To Helmet or not to Helmet: Protecting My Head is the Question

Crested ButteSo someone was paid to study the effectiveness of a helmet and the Denver Post is proud to announce: “Study: Helmets cut risk of head injuries in skiing“… Who would have thought? I wonder if the study was sponsored by a helmet manufacturer?

Since I started riding, I’ve never – not once – worn a helmet.  The only time I’ve ever hit my head is on that bar that you bring down over your lap while you’re riding the lift. I’ve also avoided head gear while mountain biking – something I’ve taken a lot of criticism for (and probably rightfully so). Unlike snowboarding, I have tried wearing a helmet while biking. I’ve found it to be a horrible distraction. A friend of mine claims that wearing a helmet will increase your chances of having an accident. We’ve also discussed the notion that the sense of security from wearing a helmet will train you not to properly protect your head in the event of a fall.

All that said, I’m starting to take bigger air and I’ve finally seen the inside of a big pipe. One thing about the surface of the pipe – it’s not soft. I’m starting to wonder, is it time I get a helmet? Remember that crack in my board from a tree? I wouldn’t want that kind of crack in my skull. Still, I can’t imagine enjoying having a heavy piece of molded plastic attached to my head.

I looked around at some studies on snowboaridng injuries. I thought it interesting that this one said about 10% of injuries are to the head. That’s actually higher than I expected. If you read further, it sounds like those injuries are from falling backwards on hard pack conditions and not from hitting objects such as trees or pipes. I also read a bit on The ABC’s, but they didn’t give much more than ” Although there’s little doubt about the importance of wearing a Snowboard Helmet”… which was followed by a link to where they sell them.

If I know me, I probably won’t pick one up before the next trip. However, if I wreck my skull, I’ll be eating crow instead of turkey for thanksgiving.



It was actually commissioned by the Norwegian Ski Lift Association, which we mentioned in the story we ran on the study ( I first bought a helmet back in 2001 while visiting Montana, expecting to only wear it while skiing hairball chutes, etc. However, much to my surprise I actually [i]liked[/i] the darn thing — it’s warm, it’s comfy, and the newer ones are even lighter.

And by the way, thanks for the link in the sidebar! Nice blog – keep it up.

– First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine


It looks like there’s little to no support in word press for formatting in comments… unless html is allowed…

Anyway, thanks much for the feedback. A friend of mine offered to loan me his helmet this year so I think I’ll take it for a spin. I can’t imagine liking it, but I’ll give it a shot.


I mountain bike just as much as I snowboard so I know how you feel. I started wearing a helmet in both sports and my snowboard helmet feels awesome. If you decided to go buy one try a bunch on because the feel different. The one I have is from the company Leedom and the model is The Vandal. It feels better with goggles than a beenie does. I was constantly landing large jumps and spins or coming off of a rail the wrong way and my googles and hat would shift. That doesn’t happen with the helmet and they are allot lighter than you think. If you like listening to your music while you ride, they have models and speaker adapters built right inside the foam instead of loosing your ear buds all the time.


Martin, you’re starting to convince me. The helmet I’m ‘borrowing’ is kinda old and I’ve never so much as tried it on so… maybe I should just pick one up.

Gavin @


made a decision yet? I use my helmet for riding park and pipe, and off piste. If I know I’m gonna be cruising around I might stick a beanie on instead. I know that I should probably just wear the helmet all the time, but I suppose I am helping to minimise risk :-)

Martin’s comments about goggles and helmets are right – your goggles stay right where they should! Unfortunately I bought my helmet before I got into riding with music, so mine doesn’t have any headphones. However, if you get some in-your-ear phones that are a good fit, simply wrap them twice or so around the helmet strap near the ear. Then if they come out they don’t fall down and the cable doesn’t get lost/damaged.

It actually works really well, ‘cos if you’re riding with your friends it is dead easy to pull an earphone out on the lift/slope and just leave it hanging from the strap. Once you start riding again just slip it back in… Bingo!


I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a helmet… although this next trip I might try borrowing one. I sold on having one, it’s just a matter of costs. I also want to get a small mini-DV cam as well as a board bag for this season. I don’t make a lot of money so I can probably only afford one of those before the next trip… It’s also time to update some of my gear. For example, my snowboarding pants are pretty trashed. Maybe what I really need is a better paying job!!! :)

Hitting Kickers

I’ve got a Leedom Vandal helmet too. Bought it after my last trip when I hit an invisible kicker towards the bottom of some steep off piste. Was straight lining thinking I was almost at the end of the run and before I knew it I was cartwheeling. Hit my head into the pow, and fortunately nothing harder, but it could easily have been a rock or a tree. Don’t know if I’ll wear the helmet all the time, but will certainly use if for off piste and park.

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