Skiing is a fun activity for people of all ages and abilities, but it does come with some inherent risk of injury, even when precautions are taken. Wearing a helmet while skiing can provide extra protection, but do you really need to wear a ski helmet?
Yes, you should wear a helmet while skiing. A ski helmet will provide extra protection that could prevent or reduce the severity of injury if an accident were to occur, plus they offer a number of other advantages.
I always wear a ski helmet and I highly recommend that you wear one too. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
In this ultimate guide, I’ll break down the reasons why do you need a helmet to ski, why some skiers don’t wear helmets, and if ski helmets are mandatory in some countries along with ski helmet stats. I’ll also briefly talk about how a helmet works and the safety certifications.
Why Do You Need A Helmet To Ski?
Here are some of the main reasons why you should wear a ski helmet:
Protect Against Head Injuries
Ski helmets are designed to absorb the impact of a fall or collision and help protect the head from direct trauma, whiplash and blunt force impacts.
The outer shell of a ski helmet is usually made of a hard plastic like ABS and it spreads the force of an impact across the surface of the helmet while the inner foam liner of the helmet absorbs the shock of the impact.
Some of the most common ways skiers could get a head injury is by falling down or colliding with trees and other skiers. A ski helmet will protect you against all of them.
Read more about the dangers of skiing here.
But, it’s important to note that helmets do not protect you against all types of injuries — they do not help if you go faster than the speed limit the helmet supports (23 km/h) and collide.
Keeps You Warm
A ski helmet will keep your head and ears warm throughout the day.
Most body heat escapes from our heads and a helmet will trap this heat around your head.
Keeps Goggles In Place
A ski helmet will help keep your goggles in place and keep them tight. Helmets have a clip that you can fasten your goggles to and they’ll never fall off.
Read about the pros and cons of wearing ski goggles under and over helmets here.
Additionally, when it’s snowy or in a blizzard and there’s a lot of cold wind and snow coming at your face, the goggles and helmet keeps your forehead warm by closing the small gap between eyes and head.
Gives You More Confidence
A ski helmet can be a real confidence booster, especially for beginners. It gives you the assurance that you’ll be safe even if you fall or crash.
Knowing that can give you the confidence to try out new moves and tricks and even ski on harder terrains, knowing you’re well equipped to handle anything that comes your way.
Ski helmets come in different colors and make you easier to spot. This is especially useful when skiing with kids because they can easily get lost on the slopes.
Ski helmets can be customized, so something like a unique pattern or a mix of colors will make you or your kids super easier to spot.
Plus, ski helmets are great for mounting cameras like go pros! This is a great way to video all your wild ski trips, without having to lug around a camera.
Why Do Some Skiers Ski Without Helmets
Here are some of the main reasons why some skiers choose to go skiing without helmets:
One of the reasons why people don’t wear helmets is because they can be expensive.
People already spend a lot on skiing and gear, and ski helmets are more expensive than regular sport helmets, like bike helmets.
False Sense Of Security
Confidence is a double edged sword. While there is no scientific evidence or data, wearing a helmet does make skiers feel safer and more confident, making them attempt bold or risky moves that may injure themselves.
Affects Vision And Hearing
A lot of skiers complain that a ski helmet will cause impaired vision and affect hearing, which is true sometimes.
However a helmet does not affect vision and hearing enough to have a negative impact on your riding.
Some young skiers and teenagers don’t wear ski helmets because they think it looks “uncool”.
It’s true that a helmet may not look as stylish as wearing a cool beanie or hat but ski helmets now come in a variety of colors and designs and they look kind of great.
What Does The Stats Say?
Let’s take a look at what studies and statistics show about ski helmets:
- According to the New York Times (2014), around 70% of all skiers and snowboarders now wear ski helmets which is thrice the number in 2003.
- ASTM found that people wearing helmets went up from 8% to 84% in the years 1996 – 2012 and that skiing head injuries reduced from 8.4% to 6.8% in this period.
- Almost 100% of children wear ski helmets.
Are Ski Helmets Mandatory?
It’s important to note that some countries like Slovenia and Italy have regulations requiring all skiers and snowboarders to wear a helmet, while other countries leave it up to the individual’s discretion.
In the United States, both ski resorts and individual states typically follow a “voluntary” or “passive” helmet policy, meaning helmets are neither required nor prohibited but recommended for children under 18 and any adult who wants an additional level of safety on the slopes.
An exception for this is New Jersey where it is mandatory for children under 18 to wear a ski helmet.
Furthermore, certain states may require certain lifts or trails to be equipped with special helmet signage in order to inform skiers of the potential risks associated with skiing without protection.
In Europe, though many ski resorts choose not to enforce mandatory helmet usage, some countries do have laws requiring all participants in alpine sports (including skiing and snowboarding) under the age of 18 years old to wear a protective ski helmet that meets European safety standards.
Some European countries also impose fines for those found skiing without a ski helmet.
Ski Helmet Safety Certifications
Helmet safety standards are typically set by organizations like the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) in the US.
Despite the differences in ski helmet types, all ski helmets should meet ASTM F2040 and Snell RS-98 safety standards certification which ensures they have undergone rigorous safety testing standards including impact absorption testing upon certification before being made available in stores or online retail outlets.
In Europe, these standards are set by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and ski helmets should have the EN-1077 certification.
Wearing a ski helmet can provide a certain amount of protection against head injuries. Plus, they keep you warm and dry by trapping in heat, boost your confidence and can also help keep your ski goggles in place and are a good base for attaching a camera.
The bottom line is to always wear a ski helmet! The pros easily outweigh the cons. When you buy a helmet, be sure to buy one that fits properly. Or if you are on a budget you can rent one from the ski resort.
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make the choice that feels best for your own comfort and safety levels.
Do Beginner Skiers Need Helmets?
Yes, beginner skiers should definitely wear a ski helmet because the chances of them falling or getting into an accident is a lot higher. A bad injury might even make them give up skiing on their first day.
Do You Need A Helmet To Snowboard?
Yes, snowboarders need to wear helmets too because snowboarders face the same dangers skiers face. A helmet protects your head from potential injuries and keeps your head warm and comfortable in the cold.