The 5 Best Ski Helmets – 2016

What are the best helmets to protect your head in style? Remember that you are buying a piece of safety equipment and that safety should never be compromised to look good.

It is worth a spending a little extra time to find a well-designed helmet that protects you from the elements and also looks good on you.

These are our favorite ski/snowboard helmets that won our trust because of their superior performance.

  1. Giro Seam Snow Sports Helmet
  2. Smith Optics Variance Helmet
  3. Lucky Bums Snow Sports Helmet
  4. Smith Optics Holt Snow Sports Helmet
  5. Giro Surface-S Snow Helmet

Here is an overview of the helmets (for Men, Women and Kids), full reviews and our buying guide is below.

The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets

Mobile Users Scroll Over =>Giro Seam Snow HelmetLucky Bums Snow Sports HelmetSmith Optics Variance Snow Sports Helmet
editors choice
Construction:Injection molded one piece ABS helmetExternal outer cap is ABS material, inside a molded shell in EPS material for extra strengthHybrid design, Injection molded two piece ABS helmet
Weight and Fit:16oz, 4 sizes available with comfortable foam interior.21oz, 5 sizes available with comfortable foam interior.18oz, 8 sizes available for a comfortable fit with "Boa" fit system for a perfect fit.
Warmth and Ventilation:Dual regulator ventilation with independent control of front and rear sections of the helmet's 14 vent openings.
Removable inner lining and ear pieces can be removed for washing.
Mesh covered vent ports can be opened and closed. Warm ear pads that let sound through.Dual regulator ventilation with independent control of front and rear sections of the helmet's 18 vent openings.
Removable ear pads that let sound through and removed for washing.
Other Features:Internal fabric lining and ear padding include an anti-allergic, anti-static and antibacterial treatment .Internal fabric lining and ear padding include an anti-allergy and antibacterial treatment Skullcandy audio systems available and removable goggle lock
Link to Purchase:

Ski/Snowboard Helmet Reviews

Note: All the helmets reviewed have met required safety standards.

#1 Giro Seam Snow Helmet

First off, I have to say that the Giro Seam is my every-day ski helmet. You’re about to learn why these helmets totally kick ass.

A dial lock adjustment with floating internal suspension means that the helmet adjusts to fit your head like a glove with zero pressure points. I wear this helmet 7-8 hours a day for 100+ days a season (I’ve got well over 400 days in this helmet) … trust me when I say you’ll forget it’s there.

Well placed ventilation is controlled by an easy to access and operate slider. One large slider opens and closes all vents on the helmet and features a “halfway open” positive stop so I can have my vents partially open or closed without guessing.

Giro Seam Snow Helmet

Giro Seam Snow Helmet

Ear panels feature a removable foam piece (meant for a speaker system) and mesh panels.

I took out the speaker inserts and it’s about a million times easier to hear than any other helmet I’ve ever worn. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t sacrifice a bit of comfort or warmth.

All of the internal padding is adjustable, removable, and washable. This is a serious plus for those of us who wear a helmet all day!

Goggle retention strap is a line snap closure – again, this means your goggles have no chance of going anywhere even if you take a massive digger.

Going one step above the design of the Lucky Bums, however, the Giro Seam goggle retainer is elastic so it can easily fit over even the bulkiest setups.

Pro Tip: Go for the solid black or solid white look – it’s a great sleek and clean look that says “I know what’s up.”

While a bit more expensive than the other helmets reviewed, its the best snowboard helmet (ski too) based on performance, style, comfort and safety.

#2 Smith Optics Variance Helmet Review

The Variance being our first Smith Optics helmet reviewed with a very different style than the Holt helmet. While the Holt is a classic “Bomber” style helmet the Variance is more what you think of as a ski/snowboard helmet.

The Smith Optics Variance features a unique hybrid style of construction, somewhere in between a one piece injection molded and a two piece design normally only found on much more expensive helmets. The result is a strong, lightweight impact resistant design at a bargain price.

Some people have complained about Smith Optics helmets not fitting many people’s heads very well, this doesn’t seem to be the case with the Variance. It has plenty of adjustability with their “Boa” fir system. It just means it has standard wheel and cables to adjust it to fit your head perfectly.

