: Plug venting is similar to open venting but takes it one step further. Just like open venting helmets, plug venting helmets have a series of holes or slot on the top. However, they include a set of rubber strips or plugs which can be put in the hole to cover them up if you find yourself getting to cold. The only disadvantage to helmets with plug venting is you have to take your helmet off in order to put in or remove the plugs, which is not something you want to be doing on those really cold days!
Active Adjustable Venting: Ski helmets with active adjustable venting are the best. These helmets have the same number of venting holes as open or plug venting helmets, but allow you to open and close them without taking the helmet off. This is done through a knob or switch on the top of the ski helmet which opens or closes the vents by sliding a plastic cover over them. Some even allow for partial opening, allowing for excellent temperature control. These womens ski helmets are the absolute best no questions asked.
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.
Many womens ski helmets come with integrated audio capability, and some even come with video capability. Audio helmets have speakers built into the ear flaps, and allow you to connect to your MP3 player so you can listen to music while you ski. If your helmet does not already have audio, many helps can have it easily added by buying a new set of earflaps and simply snapping them in. There are a number of different audio systems for women ski helmets, but will cover some of the most popular.
Single Link Audio Systems: This is the most basic and usually the least expensive of the audio systems. Single link audio systems have a long cord which runs from your womens ski helmet and connects to your MP3 player (which is usually then stored in your jacket). Many if these have a mute or even a volume control attached to the audio cord.
Two-way Link Systems: This system is identical to the single link audio system, except that it can be hooked into an MP3 player as well as a two way radio or cell phone. These systems will usually have a microphone built into the chord so you can talk without having to pull out your radio or cell phone.
Bluetooth Link Systems: Bluetooth link audio systems have the same functionality as the single link audio systems, but they do it without using a full cord. The helmet has a small cord which clips onto the outside of your jacket. At the end of the cord is a Bluetooth transmitter as well as a microphone for answering phone calls. However, these Bluetooth link audio systems only work with cell phones which are Bluetooth enabled.
Wireless Audio Systems: Wireless audio systems provide the same functionality as the Bluetooth audio systems, but do so with no cord at all. These womens ski helmets have controls and a microphone built right into the helmet, usually on the outside of the earflaps.
There is no such thing as a women's ski racing helmet. All racing helmets are unisex, but some come in colors that are much more appealing to women. Racing helmets are now available in all sorts of bright, fun colors to help women feel more feminine on the slopes, but are designed to provide the maximum amount of impact protection. Race helmets are full shell helmets with hard ears. These provide less protection from severe impact, but are typically less expensive because they come from a preformed press. More advanced racers will want to consider getting a handmade composite shell helmet, which is typically reinforced with a Kevlar layer. Although these usually weight more, that provide additional impact protection. Finally, if you are an experienced or competitive racer, you may want to consider a full carbon fiber or carbon/Kevlar hybrid helmet. These provide excellent impact protection and are extremely lightweight as well.
Depending on the event or league you are racing in, you may be required to purchase a jaw guard for your helmet. This is a plastic or metal wire arch that attaches to the sides of a racing helmet and wraps around in front of the skiers chin, protecting their face from getting hit by racing gates. Never ever attempt to drill holes in a helmet and add a jaw guard on your own. This can compromise the integrity of the helmet making it extremely unsafe. Check with your local ski racing association to see if you need a jaw guard. They will be sure to have all the additional information you may need.
In-Molded: Spawned form the cycling work, in-molded helmets use a hard thin plastic outer shell combined with EPS foam inside for shock absorption. The primary function of in-molded helmets is to absorb rebound and collapse upon impact.