Ski Helmet vs Bike Helmet: Key Differences

Ski helmet vs bike helmet key differences

Maybe you have already known the importance of wearing a ski helmet. But did you know that it is not the same as a bike helmet? In fact, not all helmets are safe enough for all outdoor activities. As a result, it is crucial to understand the differences between them.

In the past, helmets were mostly designed for bike users only. But not until the number of skiers and snowboarders picked up around the world.

That’s when helmet manufacturers started to develop helmets for specific sports. Now, there seems to be an ongoing debate between these two: Skiing helmets vs Cycling helmets.

They’re both similar in their function- protecting the user’s head while riding. However, the features of each helmet type are unique to that particular activity. And that means they are not designed for the same purpose. So, what’s the difference between a ski and a bike helmet?

Ski Helmets vs Bike Helmets: Overview

Ski Helmets vs Bike Helmets Overview

Put simply, a skiing helmet is a part of safety gear that protects you against head injuries when skiing. It is normally made up of an interior layer of padding and a hard outer shell. The main purpose of the interior padding is to soak up the shock and lessen the impact.

A cycling helmet, on the other hand, is also a part of protective equipment. It is a headgear that covers the head and can also include a visor to keep the eyes from ultraviolet rays. Bike helmets are normally designed with padding or cushioning on the sides and back to protect the user against head injuries in case of a crash or fall while riding.

Additionally, helmets are made with adequate vents to allow air to flow through your head while riding. These air vents help prevent heatstroke, especially when riding in hot weather.

As you can see, there’s a great deal between cycling helmets and skiing helmets. Both are meant to shield your head from injuries in the event of a collision.

Moreover, they both include vents that give a cooling breeze during the ride. Skiing helmets may also feature a built-in visor to shield your eyes against the sun, just like cycling helmets. Plus, both versions started with a hairnet that wasn’t as good as helmets today!

A Brief History of Bike Helmets

A Brief History of Bike Helmets

In the 1880s, there was an increase in head injuries among racers, and this led to the wearing of pitch helmets as a form of protection. In the 1970s, the use of a leather hairnet became popular. The first saleable helmet, which was known as Belle Baker, was a bike helmet.

It came out later in 1975, and it had a strong shell that was coated with polystyrene.

By the middle of the 1980s, most cycling helmets featured foam liners made from polyurethane (expanded type) and hard shells made of ABS polycarbonate. In 1984, Bell created the “Lil Bell Shell,” a helmet for kids, which didn’t have a cover.

Another helmet, the “Snell B85,” was released by the same manufacturer in 1985 and was later improved. All of these helmets either had a hardshell design or none at all.

The micro shell helmet made from a mold, which actually featured a thin shell, was introduced in 1990. They were still quite uncommon, but this style ended up dominating the bicycle helmet market.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a rise in helmets designed with cutting-edge technologies. In addition to employing high-grade materials, these helmets also had buckles and padding for added protection.

Today, there’s a whole range of bike helmets available, from professional cyclists to weekend warriors. And if you’re interested really in how you appear while riding, there are also a ton of fashionable options out there.

Brief History of Skiing Helmets

Brief History of Skiing Helmets

Well, no helmets were in use until modern alpine racing. In 1938, an alpine racer hit a tree during a competition and sustained injuries. It was during this period when hairnet helmets for skiing were first used. Then an Italian business called AGV produced a fiberglass skiing helmet in 1953.

The following year, Herman Roth developed a liner using raised polystyrene bead foam. Inexpensive plastic helmets were readily available by 1973, especially for children. In 1974, helmets made of EPS and other improved materials were produced.

Around 2000, the use of helmets became more popular. And many skiers were wearing helmets by 2010. There was a decrease in skiing-related head injuries as a result.

Nowadays, skiing helmets are worn by practically all participants in this activity. The helmets have undergone a complete evolution and now, they feature cutting-edge technology.

Key Differences Between A Bicycle Helmet and Ski Helmet

Key Differences Between A Bicycle Helmet and Ski Helmet

Ski helmets and bike helmets are made for quite different purposes. A cycling helmet, for instance, is used to prevent or lessen head injuries caused by falls. A skiing helmet, meanwhile, is designed to keep your head warm while also protecting it from injury in the event of a fall or accident. A ski helmet will keep you warm, a bike helmet will keep you cool.

But that’s the basic part of it. There are key differences between these two styles. These include impact protection, design features, materials, durability, warmth and etc.

Let’s get closer to these differences and the reasons for them:

Impact Protection

The performance and safety capabilities of a helmet are highly influenced by its design. And given that skiing and cycling are two different activities, the types of accidents that may occur are different. Thus, the kind of protection required to prevent injuries is also different.

Both bike and skiing helmets will protect your head’s top, but ski helmets will go a notch further and shield your head’s back and sides.

Note that skiers and snowboarders often go at speeds greater than those of conventional bikers. So, keep that in mind as bicycle helmets are not yet tested to see if they can withstand crashes and prevent injuries at such high speeds.

As a result, skiing helmets are known to be durable and resilient and may still be used after mild hits whereas bike helmets will need to be replaced after an impact. In cold weather, plastic can become highly fragile, and this is often put into consideration for ski helmet design, but not in cycling helmets.


First off, there are different standards for the materials used to make these items.

For a ski helmet, the outer shell is usually made of plastics such as polystyrene and polycarbonate. Note that polycarbonate is a very resilient form of plastic that is highly scratch-and-dent resistant and does not break easily. And when pressed, it slightly bends to help lessen all the excessive impact from a fall or collision, protecting your head from injuries.

Additionally, ski helmets can be made of carbon fiber or fiberglass.

On the other hand, for a bike helmet, Expanded Polyurethane (PU or EPU), Expanded Polystyrene Foam, as well as Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) are mostly used to make the liners.

The outside shell is usually made of Kevlar or polycarbonate for sturdiness and durability. That said, you may find others with low-cost covers typically made of PET or (polyethylene terephthalate).

Design Features

The overall construction of a ski helmet differs significantly from that of a bike helmet.

For instance, with a ski helmet, the top of the head and the full back of the head should be covered by the shell. To further protect the eyes from snow and sunlight, some skiing helmets may also include a plastic visor.

These design features will also help keep you warm when skiing in chilly conditions. Skiing helmets also have aeration that you can use in warm weather. However, ski helmets normally have denser padding and are therefore heavier overall compared to bike helmets.

The best part about the skiing helmets’ ventilation is that they can be opened and closed to serve different requirements based on the weather. In addition to that, these helmets could have camera attachments or even headphones so you can listen to music or use a phone.

Another notable difference is that ski helmets are available in more functional designs than bike helmets, which often feature a more utilitarian design.

Coming down to a bike helmet‘s design, this one places more emphasis on aerodynamics. Unlike a ski helmet, it is designed to be lightweight, fit on top of the head, and only partially covers the back of the head. Compared to a skiing helmet, a cycling helmet will have EPS foam that is thinner, which is necessary because riders need to be able to hear nearby cars.

Bike helmets also have vents on the majority part so that air can circulate over the head, so your head stays cool, especially during those arduous rides.


How long these two helmets last will often come down to the kind of material used. However, cheap, low-grade materials won’t last very long.

The rate of use will also affect how long both helmets last. Skiing helmet manufacturers recommend changing your helmet every five years. But of course, that will depend on the rate of wear and tear.

Similarly, you should change your bicycle helmet if you see or realize any damage. Unless it has been damaged, the CPSC advises updating a riding helmet every 5 to 10 years.


Ski and snowboard helmets are purposely designed to be worn in below-freezing temperatures. And that’s why a ski helmet covers most parts of your head. Bicycle helmets, on the other hand, are designed to maximize or enhance ventilation to keep your head cool.

Can You Ski With A Bike Helmet?

Can You Ski With A Bike Helmet

The laws that regulate the use of helmets can differ from one state to another. Just like how some jurisdictions have bicycle helmet legislation, some states may have already adopted their own regulations governing the use of ski helmets.

Moreover, some ski resorts may employ their own specific regulations. It is highly recommended to inquire with the resort about both state legislation and their own policies regarding the wearing of helmets before you head off on your skiing vacation.

Some resorts may have helmet rules that generally apply to minors, while others may have laws that cover resort staff as well.

Put simply, there is no rule prohibiting the use of a bicycle helmet when skiing. Only if you blatantly refused to wear any helmet at all would they keep you from using the resort.

However, that doesn’t mean that it is a practical way to keep your head safe in the event of a crash.

Why You Shouldn’t Use A Bike Helmet for Skiing

Well, when packing for a ski trip, you might be tempted to throw in your bike helmet instead of a ski cap. This is quite understandable if you only ski or snowboard a few times a year. However, there’re a few good reasons why skiers shouldn’t wear bike helmets for skiing.

Different helmets are made to serve different purposes, and that means there are different safety standards when it comes to both skiing helmets and cycling helmets.

Nowadays, manufacturers focus on making helmets for specific sports. They invested much in research and development to create the best possible safety gear for individuals engaging in those pursuits. Part of this R&D is based on certain safety standards for each style of helmet.

This way, you can rest assured that the kind of helmet you have will protect your skull.

Now depending on the type of sport or activity, different helmets will offer different levels of protection to different parts of your head.

This means that even if there is no law requiring the use of a ski helmet or no resort-enforced standards, you should nevertheless wear a ski helmet and not a cycling helmet.

Ski helmets offer greater protection around the back and sides of your head, shielding your ears and bringing in some extra warmth to your head. You want to keep your head warm in the mountains, and ski helmets do just that. Their great coverage will keep your noggin warm.

However, unlike cycling helmets, they have minimal ventilation.

Note that ventilation is a crucial feature of bike helmets, as they are worn during long rides. On the other hand, ski helmets have fewer vents that may be adjusted as the weather changes.

It’s nice to go skiing when the sun is shining, but if a blizzard blows in during the day, your bike helmet won’t do you much good. So keep that in mind before going for a cycling helmet.

In fact, you’ll be more worried about your ears freezing than you will be about bumping your head on some rock or a tree.

Besides, some quality ski helmets have decent ventilation, although it comes in smaller openings. Fortunately, you can adjust these vents to your comfort level and the weather.

Bicycle helmets are designed with numerous air vents and perforations to help prevent overheating. However, leaving your head exposed to the elements when speed skiing in subzero temps and wind isn’t such a good idea; thus minimal ventilation in your ski helmet.

Put simply, you shouldn’t go skiing while wearing a cycling helmet. Look, ski helmets are not just there as a ploy to make you spend more. This part of headgear is designed to shield your head against falls and the harsh weather of the mountains. Otherwise, bike helmets serve a totally different purpose in protecting the rider’s skull. You won’t get the same level of protection from a bike helmet as you would from a ski helmet. A bike helmet for skiing is a no.

How about the other way around? Can you use a skiing helmet for cycling?

Can You Wear a Skiing Helmet for Cycling?

Can You Wear a Skiing Helmet for Cycling

Helmets for skiing and snowboarding are designed to keep your head comfortable and protect it in the event of accidents when riding at faster speeds.

In light of this, ski and snowboard helmets can be worn as bike helmets, however much like with a motorcycle helmet, you might experience extreme overheating while cycling. They are mostly used during winter riding so that riders can keep their heads warm.

Remember that many skiing helmets are designed to safeguard both the top and the rear of your head, which may provide you with some additional protection. However, there is no ventilation, so you’ll probably start getting quite hot.

The opposite is wrong, as we have seen. Although bike helmets are permitted while snowboarding and skiing, these helmets have not been impact-tested at the speeds that these sports typically reach. Furthermore, after an accident, a bicycle helmet needs to be replaced.

On the other hand, a ski or snowboarding helmet is far more robust. And this is a strong justification for wearing a ski helmet while cycling, as it can probably be much helpful in the event of an accident.

Can You Wear a Hat Under Your Helmet?

Can You Wear a Hat Under Your Helmet

There are people who wear hats under helmets. While doing so may increase warmth and comfort, it may also compromise the effectiveness of the helmet.

Simply, if you can actually fit a hat beneath your helmet, then it is too big. The helmet should fit your head snuggly without moving or wiggling around. Otherwise, the effect that the hat will have- in addition to the impact protection offered by the helmet– has not been evaluated. As a result, adding padding to your helmet using this method is neither safe nor reliable.

That said, it is safe to wear helmets alongside a thin helmet liner. This is because liners are light and will fit your head closely. Plus, they are available in many styles and configurations.

What Is The Price Of A Ski Helmet?

What Is The Price Of A Ski Helmet

Well, the cost of a skiing helmet can range from as low as $100 to upwards of $800. Yes, they can cost as much as $800. But if you’re simply a recreational skier who mostly goes out on the weekends, then that’s not what you’re looking for.

There’re some good brands out there that offer these products within the $100-$200 price range. In fact, you can get yourself a really good quality helmet, something certified for as low as $50 and even $30 in other places.

At this price, you could easily use it once or twice a year and then store it until the next year without dishing out too much money.

When compared to the cost of a rental, which has been on most people’s minds with no assurance of its quality, it is definitely worthwhile to reconsider. You could just get yours.

Costs of a Cycling Helmet Vs a Skiing helmet

Cycling helmets and skiing helmets cost about the same, but it’s important to remember that the two types of helmets are not always interchangeable.

Usually, the price range for a skiing helmet is $50 to $250, but of course, you may get some for as little as $30 or as much as $300. Meanwhile, the normal price range for a cycling helmet is $35 to $250 or more, but you can find them in the same price range as those for skiing helmets.

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

As you can see, there’re lots of benefits to using both bike and ski helmets when in action. Ski helmets are designed to protect your head from high-speed impacts and keep your skull warm, while bike helmets are designed to protect your head against injuries and allow for ventilation.

The main difference between the two is that ski helmets are typically a lot bulkier than bike helmets, but they’re made with the same purpose in mind: to protect your head from injury.

Also, ski helmets are designed much differently than bike helmets in that they have much thicker padding and a much different shell. So, if you’re going to be biking, it’s important to have a bike helmet, but if you’re going to be skiing, you absolutely need to have a ski helmet.

It can be hard to know which helmet to wear when you are out and about, so we hope this article has helped you figure out what type of helmet to wear for your specific activity.

Remember that the helmet is not necessarily the only important part of your skiing or biking experience. Make sure you wear the right gloves and have the right shoes as well.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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