The ear muffs are very comfortable while letting in sound at the same time allowing you to hear people talking to you easily. If you’re into listening to music while skiing and boarding then you’re in luck. The variance has an optional Skull Candy audio systems option.


Smith Optics Variance Helmet

This is a very light helmet (about 18 oz) and one the lightest of the helmets evaluated. Not only is it light is also has one of the better ventilation systems of the tested ski helmets with 18 vent openings.

The front vents can be opened or closed with a slider and the same with the back vents, while some of the lower vents are always open.

The ear muffs are removable for warm weather or spring skiing. The helmet is plenty warm, and te liner has a “Nanosilver” coating to prevent bacteria and odor buildup.

Being that Smith Optics also makes goggles as well, they have made the Variance very goggle friendly. It features a unique snap design that secures the goggles while making it easy to remove them at the same time.

Naturally the helmet is designed especially for Smith Optics goggles but they work fine with other manufacturers as well. It comes in 10 colors so you should be able to find one that fits your style. In my opinion this is the best of the Smith ski helmets on a price/performance basis.

All in all, the Smith Optics Variance is a great helmet at a bargain price, highly recommended.

#3 Lucky Bums Snow Sports Helmet Review

This helmet is surprisingly feature rich and robust considering the price point they managed to hit with it. Why do I consider it feature-rich?

Dial lock style adjustment strap in the back of the helmet adjusts the internal suspension system nicely to help fit a wider range of head sizes and shapes. Don’t forget to order the right size helmet, though, because the adjustment range is only minor. Goggle retention strap on the back side is a line snap style fastener.

This differs from many manufacturers because it means once you button your goggle strap in, it won’t come back out until you want it to! This is much handier than you might think at first glance.

Lucky Bums Snow Sport Helmet Review

Lucky Bums Snow Sport Helmet

Good design, Lucky Bums!

Unfortunately, the mesh vents on top do not open or close which is a major drawback for me – it means you’ll be comfortable in a narrower range of temperatures.

For most people this won’t be a problem, but if you’re a hard charger and won’t let up when the weather gets rough… you may want to consider adjustable vents.

Compared to the Smith helmet, I think this ski/snowboard helmet has more useful features for the everyday skier or boarder.

For the price I would recommend this helmet in favor of the Smith Holt helmet as I believe they’ve included more intelligent features for the casual skier.

The Lucky Bums is the best cheap ski helmet that doesn’t compromise on safety.

Pro Tip: Wear a thin beanie under the helmet when the mercury drops!

The helmet is available in a variety of colors, including black, blue, red, silver, light blue, light pink and a rather natty black with skull.

Excellent value for money and comfortable to wear.

#4 Smith Optics Holt Snow Sports Helmet Review

Coming in squarely at the budget range of snow sports helmets, the Holt helmet by Smith is a solid choice for the new skier or budget minded boarder. Lacking nothing in the safety and protection department, the helmet achieves a balance of function and price by minimizing extravagance in other areas.

Ear cups are solid foam – no perforated holes to help improve sound transmission, so you may have a feeling of “muffled” hearing. Minimal adjustability makes the helmet a good choice only if you know you can return it (Not an issue with Amazon) before buying to ensure it fits your head shape (Smith helmets do not fit my head at all).

Smith Optics Unisex Adult Holt Snow Sports Helmet

Smith Optics Unisex Snow Sports Helmet

Adjustable air ventilation is a serious positive addition to this budget minded helmet. Goggle retention system in the back is nice but having the opening at the top of the goggle lock is a huge oversight.

As an instructor I’ve worked with many clients rocking this brain bucket and I can say that goggles love to pop out of the goggle lock on the back – it’s not as well designed as it could be.

“Skullcandy” speaker pockets are included so if your looking for snowboard helmets with audio then you’re in luck.

All in all, this ski helmet is relatively bland(other colors are available) but it works and I’ve worked with hundreds of people who are perfectly satisfied with it. There’s nothing wrong with the helmet at all and it is a bargain priced helmet that is worth the money!

