No matter your ability level, picking up a ski helmet for skiing or snowboarding is a no-brainer. If you’ve been putting off replacing a helmet that’s years old or are new to the sport, recent advancements have made them lighter and even safer, so now is a great time to take the plunge. The high-end models on the list offer advanced fit customization and venting, but those who only get up to the mountains a few times a year will be fine with a cheaper option. From the featured-packed and teched-out, to the basic yet effective, below are the top ski helmets for the 2016-2017 season. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.  To complete your ski kit, we've also written about the best ski goggles and ski gloves.

1. Smith Vantage MIPS ($270)

Smith Vantage MIPS ski helmetConstruction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 17.5 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (21 vents)
What we like: The Vantage puts it all together: comfort, performance, safety, and looks.
What we don’t: Very pricey.
Women’s: Smith Vantage MIPS

We’ve tested a lot of ski helmets, and none is more impressive than the Smith Vantage. The quality and attention to detail are clear, with a soft but supportive liner, excellent coverage all around your head, and an easy to adjust BOA dial for fit. You simply put on the helmet and forget that it’s there—the Vantage feels that comfortable and light. You also get superior ventilation with a total of 21 vents (8 more than the second place Giro Range below) controlled by two separate sliders for easy customization. All in all, you won’t find a helmet that is so comfortable and universally capable of frontside and backcountry use.

The Vantage also comes with all the safety bells and whistles in the Smith arsenal. Their distinctive honeycomb Aerocore construction is visible through the vent openings and intended to improve energy absorption in a crash. And the popular MIPS liner, designed to protect your brain in an angled impact, is optional. These safety features are tough to quantify, but it’s worth noting that the extra tech is integrated very well into the low-profile design. Whether the whole package is worth the steep $270 price tag is up to you. Editor’s note: If you opt for MIPS, we’ve found it does run a bit smaller than the regular helmet, so those on the high end of the fit range may have to size up.
See the Smith Vantage MIPS


2. Giro Range MIPS ($250)

Giro Range MIPS ski helmetConstruction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 19 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (13 vents)
What we like: Fantastic fit system, premium build.
What we don’t: Thin ear pads don’t work well with audio systems.
Women’s: Giro Stellar MIPS

Giro is one of the few brands truly innovating their fit systems, and their Range MIPS offers a best-in-class low profile design thanks to an adjustable two-piece shell. By turning the glove-friendly dial with your thumb, the semi-flexible shell either expands or closes around your head. For most head shapes it gives an absolutely fantastic fit (the only exception are round heads that may fit the Vantage better). And we’ve found the low profile brim fits most goggles really well—even hard-to-fit large frames like the Dragon X2.

For the price, we would prefer more substantial and supportive ear padding (although as long as you don’t want to use the audio drop-ins, they’ve given us all-day warmth and comfort). The rest of the design is excellent: the strap under the chin is magnetic and easy to open and close with gloves on—a nice step up from the standard buckle from Smith—and the Range gets you premium features like a soft-touch interior and MIPS liner. Ventilation does fall short of the Vantage, but the 13 large vents are easily adjustable and have worked well on our sidecountry explorations.
See the Giro Range MIPS


3. Smith Variance ($180)

Smith Variance ski helmetConstruction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 18.5 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (18 vents)
What we like: A premium snow helmet for under $200.
What we don’t: Venting can’t match the Vantage.
Women’s: Smith Valence

It’s hard to argue against the Smith Variance, which offers a number of premium features while still coming in at a palatable price. Like the Smith Vantage above, the Variance has a high-end hybrid build that combines ABS plastic and in-mold construction. This style of manufacturing is expensive, but the upside is that it keeps weight in check while not compromising on toughness. The interior of the Variance is nicely padded and we think a near match in overall comfort and quality to the more expensive Vantage.

