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Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets

A selection of the helmets we tested this season. Photo: Dylan Heyden/The Inertia

The Inertia

Take a look at ski resorts across North America these days, and you’ll notice that more and more skiers and riders are wearing helmets to protect the old noodle. According to the National Ski Areas Association, the overall percentage of skiers and riders wearing helmets has increased from 25 percent in the 2002/03 season to 90 percent in the 2021/22 season. The reason behind this may be twofold: first of all, the general public is making smarter choices for their personal safety, and secondly, helmets are now lighter, more comfortable, and better designed than ever before.

Given the growing popularity of ski and snowboard helmets, the number of options these days can be overwhelming, to say the least. That’s exactly why we reached out to the top ski and snowboard helmet brands to get our hands on – and noggins in – some of the top performing helmets on the market to help even the most discerning skier or rider find their ideal choice.

To learn about how each helmet stacks up in key categories against the competition, take a look at our comparison table. Or, to get a sense of what to look for when shopping for a solid helmet check out the buyer’s guide.

The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets of 2024

Best Overall Ski and Snowboard Helmet: Giro Owen Spherical

Best Budget Ski and Snowboard Helmet: Giro Ledge Mips

Best Adjustability: Smith Vantage 

Best Backcountry Helmet: Smith Summit

Most Innovative Helmet: Anon Merak WaveCel

Best Overall Ski and Snowboard Helmet

Giro Owen Spherical ($240)

Giro Owen Spherical

Construction: In-mold
Weight: 514g
Key Features: Mips Spherical, dialed fit, magnetic buckle

Pros: Minimalist styling, innovative venting system, comfy liner, works well with beanie
Cons: Some gapping with non-Giro goggles

By and large, the helmet that impressed us the most in testing was the Owen Spherical helmet from Giro. Under the hood, the Owen features some unique tech. It takes Mips to the next level with Spherical Technology, which uses two separate liners in a ball-and-socket design to manage impact forces.

The cushy fleece padding throughout was big on all day comfort, but the overall fit of the Owen allowed us to wear a beanie underneath for colder days. The ear pads cup the ear nicely without completely blocking out ambient noise. The Owen also features a vent closure system that’s hidden on the inside of the helmet — the only helmet on our list that does this — to give you full temp control without impacting the overall aesthetic. Style-wise, we loved the understated look of the Owen that belies just how feature-packed it truly is.


Best Budget Ski and Snowboard Helmet

Giro Ledge Mips ($105)

Giro Ledge Mips

Construction: Hard shell/injection-molded
Weight: 587g
Key Features: Mips, hard shell construction, EPS foam liner

Pros: Skate inspired, minimalist styling, removable fit system and ear pads
Cons: No adjustable venting

If your ideal day of riding consists of innumerable hot laps in the terrain park and you need a helmet that’ll protect your head in a crash but will also match your style when hitting your favorite jibs, the Ledge is for you. An absolute skate-inspired minimalist, the Ledge is a hard-shell helmet Giro built specifically to meet the demands of street and park riding. With Mips protection and a $105 pricetag, few other helmets come even close to the level of bang-for-buck you get with the Giro Ledge. 

The ear pads, fit system, and goggle retainer are all removable for a clean look — especially if you prefer to wear your goggles under your helmet. Being a stripped down, everything you need and nothing you don’t helmet, you do sacrifice some features such as adjustable venting, but in our books that’s a small price to pay for solid, dependable protection at a great price. 


Best Adjustability

Smith Vantage ($270)

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Smith Vantage

Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 554g
Key Features: Mips, Zonal KOROYD, 21 adjustable vents, BOA 360 fit system

Pros: Complete adjustability with super generous venting
Cons: Style is a bit sporty

For the skier or rider looking to dial in every single aspect of their helmet for maximum comfort, the Smith Vantage earns top marks. The Vantage’s 21 vents have dual adjusters that allow you to open fully, halfway, or close completely for optimal airflow on any given day. A BOA 360 fit system allows you to literally dial in your fit. And we found the interior padding and liner to be generous, plush, and comfortable without being too hot. Unfortunately, unlike other Smith helmets the Vantage did not allow for fitting a beanie underneath as easily. So, we’d recommend sizing up if you fall in this category. And overall, the design may be a bit too “sporty” looking. Especially for skiers and riders looking for a more understated look. At the time of publishing in January 2024, the Vantage can be found online for as low as $161. Read our full review of the Smith Vantage (Women’s version) here.