Pro Tip: Smith helmets are generally well suited to people with more rounded heads – my huge oval shaped dome never fits them.

Bonus Feature: The helmet can also be used in the summer for skate boarding by removing the insulation. At 19 oz the helmet is comparatively light for an injection molded helmet making it a good choice and comfortable to wear.

#5 Giro Surface-S Snow Helmet Review

The Giro Surface is a more inexpensive version of the Seam helmet reviewed earlier. The Surface is more of skater inspired helmet and has a look that snowboarders favor. The Surface is a budget priced helmet that doesn’t lack for quality and features however.

It has a dial lock adjustment like the more expensive Giro Seam. It allows you to get a very comfortable fit with the turn of a dial. This is especially convenient if you like to wear a head liner for extra warmth and comfort.

The Helmet features a quality one piece hardshell construction so you can wear this helmet with confidence knowing it will protect you. The MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) technology means the helmet provides full protection no matter where on the helmet an impact occurs.


Giro Surface-S Snow Helmet

The helmet is plenty warm, even in sub-zero weather and when the weather turns warm the ventilation does a good job of keeping your head cool. The ear pads are removable so you can wash them or if it’s too warm for them.

The goggle retention system is removable without any tools and has a simple locking snap to keep your goggles secure. If you like to listen to music while on the slopes, the Surface is compatible with all Giro audio systems.

The helmet is available in 12 colors so you should be able to find one that suites your style. The Giro Surface is an excellent budget priced ski or snowboard helmet that doesn’t sacrifice protection.

How To Choose A Ski Helmet


Ensure that any helmet you buy meets European standard CE EN 1077 or ASTM F2040 if you are buying from the U.S. While children’s helmets are lighter than adults they also have to meet stringent safety standards.


Ski helmets are made in two different ways. In molded models are the lightest, but also the most expensive. They are made of a thin, polycarbonate shell are filled with expanded polystyrene. (EPS.) Injection molded models are cheaper and also heavier. They have a rounder shape and are made from ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and are again filled EPS.

All helmets are equipped with a fitting system and retention harness. These can vary in design, but must hold the helmet in place and secure under most conditions.

Types of helmets

There are several different types of helmet. Most people opt for the “half shell” which covers the hairy part of the head. This means that detachable ear muffs are needed. However, for maximum safety you can opt for a “full face” whole shell design where these are integrated. These are especially popular for small children and beginning skiers and boarders.

Fit and Comfort

Choosing the right fit of helmet is important, but this is easy to do. Measure the circumference of your head just about the eyebrows in centimeters. Choose the right size. If you are at the top end of a size go for the larger one. Allow a centimeter or so if you are going to wear a hat.

As people have different shaped heads, manufacturers tend to make different shaped helmets or become known for making one of a particular shape. You should choose a helmet that fits the shape of your head.

The helmet should fit comfortably, but not slide back and forth or from side to side and you should be able to buckle the helmet easily beneath your chin so that it fits snugly without cutting off your circulation. You can then tighten the helmet by using the adjustment system for the helmet so that you get the perfect fit. You will know you have achieved this when the helmet is perfectly aligned and does not move.

Never buy a helmet you do not feel comfortable in. A ski helmet should fit like a pair of good boots. You should like wearing it. If you buy a helmet online make sure you have time to return it and try again before you go skiing, especially important if you are going across country on a long ski trip. You don’t want to have to purchase another helmet at the ski shop because you have an ill-fitting helmet.

If you have a ski shop nearby, try on a few different brands till you find the one you like, then buy it online for a cheaper price. Different helmets will suit different head shapes and there is never a one size fits all solution to buying a ski helmet.

If a helmet has the means to adjust the size from a scroll button at the back make sure that this is positioned so that it does not dig into the neck.

As every person is different, one make or brand of helmet will never satisfy everybody. It is best to try on several different helmets and choose one that you feel really comfortable in.

Best Ski Helmet Reviews

Weight and Bulk

In theory, a heavier helmet should mean better protection, however this has to be balanced with the need for buying one that you actually want to wear on your head. Lighter weight helmets still have to meet stringent safety regulations and it is better to buy something you are comfortable in and actually want to wear.

