No matter your ability level, picking up Full Face Skiing Helmets. If you’ve been putting off replacing a helmet that’s years old or is new to the sport, recent advancements have made them lighter and even safer, so now is a great time to take the plunge. The high-end models on the list offer advanced fit customization and venting, but those who only get up to the mountains a few times a year will be fine with a cheaper option. From the featured-packed and teched-out to the basic yet effective, below are the top ski helmets for the 2020 season. For more information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks. And to complete your ski kit, we’ve also written about the best ski goggles and ski gloves and mittens in German Helmets.
Top 10 Best Full Face Skiing Helmet Brands
1. Smith Vantage MIPS
Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 18 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (21 vents)
We’ve tested a lot of ski helmets, and none is more impressive than the Smith Vantage. The quality and attention to detail are clear, with a soft but supportive liner, excellent coverage all around your head, and an easy-to-adjust Boa dial for fit. You simply put on the helmet and forget that it’s there—the Vantage feels that comfortable and light. You also get superior ventilation with a total of 21 vents (13 more than the second place Oakley MOD 5 below) controlled by two separate sliders for easy customization. All in all, you won’t find a helmet that is so comfortable and universally capable of frontside and backcountry use.
The Vantage also comes with all the safety bells and whistles in the Smith arsenal. Their distinctive honeycomb Aerocore construction is visible through the vent openings and intended to improve energy absorption in a crash. And the popular MIPS liner, designed to protect your brain in an angled impact, is optional. These safety features are tough to quantify, but it’s worth noting that the extra tech is integrated very well into the low-profile design. Whether the whole package is worth the steep $260 price tag is up to you. Editor’s note: If you opt for MIPS, we’ve found it does run a bit smaller than the regular helmet, so those on the high end of the fit range may have to size up…
- Very pricey
2. Giro Seam Snow Helmet
First off, I have to say that the Giro Seam is my every-day ski helmet. You’re about to learn why these helmets totally kick ass.
A dial lock adjustment with floating internal suspension means that the helmet adjusts to fit your head like a glove with zero pressure points.
I wear this helmet 7-8 hours a day for 100+ days a season (I’ve got well over 400 days in this helmet) … trust me when I say you’ll forget it’s there.
Well placed ventilation is controlled by an easy to access and operate slider. One large slider opens and closes all vents on the helmet and features a “halfway open” positive stop so I can have my vents partially open or closed without guessing.
Ear panels feature a removable foam piece (meant for a speaker system) and mesh panels.
I took out the speaker inserts and it’s about a million times easier to hear than any other helmet I’ve ever worn. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t sacrifice a bit of comfort or warmth.
All of the internal paddings of the Giro ski helmet is adjustable, removable, and washable. This is a serious plus for those of us who wear a helmet all day!
The goggle retention strap is a line snap closure – again, this means your goggles have no chance of going anywhere even if you take a massive digger.
Going one step above the design of most other helmets, however, the Giro Seam goggle retainer is elastic so it can easily fit over even the bulkiest setups.
Pro Tip: Go for the solid black or solid white look – it’s a great sleek and clean look that says “I know what’s up.”
There are 15 colors available so everyone should be able to find one to suit their style. Overall, I think the Giro Seam is the best ski helmet.
3. Smith Vantage MIPS Snow Helmet
The newly redesigned Vantage helmet now features MIPS technology. If you are not familiar with it, it stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System.
It’s a fancy way of saying it lowers concussion risk by reducing the rotation of your head in the event of an impact.
The shell is a one-piece injection-molded shell that features a Koroyd design exclusive to Smith that provides extra impact resistance. The result is a strong, lightweight impact-resistant design at a good price.
It’s an advanced protection system that allows the liner of the helmet to move independently of the shell. In the event of an impact, it reduces rotational forces on the head.
It has plenty of adjustability with its “Boa” fit system. The Boa fitting system is a fancy way of saying it uses a wheel that you turn to adjust the cables so it fits your head perfectly.
The earmuffs are very comfortable and warm while letting in sound allowing you to hear people talking to you easily.
The Vantage is a very light helmet (about 18 oz) and one the lightest of the helmets evaluated. Not only is it light is also has one of the better ventilation systems of the tested ski helmets with 21 vent openings.
The front vents can be opened or closed with a slider and the same with the back vents, while some of the lower vents are always open. The helmet is plenty warm, and the liner has a “Nanosilver” coating to prevent bacteria and odor buildup.
Being that Smith Optics also makes goggles as well, they have made the Vantage very goggle friendly. It features a unique snap design that secures the goggles while making it easy to remove them at the same time.
Naturally, the helmet is designed especially for Smith Optics goggles but they work fine with other manufacturers as well. In my opinion, this is the safest ski helmet with the Hybrid SL Shell Construction.
All in all, the Smith Optics Vantage is one of the safest ski helmets available at a reasonable price, highly recommended.
4. Smith-Holt – Top Full Face Snowboard Helmets
Weight: 20 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (10 vents)
Top to bottom in their snow helmet lineup, Smith just gets it. At $75, the Holt is their true budget offering and our favorite helmet in its price range. It’s an exercise in smart design, and one of the Holt’s biggest accomplishments is avoiding the bulky and off-putting mushroom look associated with cheap helmets. While not as low profile or techy as the premium Vantage above or Level below, it’s a notable improvement over the rest of the budget field.
A really nice touch is the Holt’s adjustment system. You don’t get a dial adjuster, but an elasticized band at the back of the helmet stretches to accommodate your head surprisingly well. Warmth and comfort also are competitive, although the foam, while thick and warm, feels cheaper, and muffles sound more than we prefer. On the whole, we’ve found that it’s often worth upgrading to a mid-range or premium ski helmet, and particularly for those who get in a lot of days on the mountain. But as long as you’re willing to compromise a bit in comfort and aren’t prone to overheating (the fixed ventilation is only mildly effective), the Holt is a real winner.
- Our favorite helmet under $100.
- Liner and foam are cheaper than pricier helmets on this list.
5. Oakley Mod 5 MIPS Ski/Snowboarding Helmet
The Oakley Mod 5 is probably the most feature-rich helmet on our list and one of the safest.
It has MIPS integration combined with a hybrid shell design with ABS and In-Mold construction so it provides maximum protection in the event of a crash.
In addition to safety, Mod 5 is one of the most comfortable ski helmets with its Boa fit system that conforms to your head. I have to say the goggle integration is the best I have seen, especially when paired with the Oakley Flight Deck goggles.
It has an MBS or modular brim system venting that allows warm air that comes off your goggles to flow up through the brim and out through a vent at the top of the helmet for fog-free vision.
Plus it helps prevent ice from forming on your goggles which can happen when the temperature really dips.
Adding to the feature list are the removable ear muffs and inner liner that can be washed so they don’t get stinky after a day shredding on the slopes!
Rounding out the features are the 8 adjustable vents and a chin strap that uses magnetic latching so it’s easier to use, especially when you have on ski gloves than the traditional clip in design.
While costing more than most of the helmets on our list, if you value your head the Oakley Mod 5 is unmatched!
6. Salomon MTN Lab
Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 13.3 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (12 vents)
Rated for both downhill skiing and climbing use, the Salomon MTN Lab is a backcountry standout. The helmet’s feathery 13.3-ounce weight (our medium size with the heavier winter liner) is the lightest on our list and makes it easy to wear all day or attach to a pack. Ventilation is also a strong point with 12 large cutouts distributed along the top and sides of the lid. And Salomon didn’t skimp on features with the MTN Lab: the helmet integrates well with our Smith I/O Mag goggles, the adjustment dial at the back is easy to use, and the two included merino wool liners (one lightweight and one winter-weight) are soft and cozy.
Where the MTN Lab falls short is as an everyday helmet. Unlike the plush, resort-ready options above, Salomon’s minimalist padding is less comfortable and doesn’t protect you as well from the cold. In addition, the vents are non-adjustable, and we found that moisture can work its way through the openings in heavy snowfall (putting our hardshell’s hood over the helmet did alleviate this issue). These compromises make it a less than optimal choice for lift-assisted days, but it’s as good as it gets when you head into the alpine.
- Super lightweight
- Rated for both skiing and climbing
- Fixed vents can allow moisture inside
7. Lucky Bums Snow Sports Helmet
This helmet surprisingly features rich and robust considering the price point they managed to hit with it. Why do I consider it feature-rich?
Dial lock style adjustment strap in the back of the helmet adjusts the internal suspension system nicely to help fit a wider range of head sizes and shapes.
Don’t forget to order the right size helmet, though, because the adjustment range is the only minor. Goggle retention strap on the backside is a line snap style fastener.
This differs from many manufacturers because it means once you button your goggle strap in, it won’t come back out until you want it to! This is much handier than you might think at first glance.
Good design, Lucky Bums!
Unfortunately, the mesh vents on top do not open or close which is a major drawback for me – it means you’ll be comfortable in a narrower range of temperatures.
For most people this won’t be a problem, but if you’re a hard charger and won’t let up when the weather gets rough… you may want to consider adjustable vents.
Compared to the Smith helmet, I think this ski helmet has more useful features for the everyday skier or boarder.
For the price, I would recommend this helmet in favor of the Smith Holt helmet as I believe they’ve included more intelligent features for the casual skier.
The Lucky Bums is the best budget ski helmet that doesn’t compromise on safety.
Pro Tip: Wear a thin beanie under the helmet when the mercury drops!
The helmet is available in a variety of colors, including black, blue, red, silver, light blue, light pink, and a rather natty black with the skull. Excellent value for money and comfortable to wear.
8. Smith Level MIPS
Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 19 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (20 vents)
Smith has replaced the popular Variance—one of our all-time favorite resort lids—with the Level MIPS for 2020. Right away, you can tell the latest model is a thoroughly modern helmet: its sleek looks, generous ventilation, and hybrid shell construction closely resemble the pricier Vantage above. It also borrows that helmet’s Aerocore design and includes a MIPS liner (a non-MIPS Level is also offered at $170) for solid crash protection. Throw in a soft and warm interior, and the Level (and women’s Liberty) has all the right ingredients to pick up right where the Variance left off.