Best Backcountry Helmet

Smith Summit ($230)

Smith Summit

Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 448g
Key Features: Mips, Zonal KOROYD, triple-certified, Boa fit system, headlamp routing

Pros: Extremely light, absolute minimalist, great fit
Cons: No ear pads, no rear goggle securing mechanism

For skiers and riders that aren’t immune to dark starts on the skin track, the Smith Summit has you dialed. Developed in collaboration with team rider and bona fide peak bagger Cody Townsend, the Summit boasts a number of features that backcountry enthusiasts will appreciate including an integrated headlamp router, pack attachment tethers, and a flexible fit system featuring BOA that tucks into the helmet for ultimate packability. It’s also well-vented so you can easily wear during a high-output uphill without overheating.

What makes the Summit great for off-piste use is a bit of a downside for resort riders. With no ear pads or liner to speak of, the Summit on its own can be a bit drafty. But, in testing we appreciated the modularity. The BOA system meant you could easily fit a ball cap or a beanie underneath and adjust your fit accordingly. So, the Summit could definitely serve as your one helmet quiver killer if you’re so inclined. The Summit is also triple certified — designed to meet global alpine ski certifications and international mountaineering standards. With Smith goggles, the Summit had minimal gapping. The only area that could be improved there is the Summit doesn’t have any way to secure goggles in the rear of the helmet. 


Most Innovative Helmet

Anon Merak WaveCel ($320)

Anon Merak WaveCel

Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 639g
Key Features: WaveCel, BOA fit system, adjustable venting

Pros: Extremely light, good ventilation, great goggle compatibility
Cons: Could use more interior padding, heavy

Since WaveCel hit the market, the company has made some pretty big claims. But, perhaps the most compelling is that the company claims a helmet with WaveCel has up to 98 percent less concussion risk than a standard helmet. WaveCel achieves this through its collapsible cellular structure that flexes, crumples, and glides on impact, combining the best aspects of both Mips and Koyroid (see buyers guide for a breakdown on the three technologies. For the next few years Anon holds exclusive rights to WaveCel in snow, and the Merak is the Cadillac of Anon’s WaveCel helmets.

With 19 vents and hybrid shell, in-mold construction, the Merak is feature-packed. The small brim also makes for great goggle compatibility. And unlike other BOA helmets, the Merak features a dial integrated into the rear part of the shell, rather than just the helmet liner, which worked great. One knock is the Merak doesn’t have a ton of padding inside and the WaveCel material isn’t the most comfortable against the head. Anon explains that WaveCel helmets are designed to fit closer to the head, and to size up if you are between sizes. We would add that if you plan to wear a beanie or anything underneath — which you’ll likely want to increase overall comfort and all day wearability — you’ll definitely want to size up.


Best of the Rest

Best Lightweight Resort Helmet

Smith Method Mips

Smith Method Mips ($140)

Construction: In-mold
Weight: 421g
Key Features: Mips, Zonal KOROYD, eight fixed vents, buckle closure

Pros: Incredibly light, understated styling, modestly priced
Cons: Limited vents, no fit adjustability

First impressions of Smith’s Method helmet were how incredibly light it is, even compared to other in-mold helmets in our test. And while the Method lacked a lot of the features of other more premium helmets — no adjustable venting, no BOA fit system — we would contend that the Method is the ideal helmet for the rider that wants to set it and forget it. After all, there are more important things to do on a powder day than fiddle with your helmet’s settings in the lift line. Right?

In testing, we found that the eight fixed vents were more than enough to keep the head cool on a chilly day. And the self-adjusting fit system, which is an elastic piece in the rear of the helmet, accommodated a beanie underneath just fine. The to-the-point styling looks great and the tiny brim integrated extremely well with most goggles. At this price point, we honestly couldn’t be more stoked on the Method.


Top-Pick In-Mold Helmet

Glade Boundary Helmet ($199)

Glade Boundary Helmet

Construction: In-mold
Weight: 470g
Key Features: Mips, Adjustable venting, dial for adjusting fit, magnetic buckle

Pros: Super light, generous amount of padding in liner, well-vented, beanie compatible
Cons: Sporty silhouette

Glade’s fully featured Boundary took top honors among in-mold helmets for its minimal weight, generous amount of venting, customizable fit, and comfortable liner that made the helmet great for long days on the mountain. The top vents are controlled by two sliders that allow you to more fully control air flow for ideal temp control. The visor is great for minimizing gap between goggles and helmet, and the magnetic buckle closure was easy to operate with gloves or mittens on.

