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Keep your head protected on the mountain with the best ski helmets for 2020

The chairlifts have stopped turning across the country, and spring has sprung. While the ski and snowboard season might be over, many retailers are clearing out their stock of this season’s equipment. That means it’s a great time to pick up new gear at great prices. One essential piece of equipment we think you should consider is a new ski helmet. If you’re carving the slopes at breakneck speeds or riding fast through tree lines, you need to keep your head safe.

A high-quality helmet isn’t just important for the most daring skiers and snowboarders, though. On top of keeping your head warm and holding your goggles in place, a good helmet offers life-saving protection that reduces your risk of traumatic brain injury. Better yet, many of these helmets are great for spring and summertime activities, such as mountain biking and skateboarding. With all this in mind, here are our picks for the best ski helmets you can buy.

Smith Holt

The Smith Holt helmet is not only a helmet made for the slopes: The included pad kit allows you to switch from winter to summer use — perfect for biking and skateboarding. You can also independently control the amount of venting between the front and top vents on the helmet, and its AirEvac system ensures proper airflow that not only keeps your head dry but your goggles fog-free as well. While Smith goggles will have the best fit, buyers report it works well with many non-Smith brands as well.

The Holt’s molded ABS shell is extraordinarily resistant to dings and scratches. It provides superior protection from injury to your head, and an optional Skullcandy audio system can be added to the helmet so you don’t have to worry about losing your headphones on the slopes. Smith offers a lifetime warranty on this helmet against defects in the materials and manufacture, too.

OutdoorMaster Kelvin

Over and over again, OutdoorMaster’s products have made it to our best-of lists, not only because of price but buyer reviews. The Kelvin Helmet is no different. Despite being less than $35, the helmets are not cheaply constructed: They’re still ASTM-certified and offer a reinforced ABS shell with a shock-absorbing EPS core. Fourteen vents across the helmet offer ventilation, although we’d personally prefer more vents in the front to prevent goggle fog-up — that’s one area where this particular helmet isn’t as good as the others.

Still, with plenty of size and color options for both men and women, we think those looking for a budget helmet that still can be trusted to offer protection will find the Kelvin a great option. And if you bought the OutdoorMaster ski goggles we’ve also recommended, they’ll fit nice and snug up against the brim of this helmet for the price you’d pay for either of those two accessories themselves with many other brands.

Giro Ledge

Giro’s been around for a long, long time so we have no problem recommending their Ledge ski helmet to you as one of our top picks. It’s fairly inexpensive and offers compatibility with third-party audio systems and a two-way adjustable liner to ensure a snug fit on your head. We’re also thankful that the company didn’t forget about vents on the front to keep your goggles clear, and the color selection is pretty expansive.

If there’s one thing that bothers us about the Ledge, it’s the design. It’s basic and no-frills. But then again, you’re not buying a helmet for its looks but rather its protection. And there, the Ledge is just as good as most of the recommendations on our list.

Wildhorn Drift

Wildhorn is the official helmet supplier of the U.S. ski team and sponsors four-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell, so you know they have to be good. The Drift — Ashley’s helmet of choice — is one of our favorites from their line. With a low-profile construction that makes it 25% lighter than most competing helmets and an ultra-plush inner liner, you’ll notice that it wears much more comfortable throughout the day. The Drift also includes Wildhorn’s FTA (Fine Tune Adjustment) system to ensure a perfect fit no matter what your head shape is.

Adjustable venting allows you to customize the amount of airflow depending on the conditions you’re skiing or riding in, and the earpads (audio compatible with an optional accessory) are removable to make the helmet more comfortable in the warmest conditions. A durable polycarbonate shell is fused to an inner layer of EPS foam to protect against impacts. This is a great helmet, but don’t take our word for it: With an average 4.8 rating on Amazon, it’s one of the best-reviewed helmets on the site.

Giro Nine MIPS

If you want the best in protection, you’ll want to look for a MIPS helmet. MIPS is short for Multi-Directional Impact System, which adds a low-friction layer between the outer shell and inner foam. In theory, this should reduce rotational motion from an impact, and is shown to be overall more protective than a standard helmet. Giro’s Nine MIPS helmet is one of the cheapest with the technology we could find.

It’s an overall better helmet than the Ledge, which we shared before with a lower profile as well, and the improvements are especially noticeable in the ventilation department. You can adjust the vent openings to your liking, and the overall lighter weight of the helmet makes it easier to wear for long periods. Like other Giro helmets, the Nine MIPS is also compatible with third-party audio systems.

Retrospec Traverse H1

The Retrospec Traverse H1 is another great convertible option for multiseason sports enthusiasts. During the winter months, it keeps your head warm and your noggin safe thanks to an ABS exterior and EPS Foam interior, and cool in the summer months on the bike or skateboard thanks to removable earmuffs and superior venting and airflow.

Some will find the ErgoKnob adjustable fit nob nice as it allows you to dial in a better fit by tightening or loosening up the framework of the helmet. The only negatives we can say about this helmet is that like the Giro Ledge, it’s very basic and a tad on the bulky side. But as far as protection goes, this is a top-tier helmet with tons of positive reviews on Amazon.

Smith Vantage MIPS


Among our helmet suggestions, the Smith Vantage MIPS is by far the most expensive. But it’s for a good reason: it’s by far a superior helmet. The ventilation system on the Vantage MIPS is pretty damn impressive: Working as one fully integrated system, the vents drive hot air away from your goggles, keeping them fog-free. Smith’s Hybrid Shell construction combines a tough Bombshell ABS outer shell, MIPS technology, and super light inner foam to make the helmet lightweight and comfortable with a very high degree of protective capabilities.

But that’s not all that’s great about this helmet. You also get a goggle clip to keep your goggles on you even in the hardest falls, and a brim to help keep the elements and sun out of your face while allowing your goggles to breathe. The Vantage MIPS is worth every bit of the premium you’ll pay for it.

Smith Vantage MIPS

Oakley’s a bit of a new entrant into the helmet game, but by no means a novice — they’ve put a lot of thought into the technology behind these helmets. The Mod 5 is Oakley’s freeride helmet of its offerings. What’s big about the Mod series helmets is the namesake technology, the Modular Brim System. Removable brims allow you to change the brim depending on what type of goggle you’re wearing (obviously intended to work the best with Oakley’s goggles). One works with bigger goggles and the other with smaller ones. The result is that no matter what type of goggles you own, you’re able to get a vacuum-tight seal between your helmet and goggles.

The helmet also has an integrated ventilation system that sucks up air from the goggles through the brim to blast away fog and regulate temperature. A MIPS layer offers extra shock absorption, and it has tons of extra features — a Boa tightening system, Fidlock magnetic buckle, removable ear pads, removable goggle band, and a cushy, removable liner.

How to pick the right helmet

The most important thing to remember when choosing a helmet is sizing. While people sometimes complain about snug-fitting helmets, that’s what you want. A loose helmet can cause injury as the inner foam liner needs to touch your head with no or very little space in between. You’ll need to get a measurement (in centimeters) of your head — the sizes of helmets are based on this.

We also strongly recommend MIPS technology if you can afford it, and especially if you plan to ski or ride more aggressively. As we mentioned previously, rotational motion still occurs in non-MIPS helmets, which exacerbate an injury. The technology works to prevent that from happening, which lessens the injury, and may prevent an injury that a standard helmet cannot.

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