As with most ski equipment, not all helmets are created equal. Unlike other pieces of your ski ensemble, purchasing a cheap helmet can dramatically impact your safety. Head injury is the main cause of death or serious injury among skiers and snowboarders, and neglecting to safely cover up can have terrible consequences. The public has taken notice, and helmet use has risen dramatically in the past decade.
The popularity of helmets has coincided with them becoming more flatteringly streamlined, lighter, and fashionable. There are hundreds of options to choose from, but there remains a lot of controversy over how well they can actually protect our heads. While research shows that skiers and snowboarders wearing helmets are better protected from head injury, certain helmets—cheap, thin, and light versions–don’t stand up to the most dangerous injuries.
A study conducted by l’Hopital de Sacre-Cour de Montreal in Canada found that, though helmets provide significant protection against head injuries like gashes and bruises, they don’t necessarily prevent concussion and other brain injuries. While its normal for helmets to be able to stop sharp objects from piercing the material, they cannot always absorb a certain amount of impact. They are not necessarily designed to protect against the type of accidents that cause concussions, and current safety standards don’t demand it.
If you’re in the market for a new helmet, be sure to read about your preferred brand’s safety testing. If there is no mention of concussion or brain injury prevention, it likely hasn’t been tested. To that end, don’t opt for style over protection. Though you may be tempted to go with the sleeker, more flattering design, this might not be the most helpful if you accidentally hit your head while tumbling down the mountain.