We were also able to fit a thin beanie underneath the helmet which was great for upping the ante on warmth in colder climes. The only knock on the Boundary is the sporty silhouette may turn off some skiers or riders looking for a more streamlined look. At the time of publishing in January 2024, this helmet can be found on sale for $159. 


Top-Pick Hard Shell Helmet

Sweet Protection Igniter 2Vi Mips ($229)

Sweet Protection Igniter 2Vi Mips

Construction: Hard shell/injection-molded
Weight: 646g
Key Features: Proprietary 2Vi construction, Mips

Pros: Premium styling, bomber feel, ample venting, good interior padding
Cons: Runs small, top vents not adjustable

Forget what you thought you knew about hard shell helmets. Sweet Protection’s Igniter takes the performance you’d expect of an in-mold design and puts it in an ultra-durable, hard-shell package. The stylish venting and premium features — like the leatherette exterior of the ear flaps — gives off the vibe that the Igniter would be equally content in the cockpit of a fighter jet as it would be booting up a couloir.

The Igniter sports big safety features like Mips and Sweet Protection’s proprietary 2Vi tech. A dial in the rear of the helmet ensures a perfect fit, while ample venting made the Igniter cool on warm days. Unfortunately, sizing was a bit wonky. The Igniter comes in S/M, M/L, and L/XL. Normally wearing a large, we tested in the M/L, which felt a bit snug. If you find yourself between sizes, we’d recommend sizing up.


POC Calyx ($250)

POC Calyx

Construction: Hard shell/injection-molded
Weight: 695g
Key Features: Mips, hard shell construction, dual density EPS foam liner, RECCO Reflector, adjustable fit

Pros: Multi-sport design, highly packable, high on comfort
Cons: A bit heavy, sits on top of the head, pricey

When a company as embedded in cycling and snow as POC announces a helmet designed to shine equally in both pursuits, our ears perk up. And in testing, the Calyx did not disappoint. Featuring a dual density EPS liner, adjustable venting, and a cozy interior, the Calyx was comfy and warm on the mountain even on overcast days in the Sierra when temperatures stubbornly stuck around in the single digits.

We liked that the removable ear pads cupped the ear instead of covering the ear, which allow you to still hear well around you. And an adjustable fit system, which can also be pushed into the helmet for storage or when throwing on a pack, worked well with a beanie and without. A major drawback of the Calyx is the cost. At time of writing the Calyx is the most expensive on our list. But, if you consider the Calyx is supposed to replace both your ski helmet and your bike helmet, it may be worth it.


Bern Hendrix ($150)

Bern Hendrix

Construction: Hard shell/injection-molded
Weight: 519g
Key Features: Mips, thin shell, adjustable fit

Pros: Skate inspired, big brim aids in goggle compatibility
Cons: Styling may not be for everyone, no adjustable vents

The silhouette of Bern’s Hendrix definitely earns points for being the most unique that we got our hands on. Featuring a decent size brim in the front and a spoiler in the back, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But, for those with the confidence and steez to rock such a piece, you do you. The Hendrix features some premium features that you’d expect at this price point, including Mips, and a dial in the rear to adjust the fit. There is also ample padding inside the helmet making it high on comfort.


Scott Symbol 2 ($240)

Scott Symbol 2

Construction: In-mold
Weight: 558g
Key Features: Mips, D30 tech, 360 Pure Sound ear pads

Pros: Feature packed, comfortable, highly adjustable
Cons: Sporty silhouette

If there was a single helmet that took us by surprise during testing it was the SCOTT Symbol 2 Plus D. While Glade’s Boundary beat out the Symbol 2 to earn top honors for best in-mold helmet, that margin was incredibly narrow. This is because the Symbol 2 is loaded with features.

A dual active venting system allows you to open vents fully, halfway, or close fully. Scott’s 360 pure sound ear pads are specifically designed to promote hearing without compromising warmth. And we appreciated even the smallest details like a plush chin strap. 


Anon Windham ($190)

Anon Windham

Construction: Hard shell/injection-molded
Weight: 738g
Key Features: WaveCel, Boa 360 fit system, magnetic buckle

Pros: Streamlined look, decent price, some premium features, more padding than Merak
Cons: Heavy, no adjustable venting

For those looking for a WaveCel helmet at a more affordable price, Anon’s Windham fits the bill. Whereas Anon’s Merak WaveCel features adjustable vents, hybrid construction, and other premium features, the Windham features more to-the-point design with fixed venting in a hard shell package.

