A ski helmet is one of the most important pieces of safety equipment that you can wear when you’re hitting the slopes. Wearing a helmet can help protect you from serious injuries in the event of a fall, and in some cases, it can even save your life. Ski helmets also provide warmth and can help our ski goggles defog. Not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should always wear a ski helmet when you’re out on the slopes.
- 1 – Ski helmets can help prevent head injuries.
- 2 – Ski helmets provide warmth, insulation, and ventilation.
- 3 – Ski helmets improve defog performance of your ski goggles
- 4 – Ski helmets look cool
- 5 – Ski helmets give you a place to mount speakers
- 1 – Feel more light and free without a helmet
- 2 – Helmet isn't as warm as a hat
- 3 – Helmets are too hot on warm days
- 4 – Don't like the way helmets look
- 5 – Can't hear things while wearing a helmet
5 reasons why you should wear a ski helmet
Let’s talk about why you should wear a helmet. Ski helmets have many positives beyond safety and preventing head injuries.
1 – Ski helmets can help prevent head injuries.
One of the most common injuries that skiers and snowboarders suffer is a head injury. In fact, according to the National Ski Areas Association, around 20% of all skiing and snowboarding injuries are head injuries. Wearing a ski helmet can help reduce the severity of a head injury in the event of a fall, and in some cases, it can even prevent a head injury altogether.
There have been several published articles and studies showing that ski helmets have no effect on injuries. A study by doctors Haider, Saleem, Bilaniuk, and Barraco that looked at a collection of past studies and available data clearly showed a reduction in risk of head injury by as much as 60% when ski helmets were worn. They also showed no increased injury risk from wearing a helmet. There was no evidence that wearing a helmet caused skiers and snowboarders to take more risks.
“A study with 6,269 participants was conducted in 2002. Helmet use reduced the risk of any head injury by 60% (adjusted odds ratio: 0.40 (CI: 0.30 – 0.55)), of head contusions and fractures by 53% (adjusted odds ratio: 0.47 (CI: 0.33 – 0.66)), and of severe head injury by 57% (adjusted odds ratio: 0.43 (CI: 0.25 – 0.77)).”Sulheim S, Holme I, Ekeland A, et al. JAMA. 2006 295:919-24.
2 – Ski helmets provide warmth, insulation, and ventilation.
Another benefit of wearing a ski helmet is that it can help keep you warm and insulated while you’re out on the slopes. Most ski helmets are made with EPS foam padding that helps to trap heat. They can be as effective at keeping your head warm as a very warm hat.
On warmer days you can open up the vents on a helmet and provide your head with lots of cooling air. You can feel just as cool with a helmet on as wearing nothing.
3 – Ski helmets improve defog performance of your ski goggles
Wearing a ski helmet also has the added benefit of improving your visibility while you’re out on the slopes. Many ski helmets have built in vents that help pull air through your goggles and improve their anti-fog performance. A well designed helmet and goggle combination will be much more fog free than wearing ski goggles without a helmet.
See our article “How to Keep Ski Goggles from Fogging Up – 12 Helpful Tips” for more tips for keeping your ski goggles fog free.
Check out our guide to the best ski goggles to see what ski goggles we recommend.
4 – Ski helmets look cool
Let’s face it, looking good while you’re out on the slopes is important. Fortunately, ski helmets have come a long way in terms of design and style, and there are now plenty of helmets on the market that look great. So, not only will you be staying safe while you’re out on the slopes, but you’ll also look good doing it.
5 – Ski helmets give you a place to mount speakers
If you love listening to music while you ski or snowboard, then you’ll be happy to know that many ski helmets now come with the ability to mount speakers. This means that you can listen to your favorite tunes while you’re shredding the slopes, without having to worry about wires getting in the way. The speakers go into the ear muffs that are part of the helmet. They are more comfortable than putting ear buds in. You can still hear what is going on around you.
5 Reasons against wearing a ski helmet
Some people dislike wearing ski helmets. Here are a few of the popular reasons you’ll hear why people don’t want to wear a ski helmet.
1 – Feel more light and free without a helmet
Skiing without a helmet feels more light and free. You just don’t get that wind in your hair going fast feeling when your head is covered by a helmet. They kind of have a point with this one. There was something special about skiing on a warm spring day wearing sunglasses and a head band with a neon outfit.
