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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