Your Responsibility Code

Mountains and ski resorts often have a code of conduct posted near chairlifts and around the lodge. Unfortunately, many people completely disregard these rules when out on the trails, becoming hazards to both themselves and their fellow riders. If you keep to these seven rules, you are sure to have an unforgettable season!


  1. Always stay in control.
  2. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
  3. People downhill have the right of way.
  4. Always look uphill and yield when merging.
  5. Observe signs and warnings.
  6. Keep off closed trails.
  7. Know your personal limits.

Other Ways to Stay Safe on the Slopes

Ski and board safety doesn’t stop with purchasing a helmet. The practice is a recurring and evolving process—one that many skiers, including myself, struggle with. Gear checks should occur throughout the season, and replacing broken or damaged items is essential.


A good way to start the season on the right foot? Visit your local shop. Every year, before my inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend trip, I visit my ski and board shop to get my skis sharpened and waxed. This is also a felicitous time to ensure your boots and bindings fit properly. By holding myself accountable at the beginning of the season, I start with a clean slate—rather than discovering a dangerous binding situation halfway through March.


Clothing choice is another easy method for staying safe on the slopes. Always dress in layers, and check in with yourself throughout the day. Can you feel your fingers and toes? What about your nose? Consistently keeping track of your body’s response to your surroundings is the best, most efficient way to have a safe ski experience.


The Fun Stuff: How to Personalize Your Helmet

Once you’ve determined the type of helmet that works best for you, consider the ways in which you would like to use your new piece of equipment. Though created for safety, helmets provide the opportunity for added warmth and media. Below is a list of helmet personalization methods:


Liner: Every seasoned skier and boarder knows the drastic temperature changes that may occur throughout the season, month, or day. Finding a helmet with detachable pads and drop liners will allow you to customize the amount of warmth you need.


Vents: Similar to detachable liner, vents allow you to control the helmet’s internal temperature. Adjustable vents allow you to cool down on the go, while removable plugs require stopping to adjust airflow.


Audio: An increasing number of skiers and boarders listen to music while out on the trails. If your helmet has ear pads and additional liner, squeezing headphones into your ears may become difficult. If this is the case, consider purchasing a helmet with built-in speakers. This is also perfect for those who ride in large groups, as you can often connect both cell phones and 2-way radios to your helmet’s speakers.


Camera: Park rats and speed demons are turning to GoPro and other small cameras to capture their stunts. As a result, many helmets now have built-in camera mounts. By freeing your hands from cameras and cell phones, a camera mount will help produce a smooth and seamless video.


Goggles: Protecting your head is necessary, but protecting your eyes is also important. While some riders prefer sunglasses, goggles protect against sun damage, wind, and debris. However, this equipment is rendered useless if not properly secured, and—as a result—finding a goggle-compatible helmet is essential.


The Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Wear a Helmet

Helmets protect your head. Duh. Helmets work to absorb and distribute the shock of a hard impact. Imagine: you’re skiing a glade and WHAM, a low-hanging branch catches you off-guard, sending you flying into the woods. Not only will your helmet provide protection from the hard, potentially sharp branch, but it will decrease potential damage if you go head-first into another tree.


They protect against surface injuries. The helmet’s primary responsibility is to protect against surface injuries, such as fractured skulls and lacerations. In fact, increased helmet usage has reduced this type of injury by 50% from 2003. Helmets don’t make riders immune to head trauma, but they often reduce the severity of the injury.


You have no reason not to. If you’re not accustomed to wearing a helmet, think about why you’ve made this decision. Is it because they can get hot? Are you worried you won’t be able to hear your music? Is it purely a vanity thing? As you’ve already figured out, I’m not here to judge. However, the benefits of wearing a helmet far outweigh any counterarguments. What’s more important: that picture of you nailing a misty flip or staying safe if the trick fails?

Know Your Helmet Lingo

While making the decision to wear a helmet is a huge step, purchasing the equipment is what actually matters. Before stopping by your local ski and board shop, you should be familiar with the parts of the helmet; indicating which components are most important to your riding style will guide your sales assistant to the perfect fit. I wish I understood helmet parts and construction before buying my first helmet—prior knowledge would have led to a more informed purchase. So, for your convenience (and wallet), below are the parts and construction vocabulary essential to finding your dream helmet.


Shell: The shell is the rigid outer layer of the helmet. Usually made of high-impact plastic, this is the part of the helmet that will protect you from sharp objects and the initial impact. The shell’s construction will also spread the shock of impact over a larger area of the helmet.


Liner: This is the softer, Styrofoam-looking material found on the inside of the helmet. Designed to absorb most of the impact, this is typically made from expanded polystyrene foam. This component protects your head by compressing, thus lessening the force of impact.


Injection-molded helmets: The most durable helmets around, injection-molded pieces are made of expanded polystyrene foam that has been bonded to a separate shell. These are often more expensive but longer-lasting.


In-mold helmets: In-mold helmets consist of a single molding process wherein the shell is attached to shock-absorbing foam. These helmets are often very sleek and light, and—while the cheaper option—must be replaced frequently.

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