Helmets: Sizing and Selection

Use a tailor’s measuring tape and measure the circumference of your skull at the widest/biggest spot above the eyebrows (about an inch or two higher — wherever it is widest). Take the measurement OVER your hair, since the helmet will be over your hair as well. Take the measurement in cm, or convert from inches to centimeters by multiplying by 2.54 (for example, 24.75 inches times 2.54 equals 62.8 cm). Use the chart below as a basic guide for helmet size. Keep in mind there is some variation in sizing among manufacturers; nothing beats “trying it on.” If you do buy online, it is nice to be able to try on a helmet at your pricey resort shop first, or at least make sure the online vendor has a comfortable return policy. And hey, if your resort shop isn’t too pricey…buy it there! It is more important to make sure your ski resort stays in business than to save three dollars by buying online.

DANGER! Severe injury/Permanent disability if not done by professional
Forehead Size (cm) Helmet Size
48-50 XS
50-52 S
52-54 M
54-56 ML
56-58 L
58-60 XL
60-62 XXL
62-64 XXL


Whenever you read about a skiing fatality, the news report invariably discloses whether or not the deceased was wearing a helmet. It’s usually something idiotic like this: “Mr. Numnutz was skiing out of bounds when the avalanche occurred…authorities say he was wearing a helmet” — implying that he was prepared, but the avalanche killed him anyway. Which is absurd. Helmets DO NOT make you safe in avalanche country, and they do not make you safe in the trees…unless you wear your helmet on your chest.

As old school skiers we have mixed feelings about helmets. Prior to the 1990s, most skiers didn’t wear helmets, and they didn’t need them. Trail grooming was spotty, skiers tended to move slowly and predictably on unstable, straight skis. Injuries and deaths occurred, but head injuries were the exception. With the advent of side-to-side grooming, winch grooming, shaped skis, and snowboarding, the average ski run has become faster and a lot less predictable. Head injuries are much more frequent, and you will definitely improve your chances of avoiding serious head injuries if you wear one. But remember, donning a brain bucket is no golden guarantee…especially at high speeds, in the trees, or other off-piste or out-of-bounds skiing.

Younger skiers, on the other hand, without years of predictability patterns wired into their brains, absolutely are much safer with helmets. Most older skiers can avoid collisions by experience — novice skiers don’t have the same skill sets. Put a lid on.

Snowboarders frequently fall differently from skiers; the back of the head smacks the snow a lot more often in a fall. Snowboarders absolutely must wear helmets. Well OK you don’t have to, but you’re taking a huge risk if you don’t.

Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down.