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There was a time when no self-respecting skier, snowboarding didn’t even exist yet, would be caught dead wearing something with as much antistyle as a helmet to detract from their fluorescent mountain attire. Thankfully, those days are well in our rearview mirror and, these days, no skier or snowboarder who prefers keeping their brains in their head will be caught dead on the mountain without a helmet, for fear of literally being caught dead on the mountain.

In all seriousness, snow sports have been among the slowest to adopt helmets as a complete and/or compulsory norm. But, just like cycling and mountain biking over the last 30 years, common sense will prevail. Furthermore, in the world of snowsports, helmets generally help keep your head warm in cold conditions, as opposed to many sports where they just make your head hotter in already hot conditions.

We don’t tend to weigh in on too many divisive issues, and believe it or not, whether or not to wear a ski or snowboard helmet is for some. However, promoting the use of helmets is an issue near and dear to my heart, after having my life saved by them multiple times.

Take it from someone who has laid unconscious on a mountain for 15 minutes with a helmet and who would be dead without one, just wear a helmet.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Ski And Snowboard Helmet

With my obligatory wear a helmet speech out of the way, let’s get to the meat of it, and help you choose the best ski and snowboard helmet for your needs!

Safety and Safety Technology

All of the ski and snowboard helmets on our list are ASTM F2040 rated. This just means that they are certified for use on the slopes. The truth is that there currently seems to be less innovation in the snow helmet arena than in others, such as mountain bike helmets, and most are constructed very similarly. Still, we give extra marks to helmets that include features like MIPS, or Smith’s own proprietary Koroyd technology.

Comfort

A ski or snowboard helmet is something that you will spend hours, days, weeks, months, or possibly even years of your life wearing! Naturally, it makes sense to spend all that time doing one of your favorite activities in comfort. Plus, if your helmet is uncomfortable, you are less likely to wear it, and you don’t want to hear my “wear your helmet” spiel again.

While which helmet is most comfortable will depend on the shape of your head, some offer features that make them objectively more or less comfortable. We also try to give you the low down on which helmets fit certain head shapes the best.

Warmth

Unlike most sports, where the objective is to make a helmet as cool as possible, the warmth that they provide is actually one of the key benefits of ski and snowboard helmets. A good helmet and goggle combination will keep your head warmer than any hat or beanie ever could.

Ventilation

While the ability to provide warmth is a key feature of the best ski and snowboard helmets, so too is the ability to ventilate and keep your head cool on those bluebird spring days. By and large, two features provide ski and snowboard helmets with better ventilation. The first is vents. Most helmets feature vents that can be opened or closed to maximize its warmth or ventilation, depending on what is needed at the moment. The other is removable ear pieces. Since your ears are a key place that your body sheds heat, earpieces keep them warm on cold days, and can generally be removed to help you stay cool when the sun is shining on the final days of the season.

Goggle Compatibility

Your helmet should work in tandem with your goggles, providing you with warmth, as well as a comfortable overall experience. The main thing that you want is a helmet that does not leave a gap between itself and your goggles, exposing a strip of your forehead to some of mother nature’s nastiest conditions. You also want to make sure that your helmet does not push your goggles down and pinch your nose closed.

A final feature to look for is the ease with which you can stash your goggles on the helmet when not in use.

Naturally, helmets made by eyewear heavyweights like Smith and Oakley tend to feature the best goggle integration, particularly if you pair the helmet with goggles made by the same manufacturer.

Weight

As a rule, we are not weight weenies here at Gearhacker, and that is doubly true for sports that work in tandem with gravity, rather than against it. Still, you don’t want a helmet that feels like you are carrying a lead weight on your head, and there is actually research suggesting that heavier helmets can lead to increased danger of whiplash and concussion.

One set of people for whom weight might be a more important factor is for backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Those hiking and/or climbing to earn their turns will have an appreciation and need for lightweight gear not shared by their chairlift riding brethren.

How We Rated The Best Ski And Snowboard Helmets Of 2020

We took all of the factors just discussed into consideration when ranking the best ski and snowboard helmets of 2020. We weighted comfort, warmth, ventilation, and additional safety features more heavily, with goggle compatibility just behind, and weight as more of an FYI than anything.

The Best Ski and Snowboard Helmets of 2020

Top Picks

Smith Quantum MIPSBest Ski and Snowboard Helmet of 2020

Giro Range MIPSTop Notch Helmet with the Widest Range of Fit for Varying Head Shapes and Sizes

Giro Nine MIPSBest Value Ski and Snowboard Helmet

Salomon MTN LabBest Ski and Snowboard Helmet for Backcountry Use and Ski Mountaineering

Smith Quantum MIPS

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Warmth 100% 100%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech & Features 100% 100%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Pros

Class-Leading Safety

Top All-Around Performance

Cons

Heavy

Expensive

Weight: 623.69 grams

Adjustment System: BOA FS360 Fit System

Number of Vents: 22

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Giro Range MIPS

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Warmth 100% 100%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech & Features 90% 90%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Unparalleled Fit Adjustment

Goggle Compatibility

Cons

Expensive

Can Cause Ear Pain for Some Riders

Weight: 538.65 grams

Adjustment System: ConformFit technology

Number of Vents: 12 adjustable

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: Yes

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Giro Nine MIPS

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Warmth 80% 80%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech & Features 70% 70%
  • Goggle Compatibility 70% 70%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Mips Tech

Warm

Light

Comfortable

Great Price to Performance Ratio

Cons

Non-Removable Earpads

Lower Tier In Form Fit System

Weight: 436 grams

Adjustment System: In-Form Fit System

Number of Vents: 14

Removable Ear Covers: No

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: No

Salomon MTN Lab Review

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Warmth 50% 50%
  • Ventilation 100% 100%
  • Safety Tech & Features 80% 80%
  • Goggle Compatibility 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

A True Ski Mountaineering Helmet

Ultralight

Well Ventilated

Cons

Non-Closable Vents

Not for Everyone

Weight: 360 grams

Adjustment System: Custom dial adjustment system

Number of Vents: 20

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: Yes (brim)

Audio Compatibility: No

POC Auric Cut Backcountry Spin

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Warmth 90% 90%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech & Features 90% 90%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Pros

Cutting Edge Safety Tech

Warm

Well Ventilated

Cons

Heavy

Look is Not for Everyone

Weight: 585 grams

Adjustment System: 360-degree adjustment

Number of Vents: 10 adjustable

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Smith Variance

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Warmth 80% 80%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech & Features 70% 70%
  • Goggle Compatibility 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Price to Performance Ratio

Warm

Comfortable

Cons

Lacks Safety Features of Top of the Line Smith Helmets

Weight: 538.65 grams

Adjustment System: BOA Fit System

Number of Vents: 18

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Smith Vantage MIPS

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Warmth 90% 90%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech & Features 90% 90%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Most of the Features of the Quantum at a Lower Price

Cons

Lacks the Ultra-Premium Protection of the Quantum

Weight: 501.8 grams

Adjustment System: BOA FS360 Fit System

Number of Vents: 18

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: No 

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Oakley Mod5 MIPS

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Warmth 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech & Features 70% 70%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Pros

Modular Brim System

BOARetention System

Comfortable

Cons

Cold Earpads

Average Ventilation

Poor Quality of Goggle Clip

Weight: 601 grams

Adjustment System: BOA 270 fit system

Number of Vents: 11 on MIPS helmet

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: Yes 

Audio Compatibility: No

Smith Quantum MIPS

Best Ski and Snowboard Helmet of 2020

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Warmth 100% 100%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech & Features 100% 100%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Weight: 623.69 grams

Adjustment System: BOA FS360 Fit System

Number of Vents: 22

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Price: $180-$300

What We Like: Class-Leading Safety, and Top All-Around Performance

What We Don’t: Heavy, Expensive

Smith makes some of our favorite ski and snowboard helmets on the market, and the Smith Quantum MIPS is the flagship of their lineup. It features best in class safety and is a top contender in almost every category. While cheap is certainly not a word that we would use to describe it, you can’t put a price on protecting your brain, and the Smith Quantum MIPS will provide you with premium brain protection as well as comfort and style.

Giro Range MIPS

Top Notch Helmet with the Widest Range of Fit for Varying Head Shapes and Sizes

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Warmth 100% 100%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech & Features 90% 90%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Weight: 538.65 grams

Adjustment System: ConformFit technology

Number of Vents: 12 adjustable

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: Yes

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Price: $249.95

What We Like: Unparalleled Fit Adjustment, Goggle Compatibility

What We Don’t: Expensive, Can Cause Ear Pain for Some Riders

While we just gave the edge for best overall ski and snowboard helmet of 2020 to the Smith Quantum MIPS, the Giro Range is an epic helmet in its own right and boasts a set of features that goes toe to toe with the Smith Quantum and every other ski and snowboard helmet on the market. The Giro Range MIPS snow helmet uses Giro’s ConformFit retention system, which is a revolutionary fit system that adjusts the entire helmet to fit the size and shape of your head, rather than relying on an internal retention system. If the Smith Quantum doesn’t agree with your head, or you just prefer the Giro brand, then the Giro Range MIPS could very well be the best ski and snowboard helmet for you.

Giro Nine MIPS

Best Value Ski and Snowboard Helmet

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Warmth 80% 80%
  • Ventilation 70% 70%
  • Safety Tech & Features 70% 70%
  • Goggle Compatibility 70% 70%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Weight: 436 grams

Adjustment System: In-Form Fit System

Number of Vents: 14

Removable Ear Covers: No

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: No

Price: $89-$120

What We Like: Mips Tech, Warm, Light, Comfortable, Great Price to Performance Ratio

What We Don’t: Non-Removable Earpads, Lower Tier In Form Fit System

When you get to the ~$100 price range, most ski and snowboard helmets are mere shadows of top of the line helmets. However, the Giro Nine is an exception. It uses a MIPS insert to add to what is already a helmet made by a brand well respected for safety. Meanwhile, it offers comfort, ventilation, warmth, and weight not that far behind what you can get from helmets that cost three times as much. If you are looking for a solid helmet that will keep you safe and happy on the slopes all winter long, and leave you with some money in your pocket for post ride aperitifs, then the Giro Nine MIPS might just be the helmet for you.