What are the downsides of the Variance? Compared to the Vantage, it has inferior ventilation with fewer and smaller openings, lacks the Aerocore honeycomb inserts, and feels a little heavier on your head. Both helmets have the BOA system for dialing in fit and plush cushioning, which allows for a snug fit without any pinch points. It’s a really close call if you’re deciding between the two. We really like the Variance, which is just about perfect as a resort helmet, but give the leg up to the Vantage for active/backcountry skiers.  
See the Smith Variance


4. Bern Watts EPS Snow ($100)

Bern Watts EPS ski helmetConstruction: ABS
Weight: 20 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (11 vents)
What we like: Very comfortable, good looks.
What we don’t: Non-adjustable vents, angled bill gets in the way of large goggles.
Women's: Bern Lenox EPS Snow

Ski helmets is a category in which we’re willing to spend a little extra. A nice helmet just works and you don’t think about it, whereas a bad one can ruin a ski day. Therefore it’s notable that the Bern Watts ranks so highly on our list with a price that’s about one-third of our top pick. The reason? It’s flat out comfortable. Slide it on your head and twist the BOA adjuster, and you’re in for all-day comfort. A second major benefit is its 2-in-1 compatibility: in the offseason you can pick up a summer liner for biking and use it for that activity (it’s certified for both). We often see this helmet around Seattle and the dual-use aspect certainly is a reason why.

At this price there will be compromises, and the big ones for the Watts are ventilation and goggle integration. To start, the ABS construction means there aren’t as many vents as options above and below, and what vents it does have are non-adjustable. It’s also a little tricky to find a pair of goggles that can squeeze under the visor, although we found medium-fit goggles like the Smith I/O work well. If you go too large with your goggles, however, it can result in a poor fit. But these shortcomings shouldn’t overshadow what is a great overall value in a ski helmet.
See the Bern Watts EPS Snow


5. POC Receptor BUG Adjustable 2.0 ($155)

POC Receptor BUG 2.0 Adjustable 2.0 ski helmetConstruction: Hybrid double shell
Weight: 19.4 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (8 vents)
What we like: Tough, impact resistant construction.
What we don’t: Thin padding.

Impact resistance is the name of the game with the POC Receptor Bug, which offers unmatched durability with its double-shell system. It’s a great solution for those that push the limits—the outer ABS layer covers the entire helmet as opposed to the partial coverage of helmets like the Smith Vantage and Variance—and comes with only a minor weight penalty. Padding does fall short of the class-leading Smith options, but it’s a trade-off in keeping weight in check.

Most hard-shelled ABS helmets are not good breathers, but the Receptor is a notable exception with large adjustable vents along the top of the head that do a nice job of directing air through both shells. The Receptor Bug also is made in a very popular non-adjustable model for $20 less (make sure to get the fit exactly right because you won’t have the ability to make those all-important micro adjustments). And for those looking for a splash of excitement, both versions of the Receptor Bug are available in a wide range of colorways, from conservative blue or white to flashy yellow or red.
See the POC Receptor BUG Adjustable 2.0


6. Smith Holt ($70)

Smith Holt ski helmetConstruction: ABS
Weight: 20 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (10 vents)
What we like: Our favorite helmet under $100.
What we don’t: The liner feels cheap compared to pricier helmets on this list.

Top to bottom in their helmet lineup, Smith just gets it. At $70, their true budget offering is the Holt helmet, and we’ll go as far to say it’s our favorite ski helmet under $100 (the Bern Watts above technically is $99.99 but you get the point). It’s an exercise in smart design, and one of the biggest accomplishments is avoiding the dreaded mushroom look associated with cheap helmets. While not as low profile or techy looking as the premium Vantage or Variance, it’s a significant improvement over the rest of the field in its price range.

Another one of our favorite touches is the adjustment system. You don’t get a dial adjuster, but an elasticized band at the back of the helmet stretched to accommodate my head surprisingly well. It’s not as good of a fit as what you get with a BOA system, but it’s not as far off as you might expect. Warmth and comfort also are competitive, although the foam, while thick and warm, feels cheaper and won’t last as long. As we’ve said above, it’s often worth it to spend extra on a ski helmets, but for casual skiers the Holt stands out as an exception to that rule.
See the Smith Holt


7. Salomon MTN Lab ($200)

Salomon Mtn Lab ski helmetConstruction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (12 vents)
What we like: Ridiculously light, dual ski/mountaineering use.
What we don’t: Best only for specific backcountry uses.

Most downhill-oriented helmets weigh 15 to 20 ounces, but for serious backcountry skiing or ski mountaineering, that’s too much to carry around. Enter the Salomon MTN Lab, which is listed at a feathery 10.6 ounces yet still provides full coverage around the sides and back of the head. Notably, it’s also the only helmet on our list that’s rated for mountaineering use. For this type of extreme uphill travel, ventilation is a must, and the large vents distributed throughout the helmet keep things reasonably cool while protecting you from potential rock fall.

The downsides of such a lightweight helmet are durability and warmth. There is minimal padding along the interior and the thin shell can be dented relatively easily. If you’re working hard, the padding still will do the trick and does a nice job wicking moisture, but it’s a far cry from the other resort skiing oriented helmets on this list. The upside is a fantastically lightweight helmet that has the safety ratings to back up its intentions. For the right person, it’s just about perfect.
See the Salomon MTN Lab


8. Giro Union MIPS ($150)

Giro Union MIPS ski helmetConstruction: In-mold
Ventilation: Adjustable (11 vents)
What we like: Comfortable, light, and well made.
What we don’t: Small vents.
Women’s: Giro Fade MIPS

For the 2016-2017 season, Giro launched two new helmets: the $150 Union MIPS and $200 Zone MIPS. In many ways, they are follow-ups to the excellent Giro Range above but without the shell adjustment system. Both the Zone and Union work well for resort and backcountry use with tunable ventilation, a well-cushioned interior, and an unobtrusive fit system that adjusts vertically as well as around your head.

The primary difference is that the Zone MIPS has a hybrid construction, which adds a hardshell upper for durability, while the Union is a pure in-mold design. The Zone also uses the handy magnetic clip that we love on the Range compared with the standard buckle on the Union. Both new helmets are a nice addition to the Giro fleet, but we give the edge to the Union as the better all-around option (and value) for the resort skier. At $200, we prefer the Smith Variance over the Zone, but the Union stands out from the field at $150. Keep in mind that as with the Smith Vantage MIPS above, we’ve found these helmets to run a little smaller than their listed size range.
See the Giro Union MIPS


9. POC Auric Cut ($180)

POC Auric Cut ski helmetConstruction: ABS
Weight: 20 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (10 vents)
What we like: Clean design, tough build.
What we don’t: Not as comfortable, not a great value.

Sweden-based POC has built a reputation around toughness and safety, and their all-new POC Auric Cut helmet takes those innovations to the park and free skiing crowd. Those that frequently hit big lines, jumps, or features on the hill have this habit of falling, which is why a burly helmet like the Auric Cut is a good match. Its thick ABS outer shell certainly feels the part, but the main story is on the underside of the plastic. The Auric has an EPP foam liner, which is differentiated from the standard EPS foam found in most helmets by its multiple impact rating and greater durability. While EPS is lighter, it will often crack after one hard crash, warranting a replacement.

As with the Salomon MTN Lab above, the Auric Cut is more limited for standard all-mountain use. We find the minimalist interior to be less comfortable than the heavily padded options from Smith and others—you can feel the strap of the fit system tighten around your head—and it does feel pretty heavy. On a positive note, ventilation is adjustable including the two openings above the brim, and you can dump a lot of heat through the large vents.
See the POC Auric Cut


10. Smith Aspect ($100)

Smith Aspect ski helmetConstruction: In-mold
Weight: 14 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (14 vents)
What we like: Lightweight and has adjustable ventilation.
What we don’t: Stiff twist dial, less durable construction.
Women’s: Smith Arrival

The Smith Aspect checks off everything you expect from a $100 helmet: a reasonably soft interior, adjustable fit liner, and integrated goggle clip. Where it earns its spot on this list are the extras at this price. A slider along the top of the helmet controls 10 vents, which makes it very adaptable to exertion levels and the weather. And weight is downright impressive. Its in-mold construction may not have the same level of aesthetic durable as an ABS shell, but ours weighed 13.7 ounces on our scale (medium size), second only to the Salomon MTN Lab on our list.

