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Snowboard Helmet Buying Guide


Snowboard helmets don’t prevent head injuries if they are stuffed in the bottom of your boot bag. If a helmet doesn’t fit or looks lame it will remain it the bottom of the boot bag, taking up space while preventing a resort locker from getting brain damage. Making sure that you have a proper fitting helmet can help prevent a trip to ski patrol because it really is harder to land the double cork than Shaun White makes it look on the X-Games. The following information should help you make an informed decision about which snowboard helmet to buy and how it should fit once you’ve received your snowboard helmet.


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I have a helmet; can I use it for snowboarding


I have a bike, snow mobile, hockey, inline skate, skateboarding, what ever other sport you can think of helmet, can I use it for snowboarding?” NO! First, you will look like a dork out on the slopes with any of these helmets on. Secondly, helmets are certified to protect users based on the types of falls that one might experience participating in each sport. Hopefully, you won’t be Kronwalled in the middle of the bunny hill so you shouldn’t need your hockey helmet out on the slopes. They make snowboard goggles, so you won’t need your snow mobile face shield either. There are a few manufacturers who make cross-over helmets that are certified for “extreme” sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, and bmx biking. It is important to check the certifications on the helmet you have to ensure that you will be protected on the slopes.


Types of Snowboard Helmets


While the vast majority of snowboard helmets are considered half shell helmets, snowboard helmets are available in three types: Half Shell, Full Shell, and Full Face Snowboard Helmets.


Half Shell Snowboard Helmets:


Half Shell Snowboard Helmets are the most popular style of snowboard helmet. They feature a hard shell upper with soft ear flaps providing a more comfortable, adaptable fit while making it easier to hear. Many half shell snowboard helmets are available with or are compatible to after market audio kits, so you can listen to your iPod or MP3 player on the slopes.


Full Shell Snowboard Helmets:


Full Shell Snowboard Helmets are a traditional style of snow helmets with a hard shell covering the ears too. This is the style of helmets that ski racers wear, so you typically won’t find too many snowboarders rockin’ this look. The full shell helmets are typically warmer, but make it more difficult to hear.


Full Face Snowboard Helmets:


Ripping through tree lines? Hucking off 50 foot cliffs? Taking a run on the X-Games boarder cross course? Protect your face with a Full Face Snowboard Helmet. This style of helmet is similar to a moto-cross helmet features a large visor and fully integrated chin guard to protect your face from tree branches and other dangerous objects. Full Face Snowboard Helmets are really only necessary for the most extreme snowboarders.


Construction of Snowboard Helmets


Snowboard Helmets can be constructed in a few different ways and still be safe for shredding. classifies snowboard helmets into three construction styles – In-Mold, Hard Shell, or In-Mold Hard Shell.


In-Mold Snowboard Helmet Construction:


In-Mold snowboard helmets are produced by creating a hard plastic outer shell which is fused with the snowboard helmets impact absorbent foam liner, typically made from EPS foam. In-Mold snowboard helmets are created in a single molding process which allows the manufacturers to sculpt better ventilation systems. This process creates a very lightweight helmet that is more comfortable to wear.


Hard Shell Snowboard Helmet Construction:


Sometimes referred to as ABS Construction, Hard Shell Construction uses an injection molded ABS Shell which is designed to withstand high-impacts. The hard shell of this style of snowboard helmet is typically more durable than an In-Molded Snowboard Helmet Shell. This hard shell is then bonded to an EPS Foam Liner.


In-Mold / Hard Shell Snowboard Helmet Construction
The best of both worlds, the hybrid In Mold/ Hard Shell Construction Style utilizes the positive qualities of both types of construction. In-Mold/Hard Shell snowboard helmets are typically created by first producing an In-Mold snowboard helmet and a separate Hard Shell. The hard shell is then bonded onto the exterior of the In-Mold Construction snowboard helmet. This construction style is typically utilized when manufacturers are looking for an easy way to create adjustable venting.



