Choosing the Right Ski Helmet

Ski Helmet Function

The majority of ski helmets sold at Sport Chek are designed to withstand a minimal tested standard of impact. While you cannot always control the risks around you, selecting the appropriate helmet for your intended usage can play a large role in the outcome of a potential accident. As a general rule, there are three classes of helmet design: in-mold (similar to a bike helmet), hard-shelled (similar to BMX or skateboarding helmets), and hard-sided (similar to motocross helmets). They can be thought of on a scale of increasing ability to withstand a single large impact, or repetitive minor impacts, from in-mold to hard-sided. 

  • In-mold helmets feature a thin, hard plastic outer layer molded over a foam liner. The foam helps absorb shock by collapsing under hard impact and decreasing rebound.
  • Hard-shelled helmets use a thick plastic shell over a pre-molded hard-foam liner, offering a slightly increased level of protection upon major impact.
  • Hard-sided helmets offer the greatest level of protection, and are often used by racers and more extreme riders. These helmets provide full-sided protection and utilize more sophisticated shock absorption systems.

It’s important to consider that any damage to your helmet may or may not be visible to your eye. If your helmet has sustained a hard impact or a number of minor impacts, its protective qualities have likely been compromised. Start looking for a good replacement after your helmet has sustained any kind of impact.

Besides protecting your head, your helmet also plays an important role in keeping your head warm on the mountain. The foam liner in your helmet also serves as an insulator to keep your head warm. Additionally, most helmets have a series of vents in the liner and shell, allowing perspiration to evaporate. This increased airflow can also help to decrease goggle fogging.


The men’s, women’s and kids’ ski helmets available at Sport Chek come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and it is important to take the time to find the one that is right for you. If you plan on wearing a thin helmet liner or skull cap, bring it with you to try on with potential ski helmets, but avoid bulky headwear like toques or hats as they will prevent a proper fit. Bring your goggles with you as well to ensure they’re compatible with the helmet you choose. 

Follow these steps to select the right ski helmet:

1. Loosen all the helmet’s adjustment mechanisms like the chin strap and any adjustable ratchet or dial systems prior to trying on a helmet. Place it squarely on your head, making sure it’s not tilted forwards or backwards. The front edge of the helmet should leave a small space above your eyebrows, and the fit should be snug and comfortable all the way around your head.

2. Leaving the helmet unbuckled, shake your head back and forth, and nod it up and down. The helmet should remain snug on your head. It’s too big if it slides around or moves separately from your head. Small adjustments in sizing can be made using the helmet’s adjustment mechanisms.

3. Do up the chin strap and adjust any additional ratchet or dial mechanisms until you have what feels like a stable, secure, but comfortable fit. Beware of any excess pressure points that could become uncomfortable when wearing the helmet for extended periods of time.

4. Try your helmet on with the goggles you intend to use. Check that the helmet allows the goggles to seal to your face, and that the bottom edge of the helmet and the top edge of the goggles come together comfortably.

Additional Helmet Features

Outside the immediate purpose of protection and warmth, there are several additional features to consider when selecting your new ski helmet. 

  • Detachable ear flaps keep you warm on the days you need it, but can be removed to allow more airflow on warmer days.
  • Built-in speakers, often built directly into the earflaps, allow you to bring your music on the mountain without needing headphones. These speakers are usually compatible with your cell phone, iPod, MP3 player or even satellite radio.
  • MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) helmets are designed to add protection against rotational motion to the brain from angled impacts to the head. Rotational motion comes from angled impacts, combined with acceleration; something prevalent in extreme sports. MIPS' added protection helps reduce impacts connected to minor and severe brain injuries by absorbing and redirecting the force away from the brain.

Regardless of your choice of style, colour and additional features, remember that your ski helmet's most important function is protecting your head from injury and trauma. Selecting a properly fitting helmet will provide the greatest level of protection when you need it most. Make it a habit to wear your helmet every time you hit the slopes!


This article and post is designed for educational purposes only. When participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is a possibility of physical injury. Please consult with a doctor prior to engaging in any exercise or exercise program. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk. Product selection is an individual choice and the consumer is responsible for determining whether or not any product is suitable based on the consumer’s circumstances.