Compared with our other $100 pick, the Bern Watts, the Aspect gets the clear edge in weight and has adjustable ventilation, but its liner, while soft, is lower quality. And the difference in the fit adjuster is also noticeable, with the Bern’s BOA system turning much easier than the stiff dial on the Aspect, which required removing our glove to use. Weight and adjustable ventilation are important characteristics, however, and the Aspect remains an excellent mid-range choice.
See the Smith Aspect


11. K2 Diversion ($160)

K2 Diversion ski helmetConstruction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 15.2 oz. 
Ventilation: Adjustable
What we like: Low-profile fit and comfy padding. 
What we don’t: The included audio system. 
Women’s: K2 Virtue

With a lightweight feel and plush padding, the K2 Diversion is our favorite helmet from the venerable ski brand. In addition to a cozy full-wrap liner, the hybrid construction offers a nice balance of practicality with in-mold on the sides and hard-shell on the top. And we love all the vents at the front and top of the helmet, and adjusting the system with gloves on is a breeze. Value is where this helmet suffers, dropping it to the middle of the pack. Part of the extra cost is the inclusion of a questionable audio system that doesn’t provide the highest quality sound and has an attached cable that is difficult to control. You can remove the system, but for $160, the price is a little high if you don’t plan to use it. If K2 dropped the audio and price, we would like the Diversion even more.
See the K2 Diversion


12. Pret Helmets Cynic ($100)

Pret Helmets Cynic ski helmetConstruction: In-mold
Weight: 15 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (12 vents)
What we like: Comfortable liner, good adjustments.
What we don’t: Non-adjustable vents.
Women’s: Pret Helmets Lyric

Selecting the right $100 helmet is an exercise in prioritization. If your must-haves are liner comfort, adjustable fit, and sticking out from a sea of Smith and Giro lids, then the Pret Helmets Cynic is a fine choice. Its wool blend liner gives it one of the more comfortable interiors for under $150, and the easy to use fit system is comparable with a BOA design. As with the Smith Aspect above, its in-mold construction is very light, although its ventilation system is non-adjustable. Looks are always subjective, but we like the styling of the Cynic, although some may find the large “Pret” along the side a bit extreme. The rest of the build is pretty standard fare, but if you want to upgrade the safety suit, there is a Cynic X for an additional $40 that includes a MIPS liner and RECCO reflector.
See the Pret Helmets Cynic


13. Anon Raider ($70)

Anon Raider ski helmetConstruction: ABS
Weight: 20 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (11 vents)
What we like: Good price, durable construction.
What we don’t: Looks and feels bulky; no fit adjuster.

The Anon Raider is long-time budget favorite with its durable construction and skate park-ready looks. From a features standpoint, it’s about as basic as it gets. There is no fit system, you can’t open or close the vents, and the liner doesn’t offer any protection from the cold air coming through the openings (we find it best to wear a beanie underneath on cold or windy days). On the plus side, the interior padding has a fleece backer, which is much softer than we expected for the price, and the helmet has a nice, solid feel.

Its $70 price puts it into direct competition with the Smith Holt above, and between the two, we give the clear edge to the Holt. Smith has done a better job making a more livable helmet for the same price: the simple fit system works well and despite weighing about the same, it feels much lighter on your head and looks far less bulky. The Anon, however, is multi-season certified, which makes it a nice deal for a snow and skate helmet.
See the Anon Raider


Ski Helmet Comparison Table

Helmet Price Construction Weight Ventilation MIPS
Smith Vantage MIPS $270 Hybrid in-mold 17.5 oz. Adjustable (21 vents) Yes
Giro Range MIPS $250 Hybrid in-mold 19 oz. Adjustable (13 vents) Yes
Smith Variance $180 Hybrid in-mold 18.5 oz. Adjustable (18 vents) No (available)
Bern Watts EPS $100 ABS 20 oz. Fixed (11 vents) No
POC Receptor BUG 2.0 $155 Hybrid double shell 19.4 oz. Adjustable (8 vents) No
Smith Holt $70 ABS 20 oz. Fixed (10 vents) No
Salomon MTN Lab $200 Hybrid in-mold 10.6 oz. Fixed (12 vents) No
Giro Union MIPS $150 In-mold Unavail. Adjustable (11 vents) Yes
POC Auric Cut $180 ABS 20 oz. Adjustable (10 vents) No
Smith Aspect $100 In-mold 14 oz. Adjustable (14 vents) No
K2 Diversion $160 Hybrid in-mold 15.2 oz. Adjustable No
Pret Helmets Cynic $100 In-mold 15 oz. Fixed (12 vents) No (available)
Anon Raider $70 ABS 20 oz. Fixed (11 vents) No


Ski Helmet Buying Advice


Helmet Construction Types

Construction styles for ski helmets can be broken into three general categories: ABS for the best durability, in-mold for the lightest weight, and hybrid in-mold for a great compromise between the two.
Ski helmet comparison shot

Diving a little deeper, ABS helmets are made in the traditional style with a hard plastic shell and a foam liner glued to the inside. The combination means it’s tough, but at the expense of weight and bulk. Put on an ABS helmet back-to-back with an in-mold or hybrid design and the ABS model will look and feel more cumbersome. Its redeeming quality is price, which can lead to substantial savings over the other construction types. For skiers or snowboarders that are looking for a first helmet or are trying to save some bucks, an ABS-style helmet should do just fine.