There is one other type of “snowboard helmet” construction style which Bern Unlimited uses to create a multi-impact Hard Hat. Hard Hats can not be considered helmets because they do not meet ASTM standards for snowboard helmets.



Bern Hard Hats:


Bern technically uses Hard Shell Construction to create their Hard Hats. Instead of using traditional EPS foam inside the helmet, Hard Hats use Bern’s Brock Foam inside their thicker ABS Shell. Brock Foam is and open cell foam designed for multi-impact protection. Protective head wear designed for multi-impact protection does not comply with the way the ASTM Certification Standards are written, and therefore can not be considered helmets.



Certifications for Snowboard Helmets


There are two major certification systems for Snowboard Helmets; CE EN and ASTM.  All snowboard helmets sold in the United States must comply with ASTM standards.




ASTM is one of many American organizations dedicated to testing products to ensure that, in this case, the helmet can provide appropriate protection in simulated crashes. ASTM F2040 is the section regarding recreational snow sports helmets. Snowboard helmets which are awarded this certification status are intended to protect boarders against a single impact only. After one serious impact the snowboard helmet should be disposed of (thrown away) and replaced.




CE EN is a European based organization that helps to protect consumers my ensuring that products meet certain standards in order to be sold in the European market place. CN EN Certifications are often seen on snowboard helmets which are produced in Europe. Much like the American rating system snowboard helmets meeting CN EN certifications are designed to protect against a single impact only. After one serious impact the snowboard helmet should be disposed of and replaced.



Cool Features for Snowboard Helmets


              Custom Fit Adjustments


              Audio Capabilities

             Visors and Brims

             Year Round Compatible



Custom Fit Adjustments

Many companies have added Custom Fit Adjustments to many of their snowboard helmets in order to provide the best fit possible for as many riders as possible. The Custom Fit Adjustments can be a knob or a sliding cinch.


Snowboard Helmet Adjustability

Ventilation categorizes snowboard ventilation systems into three categories, none, adjustable ventilation and fixed ventilation. This feature boils down to creature comforts and personal preference. If you are freezing on your vacation to the equator then you might not need ventilation in your snowboard helmet – please see the section for boot heaters and hand warmers. However, if you are the guy walking into the ski lodge wearing shorts and soccer sandals then you should probably consider getting a helmet with adjustable ventilation or fixed vents which are always open.



Adjustable Ventilation:


Snowboard Helmets with adjustable ventilation have some sort of operable system which allows riders to change the amount of air flow that is allowed to pass into the snowboard helmet. Sometimes this feature can be utilized “on-the-fly” meaning that you don’t need to remove the helmet in order to access the vents. While snowboard helmets with adjustable ventilation aren’t as warm as non-ventilated or fixed ventilation helmets, but for those who are constantly overheating on the slopes, this feature is going to be well worth the extra money.



Fixed Ventilation:


Snowboard Helmets with fixed ventilation offer built in ventilation in order to help keep you cool and comfortable on the slopes. With fixed ventilation the manufacturers design the helmet to allow amount of air flow through the helmet, it can not be adjusted.



Audio Capabilities


Fewer and fewer riders are into making small talk on the chair lift and listening to the sound of their edges biting as they rip solid arcs down the face. Most snowboarders young and old are turning to audio helmets so they can ride with tunes and even take phone calls slope side. While a few of us still consider days on the slopes sacred and don’t want to be bothered on an epic pow day, many snowboard helmet manufacturers are making helmets with audio and Bluetooth capabilities and after market kits for those who didn’t upgrade from the start.



Single Link Audio Systems:


Single Link Audio Systems are the most common audio systems on the market. The Single Link system allows you to plug your iPod or MP3 player directly into the speaker system in the ear flaps of the snowboard helmet. The cord that attaches to the helmet and your iPod or MP3 player may come with volume controls built into the cord.



Dual Link Audio Systems:


Dual Link Audio Systems are becoming increasingly popular and allow riders to plug two devices in at the same time. A control on the cord allows you to switch from your music to your phone if you get an important call slope side.



