From the bunny slope to the backcountry, a helmet is an essential part of every skier’s kit. Nowadays, ski helmet use on the slopes has become nearly universal — and for good reason.
Modern ski and snowboard helmets are lighter, safer, and more comfortable than ever before. And if you can protect your precious noggin, why not? Brain trauma is no joke!
As always, the best ski helmet is the one on your head. But not all snow helmets are created equal, and it’s worthwhile to invest some time to find the perfect model for you.
Our team has scoured the market to identify a shortlist of the best ski helmets in the game for the 2023 season. At the end of our list, be sure to check out the comprehensive buyer’s guide and FAQ to learn about helmet materials, sizing, features, and much more.
Also, have a look at our comparison chart to help steer your decision-making.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Overall Ski Helmet: Smith Nexus MIPS Helmet
- Best Budget Ski Helmet: Giro Ratio MIPS Helmet
- Runner-Up Best Ski Helmet: Wildhorn Highline Snow Helmet
- Most Hygienic Liner: Pret Cirque X MIPS for Men & Corona X for Women
- Best Helmet for Skimo & Uphill Workouts: Backcountry Access BC Air Helmet
- Most Ventilation: Sweet Protection Switcher
- Best Helmet With Integrated Goggles: Salomon Driver Prime Sigma Photo MIPS
- Best of the Rest: Smith Vantage
- Giro Crue Kids’ MIPS Snow Helmet
- Bern Watts 2.0
- POC Obex MIPS
- Scott Symbol 2 Plus
- Smith Maze MIPS
- Bern Carbon Watts
The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets of 2023
- Weight 23 oz (medium)
- Protection bonus MIPS, Koroyod
- Number of vents 24 including adjustability
- Integrates seamlessly with Smith goggles
- So many vents
- Extra side impact protection
- A pricier option
- Good value
- Effective ventilation system
- Earflaps let cold air in at high speeds
- Liner is made to stay fresh longer with the XT2 anti-odor technology
- Closure strap has a soft cushion to protect the face and chin
- Sleek shape pairs well with goggles
- Magnetic buckle takes time to get used to if you’re used to traditional buckles
- High-quality construction and materials
- Easily adjustable for comfort in any conditions
- Low-profile fit combines well with most goggles
- A bit pricer than other options
- Adequate ventilation for uphill comfort during rigorous workouts
- Comfortable fit
- Adjustable sizing
- Too much airflow for doubling as an everyday resort helmet
- Weight 20.1 oz. (small/medium)
- Protection bonus MIPS
- Number of vents 24 that are adjustable (26 total)
- Adjustable ventilation system
- Slightly heavier and more expensive than some similar options
- Weight 27 oz
- Protection bonus MIPS, EPS4D
- Number of vents Dozens of miniature ports within two long vent columns on the top of the head that can be open and closed
- Innovative 2-in-1 goggle and helmet system
- Advanced safety features
- Extremely comfortable
- Doesn’t make sense if you already own goggles you like
- Inside of visor froze on especially cold day
- Replacement lenses hard to come by
- Great fit
- Serves skiers and riders in colder or warmer conditions
- Looks good
- Doubled up on rotational impact protection
- An investment
- MIPS is hard to find in youth helmets
- Good ventilation
- Works best with Giro goggles
- Dial-operated system for a more custom fit
- Multisport helmet
- Stylish points for the brim, which helps moisture roll away
- Vents are not adjustable
- Sleek, clean aesthetic
- Customizable fit system
- Adjustable ventilation
- Two front vents cannot be closed via slidable covers
- Weight 20 oz. (small)
- Protection bonus MIPS, D30 shock-absorbing material, Pure Sound earpieces for sound clarity
- Number of vents 8 vents along the front, back, and sides plus 36 mini ports on the top for a total of 44 vents with sliders for adjustability in two zones
- Top-notch safety technology
- Comfortable padding
- Ventilation system works well across a broad temperature range
- Sizing runs slightly small
- High-quality construction
- Fairly priced
- Lacks adjustment system
- Fixed open-air vents
- Weight 18.5 oz.