An injection molded helmet generally weighs slightly more than one made from in molding and is not as fashionable. This is really a matter of personal choice. In general, a good ski helmet will weigh about a pound and they will be somewhat lighter for children.

Warmth and Ventilation

Modern helmets tend to be quite warm. Bear this in mind as you may never need to wear a hat unless you prefer to do so. You are more likely to want to be able to ventilate because you are too hot than to shield yourself against the cold unless you are skiing in especially cold weather.

That said, a good helmet should be able to protect you whatever the climate. In cold weather, the snug fit of the helmet should not allow air to escape through the vents. Make sure they can be fully closed. If it is very cold you do not want any part of the helmet allowing the cold in.

On warmer days, you should be easily able to adjust the vents to cool you down. Make sure that the helmet you buy allows you to do this. Another consideration in warm weather are detachable ear muffs, removing them is the best way to cool down.

When ear covers are loose and floppy they do not provide enough insulation. Half shell helmets tend to have less efficient ear coverage for this reason. The best kind of ear muffs are those that are slightly tensioned. Bear in mind that some ear muffs will also reduce your ability to hear.

Goggle Compatibility

It is essential that the goggles you choose fit well with your chosen helmet. There should be no gap between the helmet and the top of the goggles. Everything should fit seamlessly so if you’re going to try on a helmet at a ski shop, remember to take your goggles to check for proper fit. It is useful if the helmet has a goggle clip on the back.

One feature that is a must is a goggle strap in the back of the helmet to keep the goggles from slipping off the helmet when you push them up on the helmet. You will especially appreciate this on the ski lift so you don’t have to worry about dropping them.


Ski helmets come in a range of types and designs. It can be tempting to go for a wonderful bold color only to realize later that this limits what you can wear with the helmet. Choosing a style you want to be seen in will increase the likelihood you will always wear it. Safety is the most important factor when you buy a helmet and it is less tempting to leave it off if you know you look good in it.

Ski helmets now come in a vast array of colors so bear in mind that you may want the one you own to coordinate with the jackets and other clothing you intend to wear.

You may find a fairly neutral color is best if you only intend to buy a single helmet. This way your helmet will match most any color coat. You can always use a visor for added style, but remember that these do not work well with goggles

The Bottom Line

All the helmets reviewed above will fit your needs for a safe and comfortable helmet. They all provide adequate warmth and ventilation and had a system in place to ensure a secure fit. There was no problem with goggles misting up and the main differences were in the type of ventilation system used and the style.

The Lucky Buns helmet seemed to be better for children and adults alike, but the Giro Seam helmet has better thermostatic control and the Smith Optics Unisex Adult Holt Snow Sports Helmet was the best choice for color and style. With the three we have reviewed, you cannot go wrong whichever one you choose and they all meet the criteria we have outlined in this article.

Need a good pair of ski gloves? Click here to read our reviews on our top picks and if you are in need of goggles, read our reviews of the 3 best ski/boarder goggles.


Notice: Outside Pursuits is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees sold through by advertising and linking to Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links. Each of your purchases via our Amazon affiliate links supports our efforts to bring you the best possible product reviews at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support here at
What are the best helmets to protect your head in style? Remember that you are buying a piece of safety equipment and that safety should never be compromised to look good. It is worth a spending a little extra time to find a well-designed helmet that protects you from the elements and also looks good on you. These are our favorite ski/snowboard helmets that won our trust because of their superior performance. Giro Seam Snow Sports Helmet Smith Optics Variance Helmet Lucky Bums Snow Sports Helmet Smith Optics Holt Snow Sports Helmet Giro Surface-S Snow Helmet Here is an overview…

Review Overview


Summary : The Giro Seam Helmet is our top pick. It offers an unbeatable combination of comfort, safety, warmth and value.

About Casey Fielder

I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I’m a huge fan of punk rock. I have launched several start-ups. (or business ventures) When exploring the backcountry, I usually carry less than 10 pounds of gear. Years of experience have taught me to pack light. If you enjoy my writing, please check out my other material at I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing.