Snowboarding Helmet – Should You Wear One?

With a very small number of exceptions, wearing a snowboarding helmet is optional. It’s up to you; it’s a personal choice.

But it’s obvious, right? Wearing a helmet is safer than not wearing one. Let’s say you fall and bang your head on the icy piste, or worse, maybe a rail in the snowboard park or a rock at the edge of the piste. It seems straight forward that wearing a helmet in one of those situations would be beneficial. So why doesn’t every snowboarder wear one?



Reasons not to wear a helmet

There are reasons that snowboarders don’t wear helmets. You might consider some of them to be more valid than others, maybe not:

  • Comfort
  • Style
  • Cost
  • Belief that a helmet isn’t needed: “I’ll be ok”
  • Belief that a helmet isn’t needed: “they don’t make a difference”

Comfort. Helmets don’t always fit that well. Perhaps you find wearing a beanie more comfortable, or warmer. No further justification is needed if you find a hat more pleasant that a helmet.

Style. Some people will be happy to admit it, others not, but the truth is, a lot of people choose not to wear a helmet because they don’t like the way it looks. Beanies look better, man!

Cost. Helmets are more expensive that their woolly counterparts, there’s no getting around that. Whilst you might question a snowboarder’s priorities, it’s naive to expect everyone to be able to afford a helmet. Cost is a factor.

“I’ll be ok”. You might agree that on balance, wearing a helmet is a safer option than wearing a hat. But at the same time, you believe that you’ll be ok; you don’t need one. This confidence may be based on experience – you’ve been shredding for 7 years now and never had a head injury. However, it may just be wishful thinking.

”They don’t make a difference”. There’s an argument that helmets don’t count once you’re going a certain speed…

This article isn’t a written judgement of people who don’t wear helmets. It really is personal choice. Myself, I wear a helmet if I’m riding off-piste or riding the park. If I’m predominantly charging around the piste I may well wear a beanie: I like the change, I like the look, and judge some situations to be more risky to my head than others.

More on the safety element

There safety debate surrounding the helmet is fairly deep. I’m not an expert in this area, not close to it, but I’ve read a bunch of reports ranging from the late 90’s up until 2009. The items that I’ve picked up as being important are:

  • Does a helmet help with low speed/low force impacts?
  • Does a helmet help with serious head injuries?
  • Can a helmet make the situation worse?
  • Should the use of helmets be enforced?

One thing is for sure, helmet adoption is on the rise. It’s been increasing in the region of 5% per year, and around 2008/2009 an NSAA study put the use of helmets by skiers and snowboarders at around 50%. That’s a lot. People obviously see the helmet as a sensible choice.

So what about the number of head injuries? I’ve read different reports stating that they account for somewhere between 2.5% and 14% of all ski and snowboard injuries. There’s a lot of variation there, but the upper limit is pretty high.

When it comes to safety benefits, it seems that the helmet is most useful in preventing less serious injuries. Concussions, cuts and scrapes; injuries occurring at speeds of 15mph or less. This would seem to reinforce the speed-argument, that: “helmets don’t really help – if you’re travelling fast enough they no longer make a difference”.

Whilst it’s true that most snowboarders travel faster than 15 mph, say, 20mph+, I’m not sure how that relates to a fall in the park? What if you catch your edge on a rail, or fall spinning a 360 off a kicker? Does a helmet still help then?

For more serious injuries, skull fractures, concussions greater than Grade II, and fatalities, the reports suggest that helmets are less useful. Given that fatalities on the hill often involve multiple injuries, research shows that the uptake in helmet use hasn’t caused a reduction in the number of deaths.

As for the enforcement of helmet use by all snow sport users, so far, there isn’t enough evidence suggesting that it’s a good idea.

Can helmets make a situation worse? Well, there’s an argument that the use of a helmet can increase the chance of a neck injury. But again, there isn’t enough evidence to support this claim.

So, whilst a helmet may not be effective at high speeds, and may not play a role in reducing fatalities on the mountain, if it doesn’t make your situation worse, is it fair to conclude that your overall safety on the hill is still increased? I’d say “yes”.



More on the style element

Style. Fashion. They’re big elements of the snowboarding scene, the snowboarding industry. Not for everyone, but they’re there. As a broad statement, many people prefer the look of a beanie.

And how about the pro scene? In the past, certainly, you didn’t see pro snowboarders wearing helmets. You didn’t see many regular snowboarders wearing helmets, but pros? Pretty much never.

The next statement isn’t qualified at all, but there were rumours, whisperings, that film producers didn’t want the riders in their videos wearing helmets. I’ll leave that to people closer to the scene to either validate or correct, but whatever the reason, there weren’t many pros wearing helmets.