But the Windham isn’t completely devoid of premium features. Like the Merak, the Windham has a BOA 360 fit system integrated into the rear of the shell and Fidlock magnetic buckle. In testing we found the Windham was also a bit bigger than the Merak and accommodated a beanie nicely, so we wouldn’t recommend sizing up.


Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets Comparison Table

Helmet Price Weight Construction Features
Giro Owen Spherical $240 514g In-mold Mips Spherical, dialed fit, magnetic buckle
Giro Ledge Mips $105 587g Hard shell/injection-molded Mips, hard shell construction, EPS foam liner
Smith Vantage $270 554g Hybrid in-mold Mips, Zonal KOROYD, 21 adjustable vents, BOA 360 fit system
Smith Summit $230 448g Hybrid in-mold Mips, Zonal KOROYD, triple-certified, Boa fit system, headlamp routing
Anon Merak WaveCel $320 639g Hybrid in-mold WaveCel, BOA fit system, adjustable venting
Smith Method Mips $140 421g In-mold Mips, Zonal KOROYD, eight fixed vents, buckle closure
Glade Boundary Helmet $199 470g In-mold Mips, Adjustable venting, dial for adjusting fit, magnetic buckle
Sweet Protection Igniter 2Vi Mips $229 646g Hard shell/injection-molded Proprietary 2Vi construction, Mips
POC Calyx $250 695g Hard shell/injection-molded Mips, hard shell construction, dual density EPS foam liner, RECCO Reflector, adjustable fit
Bern Hendrix $150 519g Hard shell/injection-molded Mips, thin shell, adjustable fit
Scott Symbol 2 $240 558g In-mold Mips, D30 tech, 360 Pure Sound ear pads
Anon Windham $190 738g Hard shell/injection-molded WaveCel, Boa 360 fit system, magnetic buckle

Best Helmets with Dylan Heyden

Lead Tester Dylan Heyden sports the Giro Owen Spherical in testing. Photo: Dylan Heyden/The Inertia

How We Tested The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets

As a general rule, products designed for safety provide a bit of a quandary for testing. What we mean by that is helmet makers can tell you all about how their technology is superior for safety than another company’s. They can even put those products through lab tests. But, the only actual way to get a sense of whether or not a helmet is safer than another is to see how they hold up in identical real world scenarios and that just isn’t possible. For this review, it’s beyond our scope to make recommendations based on safety. All we can do is point to the claims of the product makers, independent studies, and voluntary safety standards.

For other features that make a good helmet, though, like fit, style, warmth, and other factors, our lead tester for this review, Dylan Heyden, tested helmets in different conditions and locales, from warm sunny days at SoCal mountains with an entirely manmade snowpack to extended periods in the Eastern Sierra with temps in the single digits. Additional testing was done by Steve Andrews and Lindsay Gough in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, home to the legendary Whistler Blackcomb. 

Editor’s Note: For more in-depth reviews of the top ski and snowboard gear in the industry, check out our guides to: The Best Ski Jackets, The Best Ski Bibs, The Best Snowboard JacketsThe Best Snowboard Pants, The Best Snowboard Goggles, The Best Snowboard Mittens, The Best Snowboard Boots, and The Best Snowboard Bags

Scott Helmet

The Scott Symbol 2 impressed with a full suite of features. Photo: Dylan Heyden/The Inertia

Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets Buyer’s Guide

Key Features

The key features that we looked at when evaluating ski and snowboard helmets fell into three buckets: safety, comfort, and style. Safety comprises all of the different features specifically designed to best protect your head that are all part of a helmet’s construction — from industry-standard tech and certifications to proprietary technologies and innovations. Comfort is everything that allows you to wear a helmet for an entire day on the hill without feeling too cold, too hot, or that it’s too tight or too loose. Finally, style is that intangible factor that makes a helmet look good and is, admittedly, the most subjective of the three. We took all of these points into consideration when reviewing the best ski and snowboard helmets of 2024. 

Helmet Construction

In general, snow helmets are constructed one of two ways. In-mold helmets are created with an EPS foam layer fused to a hard outer shell in a single molding process. These helmets are often able to shave off a bit of weight by using a thinner outer shell Injection-molded (also called ABS or hard shell helmets) means the inner EPS layer was glued to the hard outer shell with an adhesive. In-mold helmets are generally lighter and can be more expensive. Whereas injection molded helmets can be heavier but are generally more budget-friendly, and don’t show their wear as easily thanks to a more rigid outer shell. Both construction styles protect the head equally well, so choosing between the two comes down to personal preference. Also, some helmets use a hybrid construction technique trying to harness the benefits of both construction methods.

KOROYD and WaveCel

Two innovative materials you’re likely to see in some higher-end helmets on the market are Koroyd and WaveCel and they’re actually pretty similar. Both materials are collapsible cellular structures designed to crumple at impact, absorbing force, and protecting the head. Koroyd has a honeycomb-like look while WaveCel takes its name from its wavy look. Both technologies purport to absorb more force than a full EPS foam liner. Koroyd is favored by brands like Smith (used both on the Method and Summit helmets) and is integrated in certain “zones” of the helmet with EPS foam covering the rest. Smith’s Koroyd helmets also feature Mips (see below). Meanwhile Anon has gone all in on WaveCel. WaveCel is designed both to crumple like Koroyd during impact and glide to redirect energy away from the head like Mips.

Best Ski and snowboard helmets on fence

See that little yellow circle? That’s how you know your helmet is protecting your head with Mips technology. Photo: Dylan Heyden/The Inertia

What is Mips?

Pay close enough attention at ski resorts and you’re likely to have noticed little yellow dots on the back of strangers’ helmets to denote being equipped with Mips technology. Mips stands for multi-directional impact protection system which sounds pretty complex, but the reality is pretty straightforward. A helmet with Mips includes a sliding internal layer that is supposed to reduce rotational movement of an impact to the head at an angle by allowing the head to move inside the helmet just slightly. Stick your fist in the liner of a Mips helmet and you’ll be able to wiggle it a little compared to a helmet without Mips. This play in the inner part of the helmet is designed to work much like the fluid that surrounds the brain in your skull to protect the brain from trauma. Mips is industry-standard these days and while a Mips-equipped helmet generally comes at a higher cost, it’s well worth the upgrade if you can swing it.

Safety Certifications

At present, there are no mandatory standards that ski and snowboard helmets must meet in the United States, but there is a voluntary standard, ASTM F2040, that manufacturers often reference. This standard was developed by the American Society of Testing and Materials and includes impact with different shaped anvils in different temperatures and a dynamic strength retention test. The European standard, CE-EN1077 is also often referenced in the industry. This standard includes many of the same tests but from a reduced height and only using flat anvils, but it also includes stipulations around the overall helmet design including coverage area, straps, and ear covers. 

Giro Ledge MIPS

The Giro Owen Spherical was our top pick for ski and snowboard helmets in 2024. Photo: Dylan Heyden/The Inertia

Key Comfort Features

Helmets must strike an interesting balance in a snow environment – they must insulate on colder days but also be able to dump heat when a low vis morning gives way to a bluebird afternoon. To thread this needle, many of the helmets we tested feature vents that can be opened or closed with a sliding mechanism – sometimes the slider is on the outside of the helmet, or, in the case of the Giro Owen, the slider is inside the helmet to preserve the sleek look.

Additionally, to literally dial-in fit, many helmets also feature a BOA knob in the rear of the helmet to tighten and loosen a helmet as necessary. This is especially helpful if you’re anything like us and on colder days you need to loosen things up to fit a beanie under your helmet. 

Last but not least, goggle compatibility is a major consideration when scoping out helmets. Ideally, a helmet should have as close to a seamless look from the top of your goggles to the lip of the helmet as possible to avoid the dreaded “gaper gap.” Keep in mind that companies that make both goggles and helmets often design them to work best together. So, sticking with the same ecosystem of products has its benefits.

POC Calyx

The POC Calyx sports a simple and easy-to-use helmet connector. Photo: Dylan Heyden/The Inertia

Other Considerations

The humble plastic buckle that’s been used on everything from backpacks to helmets since time immemorial is brilliant in its simplicity. So, far be it from us to criticize. But, recently helmet manufacturers have taken to replacing this tried and true closure with unique magnetic closure systems and after significant testing, we are definitely fans. These magnetic closures are easy to operate with gloves or mitts or even one handed, but are fully secure when closed. 

Another nice-to-have is a goggle securing system in the rear of the helmet that’s made of rubber or some similarly elastic material. The little plastic removable numbers tend to break off.

Return to Comparison Table | Return to Top Picks

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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