- Protection bonus Carbon fiber is eight to 10 times stronger than traditional plastic-shelled helmets
- Number of vents 11 that are fixed
- Unique, strong carbon fiber construction
- Comfortable fit
Ski Helmet Comparison Chart
|Ski Helmet||Price||Weight||Protection Bonus||Number of Vents|
|Smith Nexus MIPS Helmet||$325||23 oz||MIPS, Koroyod||24 adjustable|
|Wildhorn Highline Snow Helmet||$150||16 oz.||MIPS||14 adjustable|
|Giro Ratio MIPS Helmet||$120||20 oz.||MIPS||10 adjustable|
|Smith Vantage||$270||17.6 oz.||MIPS, Zonal Koroyd||21 adjustable|
|Pret Cirque & Corona X MIPS||$250-270||15.3 oz.||MIPS||10 adjustable|
|Backcountry Access BC Air Helmet||$150||11.9 oz.||None||59 passive ports|
|Sweet Protection Switcher||$270||20.1 oz.||MIPS||24 adjustable|
|Salomon Driver Prime |
Sigma Photo MIPS
|$450||27 oz.||MIPS, EPS4D|
|Giro Crue Kids’ MIPS |
|$95||18 oz.||MIPS||9 fixed|
|Bern Watts 2.0||$170||12.3 oz.||MIPS||11 fixed|
|POC Obex MIPS||$200||18.2 oz.||MIPS||7 adjustable|
|Scott Symbol 2 Plus||$200||20 oz.||MIPS, D30||8 vents, 36 miniports|
|Smith Maze MIPS||$155||12 oz.||MIPS||2 fixed|
|Bern Carbon Watts||$300||18.5 oz.||Carbon fiber||11 fixed|
Why You Should Trust Us
Our ski and snowboard crew of GearJunkie gear testers includes a range of experience levels from intermediate to expert skiers and riders. We also have backcountry splitboarders and snowmobilers, certified backcountry travelers, and skimo racers testing gear to help find the best of the best. At our annual gear testing week, we swap notes, including a recent ski week at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, which is known for its extremely steep terrain.
Leading the gear testing, Snowsports Senior Editor Morgan Tilton has been skiing since 1994 and snowboarding since 2002. Over the past few decades, Morgan has hit her head on a few hard crashes, but the worst was while snowboarding in icy conditions in 2003.
She was found knocked out with a grade 2 concussion and broken nose and woke with complete memory loss — an experience that included a rescue toboggan and ambulance ride. The wreck ravaged her goggles and helmet. Fortunately, she’d started wearing a helmet the season prior and has worn one ever since. Today, she lives in Gunnison Valley, which tends to be one of the coldest, snowiest places in North America.
We’ve tested ski and snowboard helmets in a range of conditions from California to the Colorado Rockies and in high alpine environments. We’ve worn helmets through the glades and while ripping steep groomers at the resort. Our helmets have been on during whiteout blizzards, when descending routes in the backcountry, riding snowmobiles at highway speeds, and while doing skimo workouts.
While testing our ski and snowboard helmets, we consider overall fit, comfort, impact protection, warmth, size adjustability, goggle integration, ventilation, ergonomics, and style. We also take into consideration the most innovative, novel, sport-specific, popular, highly rated, and legacy products across a range of price points.
Our list of ski and snowboard helmets represents a range of options for various objectives, climates, conditions, athletes, and budgets.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Ski Helmet
Comfort & Fit
Because ski helmets are often worn all day long, you’ll want yours to feel comfortable and to have a correct fit. Pressure points can cause unnecessary headaches. The best helmets are the ones that fit perfectly so you can focus on enjoying your day on the snow.
Overall comfort is the result of many different components working together, including padding, weight, shape, earpieces, and adjustment system as well as overall fit and the correct size.
