Potential Tariff Could Affect Snow Sport Industry

In early September, professionals in the Colorado snow sports industry headed to Washington, D.C. to speak out against President Donald Trump’s summer round of proposed tariffs. Products that could face a potential 25 percent tariff include sports bags, knit has, safety helmets, and ski gloves—items essential to the Colorado industry. Despite these efforts, company leaders are warning consumers to brace for change.

One company in particular, Hestra USA, has been in Golden, Colorado for 13 years. Selling ski gloves, work gloves, and a high-end fashion line, the company loves their location. To keep pace with market trends, sustainability, and durability, the majority of their products are made with leather. The percentage of leather used dictates that this falls under the new tariff code. 85 percent of their line is leather, so it’s going to be very, very impactful for them.

Similarly, Nick Sarent, President of the SnowSports Industries America, says that a tax increase of this size will be a huge blow to the industry. “Our goal is to take these product categories and remove them from the tariff list and get them excluded,” he said in a statement. While industry representatives testify in Washington, D.C., business owners are preparing to increase the cost to consumers. Asking any company to absorb a 25 percent increase is nearly impossible—they don’t have that kind of profit margin.

This tariff has the potential to impact helmet design. In an effort to keep prices low for the consumer, we are expecting to see American companies change the interior helmet lining, thus decreasing their reliance on the materials subject to these high tariffs. If the industry doesn’t shift, the prices will—and skier/snowboarder safety could be at risk.

 

Insights from the Global Ski Helmets Market Report 2018

Each year, this report provides detailed research to illuminate the trends, market development, and advancement shaping ski helmet technology and use. While this isn’t necessarily marketed toward the consumer, it is an essential piece of the financial puzzle for ski helmet makers and distributers. To that end, understanding the shifts in the market—especially when that market concerns items as essential as ski helmets—is a great way to stay on top of technological developments.

The fundamental purpose of Ski Helmet Market report is to provide a correct and strategic analysis of the ski helmet industry. It scrutinizes each segment and sub-segments to present a holistic view of the market. It is also an essential tool for gleaning factors driving the market growth, and it highlights applications, types, deployments, components, and developments of the market.

While the report is thousands of pages long, you should know the following:

 

  • The companies currently profiled in the report include Adidas, Burton, Columbia, The North Face, Alpine, Helly Hansen, Halti, Patagonia, Decathlon, Volcom, Peak Performance, Goldwin, Quicksilver, ARMADA, Schoeffel, Rossignol, Atomic, Spyder, Lafuma, ONeill, Boger, Karbon, Kjus, Decente, Arcteryx, Northland, and Phenix.
  • The applications profiled include cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, and freestyle skiing.
  • The regions included are the USA, Europe, South East Asia, Japan, China, and India.
  • The types profiled include Large, Medium, Extra-Large, Small, and Extra-Small sizes.

 

This is the time of year when ski and snowboard outfitters begin to launch their lines for the next season. Ideally, they utilize this report to target specific demographics and make changes to features and structures in order to maximize sales. If you begin to see new and improved styles and technology advertised with every sports retailer, understand that this is likely the result of this report. If anything is clear, it is that the ski helmet industry is growing.

 

Best Helmets of 2018 Round-Up

Each year brings new safety and style innovation to the headgear protection world. The 2017/2018 ski season saw a new generation of original, fresh, and creative ways to incorporate safety and sophistication in the ski and snowboard helmet. If you’ve been putting of replacing a helmet for a few years or want to take advantage of some new technology, here is the industry-leading equipment you should consider. Though these models are quite expensive, buyers should understand the helmets are an investment; you can use them for years, and they are an invaluable part of skiing.

 

Giro Range MIPS–$250

This hybrid in-mold construction weighs just 19 ounces and boasts thirteen adjustable vents. Fit is controlled with a dial system, which brings together a two-piece shell in a durable and semi-flexible design. This flexibility creates unmatched comfort and a low profile. The integrated MIPS—Multi-Directional Impact Protection System—combines an interior foam liner, a low friction liner, and an elastomeric attachment system to reduce rotational forces that may damage the head in case of an accident. With all-day warmth, comfort, and protection, this is one of the best all-around helmets on the market today.

 

Smith Holt–$70

With a bombshell construction, earpads, 14 vents, a self-adjusting fit system, and a dial-controlled adjustment band, this is the best helmet you can buy for under $100. Built for all-season toughness, this helmet is excellent for both on-piste and backcountry skiing. The dial adjustment system guarantees comfort you might not otherwise experience with a budget helmet, and the sleek design avoids the dreaded “mushroom” shape commonly found in budget designs.

 

POC Receptor Bug–$135

This hybrid double shell construction helmet boasts eight adjustable vents, just 19.4 ounces of weight, and a tough, impact-resistant material. It offers exceptional durability with the double shell system, making it a perfect choice for backcountry exploration. Though this helmet doesn’t come with a fit adjuster, the POC Receptor Bug is one of the most durable, well-constructed pieces of protective gear on the market. The outer ABS layer covers the entire helmet, offering award-winning safety.

 

Do Your Research—Concussions Are Dangerous

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.

Popular Helmet Brands

When it comes to most gear, brand corresponds to price—not quality. This, however, is not always true for ski helmets. These helmet brands, though expensive, have been working hard to produce consistently high-quality products for years. With in-house researchers and countless studies to support their design and material choices, you can rest assured that these helmets are likely some of the safest options available.

 

Smith—Smith was born in 1965, when Dr. Bob Smith, orthodontist and bonified ski bum, developed a pair of sealed thermal goggles. They’ve been perfecting safe and secure ski and snowboard headgear for over fifty years, producing advanced products to both fuel adrenaline and protect against accidents.

Giro—Giro has been making high-quality ski helmets for over thirty years. Founder Jim Gentes started the company with a simple mission: to make a safe and secure helmet that was lift, stylish, and well-ventilated. Since its inception, the company has made hundreds of thousands of protective headgear products.

Oakley—While many know Oakley as a surf company, they began producing ski equipment very early in the company’s life. They specialize in sunglasses and goggles, but they make a mean, protective, and all-around stylish ski helmet.

Sweet Protection—Sweet Protection makes performance helmets, protection gear, and technical clothing for skiing, snowboarding, biking, and whitewater rafting. They specialize in protective gear, spending much of their resources on researching the best, most current technology available. They blend industry-leading innovation with unmatched craftsmanship to create protection strong enough to push people beyond their boundaries.

Salomon—Salomon is a leading name in the ski industry, and it’s no surprise that they make a damn good helmet. Their headgear is separated into discipline categories: touring, freeride, on piste, and racing. This nearly guarantees a helmet perfectly suited to your needs.

 

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.

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.

 

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?

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