January, 2001--Nothing keeps your head both warm and protected like a ski helmet. However, in order to get the most protection out of a helmet it must fit properly, and you must be wearing it.
Try several helmets on to find the proper size. Before buckling the strap shake your head from side-to-side and up-and-down to be sure the helmet doesn't move. Some helmets allow for the addition of extra padding for a good fit. A helmet should be snug, but not uncomfortable. If the helmet is not comfortable it's not for you.
After finding the proper size, check that the chinstrap fits snugly but comfortably under your chin. Always keep the chinstrap fastened when skiing as it's the one thing keeping the helmet on your head in a crash.
Safety is the most important feature when looking at helmets. Of the five helmets I tried, only the Leedom "Scream" is Snell certified; the others are CE certified.
The differences between these two certifications are significant. Both certifications have impact, stability, and penetration tests. A Snell certified helmet passes all of these tests at higher velocities than CE certified tests. Snell also does impact tests at more angles and with different objects.
You can find more information about Snell testing at www.smf.org. It's more difficult to find information on CE testing. The bottom line is that a helmet is worn for safety, and a Snell certified helmet adheres to the most stringent standards in the industry. Remember, something on your head is better than nothing at all.
To help you in your selection process, I tried out five full-shell helmets on the market this season. Short shell helmets are available in most of these models, however they don't provide the safety or warmth of a full shell helmet. All helmets are reviewed on the basis of ventilation, comfort, visibility, hearing, and safety.
Boeri - Myto Air
This CE certified helmet provides good peripheral vision, fair vertical vision, and is easy to hear through. I found the adjustable ventilation system fairly difficult to open and close with gloves on. The ventilation system is supposed to circulate air throughout the helmet but I felt two cold spots on my forehead, directly behind the two vents. It's a comfortable helmet, but the chinstrap isn't fully padded.
Briko - WS Solid Air
This CE certified helmet provides very good peripheral and vertical vision, which are very important safety features when selecting a helmet. The adjustable ventilation system is fairly easy to open and close with gloves. Overall I found this to be a comfortable helmet that is easy to hear through, but the chinstrap isn't fully padded.
Carrera - Evac
This CE certified helmet has an adjustable ventilation system that circulates air throughout the helmet. Peripheral and vertical vision is fair. Although the vent is easy to open and close, after some use it loosened up and seemed to fall to the closed position. The helmet is generally comfortable with a partially padded chinstrap and is fairly easy to hear through.
Giro - Ravine
This CE certified helmet has very good peripheral and vertical vision. The adjustable ventilation system consists of ten vents and is easy to open and close. I found the Ravine very comfortable because of its sleek design and fully padded chinstrap. It is fairly easy to hear while wearing this helmet.
Leedom - Scream
This helmet is Snell certified because of its patented rib liner, which allows the helmet to absorb some of the pressure upon impact. These ribs also help ventilate the helmet. The vent is easy to open and close. This is a comfortable helmet with a fully padded chinstrap. Peripheral vision is good, but vertical vision is fair. It is easy to hear with this helmet on, but when the wind is at your back (mostly on the chairlift), it does tend to howl.