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Winter is never complete without hours of skiing or snowboarding in the mountains at a ski resort. At a time when all seems gloomy, some play in the snow is just the right thing to boost your mood.
However, like any other sport, you risk injuries if accidents occur. With skiing, the head is the most exposed to injuries and the need to protect it cannot be over-emphasised. That’s why it’s advisable to always wear a helmet when doing your thing in the snow.
Yet not everyone agrees that a ski helmet is a good idea. Here’s a glimpse of the issues surrounding snow helmet safety and design.
Read on for deeper insights into why some skiers prefer to wear snow helmets, why others shun them, and what manufacturers are doing to make them better.
Pros of snow helmets
Most skiers never step out without a snow helmet. Here are five benefits of wearing snow helmets:
While skiing, you can accidentally slip and knock your head on trees and rocks, or collide with other skiers. Your helmet absorbs the shock that comes with the crash and disperses the impact energy over a wider area. This protects your head from injury.
2. Protection from the weather
Light snow showers are common during the winter season. If you happen to be skiing and it starts to snow, your helmet prevents your head from getting wet. A helmet is also a great way to keep the head an ears warm when the wind picks up or when temperatures drop.
3. Higher visibility
A helmet on your head allows you to be seen better by other skiers. Some come in bright colours that are easy to spot from afar. Couple this with the fact that your head falls right on the natural line of sight of other skiers, and you’ll agree that helmets help reduce the likelihood of collision between skiers.
4. Feel the adventure
With a helmet on, you’ll naturally feel safer and more protected from potential injuries. The chances are you will enjoy skiing adventures more while wearing a helmet.
5. Sets a good example
You may be very experienced in skiing, but that may not be the case with the youngsters around you. Wearing a helmet as a more experienced skier will positively influence others, especially children, on safety measures.
Cons of snow helmets
While snow helmets are highly advantageous as mentioned above, they’re not free of shortcomings. Here are the most obvious disadvantages of wearing helmets while skiing:
1. The weight
You’re talking about an average of 2kgs added to your head. That’s quite heavy and it can feel like a punishment to many. It’s no wonder some skiers still go bare head in a bid to enjoy the sport without a burden.
2. Encourages risky skiing
If you feel like you are more protected from injury, it could be that you take more risks. The over-confidence that comes with wearing snow helmets can actually lead to an increased risk of accidents.
Some people care more about the look than the safety and they will tell you that helmets are not trendy. It’s up to you to decide.
If not properly designed, helmets can cause you great discomfort as heat and humidity builds around your head. That makes you wonder why you have to wear such a thing.
5. Difficult to carry
Whether you have a big or small-sized head, you’ll need extra space to fit your helmet into the suitcase in which you carry other essential stuff. That can be frustrating if you are trying to keep your luggage limit down.
How snow helmets are changing
Manufacturers are keen to address some of the shortcomings of snow helmets outlined above so that more people can embrace their use. Here are some of the newest snow helmet features:
1. Adjustable fits and a range of sizes
Standard snow helmets are fixed in size and can’t be easily adjusted. If you buy one that’s slightly bigger than your head, it’ll keep on bumping your head left and right and add to your discomfort.
The latest designs are adjustable and can fit a wide range of head sizes. A snug fit around the head boosts your comfort and offers better protection against injury.
Also, check helmets for a range of sizes. Different brands can size differently.
2. Removable foam pads
Manufacturers are now making helmets with detachable foam pads instead of permanently fixing them onto the outer case. The detachable design allows you to test foam pads of different thicknesses and settle on the most comfortable one for you.
Look out for ski helmets with MIPS, which is a newer and more scientific internal protection system for the head. The new system is better able to distribute the impact of a fall so as to potentially reduce the severity of injury.
The current trend is to make helmets with vents that allow proper air circulation around your head so that you don’t feel sweaty and uncomfortable.
5. Goggle compatibility
Look for newer helmet designs that accommodate goggles. Most these days have a way to secure goggles neatly to the outside of the helmet and also create a perfect fit at the front with no gap between goggles and helmet. Some helmets are sold fitted with visors.
6. Trendy designs
Of late, snow helmet manufacturers are not only focusing on their protective features. They’re making sleeker designs and you can choose from a variety of designs like peaked, full cut, standard, full face, and visor helmets.
Material engineers are constantly researching ways to make helmets tougher but lighter. They’ve so far come up with industry standards like expanded polystyrene, in-mold, ethylene-vinyl acetate foam, Bern’s Brock foam, G-form, expanded polypropylene,and vinyl nitrile foam.
In conclusion: There’s no reason to go skiing or snowboarding without a helmet. Your safety is more important than comfort or adventure. Shop around for a good snow helmet that comfortably fits you and blends well with the rest of your skiing gear.