In-Mold and Hybrid
In-mold and hybrid in-mold technology is found on many high-end and mid-range helmets. In-mold construction combines a thin shell (often polycarbonate) with an EPS foam liner right from the start, and they’re molded together. What you get is an integrated piece, which cuts weight and lets the helmet work as a single unit to absorb impacts. Ventilation also improves with these models; how much it improves will vary by model and price.

Durability is the primary downside to an in-mold helmet, particularly protection against cosmetic damage like dings and dents, which is why hybrid helmets have grown in popularity. Hybrid in-mold designs add a hardshell layer for improved aesthetic durability. We find hybrid designs to be the best of both worlds, but their price, which is often $175 or more, puts them out of reach for many occasional skiers.

Ventilation: Adjustable or Fixed

We place a high priority on ventilation. Throughout the course of an average ski day, we open and close our vents on multiple occasions as we hunker down on a windy lift ride or heat up on a backcountry hike. The technology behind keeping you at a comfortable temperature isn’t as simple as putting a bunch of holes in the helmet—that winter air is rather cold and can lead to dreaded brain freeze when you are trying to let out some steam.Ski helmet ventilation comparison

First, look at the number of total vents of the helmet (we’ve provided this information in the specs for each helmet and in the comparison table above). Not all vents are created equal, but this number gives you a good starting point as to how much ventilation the helmet offers. To be sure, there is a correlation between the number of vents and cost of the helmet. One of the best ventilators, the high-end Smith Vantage, has an impressive 21 vents, while a budget model like the Anon Raider only has 11 small fixed openings.

Then you have both adjustability and design considerations. Many premium and mid-range helmets have adjustable vents that can be opened and closed depending on the preferred amount of air that you want to let through. Adjustability is highly preferred over static vents. And effective designs direct air through intakes at the front and “exhaust” the heat out the top and back. Budget helmets often have fixed openings that cannot be shut, although a well-designed passive system like the one on the Bern Watts EPS can still do a decent good job regulating your body heat. For long uphill slogs, you may need to ditch the helmet altogether, although we always recommend dealing with the heat if there is a chance for rock fall.

Liners: Comfort and Warmth

All of this fancy safety and ventilation technology takes a back seat if the helmet itself was uncomfortable, hence the importance of a quality liner. The difference in next-to-skin comfort between a high-end and budget helmet is apparent immediately but becomes even more noticeable throughout a long day on the mountain.

The padding on premium designs like the Smith Vantage and Variance not only feels nice but also is supportive. The squishy soft liners on every helmet we’ve tested under $100 may seem nice at first, but aren’t all that comfortable as the hours wear on. Furthermore, many cheap helmets do not disguise the plastic fit system that wraps around your head. That will leave you one of two options: an uncomfortable fit that leaves an indent in your forehead, or wearing it too loose, which partially defeats the purpose of having the helmet in the first place. For these reasons (and more), we recommend spending up for those that get in a lot of ski days each winter. Like an uncomfortable pair of hiking boots, you’ll notice it if you don’t. 

Liners provide more than just comfort. They are also a great source of insulation, offering about as much warmth as a midweight winter hat. Should you need even more warmth, you can slip on a beanie underneath, but make sure to choose a helmet size that can accommodate the extra inch or so in head circumference, depending on its thickness. Some helmets have detachable ear pads to further hone in your desired warmth.

Helmet Safety: MIPS and More

Tasked with keeping you safe from hard impacts on the hill, all helmets on our list have a non-motorized snow sports safety certification from US-based ASTM International. Despite construction differences referenced above, all follow a basic design with a hardshell exterior and foam interior to absorb some of the impact. There are helmets with additional certifications, like the Salomon MTN Lab (mountaineering) and Bern Watts EPS (biking), but all are considered a safe choice for skiing and snowboarding, although careful reading of the certification only establishes their intent to keep you safe at low speeds. The onus is still, as it should be, on the user to ski or snowboard within your limits.
Ski Helmet MIPS

In an effort to increase safety, additional technologies have hit the market, but none has been so universally adopted as the MIPS liner. In short, the technology is designed to reduce potential damage to the brain in angled impacts (Giro describes it as “certain impacts”) through a liner that moves independently from the outer shell. We’ve taken the time to remove our MIPS liners and it’s impressively simple: there’s one thin plastic layer that connects to the helmet with a few small tabs.

Beyond the formidable research that has gone into MIPS technology, the beauty of the design is that it has essentially no impact on comfort or the profile of the helmet. As such, you see it being adopted on anything from a premium $270 Smith Vantage all the way down to an $80 Giro Ledge. Some helmets we’ve tested do appear to fit slightly smaller as a result, but otherwise the impact is negligible. How often MIPS technology is a safety benefit is difficult to quantify and we haven’t found any solid evidence-based research, but all indications point to it being a nice extra safety measure to protect your head (how much that’s worth is up to you). For more information on MIPS, we’ve found the technology page of the MIPS website to be a helpful resource.

Weight and Bulk

Within their specific construction type—ABS, in-mold, or hybrid in-mold—most ski helmets weigh approximately the same. For our medium-sized helmets we tested, that’s 14 to 15 ounces for in-mold, 17 to 19 ounces for hybrid, and 20+ for ABS. And between categories, there are noticeable differences in how they feel—in-mold and hybrid helmets are less prone to feeling heavy during a long day on the hill. However, simply putting a helmet on a scale won’t tell you the whole story of how it feels on your head. Good padding and a snug but comfortable fit can easily make up the difference of a couple ounces. It’s one of many reasons we love the Smith Vantage. It’s not the lightest, but you’ll quickly forget its there. Ski helmet brim Bern Watts

The bulkiness of a helmet plays into this perception of weight. Cheap helmets made with a basic ABS construction are thick and feel cumbersome. The Anon Raider was the worst offender from our list, but it’s still much better than even cheaper helmet options (and it’s no coincidence that no helmets under $70 made the cut). In contrast, our top three picks all have a low profile fit and don’t feel like you’re hauling around a heavy appendage. 

Ski Helmet Features 

Goggle Retainer Clips 
It’s a simple but appreciated feature: a clip at the back of most ski helmets to slide goggle straps through. This helps reduce the risk of losing your ski goggles in a crash or otherwise. Some models are also offering internal routing. There isn’t a huge performance upgrade in doing this, but some folks prefer the sleeker low-profile look where you can’t see the goggle strap—and perhaps it holds slightly better should you go full yard sale with your crash. 

Audio Compatibility
Most helmets are compatible with some sort of audio system. For example: Smith works with Skullcandy and Giro is compatible with Outdoor Tech. In either case, the ear cups have a built-in pocket that can accommodate speakers. “Audio” helmet models will have built-in speakers and a cable to attach to a phone or music player. If you go this route, plan on spending a little extra to get quality speakers and reliable electronic hardware. Simply put, cheaper options don’t sound as good and are prone to failing. While skiing, it’s always a good idea to keep the volume down or have speakers that are non-noise cancelling for safety. While it may impact sound quality, the safety tradeoff of being able to hear other skiers or someone shouting at you is a net win. 

Action Camera Mounts 
Skiing and snowboarding are two sports directly linked to the action camera’s growth in popularity. Skiers quickly jumped at the opportunity to record ski runs, tricks, and just general fun on the mountain. The nice thing is that most action cameras come with adhesive helmet mounts that can be directly attached to pretty much any helmet on the market. Some models, such as Giro's Range, Union, and Zone, go a step further and come with a GoPro compatible mount to make it easier to take the camera on and off.