In saving $60 compared with the top-rated Vantage, you do make a few compromises. To start, the Level is a little heavier (by about 1 ounce) and has only a single adjuster for the top vents (the Vantage has two). Further, they’ve swapped the Vantage’s premium Boa fit system for an in-house VaporFit design. That said, the level of customization is very similar, and we’ve had no complaints with our other VaporFit-equipped helmets. Overall, the lighter and airier Vantage is the better all-rounder, but we see little to complain about with the Level for lift-assisted use.
- High-quality and very comfortable build.
- Not as versatile as the Vantage above.
9. POC Fornix Lightweight Ski Helmet
The POC Fornix is a skateboarder inspired design offering excellent protection with an ABS shell for impact protection and penetration resistance with POC’s VDSAP (Ventilated Double Shell Anti-Penetration system).
The interior has further protection with an EPS liner with an In-Mold design for shock absorption in the event of a crash. To keep your goggles from fogging, the Receptor BUG has goggle vents on the brim for airflow.
What good is a helmet if it’s not comfortable?
POC has you covered with a high adjustment fitment system and also has removable ear muffs so you can wash them or for warm weather skiing. The liner is also removable for washing.
10. Giro Ledge MIPS
Weight: 18 oz.
Ventilation: Fixed (8 vents)
Giro was one of the early adopters of MIPS technology, and their 2020 snow helmet lineup is chock-full of MIPS designs. The Ledge is a standout, which at $90 is the most affordable helmet on this list that’s equipped with the angled impact safety feature. Other than that, you don’t get a lot of bells and whistles, but there’s enough here to make most riders happy: a goggle retainer hook around back, removable ear pads, and a finicky but still very usable fit adjustment system. Anyone from casual riders to season-long rippers on a budget should give the Ledge MIPS serious consideration.
A number of Giro and Smith models go head-to-head, and the Ledge is a direct competitor with the Holt above. Both lids have very clean, skate-inspired designs, tough hard shells that can take a good knock, and are available in a wide range of colors. Where the Ledge has the advantage is the inclusion of MIPS for only another $20 (Smith doesn’t offer a MIPS liner on the Holt). But we prefer the overall fit and comfort of the Holt, and it integrates a little better with a wide range of goggle styles. But if MIPS is on your must-have list and Giro helmets fit you well (they’re known to work best with oval-shaped heads), the Ledge MIPS is a proven budget option.
- A MIPS-equipped helmet for under $100.
- Not as comfortable as the Smith Holt above.
FAQs about Full Face Skiing Helmets
Do all ski helmets fit the same?
Personally I have a long, narrow head front to back. For me, Giro helmets fit great! Smith helmets fit terribly.
Before you buy any helmet I always recommend trying on several models from different brands. Each brand seems to fit differently and once you find a brand you like you can choose which model of the helmet has the features you want.
Do I need adjustable vents?
Helmet vents are an important part of staying comfortable on the mountain. If you buy a cheap helmet the vents are likely always open – they’re not adjustable. High-end helmets tend to have adjustability.
With adjustable vents, you can open or close them based on weather conditions. In fact, my Giro Seam has always been good enough that even in spring season-low altitude rain the water won’t get in if I just close the vents.
Managing temperature while skiing is always a challenge so having every tool at your disposal to do this is worth the money.
Are built-in speakers a good idea?
Some helmets have speakers built into the ears. They’re comfortable, enjoyable, and fun!
However, I would urge skiers to avoid them for safety. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve avoided a skier-skier collision by being able to hear what’s coming behind me.
By law (in some areas) and by responsibility in others, the uphill skier is responsible for collisions, and colliding with a downhill skier can be punishable by law. However, that doesn’t seem to stop reckless skiers from careening down the hill and taking people out who are in their way, unfortunately.
When these assholes come slinging by inches from you, or that not-considerate-person shouts, “on your left” while passing you irresponsibly on a narrow cat track you probably want to know about it. Having “Sweet Child O’ Mine” blaring in your earholes means you won’t pick up on those audio cues until it’s too late!
What happens if I break my suspension system?
Getting the right fit on your helmet is always tricky. No matter what you do, you’ll likely not find a helmet that fits perfectly.
That can be solved, however, with an adjustable helmet suspension. Chances are you’ve seen them or worn them from a rental shop. They have those little dials on the back that you can turn to tight the helmet to fit your head!
Not all helmets have adjustable suspensions, however. Cheap helmets may just have padding inside with no adjustment.
If you manage to take a hard enough fall to break your suspension system the manufacturer is going to recommend that you replace the entire helmet. In fact, you may not even be able to order or request a replacement strap!
One thing you can do is check to make sure the suspension really is broken. Some just pop out of their fittings inside the helmet and can be put back together just fine after a hard fall.
All the helmets reviewed above will fit your needs for a safe and comfortable helmet. They all provide adequate warmth and ventilation and had a system in place to ensure a secure fit.
There was no problem with goggles misting up and the main differences were in the type of ventilation system used and the style.
With the three we have reviewed, you cannot go wrong whichever one you choose and they all meet the criteria we have outlined in this article.