Bluetooth Link Systems:


Since many cell phones are Bluetooth capable, many of the snowboard helmet manufacturers have developed technologies to allow you to utilize your phones blue tooth capabilities on the slopes. A microphone is either an accessory piece that clips onto your jacket or is positioned in the ear pad to allow you to “work from home” if necessary – work on a reasonable explanation for the hum of the chairlift before you answer the incoming call from your boss.



Visors and Brims


Many snowboard helmets are offering visors and brims on some styles of snowboard helmets. While the extremely large visors can be helpful in protecting your face and snowboard goggle lenses while ripping through the trees, most of the time visors and brims are strictly style features.



Year Round Compatible


As more of the snowboard helmet manufacturers are realizing that their customers have a tendency to be extreme athletes in the summer too, they felt compelled to develop snowboard helmets with removable pads to accommodate summer use such as skateboarding and bmx bike riding. Many snowboard helmets have removable ear flaps to accommodate washing/cleaning them and replacing them with audio capable ear pads. Please be aware that just because the ear pads come off doesn’t make it suitable for year round use. Check the detailed information about the specific snowboard helmet to ensure that it is truly designed for year round use.



Proper Fit for Snowboard Helmets


Before ordering a snowboard helmet it is important to measure your head and check the manufacturer’s specific size chart for the particular helmet that you are purchasing. While all of the manufacturers measure for sizes in centimeters the sizes do vary by brand and sometimes even model. It is important to check the manufacturer’s specific size charts in order to determine the best size snowboard helmet for you.



How to measure:


You want to use a flexible measuring tape or string if you can’t find a flexible measuring tape to measure all the way around your head. It is important to keep the measuring tape level as you measure around the back of your head keeping the measuring tape above your ears and roughly two fingers width above your eyebrows. This will ensure that you are measuring the largest part of your head.


If you need to use a string to measure, simply wrap the string around your head as described above. You can then use the length of string that it took to circle your head and measure it with a tape measure or ruler to determine how large your head is.



Converting to Centimeters:


If you do not have a tape measure that measures in centimeters, you can take the measurement in inches and then multiply by 2.54 to convert to centimeters or use an online converter to figure out how large your head is in centimeters.



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Once you get your helmet:




It is extremely important to try your snowboard helmet on with your goggles as soon as possible. can not return used merchandise, so if you wait until the last minute to try your snowboard helmet on and decide after a couple of hours of riding that you don’t like the fit, your buddy might have scored a nice new gift – that helmet that doesn’t fit you.


Wearing a poorly fitting helmet is no better than not wearing a helmet at all. The following image is rather silly, but hopefully shows you how a proper fitting snowboard helmet should fit. A proper fitting helmet should fit comfortably but snugly around your head. The front of the helmet should sit about two fingers width above your eyebrows.



Proper Snowboard Helmet Fit Diagram

Check out this video of the staff showing you exactly how to try your helmet on.



Keep in mind that not all snowboard helmets fit the same – even if they are the same size. Snowboard helmet brands and sometime models within the brands have different shapes to them. Some are more rounded, while others fit oval shaped heads better. If you try your helmet on and it is not providing even pressure around your head, (i.e. is too tight either front to back, is too tight on the sides or is gapping on the sides), you many need to try a different model of snowboard helmet that has a slightly different shape.



Snowboard Helmet Compatibility with Snowboard Goggles


It is extremely important to try your snowboard helmet on with your snowboard goggles to ensure that you are getting a comfortable fit. Your snowboard goggles should fit snuggly to your snowboard helmet not leaving any gaps to expose skin to the elements. It is important to be sure that when wearing both your snowboard helmet and goggles you aren’t experiencing any pressure points or the goggles pushing down too much on your nose. You also want to make sure you have clear peripheral vision when wearing both your snowboard helmet and goggles.


Hope this helps you decide on the perfect snowboard helmet! Happy Shredding!