Sizing and Fit

Getting sized for safety gear isn’t a good time for guessing, so if you don’t already know it, measure your head circumference prior to making an online purchase. All you’ll need is a soft-sided measuring tape or string: wrap it around your head about an inch above your ears and eyebrows to get your number (in centimeters). As long as the manufacturer is close in their listings—the only discrepancies we’ve seen recently are the smaller-fitting MIPS helmets referenced above—this should get you a decent fit.BOA fit dial

Being able to try on various helmets can take you from a decent to perfect fit, because, just like the heads we’re stuffing them into, helmets come in different shapes. For example, the Smith Vantage is pretty well known for fitting folks with a rounder head shape best (although it’s pretty close to universally compatible). The next helmet down our list, the Giro Range, is more accommodating to a narrower profile. Unfortunately, we haven’t found entire brands of helmets fit a certain way, so we can’t make generalizations, but we have called out any issues we’ve had with the fit in our picks above. It’s best to try on before you buy, but you can also make sure the online retailer accepts returns (all the ones we recommend do).

One final note on fit: if you see a helmet with a single size that claims to be one-size-fits-most, we advise steering clear even if your head circumference falls within the listed parameters. Something that adjustable just won’t fit as well in the end. 

Goggle Compatibility

As with getting that perfect helmet fit, goggle compatibility is something that’s easiest if you can try them on. An ill-fitting helmet and goggle system can either be too tight, which pushes the helmet up and the goggles down your nose, or too open, leaving some of your forehead vulnerable to the cold air. The easiest way to guarantee a good fit is to stick within the same brand—Smith helmets work great with Smith goggles, and the same goes for Giro and POC—but we encourage you not to limit yourself if there’s a goggle or helmet that’s caught your eye. Smith ski helmet and goggles

In testing, we’ve found some helmets are extremely accommodating of a variety of goggle types. Giro’s helmets not only work well with all Giro branded goggles, but we’ve also found a helmet like the Range MIPS to provide an excellent fit for anything from the large Anon M3 or Dragon X2 to the classic Smith I/O. On the flipside, Bern’s Watts EPS helmet is one of the more difficult to fit. Its large, angled visor worked well with only a medium-frame goggle or smaller, like the Smith I/O 7; most large Oakley goggles, and the Anon and Dragon listed above, did not work. Smith’s popular Vantage and Variance helmets are reasonably accommodating, fitting big-sellers like the Oakley Airbrake and Flight Deck, but we had issues with tall frames like the Dragon X2.

Women’s-Specific Helmets 

While a number of ski helmets are unisex and are perfectly fine for either men or women, there is a wide selection of women’s-specific ski helmets. These models are quite similar to men’s versions, but with different colorways for the shell and liner, as well as having a smaller fit. There will often be a name change, but don’t be fooled, the technology is all the same—and so is the pricing. When applicable, we've included the link to the women's helmet in the specs.
Back to Our Top Ski Helmet Picks  Back to Our Ski Helmet Comparison Table

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Ski Boots 2016-2017

Best Downhill Ski Boots of 2016-2017

No matter your ability level, a comfortable boot is an absolute necessity. Nothing ruins a good powder day faster than cold or painful feet, and ill-fitting boots also run the risk of not properly transferring energy...
Beginner Skis (resort)

Best Skis for Beginners of 2016-2017

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Beginner skis offer great value and an easy platform for learning the basics of turning, balance, and control. In short, they make it easier to learn proper technique in less time...
Ski Goggles

Best Ski Goggles of 2016-2017

No matter your experience level or budget, there is a great ski goggle waiting to be found. Interchangeable lenses dominate the high end of the market with systems that are getting quicker and easier by the year. In particular...
Ski Gloves

Best Ski Gloves of 2016-2017

Monday, August 24, 2015
Nothing can kill a great ski day like cold fingers, so make sure to choose a quality glove that fits the type of skiing you do most. The options range from gauntlet-style synthetic nylon gloves to undercuff leather gloves from powerhouses...
Ski pants

Best Ski Pants of 2016-2017

Ski pants are a critical barrier between you and the elements, and there’s a pair to fit every type of skier and budget. Recreational skiers, especially in drier places like Colorado or Utah, can get away with less waterproofing technology...
Ski Jackets

Best Ski Jackets of 2016-2017

From cold to snow to wind to sweat, choosing a ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain. The right ski jacket for you depends on the specific kinds of skiing you enjoy most—skinning up a sunny ridgeline...
Best Down Jacket

Best Down Jackets of 2017

Nothing beats a great down jacket, whether it’s for causal use or tearing around the backcountry. Below we break down the best down jackets of 2017, including the top down sweaters, ultralights, and winter down jackets. You’ll find a healthy range of...