Every skier and rider has a different head shape, so we always recommend trying helmets on before purchase to ensure fit and comfort. On this list, the Wildhorn Highline and the Sweet Protection Switcher are noteworthy for their exceptional comfort.
Protection & Safety
Above all else, your helmet should provide reliable protection. Quality ski helmets are made with durable impact-absorbing foam, durable shells, rear and lateral protection, and rotational impact systems. All of the helmets on this list offer top-tier protection and should help you feel confident and prepared on the mountain.
If you’re looking for a multisport helmet, be sure the design has been certified by a governing body in the United States or Europe for the sport. For instance, the Bern Watts 2.0 is capable of protecting your head during a fall while skiing or snowboarding as well as skateboarding, cycling, or roller skating.
On our list, nearly all of the helmets we’ve included come with rotational impact systems. These lightweight components are designed to reduce the rotational forces on the head and brain and help prevent brain injury.
Most of the listed models use MIPS, which stands for multidirectional impact system. MIPS uses a slip plate to allow the helmet to rotate independently of the head during impact.
Other technologies are available in addition to the shell and included in some ski and snowboard helmets for extra protection.
One technology is Koroyd, which features welded tubes that crumple upon impact to absorb force and energy transfer. The technology is extremely lightweight and allows airflow, too. Among our top products here, the Smith Vantage has Koroyd.
Another option is Scott’s D3O shock-absorbing technology, which is a spongy material that specifically protects against low-energy impacts and is featured in the Scott Symbol 2 Plus.
Furthermore, Pret’s Corona X and Cirque X have antimicrobial EPS foam to prevent bacterial growth. The helmet shells are also reinforced with polycarbonate plates in areas where skull impact would be critical, effectively doubling the thickness where needed and upping the protection.
Scott also offers a technology called 360-degree Pure Sound earpieces, which are designed to improve sound clarity and the wearer’s ability to hear, which in turn may help to prevent collisions and other incidents. The Pure Sound is included in the Scott Symbol 2 Plus.
Value & Price
In our guide, the top ski and snowboard helmets range in price from $80 to $300.
Generally, higher-end ski helmets that offer elite protection or customizable features cost more than lower-quality options. Sought-after features including earbud compatibility, MIPS, and adjustable ventilation will come with a higher price tag than minimalist models.
Still, there are some excellent budget options that don’t require you to compromise safety or protection. On this list, we’ve selected the Giro Ratio MIPS as our pick for the ski helmet offering the best value.
The Bern Watts 2.0 is likewise on the lower end of the price spectrum but doesn’t provide as much warmth as other helmets with no closable vents.
Ventilation & Temperature Regulation
As skiers and riders know, conditions in the mountains vary wildly from freezing and frigid to sweaty and sweltering. Because you want a helmet that’s comfortable in all conditions, it’s important to seek a model with good temperature control options.
Helmets with the best temperature control capability come with adjustable vents. On warm days, open vents provide cooling airflow. On cold days, closed vents seal in body heat and protect the head from wind chill.
Good ventilation is the key to effective temperature regulation. These days, well-designed ski helmets have ventilation systems that effectively channel air through the helmet as you ski or ride.
One of the first ventilation features to consider is the overall number of vents and where they are placed on your helmet. Typically, more vents equal a pricier helmet. But if you ski often, that tradeoff can be worth it.
We also highly recommend adjustable vents, which can be opened or closed in an instant without removing the helmet or your gloves. On this list, our favorite ventilation systems are found on the Scott Symbol 2 Plus and the Sweet Protection Switcher.
Additionally, a plush pair of removable ear flaps are essential to a good modular helmet that can be customized as the weather changes. When it’s cold, ear flaps should hug the head and prevent cold air from making contact with the vulnerable ears. When it’s warm, we recommend removing the earflaps to increase airflow and prevent overheating.
Furthermore, having a helmet with fit adjustability will allow you to add layers beneath your helmet if more warmth and protection from the elements is needed like a headband or balaclava.
