Our testers went to great lengths to ski as much as they could in every weather condition imaginable. They skied in the frigid cold, warm spring-like days, in sideways snowstorms, and even in the pouring rain. Our main testing areas were located in the resorts and backcountry of the Lake Tahoe region and Northwest Montana. To achieve the most accurate scores, not only did our testers wear each helmet on several outings, but they also gave the helmets to their friends to achieve a strong consensus rating. Each helmet was then judged on a scale of 1-10 in each of our testing categories to give you a good idea of how they compare and help you make a buying decision.
Ski helmets must keep your head comfortable while skiing, sitting on the lift, and even walking around the resort. We rated helmet comfort based on the snugness of fit and general feeling while skiing. We noted if there were any pressure points, including on the earmuffs. We also made a point to notice how each of the chin straps felt. The more easily a product adjusted to fit our heads via dials and sliding mechanisms, the better it scored here.
Ski helmets need to perform in various temperatures - from frigid Arctic air to warm spring days. Everybody runs at a slightly different temperature, but a warm ski helmet should generally negate the need to wear a hat underneath. To determine how warm these helmets really were, we skied during freezing days throughout our testing period to see if the helmet could maintain its heat in the coldest temperatures.
An excellent ski helmet has a well-crafted ventilation system that can easily open and close to remove excess heat. To compare the helmets, we first counted how many vents were on each helmet. Then we used both gloves and mittens to see how easily the vents were to open and close. Finally, we skied a fast run with the vents open and one with them closed to see how much air passed through the helmet.
When we considered the weight of each ski helmet, we first noted if noted how heavy they were when carrying them in packs while climbing up for backcountry skiing. In the end, the scale gave the final say. From there, the score for weight was based on those considerations.
Ski helmets don't always fit with every pair of goggles. It is essential to make sure the helmet you choose does not create a "gaper gap" or create downward pressure problems on your goggles. We considered the design of the goggle strap fasteners as well. When we were testing these helmets, we tried them on with several pairs of goggles to make sure all types of frame designs could make a tight seal with the helmet. As we skied, we noted if the helmet created any pressure problems, how well they stayed in place, and if we could feel the wind on our forehead due to any gaps.
Style is subjective but does play a role in ski helmet choice and even functionality. While in the lift line and on the skin track, we asked many skiers and snowboarders what they thought of the style of each helmet. This survey created a consensus score and helped to limit personal bias.