But that has changed, to some degree. Sure, the video parts from this, and recent seasons aren’t filled with helmet-clad pros, but you do see them. And competition riders wear them too. Just look at the likes of Shaun White and Kevin Pearce. You don’t get much bigger than that and they both wear lids. Yet, whilst there are more pros wearing helmets these days, I don’t think the rate of up-take is in-line with recreational snowboarders.



Manufacturers, magazines and media have changed too. There are adverts for helmets. They’re portrayed as being part of the style. A safety element made to look cool. Manufacturers have big ranges of lids, lots to choose from, audio options, liners, peaks. Did they jump on the band wagon as helmet adoption started to increase, or was it a shift in the marketing that lead to increased adoption?

And the same can be asked of the pro scene, even though together, they’re all part of the same inductry. How much has the pro scene affected the wearing of helmets? Does the fact that we now have some uber pros donning head protection make the rest of us more accepting? Or did it happen the other way around?

Consider the example of the UK indoor snowdomes

The UK’s indoor snow slopes are one of the few places where the use of a helmet is enforced (for freestyle sessions). This has led to a culture in which wearing a helmet is second nature. Everyone does it. They have to. No big deal. It’s normal.

So how does that feel? As a UK shredder, it bears little consequence on our use of the indoor fridges. It certainly isn’t a constant niggle that riders are complaining about. We just get on with the jibbing.

Unfortunately I haven’t found any figures in this area. Are the indoor parks safer than those in resort, where helmets are optional? Unknown. Are the UK dome-riders more likely to wear a helmet on the mountain? Probably. Does that make them safer? Unknown.

Is this an indication that enforcing snowboarders to wear a helmet on a wider scale is a good idea? I don’t think so. Just because a rule is tolerated, lived with, and has faded into the background, it doesn’t mean the rule is a good one. As above, there isn’t enough evidence here yet.



Secondary benefits of wearing a helmet

Putting the safety benefits to one side, there are other, positive side effects that come from wearing a helmet. Consider:

Protection for your goggles. Wearing a helmet is good for your goggles, too. First of all, a fall on your face is less likely to damage your goggles and therefore, perhaps, your eyes/nose. What’s more, when a snowboarder falls it’s quite common for their goggles to come off. Again, there’s the potential to damage or loose them. A helmet helps to keep your goggles on, tucked safely under the rim.

Securing good visibility. I can’t emphasise this point enough. When the inside of your goggles come into contact with the snow, bad things can happen. Depending on the conditions, that moisture can turn to steam, which is horrible for visibility. Worse, if it’s very cold, moisture on the inside lens can freeze. You can’t see through that and it’s hard to get them to thaw out. It happens.

With a hat, snow can gather on the top of goggles, or bind to the woolly material around your forehead. This can result in partial/full blocking of your goggle vents. That’s not good for keeping the air flow through the inside of your goggles.

The helmet and goggle combination work well to keep your goggles clean, unobstructed, and your visibility clear.

Music. If you like snowboarding with music playing, a helmet can be a good option, as there are plenty of built-in audio options. One of the benefits of a built-in audio feature is the ability to quickly lower the volume. Often the control is easy enough to operate with your gloves still on – handy for talking to your friends when you stop.

Popular brands, styles and what to look out for

Pro-tec have a good range of helmets, with audio models to choose from too, if that’s what you’re after. Bern helmets are definitely popular, as are Burton’s Red helmets, the Giro range (I don’t know much about them), and Smith lids. Smith make a deal of how well thier helmets integrate with their goggles, which is important.



If you’re getting a helmet, you probably think it’s the safer option. That doesn’t mean that you want to look like a dork! If you can’t find the style you want in a shop, sometimes you’ve got to go online…

But beware, you want it to fit well! If it’s your first lid, it’s definitely advisable to go to a shop and try some on. Even if you don’t end up buying one in-store, they’ve all got sizes and trying a few will help you discover the size that’s likely to fit. But you’re not going to know until you put it on.

Think about your goggles too – if possible, check the fit. Although you’re unlikely to find a completely incompatible match of helmet and goggles, there’s no denying that some pairings work a lot better than others (and in doing so, it’s fair to say they look better too).

Be aware of thick ear pads/liners that aren’t removable. Sometimes they can make it quite difficult to hear your friends talking, and if you can’t take them out, you’re stuck with being unable to hear your buddies!

Final word

At the end of the day, snowboarding can be an injury-prone sport. People fall, people slam; sometimes you get straight back up, other times it hurts a little. It’s difficult to deny that. Given that the head is one of the body parts that comes under fire from a snowboarder’s bails – it stands to reason that a helmet makes sense from a safety/protection point of view. It’s difficult to argue with that, too. In some situations, helmets make sense.

Are helmets a catch-all? No, the research suggests that serious injuries and death are mostly unaffected by the use of a helmet. