Snowboarding is an extreme sport. This is kind of a given — nobody jumps over 60 foot gaps or bombs double black diamond hills to relax (or do they?). Even bunny hills at a 5 percent decline can be deceptively extreme, especially if you’re a beginner and don’t know how to stop yet.
In 2009, rising star Kevin Pearce was training in the superpipe for the 2010 Winter Olympics. His hope was to beat reigning champion Shaun White, and his chances were pretty high. On New Years Eve, 2009, Kevin Pearce was landing a double cork, his target trick for the Winter Olympics, when he caught his toeside edge and slammed the icy ground, head first.
Kevin Pearce was left with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that ended his snowboarding career. Had he not been wearing his helmet when he crashed, Pearce would be dead. Pearce recovered slowly but almost entirely, and now he is an activist for brain injury survivors and an outspoken supporter of helmets. He devotes himself to the LoveYourBrain Foundation, whose mission is to increase support and outreach for other TBI survivors.
I don’t mean to alarm anybody, but the fact is that snowboarding is dangerous. In a way, Kevin Pearce is one of the lucky ones who got away with his life. Snowboard helmets might be a little awkward and uncomfortable to wear, but the benefits of wearing a snowboard helmet outweigh the costs by a mile.
In this post, I’m going to review the best snowboard helmets on the market today for both men and women. Before writing the reviews, I will explain the different components and technologies of snowboard helmets.
The Best Snowboard Helmets: Table of Contents
- How to Choose the Best Snowboard Helmet
- Where to Buy the Best Snowboard Helmet
- Snowboard Helmet Comparison Table
- The Best Snowboard Helmets Reviewed
- The Best Men’s Snowboard Helmets
- The Best Women’s Snowboard Helmets
The Best Men’s Snowboard Helmets In This Review
The Best Women’s Snowboard Helmets In This Review
How to Choose the Best Snowboard Helmet
The first thing I want to clarify is that snowboard helmets are designed for a single big fall. Basically, if you land hard on your head and it’s clear that the internal or external components of your helmet are now broken, it’s time for you to get a new helmet. Otherwise, the helmet won’t do much to protect you. It costs money to get a new helmet, but the cost is a lot cheaper than hospital bills, I promise (I hate to admit it but I know first-hand).
There are two types of snowboard helmet constructions. In-mold helmets are made by attaching the shell of the helmet, usually made of a lightweight plastic like polycarbonate, directly to the shock-absorbing foam in a single molding process.
Injection-molded helmets use EPS foam bonded to a separate shell made of ABS high-impact plastic, which provides greater protection and more durability than in-mold helmets.
Like snowboard bindings, helmet sizing is different for different brands. One brand’s large sized helmet might be equivalent to another’s extra large sized helmet. Always look at the head circumference of a helmet to make sure that you are buying the correct snowboard helmet for you.
Ventilation is key when you’re riding on the mountain all day, especially in springtime conditions. Most mid to high-priced snowboard helmets made today have vents that you can manually open and close. Helmets range in different ventilation styles and technologies — some ventilation levers can be handled easily and some will require you to remove your gloves to adjust.
More affordable helmets might not have adjustable vents, or they may only be adjustable by removing plugs on the inside of the helmet, requiring you to take your gloves and helmet off.
The chinstrap should fit comfortably over your throat, tight enough to not come off during a high-impact crash, but loose enough so that you can chew food or turn your head without feeling choked.
Adjustable helmets feature knobs, dials, or other mechanisms on the helmet that adjusts its fit. This feature is excellent because it can customize the fit of the helmet within each size.
To accommodate the rising popularity of POV snowboard videos and GoPro style cameras, some snowboard helmets now come with a built in camera mount.
Some snowboard helmets include built-in speaker systems that either work using bluetooth or by plugging in the headphones to your MP3 device. Obviously, you’re going to pay a little extra money for a snowboard helmet with a speaker system, especially for a good speaker system, but it might be a worthwhile investment if you ride alone a lot or simply can’t ride downhill without music.
Detachable ear pads provide the rider a method besides ventilation to regulate their temperature. Put them in when you’re cold, take them off when you’re hot.
Most helmets are designed with a clip or some other fastening mechanism for goggles compatibility.
Snowboard helmets that include most of these features and an ABS high-impact plastic shell will cost more money than helmets made of less durable material and that doesn’t include speakers, detachable ear muffs, and the like.
The two big determinants in choosing between a snowboard helmet are (1) how much do you want to spend and (2) whether your riding warrants a more durable helmet.
Where to Buy the Best Snowboard Helmet
Having a snowboard helmet that fits you correctly is extremely important. A helmet that is too small will feel like a headache if it fits over your head at all, and a helmet that is too large will move all over your head and slip off when you need it the most.
I cannot overstate the importance of a helmet with a good fit. It protects the most important part of your body and you should put the required work into making sure that your head will be safe. Your local snowboard shop might have a decent variety of helmets and they will allow you to try on different styles.
Small shops tend to suffer from a lack of variety, though. Online retailers offer hundreds of types of helmets and provide sufficient information regarding helmet technologies and available sizes. The single downside is that you are unable to try on the helmet you’re buying, but you can measure your head in advance to make sure that the helmet you’re buying will fit you correctly.
To do so, take a soft tape measure and wrap it around your head around 1 inch above your eyebrows. Have somebody do this for you if it seems difficult. Now measure the circumference. The snowboard helmet should have the same circumference as your head. A more in-depth sizing guide could be read by following this link.
Snowboard Helmet Comparison Table
Some snowboarders want barebones helmets, others want the most feature-filled helmet out there. Some riders stick to easy trails and don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a sturdy helmet built to withstand intense falls, others want and need a durable helmet to maximize safety as they chase the sketchiest terrain on the mountain.
All sorts of riders exist, and all sorts of snowboard helmets do, too. I’m going to review 4 helmets, each for men and women, that cover different price points, construction materials, and technologies.
My idea is to review helmets that accommodate riders of all kinds. To clarify, many helmets are unisex, but women’s helmets provide an even better fit for women, which is why I’m including a separate category.
Regarding the categories: helmet construction indicates whether the helmet is in-mold, injection mold, or some mix; shell material indicates which type of plastic or other material is used to build the shell; vents indicates how many vents the helmet has and, in parenthesis,whether they can be adjusted; adjustability indicates whether the helmet has a knob or other mechanism to increase or decrease its size; and the price is self explanatory.
The Best Snowboard Helmets Reviewed
I’m going to review the 8 helmets that I put together in the table above. My idea is to offer you an idea of the technological components of each helmet without drowning you in difficult-to-read terms.
The main points I’m looking at are construction materials, ventilation technologies, liner material, and other information that I would want to know if I were looking for a new helmet.
The Best Men’s Snowboard Helmets
|Make and Model||Helmet construction||Shell Material||Vents||Adjustability||Price|
|Smith Quantum MIPS||In-mold||High Impact ABS- plastic||22 (yes)||BOA FS360 Fit System||$300.00|
|Anon Rodan||In-mold||Polycarbonate||10 (no)||360° BOA® Fit System||$129.95|
|Giro Ledge MIPS||Hard Shell Construction||Hard Shell||12 (no)||Auto Loc™ 2 Fit System||$89.95|
|POC Obex SPIN Communication||In-mold||Polycarbonate/ABS||11 (yes)||360° Fit System||$279.95|
Smith Men's Quantum MIPS Snow Helmet
Smith Quantum MIPS
A $300 snowboard helmet? Indeed, this helmet is pretty costly, but it’s also perhaps the most technically advanced and well-built helmet on the market today. The Quantum MIPS is built for serious riders who love extreme terrain and don’t mind paying a bit extra to ride terrain with extra confidence. This helmet won’t make you immortal, but it’ll keep your head in good shape for a lot longer than a poorly built helmet would.
MIPS technology provides a low-friction layer that reduces rotational motion to the brain during impact, reducing the chances of brain injury. Shock-absorbent Koroyd® cylinders crush on impact, slowing you down in the event of a wipeout.
The Quantum MIPS features the BOA® FS360 system, which allows riders to adjust their helmet in 2 different directions while maintaining a comfortable fit. Smith’s Aerocore™ Construction increases airflow, improves temperature regulation in the helmet, and enhances impact resistance. The helmet’s 22 vents are adjustable, ensuring the best possible temperature and airflow regulation.
Build with a Wayfinder strap system with Fidlock buckle, you can take this helmet off and put it back on with a single hand. Talk about perks of a $300 helmet. Smith provides a lifetime warranty for parts, and discounts for new helmets if you destroyed your previous Smith helmet riding on the slopes.
The Anon Rodan is an excellent helmet for riders who want a relatively nice and sturdy snowboard helmet, but who don’t want to spend extra for technology that they may not need. The in-mold construction fuses a lightweight polycarbonate shell with EBS liner for a comfortable and light fit.
Passive, or fixed, ventilation channels are built into the helmet, allowing for excellent air flow, regulated temperature, and a channel specifically made to keep your goggles fog-free. The vents cannot be adjusted like some other helmets.
With a BOA fit system, you can tweak your helmet with the turn of a dial and make quick adjustments as you’re riding on the slopes to keep your head as comfortable as possible. The BOA system is designed to reduce pressure on the most sensitive and crash-prone parts of your skull.
The liner and ear pads feature expedition fleece material, designed for maximum warmth and to keep your ears dry on the mountain. The helmet is audio accessory compatible, but it does not come with a built-in audio system. Anon provides a one year warranty for the Rodan helmet.
Giro Ledge MIPS Snow Helmet - Matte Deep Orange - Size L (59-62.5cm)
Giro Ledge MIPS
The Giro Ledge MIPS is an excellent no-frills snowboard helmet that is built for beginner snowboarders to combine with their beginner snowboard. The helmet isn’t jam packed with technologies you cannot pronounce that provide a more comfortable and safer fit, but it is built to protect your head from hard impact.
The helmet’s Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) protects your head from brain injury from rotational motion by slowing lateral movement of your head.
The removable Auto Loc 2 Fit System adjusts the helmet to 1 of 3 settings to provide maximum comfort and a snug feel for your head. With only 3 settings, the Giro Ledge MIPS is not as adjustable as other helmets, but that is part of the compromise of paying less.
The ventilation system is basic but effective. Fixed vents are strategically placed around the helmet to maximize airflow and reduce goggle fog. Removable ear pads also enable you to regulate temperature. The helmet is built with a retainer to be snowboard goggles compatible.
The hard-shell construction material is designed for the terrain park. Jibbers can rest assured that the hard-shell material will withstand impact from boxes and rails, protecting your head to the fullest extent. Giro provides a limited lifetime warranty for the helmet.
POC Obex SPIN Communication Snow Helmet
POC Obex SPIN Communication
The POC Obex SPIN Communicate is a gadget-laden snowboard helmet with excellent comfort and all the latest technologies. POC is a highly reputable company and this is one of many good helmets that they manufacture. It costs a pretty penny, but it’s pretty apparent where the money goes when you take a single look at the helmet.
SPIN (ShearingPad INside) technology acts similar to MIPS technology. Shearing pads inside the helmet reduce rotational motion upon impact, protecting your head from brain injury. A 360 degree fit system allows you to adjust the tension from the front and back of your snowboard helmet.
An Integrated POC communication headset allows you to connect to bluetooth on your smartphone or other device to communicate wirelessly or listen to music as you wait in line or bomb a hill.
The helmet features lightweight in-mold construction with an ABS and polycarbonate shell to provide a comfortable fit and maximum protection. The helmet’s 11 vents can be adjusted with sliding vent covers.
A fixed goggle clip is included in the back, making the helmet compatible with any pair of snowboard goggles. POC backs the Opex SPIN Communicate helmet with a one-year limited warranty.
The Best Women’s Snowboard Helmets
|Make and Model||Helmet construction||Shell Material||Vents||Adjustability||Price|
|Smith Compass MIPS||In-mold||Koroyd||20 (yes)||VaporFit Adjustable Fit System||$170.00|
|Anon Greta 3||Injection-molded||High-Impact ABS Plastic||8 (no)||Auto-Adjust Fit System||$79.95|
|Pret Haven X||In-mold Multi-Shell||Polycarbonate||16 (yes)||RCS QR Fit System||$180.00|
|Giro Fade MIPS||In-mold||Polycarbonate||12 (yes)||In Form Fit System||$150.00|
Smith Compass MIPS Womens Helmet 2020
Smith Compass MIPS
The Smith Compass MIPS is an excellent mid-priced snowboard helmet. Smith manufactures high quality gear and the Compass MIPS is no exception.
The helmet is built with Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS), that decreases the chances and amount of rotational motion upon impact, reducing the chance of brain injuries.
Smith’s VaporFit adjustable fit system relies on a rotary dial adjustment system to tweak your helmet’s fit according to your specifications. The VaporFit system has 5cm of rotary adjustability. The system can move in two directions — up/down and forward/backwards.
Low Profile Regulator Adjustable Climate Control allows you to open or seal your helmet’s 20 vents easily. The helmet features Women’s specific XT2 Anti-Bacterial Liner to provide maximum comfort and warmth, yet also wick away any accumulated moisture.
The lightweight in-mold construction of the helmet is excellent for all-day riding in comfort. It’s not the most durable construction on the market, but it provides more than enough safety to be comfortable and confident on the slopes.
The helmet is compatible with Outdoor Tech Audio Systems, but they are not included. Smith backs the Compass MIPS with a 1 year warranty.
Anon Women's Greta 3 Snow Helmet
Anon Greta 3
This skateboarding-inspired helmet is perfect for terrain park shredders who are either new to the game or don’t want to spend a ridiculous sum on a snowboard helmet. This no-frills helmet isn’t filled with innovations, but its sturdy injection-molded construction will hold up against the challenges that you’ll face in the park.
The helmet features a fixed ventilation system, meaning that the vents cannot be adjusted. They are designed to prevent uncomfortability from overheating or freezing temperatures. The ventilation system is not as customizable as active ventilation systems, but this is part of the compromise of paying less for your helmet.
The Greta 3’s Auto-Adjust Fit System is designed to self-adjust to your head — no manual adjustment is necessary. The Auto-Adjust Fit System is easier, but perhaps not quite as precise as manual adjustment systems.
The helmet features removable ear pads and liners. The ear pads and liners are made of classic fleece material, designed to provide maximum comfort and warmth on winter days.
The Greta 3 is one of the best budget snow helmets on the market today. It doesn’t feature important technologies like MIPS, but that’s part of the trade-off of not having to pay hundreds of dollars for a snowboard helmet. Anon backs the Greta 3 with a one year warranty.
Pret Haven X Womens Helmet 2020 - Medium/Licorice
Pret Haven X
The Pret Haven X is one of the best helmets on the market today. It features everything that you’d expect out of a $180.00 snowboard helmet. The Haven X is certainly not a bargain, but it’s a very well built snowboard helmet that will last you many seasons.
The Pret Haven X features MIPS technology — a build and cushioning system that is designed to reduce rotational motion upon impact. MIPS was developed by brain surgeons and is well tested to reduce brain injury.
The helmet’s in-mold multi-shell construction features reinforced polycarbonate plates designed to provide durability, safety, and a lightweight feel. The RCS QR Fit System (Ripcord System Quick Release) is designed to be compact, ergonomical, and to allow for quick micro adjustments as you’re riding down the hill or waiting for the lift.
The Haven X features VTT3 (Vent Tuning Technology), a fully adjustable venting system that provides maximum comfort and climate control. X Statis XT2 Wool Blend Lining enhances the liner with anti-odor and antimicrobial properties. The ear covers can easily be removable without having to adjust any other part of the snowboard helmet.
Pret backs the Haven X with a one year warranty.
Giro Women's Fade MIPS Helmet
Giro Fade MIPS
The Giro Fade MIPS is a fantastic snowboard helmet. It’s slightly more affordable than the Pret Haven X and Smith Compass MIPS, yet more feature-filled than the Anon Greta 3.
The Fade MIPS is built with MIPS technology, a system that has been designed with the support of brain surgeons to reduce rotational motion upon impact, lowering the likelihood of brain injury. The helmet’s in-mold construction provides a lightweight yet durable feel.
Thermostat control provides a great venting system that can be adjusted by pressing the control button on the outside of the helmet.
The In-Form Fit System allows you to easily adjust the fit of your helmet using a dial. The system provides up to 6cm of fit adjustment, which is more than most helmets on this list.
The helmet can accommodate any goggle with ease (no risk of gaper gap). Giro backs the Fade MIPS with a limited lifetime warranty.
I hope you enjoyed my breakdown of the best 8 snowboard helmets for 2019-2020. My idea was to find a range of snowboard helmets that are somewhere between being affordable yet well-construction to very expensive but quite worth it.
Helmets are crucial on the snowboard hill. Beanies might be lighter, cheaper, and more comfortable, but just think of how expensive it might be in the long run if you end up hitting your head on a tough fall. Helmets are worth it. Wearing a helmet is the reason that Kevin Pearce is alive, and not wearing a helmet has led to the death of more than one snowboarder.