The Best Ski Helmets of 2023

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:

The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets of 2023

Best Overall Ski Helmet

Smith Nexus MIPS Helmet


  • Weight 23 oz (medium)
  • Protection bonus MIPS, Koroyod
  • Number of vents 24 including adjustability
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Integrates seamlessly with Smith goggles
  • So many vents
  • Extra side impact protection


  • A pricier option
We were eager to try out Smith’s most advanced helmet this year, and the Nexus MIPS ($325) didn’t disappoint. It’s everything you want a helmet to be — light, warm, and very protective.

We felt like we barely had anything on our heads with this helmet. That’s always a good sign, signaling lightweight features and no pressure points. According to the brand, the Nexus is lightweight and low profile due to hybrid shell construction. Side impact zones also provide an extra boost in safety thanks to an impact-resistant exoskeleton. A dial in the back helps you customize the ideal fit. 

In addition to MIPS, this dialed-in Smith helmet integrates a material called Koroyd, a structure consisting of welded tubes that crumple upon impact to absorb force and energy transfer. The technology is extremely lightweight and allows airflow, too. After our SnowSports Senior Editor Morgan Tilton took an on-piste crash snowboarding in storm conditions with a Smith helmet on, we can confirm that Koroyd does its job: The material crumpled in several areas, due to the impact, and she walked away with only a mild concussion.

The helmet kept our heads warm in negative wind chills, with no hat underneath. And the line’s seamless integration with Smith goggles, while expected, was ideal to block cold gusty winds.

We also loved this helmet’s breathability. It boasts 24 vents, which can be opened or closed with sliding tabs in the front and rear of the head. Even with the vents closed, we found the helmet’s ventilation system to be effective enough at dumping heat on a cold boot pack. 

A bag for easy carry and scratch protection was a nice touch, which is also quickly becoming standard for brands to include with any helmet these days.

It’s hard to find anything not to love with this helmet other than the upper-echelon price point. But if you’re looking for a helmet that looks sharp, feels great, works well with your existing Smith goggles, and offers top-tier protection for your brain, we’ve got a winner for you.
Best Budget Ski Helmet

Giro Ratio MIPS Helmet


  • Weight 20 oz. (small)
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 10 vents that are adjustable
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Good value
  • Effective ventilation system


  • Earflaps let cold air in at high speeds
On the more economic end of helmets on this list, the Giro Ratio MIPS Helmet ($120) 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 earpads 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.
Runner-Up Best Ski Helmet

Wildhorn Highline Snow Helmet


  • Weight 16 oz.
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 14 including adjustability
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • 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
For starters, Wildhorn is an official supplier of the U.S. Ski Team, which is a huge validation of the product quality and security. And the brand’s OG helmet, the Drift, is a longstanding popular helmet among everyday skiers and riders.

Given that impressive track record, we were eager to check out the brand’s second-ever design: the Highline ($150), featuring a handful of noteworthy upgrades, which is back this season.

After testing out this helmet on piste and in the backcountry in a myriad of conditions, we can confidently say that it’s one of the most comfortable, ergonomic, and safe helmets on the market — and it looks good, too.

To enhance safety, the Highline incorporates MIPS (the Drift lacks a rotational impact system), as well as a stylish matte and gloss finish. One of the best qualities is the adjustable ventilation.

There are 14 vents total including two near the forehead, eight on top, and four in back. The eight vents on top can open and close using a hand-operated slider.

We immediately noticed the warmth and protection of the closed vents while alpine skiing and riding on cold days (0-10 degrees F) at the resort, especially with wind.

We also really like the size adjustability, using the brand’s Fine Tune Adjust system, which is an easy-to-grasp dial in the back of the helmet that fine-tunes the sizing cage inside the helmet.

Labeled as lightweight, we also found the Highline does feel lighter than other helmets we’ve tested. The comfortable, plush ear pads can also store audio pucks through a Velcro opening. And the goggle strap has a snap closure, so your eye protection definitely won’t go flying off. While the magnetic closure takes some getting used to, it’s easy enough with some practice.

Within the first 3 weeks of launch, the Highline sold out. So, don’t wait if you want it!
Most Hygienic Liner

Pret Cirque X MIPS for Men & Corona X for Women


  • Weight 15.3 oz (small)
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 10 that are adjustable
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • 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
Pret is a helmet specialist based in Park City, Utah, and the Corona X and Cirque X ($250-270) are among the company’s most advanced models. It houses the whole gamut of modern helmet technology in a lightweight, low-profile package.