2 – Helmet isn’t as warm as a hat
Some people find that there head is still cold wearing a helmet. Helmets leak air around the ear muffs and can feel drafty. You can take care of this wearing a thin hat that is designed to go under a helmet. With the vents closed and a thin hat to block the drafts you will feel just as warm as you did with the thickest hat out there.
3 – Helmets are too hot on warm days
Another downside to wearing a ski helmet is that they can be too hot on warm days. When the sun is out and the temperatures start to rise, I find that my helmet makes my head sweat. This is especially true if you are hiking up to a run or doing something really strenuous like moguls. Good helmets have lots of ventilation and do a good job of keeping your head cool. It won’t be as cool as wearing nothing but sunglasses on your head but it’s not that bad.
4 – Don’t like the way helmets look
Some people think wearing a helmet looks silly. Who wants to wear a crash helmet while skiing. It’s not like your riding a snowmobile. You can go just as fast on skis as a high powered snowmobile. A helmet will never look as cool as an 80s skier wearing a neon headband and sunglasses. Where would the skiing world be right now if Glenn Plane couldn’t ski with his mohawk? A helmet with a set of mirrored goggles can look pretty cool.
5 – Can’t hear things while wearing a helmet
Another downside to wearing a ski helmet is that it can be difficult to hear things while you have the helmet on. The ear muffs on the helmet can block out the sound a little bit. I have found that I can hear everyone around me including other skiers while wearing a helmet with bluetooth speakers going.
Easy and common ways to hurt your head while skiing
You say that you don’t wear a helmet because you don’t ski advanced terrain or you don’t ski very aggressively. Let’s discuss some of the common ways you can get a head injury while skiing.
Falling on flat terrain.
Everyone falls sooner or later. If it’s an icy day, it increases your changes of falling. Iced over snow also becomes as hard as concrete. It’s easy to fall and smack your head against rock hard icy snow. Actress Natasha Richardson died while skiing a bunny slope taking lessons when she hit her head on the snow. Head injuries can happen even on beginner terrain.
Getting run over by another skier
Even if you are super cautious and you only ski slow gentle terrain, that doesn’t protect you from other out of control skiers. One of my close ski friends got a concussion (not wearing a helmet) while standing by the lift line at the bottom of a run. An out of control skier went zooming into him. I’ve gotten knocked down now a couple of times by out of control skiers, especially in crowded beginner areas. Your not just wearing a helmet to protect yourself from what you might do. You are wearing it to protect yourself from what everyone else does.
Hitting trees or rocks
Most ski runs are lined by trees. Some have large rocks or other features on the edges. There are chair lift poles and snow making equipment in the middle and on the edges of runs also. You might like skiing glades like I do. When you fall, there is always a chance you’ll slide into something and whack your head against it.
When did most people start wearing ski helmets in the US
When I started skiing in the 1980’s no one wore a helmet. No one wore them in the 1990s either. You might have seen a racer wear one to prevent gates hitting them in the head. They were no where to be seen for recreational skiers. They didn’t start becoming popular in the US until the 2000s. By 2010 it seemed most skiers were wearing helmets in the US and Canada.
From memory, no one really thought of skiing as a dangerous activity until the winter of 1997/1998 when 2 celebrities died while skiing from head injuries within a few days. Michael Kennedy died on December 31st 1997 at Aspen while playing football on the slopes and skiing into a tree. Sonny Bono died on January 5th 1998 at Heavenly Valley after hitting a tree while glade skiing.
In 2007, actress Natasha Richardson died while taking a ski lesson skiing the bunny slope at Mont Tremblant after hitting her head on the snow while not wearing a helmet.
All of these got a lot of attention in the media and may be responsible for increasing the rate of helmet usage in the US.
I personally have been wearing the Outdoor Master Diamond MIPS helmet for all of last ski season. It is comfortable and has MIPS technology for extra safety. There are many good helmets from popular brands such as Smith, Oakley, Giro, ANON and more.
☆ Recommended Gear
OutdoorMaster Diamond MIPS Ski Helmet
See our Review of the Outdoor Master DIAMOND MIPS Snow Helmet to learn more.
See our Ski Helmet Gear Guide to see our best ski helmet picks.
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Co-Founder & Editor
Kate is from Taiwan and came to the US after meeting her husband Doug. She has degrees in Fashion Design and Marketing. She enjoys skiing almost as much as he does. (maybe a bit more but don’t tell him that). She frequently beats him to the bottom of the run. She loves the joy of skiing long perfectly groomed runs and occasionally ventures off into the alpine.