So, you’re heading out on a GAP course, and now you’re looking to upgrade your equipment so you arrive ready to rock. In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about helmets. We’ve tried to cover all the essential stuff, but take a look at our FAQs if you didn’t find what you were looking for.

Find The Right Style

A helmet is a helmet, right? Find one you like the look of, and off you go. You’d think that would be true, but only partially; many key and subtle differences are worth considering before buying a new helmet.

The first thing to consider is the style of the helmet. I don’t mean the colour; this is whether the helmet is designed specifically for park, backcountry, racing or all mountain. Each of these is designed slightly differently to maximise comfort or usability.



The main difference between a park helmet and a traditional alpine helmet is the moulding. A park helmet will generally utilise a hard shell, meaning its outer shell is moulded separately to the inner layer, often with thicker plastic. The hard outer shell is then moulded and attached to a layer of foam that sits underneath. They’re designed to protect against big hits and provide extra protection. They tend to be a little cheaper due to their straightforward design, but they’re extremely hard-wearing and great value. Popular among freeride and park skiers. Most park helmets often come with removable liners and ear pads, style points for the beanie and goggles under the helmet. Giro, Smith, Sandbox and Anon are popular choices.


Traditional Alpine

The most common and frequently used. You’ll find most instructors wearing a traditional alpine helmet. Most helmets use an in-mould or hybrid construction, combining durability and comfort while saving on weight. There are hundreds of helmets in this range, so brand choice, price point and design features may be the best way to decide which one to go for. Nearly all new helmets will meet the safety requirements, but some utilise different technology. You’ll find most helmets are unisex; however, there are both male and female-specific helmets. The key differences are, of course, in size but also insulation; women’s helmets tend to have added insulation for warmth. To pick the helmet best for you, keep reading to check you have the right fit; things like goggle compatibility are not to be overlooked.



The most apparent difference between a ski race helmet and a traditional one is the hard shell over the ears, designed for added protection when rounding gates. Race helmets will often come with the option to add a chin guard. They’re super lightweight, low profile to aid performance and boast all the safety features of your best alpine helmets. Race helmets must also meet specific requirements and standards to be worn during a race. Unless you’re racing, there is no real need to buy a race helmet; nearly all new models of traditional alpine helmets share the same safety features and standards. Instructors who are also race coaches may choose to buy a race helmet.


Backcountry And Touring

Helmets designed with backcountry and touring in mind focus on a few key features. The first is weight; most helmets will be super lightweight, which makes them more comfortable to wear on those long touring days. You can even clip the helmet onto a pack and not have the extra weight. These helmets will often come with neat design features, such as a headlamp retainer, which would be overlooked in a traditional helmet. Many of these helmets also come with the added benefit of being triple norm certified for skiing, climbing and biking, so if you’re one of those who likes to partake in several sports, this could be a great option. Use your helmet for skiing in the winter and you don’t need to swap to another one when the snow melts and it it’s bike season.

How Should Your Ski Helmet Fit?

Do not overlook this!! Fit is critical. You may have picked out your favourite helmet and design, but not all helmets are the same shape and size. They come with a different profile, affecting how the helmet sits on your head, comprising comfort and safety. The shape and profile of your helmet will also affect how your goggles fit. Ideally, the helmet shouldn’t move when secured on your head. Rock your head back and forth and check if there is movement from the helmet. The front of the helmet should sit in the middle of your forehead. We advise seeing a professional inside a ski shop to fit your new helmet correctly.

skier in brown jacket carrying skis on shoulder

Picking Out Goggles For Your Helmet

If you already have goggles, we recommend taking them when picking out your new helmet. We want to avoid jerry gaps…. not cool!! Most brands will recommend the best compatible goggles if you buy a helmet. There should be no gap between the goggles and the helmet when the helmet sits comfortably on your head.

Most goggles found on the market now are high quality, so deciding which to buy can be tricky. As mentioned above, ensuring your goggles fit the helmet is super important and will narrow your search. Many brands have goggles in different frame sizes, so it’s worth checking out which frame size fits your face the best. We also recommend finding a goggle with two lenses, one for sunny weather (high light) and one for those snowy flat light days (low light). Wearing a high light lens on a flat light day is no fun! Alternatively, many brands offer an all-weather lens, a versatile option if the goggles you like don’t come with two lenses. Oakley, Smith, Sweet Protection and Shred are popular choices on the market.


Additional Features

You may have seen visor helmets on the slopes in the last few years. A new trend offers another option for those struggling with the fit of goggles or enjoy the convenience of not messing around tightening or loosening goggle straps. This could be a game-changer for those who wear glasses when skiing. Although many goggle brands offer OTG (over the glasses) models, sometimes options are limited and only sometimes fit the glasses you wear. If you struggle with the traditional helmet + goggle combo, it’s worth looking into. Check out this useful guide on goggles.

What Is MIPS In A Ski Helmet?

If you’re wondering why some helmets are so much more expensive or cheaper than others, most of it concerns the brand or technology used. Nearly all helmets will meet the industry’s safety standards (check with a professional store if you need clarification). However, some helmets utilise technology such as MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system) or the brand’s version, which adds to the cost. MIPS is a technology designed to reduce the effect of angular impacts, keeping you safer. The head is allowed to slide independent of the helmet ever so slightly on impact, helping to reduce and redirect energy away from the brain. Style or design features may increase the price point, but some helmets have some pretty cool features worth paying a little extra for.

Skier in yellow jacket in powder

If you would like some additional advice on what helmet to buy, or where to buy it from, feel free to send us a message