The helmet is lined with Pret’s exclusive antimicrobial EPS foam, which helps prevent bacterial growth in the material that surrounds your dome. Sounds like a good idea for day-after-day, year-after-year use!

For extra protection, the helmet shell is reinforced with polycarbonate plates in areas where skull impact would be critical, effectively doubling the thickness where needed.

An adjustable ventilation system keeps the Cirque and Corona warm and comfortable in a range of conditions. When it’s extremely cold and you need a little extra protection, the helmet can open up to easily accommodate a balaclava or thin beanie. On warmer days, you can quickly remove the earflaps and store them in a jacket pocket or backpack.

While the Cirque and Corona X are generally nice-looking pieces of protection, we especially like the 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 and Corona X successfully minimizes awkward gaps and goggle slippage.

Other features of the Cirque and Corona include MIPS, earbud pockets in the earflaps, and an easy-to-use magnetic buckle.
Best Helmet for Skimo & Uphill Workouts

Backcountry Access BC Air Helmet


  • Weight 11.9 oz. (small)
  • Protection bonus None
  • Number of vents 59 passive ports
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Adequate ventilation for uphill comfort during rigorous workouts
  • Comfortable fit
  • Adjustable sizing


  • Too much airflow for doubling as an everyday resort helmet
Designed for skiing the skin track, racing, ski mountaineering, and bootpacking or ascending below any overhead hazards is the Backcountry Access BC Air Helmet ($150) back for the 2023 season. We appreciate that we don’t need to add another step to our transition and can comfortably keep this helmet on for an entire workout or quick laps.

Despite an incredible surplus of ventilation — 59 ports cover the entire scope of the helmet for passive all-around airflow — this design is certified for alpine skiing and snowboarding as well as cycling. Interior channels in the EPS liner, which is molded directly to the polycarbonate shell, enable air to pass between the head and helmet.

On each side and in the front corners of the helmet are four clips to secure your headlamp (one of our favorite features while testing this helmet), so it won’t slide off during your workout or mission. The anchors for the clips double as ventilation ports.

The BOA fit system is an easy-to-adjust dial in the back, letting you fine-tune the fit according to whatever headband or sweatband you wear over your forehead and ears for the conditions. In warm weather, the streamlined and well-ventilated ear pads of the Access BC Air are removable for even more aeration.

Inside, the padding is strategically placed and comfortable but minimalist. This is good in our book for limiting sweat-absorbing and odor-catching material.
Most Ventilation

Sweet Protection Switcher


  • Weight 20.1 oz. (small/medium)
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 24 that are adjustable (26 total)
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Adjustable ventilation system
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish


  • Slightly heavier and more expensive than some similar options
Whether you’re riding within resort boundaries or out in the backcountry, the Sweet Protection Switcher ($270) 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.
Best Helmet with Integrated Goggles

Salomon Driver Prime Sigma Photo MIPS


  • 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
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • 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
You might have to blink twice when you see this helmet with integrated goggles. The Salomon Driver Prime Sigma Photo MIPS ($450) turns heads on the mountain with its futuristic, minimalist design. 

This merino wool-lined helmet kept us comfortable (no head or ear pain) and warm in negative fifteen-degree temperatures, with wind chills even lower. We appreciated the seamless integration of the goggles with the helmet: The goggles snap into place snugly with the top of the helmet. Make sure to tighten the helmet appropriately to fit your head before lowering the goggles. Otherwise, the goggles might feel loose on your face.  

Sizing is especially important with this goggle/helmet combo. One gear tester with a larger face felt the size medium helmet fit well, but the goggles didn’t sit comfortably on their face and were stretched out of the holder rather than sitting flush with the helmet. 

The Sigma Photochromic magnetic visor has a crisp, wide field of view. We experienced no peripheral surprises from tree branches or other trail-side objects. The stock lens performed well on a bluebird day mixed with intermittent sparse clouds. The photochromic design responds to changing light conditions by adjusting the level of tint from lighter to darker, so we never had to squint. The brand says the visor system works well over eyeglasses, unlike goggles that tend to immediately fog. 

While we like the system, we did experience some frost gathering on the inside of the lenses on a particularly cold testing day (negative 20s with wind chill), which obscured our vision as the day went on. At average and mild winter temps, this wasn’t an issue.

