(The Gear Loop) - What price would you put on your child’s head? Exactly - a good ski helmet is a must for winter sports. In fact, since January 1, 2022, all minors under the age of 18 in Italy must, by law, wear a helmet on the slopes and under 14s must wear them in Austria.
While it’s not compulsory in France or Switzerland or most states in North America, it is strongly advised.
But finding the right one is tricky, as young rippers grow fast and their tastes change quickly, so spending out a lot of money on a lid they will probably only use for one season can be painful. But it’s worth it.
While you can rent a ski helmet, it’s impossible to know whether that helmet has been dropped, overheated or damaged in any non-visible way while being used by another child. So if you can afford it, buying is still the best option.
We’ve picked what we think are the cream of the crop of kids lids on the market this season - some are also designed for using on bikes and in skateparks at home, one is super adjustable, allowing room to grow (a course of action not normally recommended), and there are those sporting funky colours, patterns and features that will no doubt delight your youngster.
Oh, and models that work beautifully with goggles to prevent them from steaming up.
The best ski helmets for children
POC Pocito Fornix MIP
- Top safety credentials
- Good size range for bigger kids
- Not available in smaller size for very little head
POC is, for some, the only helmet to wear on the slopes, symbolising the ultimate combination of style and safety.
The POCito Fornix MIPS oozes both - available in four colours, fluorescent blue, yellow, orange and pink with reflective patches (to make kids more noticeable), it has POC’s inbuilt twICEme NFC Medical ID, a scannable chip that stores medical and emergency contact details in case of an accident.
Parents can store their phone numbers easily by uploading details using their smartphone. There’s an inbuilt RECCO Reflector, too, for additional avalanche safety.
The lightweight construction makes it comfy for little ones to wear all day, along with fully adjustable ventilation that includes goggle chimneys that help to prevent fogging. Bear in mind it’s designed to be worn with POC goggles. It’s not uncommon, as most helmets are designed to be worn with the same brand’s goggles to create what’s billed as a "seamless" fit without gaps.
- Great value
- Removable and washable earpads/lining
- Only for younger kids (two sizes from 48-53cm)
- Basic design
This is a great-value lid for younger kids, with cool graphics that will delight smaller boys and girls. Apparently for the lads, there’s a navy helmet with space shuttles and planets, while girls have a pink one with rainbows - though of course Cébé wouldn’t want to be too gender specific, so there are darker pink and black versions, too.
The BOW is made from a tough thermoplastic for greater shock absorption and to keep the cost down, with removable and washable earpads and helmet lining. Cébé's fine tuning system allows for small adjustments for different head shapes, too.
Smith Prospect Junior MIPS
- World’s first helmet liner system that "grows" with your child
- Broad size range available
- Pricey (but it is built to last)
Smith’s "Grow With Me" technology is the world’s first helmet liner system that adjusts as the child shoots up, so while parents are usually actively discouraged from buying a helmet that their child can grow into, this lid is designed to last multiple seasons. Yes, it’s at the expensive end of the line, but it will outlive and outlast many rivals.
The Smith Prospect Jr. helmet is constructed from a lightweight, durable exterior shell and EPS foam with MIPS impact protection (that slides 10 to 15mm in all directions to reduce shock transfer to the brain) as well as zonal Koroyd for enhanced energy-absorbing coverage in the event of a crash.
There are 14 adjustable vents, and a comfy, furry tricot lining. The ear pads are also removable.
Bern Bandito Junior MIPS
- Designed for teenagers
- Certified for ski/snowboard as well as bike/skate
- Rear mount for light
- Not the cheapest lid
- Lining not the comfiest
This lid is designed specifically for teens who are too big for a kids’ helmet but too small to reach for the adult stuff.
It’s essentially a mini adult helmet - a brimmed lid that will look great in the snow park but doubles up as a great bike/skate option, too. There are no children’s graphics on this one, which is constructed from a robust, lightweight and scratch-resistant EPS shell with a MIPS lining.
The Bern Bandito Junior MIPS helmet has two holes on the rear, to mount Bern’s Quickmount Asteroid - a reasonably priced micro-USB rechargeable bike light.
It’s also got a fine-tuning adjustment to give a bit of growing space (but not too much).
Giro Crue MIPS Youth Helmet
- Good size range
- Skate style
- Comes in nine funky colours
- Non-removable liner
- Can't adjust ventillation
Giro’s Crue MIPS helmet screams classic park-style for young shredders. The hard shell construction and MIPS deliver excellent safety standards and there’s plenty of venting to keep hard-working kids cool, with an EPS foam liner for added comfort and safety.
The custom fit feature provides up to 60mm of adjustment, useful for growing heads. Like many other Giro products, this is designed to work best with the brand’s in-house goggles for a "seamless" gap, but there is a "vertical tuning" feature to improve the fit with rival eyewear and different head shapes.
What to look for in a kid's ski helmet
There are three standards to look out for when buying a ski helmet - indicating that the kit has gone through rigorous and proper safety checks. These should be clearly marked inside the helmet, do not consider buying one that doesn’t comply to the following:
- European Safety Standard EN1077
- American Society of Testing and Materials ASTM F2040
- Snell RS-98 - the toughest safety standard, commonly seen in motorbike helmets
On top of these, an extra safety feature now widely available is MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), a low-friction layer inside the helmet that reduces rotational forces on the brain after angled impacts.
Don’t be tempted to buy a helmet for your child to grow into. To be effective and offer the right level of safety, they must be the right size. The exception here is Smith’s new Grow With Me technology, a specifically designed liner system that makes the helmet last more than one season.
And if they want to wear a beanie under their helmet, make sure that’s how you test it - otherwise it might last a day and be too tight.
Colour and weight
It’s not just a fashion choice, because bright colours are great for additional visibility. While your kid might want plain black, fluorescent yellow, orange or blue lids can be seen a mile off. And while we’re at it, remember that kids can quickly tire of graphics.
Some kids helmets are also heavy, so look for something around the 400-500g mark to be comfortable, not to mention lighter in the luggage.