The most important factor in a helmet is its size and that it must fit properly and comfortably on your head to protect your brain against serious injuries. Looking at the different snowboard and ski helmets that are available in stores today you will notice that there are a few different styles of helmets.
Each style has their own specific purpose:
Full face: these helmets have a so-called chin guard and a visor. They over top of the line protection and are typically used for big mountain snowboarding and skiing competitions. Full face helmets are often more expensive.
Full shell: these helmets provide a full coverage that includes hard pads over the ears instead of soft ear pads. They are mostly used for racing and have special screw holes for the required jaw guards.
Half shell: these helmets have soft ear pads on an otherwise hard shell helmet. These type of helmets represent the most popular helmet style for snowboarders and skiers at all levels. The soft ear pads are often removable and the inner liners are usually removable and washable.
Getting the right size
A correctly fitting helmet is incredibly important because it will ensure that the helmet functions as designed and it provides you with the best level of protection and comfort possible. Because no two helmet manufacturers make their helmets the same it is important to measure your actual head size in centimetres. A small size helmet made by one brand may be a medium size in another. Follow our instructions below to make sure you get the right size and a correctly fitting helmet:
1. Find a soft tape measure and measure across the centre of your forehead above the ears.
2. Add one centimetre extra for thick or long hair or when you want to wear a beanie underneath.
3. For example, if the circumference of your head is 56 cm, you will wear a 56 cm helmet or medium.
(Depending on the helmet’s size scale.) Do not size a helmet with room to grow: if it is too large, it is unsafe.
Adjusting the fit
Snowboard and ski helmets are available in two different fit types: standard or adjustable. The standard helmets come without an adjustable fit and therefore each size is designed to fit a smaller range of head sizes. For example, a standard medium helmet may only fit a 58 – 59-centimetre head size. The adjustable helmets come with special features that will allow you to tailor the helmet’s fit to ensure a snug and safe fit every time you head onto the mountain. For example, an adjustable medium helmet may fit anything from 56 – 60-centimetre thanks to the adjustability of the helmet.
Looking at the available helmets you will find that there are 4 main adjustments systems used by manufacturers:
Foam pads: half shell helmets come with a series of foam pads that vary in thickness, which can be swapped inside the helmet to change the size and fit easily and fast. Systems with foam pads tend to be cheaper and are a good option for those of us who like to wear a beanie under our helmet.
Sliders: these can be found on helmets with an adjustable band around the inside of the helmet. To adjust the helmet’s fit you tighten the slider which tightens the band making the helmet fit more snug. Systems with sliders are fairly cheap and work well when you want to adjust your helmet quickly. Even when you’re busy out on the mountain snowboarding or skiing.
Dial: lots of helmets are now available with a sophisticated dial fit system. When turned they tighten or loosen an internal cage inside the helmet, which ensures a comfortable and snug fit every time. Helmets with a dial fit system come at a higher price due to their complexity, but they offer the best level of fit.
Air Fit: this addition adjustment system is quite unique as it provides air-fueled comfort in the shape of a low-profile headband inside the helmet. At the touch of a button, you can add or release air to fine tune your helmet’s fit and avoid pressure points.
Photo Courtesy: EVO, Absolute-SnowNext