Our mountain-loving team has found the best ski helmets of 2021 to fit every budget and style.
From the bunny slope to the backcountry, a helmet is an essential part of every skier’s kit. In 2021, helmet use on the slopes has become nearly universal and for good reason. Modern ski helmets are lighter, safer, and more comfortable than ever before.
As always, the best helmet is the one on your head. With that said, not all ski helmets are created equal, and it’s worthwhile to invest some time and find the perfect model for you.
There is no substitute for a warm and comfortable helmet. The confidence that comes with feeling well-protected can add significant joy to your time on skis.
Over many years of skiing and gear testing, our team has scoured the market to identify a shortlist of the best helmets in the game. At the end of our list, be sure to check out the comprehensive buyer’s guide to learn about helmet materials, sizing, features, and much more.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Overall
- Best Features
- Best Ventilation
- Best Value
- Best Minimalist Helmet
- Most Stylish
- Best Kids’ Ski Helmet
- Best of the Rest
The Best Ski Helmets of 2021
Best Overall: Pret Cirque X MIPS
Pret is a helmet specialist based in Park City, Utah. The Cirque X ($249) is among the company’s most advanced models, and it features the whole gamut of modern helmet technology and features in a lightweight and low-profile package.
An adjustable ventilation system keeps the Cirque warm and comfortable in just about any conditions. When it’s extremely cold and you need a little extra protection, the Cirque can open up to easily accommodate a balaclava or thin beanie. On warmer days, quickly remove the earflaps and store them in a jacket pocket or backpack.
While the Cirque X is generally a nice-looking piece of protection, we especially like its functional and aesthetic compatibility with just about any pair of goggles. Cutaways above the ear flaps and a shallow brim across the front are designed to neatly and comfortably frame your goggles. The shape of the Cirque X successfully minimizes awkward gaps and goggle slippage.
Other features of the Cirque include MIPS, earbud pockets in the earflaps, an easy-to-use magnetic buckle, and an antimicrobial fabric liner.
- Weight: 1 lb. 0.5 oz.
- 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
Best Features: Scott Symbol 2 Plus D
The Symbol 2 Plus D ($219) is truly a top-of-the-line helmet, and Scott considers it to be one of the most exciting products they’ve ever created.
Three key components of safety technology define the Symbol 2 Plus D — MIPS, D3O shock-absorbing material, and Scott’s 360-degree Pure Sound earpieces. Each of these features offers a specific safety improvement over other helmets on the market.
MIPS protects against torsional impacts commonly associated with brain injuries in skiers. D3O is a spongy material that specifically protects against low-energy impacts.
Finally, the Pure Sound inserts are designed to improve the wearer’s ability to hear, which in turn may help to prevent collisions and other incidents. When combined together, these well-engineered features add up to elite head protection.
Though the Symbol 2 Plus D runs a bit small, it’s very comfortable when sized correctly. The ear pads are gentle against the skin and free of hot spots. We also appreciate the wide and flat fleece-lined chin strap that feels soft yet secure.
There are many other characteristics of the Symbol 2 Plus D to love, including an innovative adjustable ventilation system and a plush padded liner. For those looking for pure quality and maximum protection on the snow, this helmet is your answer.
- Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz. (Small)
- Top-notch safety technology
- Comfortable padding
- Ventilation system works well across a broad temperature range
- Sizing runs slightly small
Best Ventilation: Sweet Protection Switcher
Whether you’re riding within resort boundaries or out in the backcountry, the Sweet Protection Switcher ($269) offers reliable comfort and protection. The standout feature of this helmet is its extremely effective ventilation system, which allows for precise temperature control in all sorts of conditions.
Additionally, the switcher comes well equipped with standard high-end features including MIPS, earbud compatibility, and a powerful magnetic chinstrap buckle.
When the vents are fully closed, the Switcher retains heat as well or better than any skiing helmet on the market. On super-cold days, most people feel this helmet provides all the insulation they need, though the adjustment system does offer space for a thin beanie if need be.
On a balmy spring day, 26 thoughtfully placed and adjustable vents maintain noticeable cooling airflow. In addition, two manual sliding vents near the front provide even more customization.