Many helmets on this list come with a built-in adjustable harness that can customize the fit on the fly. Adjustment systems do add a bit of weight and aren’t found in minimalist helmets like the Smith Maze.
However, we recommend seeking out a good adjustment system, especially if you plan to use your helmet both with and without a beanie, headband, or balaclava underneath. Wearing a hat under a helmet can affect the fit and integrity of a helmet, so be wary of thicker fabrics. A thin skull cap or headband is usually fine, as long as the helmet still encases from the bottom of your skull bones up to the top of your forehead.
Most modern adjustment systems use a real dial you can easily access while wearing gloves. On this list, we particularly like the adjustment dial system on the Sweet Protection Switcher.
Some helmets are smartly designed to work in seamless tandem with goggles. While certain helmet manufacturers like Smith tend to work best with their own in-house goggles, other helmets manage to work with a wide variety of goggle brands and styles. For a full rundown on choosing goggles to go with your helmet, see our Ski Goggles Buyer’s Guide.
While skiing or riding, it’s nice to have minimal gaps between your helmet and goggles. Also, it’s important to ensure that the goggle attachment point of the rear of the helmet is compatible with the width of your goggle strap.
Goggle attachments are often a simple durable clip, which is generally easy to operate with gloves on and some are wider and longer than others. Or the goggle-secure strap is secured by a snap.
Though skiing helmets vary by weight, the styles featured on our list are all within a few ounces of each other. Extra ounces can be noticeable when wearing a helmet all day, and we recommend seeking out a lightweight helmet.
Some helmets, like the Scott Symbol 2 Plus, manage to include lots of luxury features without racking up too much total weight. Usually, though, the lighter helmets are the minimalist options that sacrifice features in favor of simplicity.
There are three types of helmet constructions: ABS, in-mold and hybrid in-mold.
ABS is a type of plastic material that’s most commonly used for a variety of helmets, including ski, bicycle, skateboard and safety helmets. It’s known for its strength, toughness and impact resistance. This construction looks like a hard plastic shell with a foam liner on the inside. ABS helmets can feel bulkier and less breathable than in-mold or hybrid options, but are a great budget-friendly option — especially for beginners. One of our favorites, the Giro Ratio MIPS Helmet, is an example of ABS.
In-mold and hybrid-in mold helmets mold together a shin shell with an EPS foam liner. Integrating the two layers shaves ounces. The Smith Maze MIPS is an example of an in-mold helmet.
But In-mold helmets don’t earn the best marks for durability. Enter, the hybrid! Hybrids add a hard shell layer on top for more durability and aesthetic resistance to scrapes and dings. Hybrid designs are often the most expensive of the pack. Some of our top picks, like the Smith Vantage, utilizes this type of construction.
Helmets often have stickers with safety certification letters and numbers on them. What do they mean?
ASTM F2040: The most common certification for snow helmets. This is a U.S. standard that covers non-motorized snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. All helmets sold in stores like REI have this certification.
CE EN1077: A European standard for skiing and snowboarding. Some helmets meet both American and U.S. standards, while some meet one but not the other.
EN 12492: A climbing certification. This means a helmet offers more protection from objects falling from above, namely, rocks, as well as the usual side/front/rear protection of a ski or snowboard helmet. Backcountry skiers and mountaineers might want this certification for additional safety.
If you love rocking out on the mountain, plan to spend a bit extra on helmet-compatible headphones or audio-compatible ear pads that are integrated into the helmet. Many helmets are also designed with ear pad pockets that work with headphones, specifically, Outdoor Tech’s Chip System.
The most advanced audio systems are ones that are integrated into the helmet and Bluetooth-compatible, so they can link to music, make phone calls, and even offer an intercom system to communicate with others wearing one, too.
Other helmets have an integrated speaker in the ear pads, and the wearer simply plugs in an auxiliary cord to listen to music on their phone.
