A helmet is a necessity in the northeast—and not just because Mom says so but because we ski mostly in hardwood forests tighter than slalom courses. While a helmet would serve some good on impact against a tree trunk, most dents in my lid are from low-hanging branches. But, for two seasons, my Smith Vantage has kept me head-trauma free.
The Vantage is an ideal backcountry lid for any number of reasons. It’s light—just more than a pound (size medium)—which neither adds noticeable heft to my pack nor does it make my head wobbly under its weight. The ear pads fold in, so it packs as well as any mixing bowl could. (Still, it’s a pain to fit in some packs.)
The Vantage has 16 airy vents (Smith says it has 21, but I can’t find the remaining five), and while I usually skin in a hat, it has enough airflow to wear while skinning hot laps on cold days. And thankfully, the color option of purple and teal camo straps has been discontinued.
+ If you just can ski without listening to Dubstep, the Vantage is audio compatible (Skullcandy options starting at $50).
– Two years later, the ear pads have packed out to a point where they no longer fit snugly.
= A well-vented but warm helmet that’s light enough to carry in the backcountry.
$180 – SCOTT-SPORTS.COM
Designed to meet the European safety standards for both skiing and climbing the Couloir is ideal for mountaineering missions but suitable for year-round wear. It’s extremely well vented, and the earflaps and liner are removable for warm-weather.
$100 – BERNUNLIMITED.COM
The Watts is Bern’s original helmet featuring a removable, knit liner and 10 vents. This hardhat meets the standards for skiing, biking and skating, so you can wear it year round. Fit is somewhat rigid, but the Watts is available in five sizes.
$149 – HEAD.COM
The candy-apple Crest is a warm lid that has a large shell and snug fit. Ten well-placed (but small) vents slide open or closed using two, easy to reach dials. Pair with the Head Stivot Race goggles for a matching fit and color combo.
$140 – PRET-HELMETS.COM
Newcomer Pret introduces the Effect, their top-of-the-line helmet with mini-brim and wool ear padding. The Effect fits wide, has 13 vents and size large weighs just one pound. Simple, lightweight and stylish.