We enjoyed how the lenses locked into place on top of our heads. Dubbed the motion shield advanced system, the setup mimics the way goggles swing up and over your helmet to perch on top of the head. If you hate your goggles snapping off your face and hanging off your helmet, this design may be for you. We also appreciated the magnetic buckle for fuss-free fastening — great for younger athletes and people who wear bulkier mittens. 

Skiers and riders choosing this helmet are covered for safety with MIPS and Salomon’s patented EPS4D technology, which maximizes energy absorption upon impact and protects from side and vertical shocks. 

If you don’t already have goggles, and you want to get an advanced helmet and goggle technology in one fell swoop, the Salomon Driver Prime Sigma Photo MIPS is a great choice.
Best of the Rest

Smith Vantage


  • Weight 17.6 oz.
  • Protection bonus MIPS, Koroyd
  • Number of vents 21 with adjustable sliders
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Great fit
  • Serves skiers and riders in colder or warmer conditions
  • Looks good
  • Doubled up on rotational impact protection


  • An investment
The Smith Vantage ($270) is loaded with safety, style, and comfort for skiers and riders. For all of this design’s enhanced safety features, plus the solid aesthetic and easy-to-use vents, this helmet lands as a very close second to our overall pick. There are full color and size runs for both men and women.

In addition to MIPS, this dialed-in Smith helmet integrates Koroyd, which are welded tubes that crumple upon impact to absorb force and energy transfer. The technology is extremely lightweight and allows airflow, too. Our SnowSports Senior Editor Morgan Tilton took a crash in-bounds while snowboarding in a blizzard with this helmet on: We can confirm that Koroyd works. At impact, the material crumpled in several areas preventing a larger head injury — she experienced a minor concussion.

No matter how thick your hair is or if you prefer to wear a beanie under your helmet, you can tune in the size with the BOA dial. (Be sure to measure your head and check the sizing chart to choose the correct size. Some users and our testers noted that the helmet may run small.)

To avoid fogged-up vision, the helmet’s ventilation system is compatible with Smith goggles. Otherwise, there are 21 vents total to help cool you down on hot, sunny days or while you’re working up a sweat on powder runs through the glades. The front and rear vents are adjustable with slide closures.

If the conditions get warm enough, you can remove the snap-in-place ear pads. And the antimicrobial liner, which is activated by sweat, helps prevent odors in the long run.

Beyond gradual sizes, the helmet is also offered in a round contour fit, which is more comfortable for certain head shapes

Giro Crue Kids’ MIPS Snow Helmet


  • Weight 18 oz. (medium)
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 9 that are fixed
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • MIPS is hard to find in youth helmets
  • Good ventilation


  • Works best with Giro goggles
For the kiddos on the hill, the Crue helmet ($95) 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.

Bern Watts 2.0


  • Weight 12.3 oz.
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 11 that are fixed
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Dial-operated system for a more custom fit
  • Multisport helmet
  • Stylish points for the brim, which helps moisture roll away


  • Vents are not adjustable
For a single helmet that you can use across multiple sports, the Bern Watts 2.0 ($170) is a hip-looking design with the brand’s iconic brim and is focused on safety. The design features MIPS protection and meets the U.S. standard for adult and kid helmets as well as European requisites for cycling, skateboarding, roller skating, skiing, and snowboarding.

There are 11 fixed vent ports, making this design more equipped to keep you warm if wind or snowflakes are flying on the lift compared to some of Bern’s other more vented options. On the flip side, the helmet could get warm while skateboarding or riding your bike, depending on the climate where you shred.

The brim looks cool and keeps moisture from rolling into view or toward the top of the goggles. Though it blocks a teeny bit of sunlight, we wouldn’t call it sun protective, which is a good thing given that it would obstruct visibility.

In the back, the integrated fit dial makes the system easy to tighten or loosen to your needs, whether your hair is extra puffy or you need to pull on a streamlined beanie that day.

Simply remove the protective, comfortable liner and ear flaps when the temperatures rise (and replace with a Summer Liner). The back clip for goggles is simple, though it doesn’t snap or lock in place.

Bern also places two small holes on the helmet’s backside for mounting the brand’s rechargeable bike light, the Quickmount Asteroid, which has three light modes ($30).



  • Weight 18.2 oz. (XL/XXL)
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 7 that are adjustable
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Sleek, clean aesthetic
  • Customizable fit system
  • Adjustable ventilation


  • Two front vents cannot be closed via slidable covers
The POC Obex MIPS ($200) is a quality-built, well-ventilated choice for skiers and riders. To help prevent goggles from fogging up, two front vents align above eyewear, allowing body heat to escape. The other five vents are adjustable with manual slidable covers.