Though the Switcher is a little heavier and a little pricier than some similar helmet styles on the market, we’re confident it’s still a great value due to its superior build and best-in-class ventilation control. As a bonus, it comes in a wide variety of colors and looks great while in use.
- Weight: 1 lb. 4.1 oz. (Small/Medium)
- Adjustable ventilation system
- Slightly heavier and more expensive than some similar options
Best Value: Giro Ratio MIPS Helmet
Though significantly cheaper than many of the helmets on this list, the Giro Ratio MIPS helmet ($100) comes with much of the same top-shelf technology. With plentiful vents, MIPS, and a smooth dial adjustment system, the Ratio strikes an excellent balance between price and features.
The Ratio is an injection-molded helmet that fits a wide variety of head shapes. Users report all-day comfort and minimal hot spots.
The soft ear pads are mostly issue-free, but they do tend to let some chilly breeze in when traveling at higher speeds. Giro’s In Form System offers plenty of adjustment and is easy to access while wearing gloves or mittens.
While the Ratio isn’t the warmest helmet on the market, it does include a nice synthetic lining that feels pleasantly toasty in most conditions — especially when the vents are closed. On warm days, the large vents maintain comfortable airflow and prevent overheating with ease.
The Ratio is a perfect name for this helmet — it offers one of the greatest ratios of features-to-price of any ski helmet on the market. While it’s not the lightest, flashiest, or most impressively engineered, this is a quality helmet at a fair price point.
- Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz. (Small)
- Good value
- Effective ventilation system
- Earflaps let cold air in at high speeds
Best Minimalist Helmet: Smith Maze MIPS
The Maze ($150) has been a staple in Smith’s helmet lineup for many seasons and rightfully so. Unlike feature-packed helmets like Scott’s Symbol 2 Plus D, the Maze is all about pure style and simplicity. Because it’s minimalist and lightweight, the Maze caters specifically to ski mountaineers and backcountry enthusiasts.
Though this helmet is simple, it’s constructed from high-quality materials and has the look and feel of a first-rate helmet. The inclusion of MIPS represents Smith’s commitment to top-end protection, even in their lightest and most basic models like the Maze.
A total lack of an adjustment system is responsible for this helmet’s impressively low weight. While we do love the feel of a lightweight helmet while zipping down the mountain, the inability to adjust does decrease versatility.
Before purchasing this helmet, try it on and/or measure your head to ensure proper fit. While some wearers report a thin buff can still fit under the helmet on cold days, the fixed-size Maze may not fit properly with a beanie.
Another byproduct of this helmet’s simple design is reduced temperature control. With fixed-open vents, the Maze may not provide adequate insulation on the coldest of days.
However, 90% of the time, the Maze is perfectly capable and comfortable. Also, its removable earpieces are handy in warm spring conditions.
- Weight: 15.1 oz.
- High-quality construction
- Fairly priced
- Lacks adjustment system
- Fixed open-air vents
Most Stylish: Bern Rollins E2 MIPS
The visor brim and rounded dome of Bern helmets are iconic in the skiing world. With the Rollins E2 ($99 on sale), Bern proved yet again it’s a leader when it comes to the intersection of protection, function, and style.
On the lighter side of the ski helmet spectrum, the Rollins E2 weighs in at an even 1 pound. By adding MIPS to the newest iteration of the Rollins, Bern has significantly improved its quality of protection. Other noteworthy features included in the helmet are a crank fit adjustable fitting dial, hidden adjustable vents, and a layer of impact-certified Zipmold foam.
Some users report the Rollins E2 feels drafty when traveling at high speeds in cold conditions. Otherwise, this helmet is free of flaws and ready to protect your noggin for many seasons to come.
- Weight: 1 lb.
- Modern materials and protection technology
- Not the warmest earflaps
Best Kids’ Ski Helmet: Giro Crue
The Crue helmet ($53 on sale) from Giro packs the very same protection technology found in elite adult helmets into a kid-size model. With a durable adjustment dial, MIPS, and classic skate style, the Crue is fully capable of park laps and backcountry missions.
Giro’s Super Cool vents are on par with the best ventilation systems on the helmet market. We like that this helmet has an extra-large vent that aligns perfectly with the central vent of a pair of goggles to reduce fogging and increase visibility.
With up to 6 cm of adjustability, the Crue can easily open up to accommodate a beanie or buff on cold days. For the young shredder, this helmet is the perfect blend of protection and style.
- Weight: 18 oz. (Medium)
- MIPS is hard to find in youth helmets
- Good ventilation
- Works best with Giro goggles
Best of the Rest
The POC Obex SPIN ($200) is a comfortable and stylish option that draws inspiration from minimalist skateboard-style helmets. Instead of collaborating with MIPS to protect against rotation forces caused by impacts, POC has developed its own similar system called SPIN.
SPIN uses strategically placed pads along the inner liner to allow the entire helmet to move independently of the head upon impact and absorb rotational forces.
The mark of a comfortable helmet is you often forget you’re wearing it. With the Obex SPIN, POC has achieved the absent and lightweight feel all skiers and riders are after.
Though some users reported a few minor negative spaces and air pockets, the Obex SPIN is generally known for its flawless fit. A built-in adjustment dial provides a wide range of fit options per size and helps to accommodate a buff or beanie underneath.
We especially liked the design and shape of the Obex SPIN ear pads. Rather than pressing against the ears, this helmet comfortably cups the ears, resulting in maximum comfort and minimal wind noise while skiing or riding.
Though the Obex SPIN isn’t the warmest, it handles most conditions with ease thanks to three adjustable vents and removable ear pads. Regarding sizing, it’s important to note that POC’s sizes are not exactly consistent with the rest of the ski helmet market. For example, a large POC will fit more like a medium in other brands.
- Weight: 19 oz.
- Very comfortable
- Nice looking
- Highly adjustable fit
- Difficult to access the adjustment dial while wearing
How to Choose a Ski Helmet: Buyer’s Guide
Because ski helmets are often worn all day long, you’ll want yours to feel comfortable. 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, ear pieces, and adjustment system.
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 POC Obex SPIN and the Sweet Protection Switcher are noteworthy for their exceptional comfort.
Above all else, your helmet should provide reliable protection. In 2021, good-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.
On this list, all of the helmets we’ve included come with rotational impact systems. These lightweight components are designed to reduce the rotation forces on the head and brain and help prevent brain injury.
Most of the listed models use MIPS, which stands for multi-directional impact system. MIPS uses a slip plate to allow the helmet to rotate independently of the head during impact.
The POC Obex SPIN uses POC’s own rotational impact system, which features strategically placed SPIN pads designed to mitigate brain injuries.
Generally, higher-end ski helmets that offer elite protection 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 in 2021.
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.
Additionally, a plush pair of removable ear flaps is 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 earflaps to increase airflow and prevent overheating.
Many helmets on this list come with a built-in adjustable harness that can customize 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 or buff underneath.
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.
Good ventilation is the key to effective temperature regulation. In 2021, well-designed ski helmets have ventilation systems that effectively channel air through the helmet as you ski or ride.
Adjustable vents 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 D and 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.
While skiing or riding, it’s nice to have minimal gaps between your helmet and goggles. Also, it’s important to ensure the goggle attachment point of the rear of the helmet is compatible with the width of your goggle strap.
Though skiing helmets vary by weight, the styles featured on our list are all within a few ounces of each other. When wearing a helmet all day, extra ounces can be noticeable, and we generally recommend seeking out a lightweight helmet.
Some helmets, like the Scott Symbol 2 Plus D, 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. On this list, the Smith Maze is a great minimalist helmet that weighs in at just 15.1 ounces.
Do I Need a Ski Helmet?
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.
What Is the Best Ski Helmet?
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.
Do I Need a Helmet With MIPS?
Most of the highly rated ski helmets on the market in 2021 are built with a rotation force mitigation system. While MIPS is the most common and well-known, there are other options.
POC has designed its own solution, which is known as SPIN and can be found in the Obex. We recommend purchasing a helmet with MIPS, SPIN, or another comparable system.
Are Ski Helmets Warm?
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. Also, an adjustable ventilation system will allow you to close your vents when need be to keep precious heat in.