Many skiers also use their regular earbuds. Whatever you choose, just remember to keep the volume low, keep only one earbud in, or consider a pair of bone conduction headphones. Especially when skiing in-bounds, it’s important to maintain situational awareness so you can stay safe.
Many helmets now offer a magnetic clip closure on the chin strap while other ski helmets have a traditional buckle.
The length of the straps is typically adjustable though are easier to lengthen or shorten before you head out for the day than on-the-fly or with gloves on. If the temps drop and you plan on using an extra bulky neck warmer, be sure to readjust your chin strap ahead of time.
On top of the above safety and comfort factors, there are a variety of extra features worth considering. These include things like the ability to mount an action camera.
You can mount an action camera on almost any helmet, thanks to the camera’s sticky mounting system. Some helmets go a step further and actually include a built-in mount. If this is important to you, it’s worth considering this feature.
Another nice feature to have is a goggle retainer clip: A stretchy band on the back of many helmets that holds goggles in place with a snap or hook. It’s a useful component if you find yourself taking on and off your goggles, especially while riding a ski lift.
Some helmets have a bit of a brim, which is stylish and also helps to divert snow and rain (more than sunshine) away from our goggles and face.
If you would like to use a hood over your helmet from time to time, choose a ski or snowboard jacket with a helmet-compatible hood so they fit together and you still have the ability to turn your head with both your helmet and hood on.
Helmet use has become almost universal in the skiing and riding world. On an average day at the ski resort, the vast majority of people wear helmets. In the backcountry, helmet use is standard practice.
We fully recommend wearing a helmet for every kind of skiing and riding. Impacts and collisions cannot be planned for, and helmets offer significant protection that can help you prevent brain injuries and potentially save your life.
All of the helmets on this list are high-quality, and we recommend each of them with confidence. Ultimately, the best helmet is the one that fits your head and your needs. When it comes time to decide, try on various options and learn as much as possible about their feature sets.
Most of the highly rated ski helmets on the market in 2023 are built with a rotation force mitigation system. To date, MIPS is the most common and well-known, and not many competing technologies exist.
Smith integrates Koroyd impact protection in many ski and snowboard helmets and even couples the technology with MIPS in certain models. Scott integrates a shock-absorbing material called D3O, which is likewise added alongside MIPS. Bontrager features WaveCel in bike helmets but does not produce snow sports helmets.
Formerly, POC designed its own solution, known as SPIN, which the brand began to phase out and replace with MIPS in 2019. We recommend purchasing a helmet with MIPS or a comparable system.
Ski helmets should be plenty warm to keep your head and ears comfortable in high-elevation alpine conditions. If you run cold, we recommend seeking out a helmet known for its warmth, like the Sweet Protection Switcher. You can also layer a thin beanie underneath a well-fitting helmet to add extra oomph if your noggin just won’t warm up.
Also, an adjustable ventilation system will allow you to close your vents to keep precious heat in, like in the Wildhorn Highline.
Ski helmets are designed to withstand more than one minor hit. But if you find yourself in a serious crash, or if your helmet shows visible signs of damage, replace it immediately. A cracked helmet, or a helmet missing any padding or parts, shouldn’t be worn.
No crashes or impacts? Don’t hold on to that helmet forever. A general rule of thumb is to replace helmets after about five years if you’re skiing or snowboarding consistently. Interior padding can break down with time, and wear and tear from sweat and hair products can also break down a helmet’s liner.
Finding a ski helmet that fits is a bit like Goldilocks: not too tight, not too loose, but just right.
A ski helmet should fit snugly, with no spaces between the foam or padding and your head. If a helmet can rock back and forth, or moves around when you shake your head from side to side, it’s too big. Try a size down, or if the helmet has an adjustment mechanism, try tightening it. If a helmet causes headaches, it’s too tight. Go a size up, or, loosen it up.
Following a brand’s size chart is a good place to start. If this is your first time buying a helmet, or you don’t already know your size for a particular brand, we recommend trying on helmets in person to get a feel for what you like. Or at least, check an online retailer’s return policy.