For added safety, the helmet includes MIPS as well as an EPS Liner, which is constructed as an aid for crash protection. Offering more adjustability, the helmet has a 360-degree fit system to dial in the right amount of snugness.

The wide fixed goggle clip can accommodate a range of straps, which are secured via an elastic pull-and-hook closure.

For warmer climates, the ear pads of the Obex can be easily removed for extra ventilation and comfort. And the size range includes broader shapes to accommodate rounder heads.

Scott Symbol 2 Plus


  • 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
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Top-notch safety technology
  • Comfortable padding
  • Ventilation system works well across a broad temperature range


  • Sizing runs slightly small
The Symbol 2 Plus ($200) is truly a top-of-the-line helmet, and Scott considers it to be one of the most exciting products it’s ever created. So does ISPO, where the helmet was designated with a gold award in 2018.

Three key components of safety technology define the Symbol 2 Plus — 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, listen for snow collapsing or other hazards, and other incidents. When combined, these well-engineered features add up to elite head protection.

Though the Symbol 2 Plus runs a bit small, it’s very comfortable when sized correctly. The earpads 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 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.

Smith Maze MIPS


  • Weight 12 oz.
  • Protection bonus MIPS
  • Number of vents 2 that are fixed in front
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Lightweight
  • High-quality construction
  • Fairly priced


  • Lacks adjustment system
  • Fixed open-air vents
The Maze ($155) 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, the Maze is all about pure style and simplicity.

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 its versatility.

Before purchasing this helmet, try it on and/or measure your head to ensure a proper fit. While some wearers report that 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, most of the time, the Maze is capable and comfortable. Also, its removable earpieces are handy in warm spring conditions.

Bern Carbon Watts


  • 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
The Best Ski Helmets of 2023


  • Unique, strong carbon fiber construction
  • Comfortable fit


  • Expensive
A premium pick, the Bern Carbon Watts ($300) is hand-built out of woven carbon fiber, which spreads impact across a wider surface area. Carbon fiber is lauded in outdoor products for its competitive stiffness, high tensile strength, and low weight. Each helmet takes 10 hours to make and the batches are available in limited numbers, so if you need one, don’t wait.

According to the brand, this helmet is eight to 10 times stronger than helmets built with ABS plastic, which adds protection to the user.

Similar to other Bern models, the Carbon Watts meets the European safety standards for adults and kids while skiing, snowboarding, cycling, skateboarding, and roller skating. The helmet also meets the U.S. safety standard for adult and kid helmets.

This helmet is comfortable and easy to slide with a quickly adjustable BOA dial fit system. The helmet clip in the back is straightforward with no locking mechanism. Two tiny mounts in the back pair with the brand’s rechargeable bike light, which is sold separately.

The 11 vents are not adjustable, so the helmet is better for warmer conditions or sized accordingly to wear a beanie beneath.

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
Snow Helmet
$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
Editor Austin Beck-Doss tests ski helmets at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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.

Testing ski helmets inbounds at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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.

The MIPS Smith Vantage includes Koroyd technology for impact absorption, which is visible inside the helmet vents; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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.

Editors Morgan Tilton and Austin Beck-Doss hiking terrain at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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.

Hand-operated sliders allow vents to open and close on many ski helmet designs; (photo/Eric Phillips)

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.

Some helmet vents are fixed while others can be manually opened and closed; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Fit Adjustability

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.

A helmet’s shape influences how it pairs with different types of snow goggles; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Goggle Compatibility

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.

Goggle clips on ski helmets help to prevent losing a pair of goggles; (photo/Eric Phillips)


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.

On our list, the Backcountry Access BC Air Helmet is the lightest at less than 12 ounces, and the Smith Maze hovers near 12 ounces, too.


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. 

Safety Certifications

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.

Audio Systems

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 ski helmets have magnetic closures versus traditional buckle clasps; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Chin Straps

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.

Extra Features

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.

Aim to find a ski jacket with a hood that fits comfortably over your helmet; (photo/Eric Phillips)


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.

Snowsports Senior Editor Morgan Tilton testing helmets while snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort; (photo/Eric Phillips)
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 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.

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. 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.

How Often Do You Need to Replace a Ski Helmet?

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.

How Do I Know if my Ski Helmet is Too Big?

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.

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