Essential Tips for Picking the Perfect Helmet

Jonny Moseley Smith Helmet Review

Safety first, of course. But a good helmet gives you so much more than that. They’re warmer than a beanie, and can help your goggles work better too. In fact, there’s so many reasons to wear a helmet, it's a wonder anyone doesn’t want to wear one. 

Of course, the most important thing to consider with a helmet is safety, but Peter Glenn does our part to make that part easy on you. Every snow helmet we sell meets either the US testing standard (ASTM F2040) or European testing standard (CE 1077). In fact, many of our helmets meet both, or stricter, standards. So, whatever you pick you can be confident that any helmet purchased from Peter Glenn will give you the protection you need.


Getting the fit right is absolutely the most important thing to consider when picking a helmet. Not only does a helmet have to fit right in order to provide correct protection, but it also what makes the helmet comfortable to wear. Because after all if you’re not comfortable you won’t wear it, and if you’re not wearing it it’s not protecting you.

Most helmets have some adjustment in size within a range, like the Smith Mission Helmet, which was reviewed by our very own Jonny Moseley.

But how do you know what range you’ll fit in? The simple solution is to just measure your head, taking a circumference above your eyebrows and ears. If you don’t have a tailor’s tape, any flexible item even a headphone cord can be used, simply pinch the two points where they meet and measure using a standard tape measure.

Unfortunately, there’s more to it than that, as the shape of your head also affects fit. Some helmets will fit different head shapes better than others, sometimes with significant impacts on comfort. So, before you hit the hill with your new helmet, try it on. See how it feels, with goggles on like you’ll actually be wearing it. If it doesn’t feel comfortable on your head, don’t give up just try something else.

Oakley Snowboard Helmet


Two categories have a significant impact on how your helmet feels and performs; construction and style. Construction refers to how the helmet is built, using what materials and what methods. And the style affects not only how the helmet looks but also how it performs and feels on your head.

Construction is split into two main categories: In-Mold or Shell. Helmets made using In-Mold construction are constructed as a single item, with the impact-absorbing foam bonded directly to the thin outer layer. A good example of this is the Oakley Mod 1 Helmet. This gives these helmets exceptionally light weight, occasionally being even lighter than a standard beanie.

Shell helmets (occasionally called Bombshell, ABS Hardshell, or other brand-specific terms) use a rigid outer layer glued to impact absorbing foam on the inside. This gives the helmets improved resistance to cosmetic dings and scrapes, and depending on the design can allow the helmet to be slimmer and less bulky than an In-Mold design.

Likewise, style is split in two. The simple, more sleek “skate” style helmet or the more technical “performance” style. Skate style helmets look like skateboard helmets, with minimal visible ventilation and a sleek appearance, like the Smith Holt Helmet. They’re always the lightest and least expensive options, perfect for the helmet-skeptical or anyone who just wants protection with minimal fuss.

Performance style helmets on the other hand are much more adaptable and customizable. They feature additional often adjustable vents on the helmet, perfect for maintaining the ideal climate in any conditions. This makes the helmets a bit heavier, and a bit more expensive, but for skiers and snowboarders looking for fully customized comfort there is no better option. On such helmet is the Smith Level MIPS Helmet, which not only gives you plenty of adjustable vents, but also adds top-quality safety technology as well.

Ski Helmet Goggle Clip


Even with the heavy lifting of fit and design done, there’s still a lot of features that distinguish different helmet models from each other. Some of them improve comfort, others safety, and others still are actually designed to help your goggles work better. They all have their purpose, and understanding what they do is essential for making sure you get the perfect helmet for you.

  • MIPS®: Short for Multidirectional Impact Protection System, MIPS® is a new independent technology that preliminary research shows reduces the energy transferred to your brain during the most common kinds of skiing and snowboarding falls. Although there is no certification to assess these claims yet, the research does suggest that it provides an additional level of safety beyond what a standard helmet can do
  • Magnetic Buckle: Using Fidlock® or other technologies, these strap systems replace the standard plastic prong buckle, giving you pinch-free closure and allowing for easier operation while wearing gloves.
  • Goggle Vents: Located under the brim at the front of the helmet, these vents allow hot, wet air to escape from your goggles. Not only does this improve comfort, but it also reduces fogging.

Smith Outdoor Tech Wireless Audio Chips

  • Goggle Clips: Using rigid plastic, flexible fabric, or stretchy elastic, these secure your goggles at the back of your helmet, keeping the strap from sliding up while wearing, and helping keep your goggles close at hand in the event of a fall.
  • Ear Pockets: Built into almost every ear pad is a small opening for Drop In Audio systems. Different brands will have different compatibility standards, but if you plan on listening to music on the slopes make sure the helmet you pick is ready for sound. A good option is the Smith Outdoor Tech Wireless Audio CHIPS, which zip directly into your compatible Smith helmets.

CP Camurai Helmet

  • All In One Design: If you don’t like the idea of fumbling with goggles while you’re on the slopes, one option is to opt for an all in one helmet. Not only do they look cool, but also they give you the convenience of haing a high-quality built in goggle. One of the more popular brands for these all-in-ones is CP. Their CP Camurai Helmet is a long-term favorite among Peter Glenn customers.  
  • Removable Ear Pads: Warmth is one of the things that helmets do well, but whether for preference or necessity some people prefer a helmet that doesn’t cover their ears. For that reason some helmets are built with removable ear pads, letting you choose how you want to wear them.
  • Four-Season Certification: Some helmets are designed to not only meet the needs of skiers and snowboarders, but skaters and cyclists as well. These helmets come with the pads and insulation you want in the winter, but you can remove them and wear them in the summer to keep you safe while you’re enjoying the warmer weather. 

The last thing to consider, especially if you already have a helmet, is that helmets do have a limited service life. One solid hit to the helmet, and the foams protecting your head compress, and that’s a good thing. That’s how they’re able to absorb the damage and protect you. And you may not see cracking or a dent, but if you hit your helmet it’s probably time for a new one.

Even if you haven’t hit your head, helmets more than a few years old may be degraded and no longer able to provide appropriate protection. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t remember when you bought your helmet, it’s probably time for a new one.

All told, the way to approach picking your perfect helmet isn’t to worry about getting the wrong one, but rather to try and pick your favorite from a lineup of good options. And Peter Glenn is always here to help you narrow down the lineup and find the best way to keep yourself safe and comfortable on the mountain.