Salomon MTN Lab

Best Ski And Snowboard Helmet For Backcountry Use And Ski Mountaineering

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Warmth 50% 50%
  • Ventilation 100% 100%
  • Safety Tech & Features 80% 80%
  • Goggle Compatibility 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Weight: 360 grams

Adjustment System: Custom dial adjustment system

Number of Vents: 20

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: Yes (brim)

Audio Compatibility: No

Price: $159.96-$199

What We Like: A True Ski Mountaineering Helmet, Ultralight, Well Ventilated

What We Don’t: Non-Closable Vents, Not for Everyone

The Salomon MTN Lab is a helmet made for those who make alpine starts followed by epic skins and climbs to reach untouched pow in the some of the wildest locations on earth. While it is not a perfect, nor really a well-rounded helmet, it serves a purpose and it serves it well. If you have ever reached for your ski helmet, then reached for your climbing helmet, and then hit the mountain for a day of ski mountaineering or backcountry riding in your mountain bike helmet as a less than stellar compromise, then the Salomon MTN Lab was made for you.

The Best Of The Rest

POC Auric Cut Backcountry Spin

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Warmth 90% 90%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech & Features 90% 90%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Weight: 585 grams

Adjustment System: 360-degree adjustment

Number of Vents: 10 adjustable

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Price: $153-$220

What We Like: Cutting Edge Safety Tech, Warm, Well Ventilated

What We Don’t: Heavy, Look is Not for Everyone

We could not quite find a niche where we felt the POC Auric Cut Backcountry Spin bested our top picks for their positions. However, it is only a shade away from them and offers great all-around performance. This is backed up by POC’s Spin technology, which seems to offer the protection of MIPS and then some. It is also a helmet that merges premium helmet features with skate helmet style, which will be more than enough to sell plenty of style-conscious riders, not that POC needs anything extra to sell their helmets. Their reputation for quality and safety does that on its own.

Smith Variance MIPS

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Warmth 80% 80%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech & Features 70% 70%
  • Goggle Compatibility 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Weight: 538.65 grams

Adjustment System: BOA Fit System

Number of Vents: 18

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Google Attachment: Yes

Visor: No

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Price: $108-$210

What We Like: Price to Performance Ratio, Warm, Comfortable

What We Don’t: Lacks Safety Features of Top of the Line Smith Helmets

While we certainly miss some of the cutting edge safety technology found in the Smith Quantum and Vantage helmets, the Variance is a great helmet in its own right, and is actually a bit lighter than either of them, as well as a bit cheaper. With an MSRP of $210, it represents a solid value behind the Vantage, but with sale prices as low as $108, we think that the Smith Variance offers the best bang for your buck of any ski and snowboard helmet on the market, if you catch it at such a low price.

Smith Vantage MIPS

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Warmth 90% 90%
  • Ventilation 90% 90%
  • Safety Tech & Features 90% 90%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Weight: 501.8 grams

Adjustment System: BOA FS360 Fit System

Number of Vents: 18

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: No 

Audio Compatibility: Yes

Price: $156-$260

What We Like: Most of the Features of the Quantum at a Lower Price

What We Don’t: Lacks the Ultra-Premium Protection of the Quantum

We actually loved the Smith Vantage MIPS. It just struggles to find its place in a very crowded lineup of Smith snow helmets. For our wants and needs, we would spend the extra $40 and get the Smith Quantum. If we were in the market for saving money on a Smith helmet, we would probably bump down one more level and choose the Smith Variance. However, the Smith Vantage does offer a middle ground between the two, and it is not one of the most popular ski and snowboard helmets on the market for nothing.

Oakley Mod5 MIPS

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Warmth 70% 70%
  • Ventilation 80% 80%
  • Safety Tech & Features 70% 70%
  • Goggle Compatibility 90% 90%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Weight: 601 grams

Adjustment System: BOA 270 fit system

Number of Vents: 11 on MIPS helmet

Removable Ear Covers: Yes

Goggle Attachment: Yes

Visor: Yes 

Audio Compatibility: No

Price: $160

What We Like: Modular Brim System, BOARetention System, Comfortable

What We Don’t: Cold Earpads, Average Ventilation, Poor Quality of Goggle Clip

There are no bad helmets on our list, so don’t be fooled by the Oakley Mod5 MIPS “last place” finish. The truth is, we would take it for many uses over other helmets on our list. It just didn’t have one niche where it blew other helmets out of the water. The Mod5 is an extremely innovative ski and snowboard helmet, although some of its brand new tech comes with a few growing pains. However, its Modular Brim System and premium quality make it an attractive choice, especially for riders who want to be able to experiment with different styles of goggles, without worrying about how they will fit with their helmet.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!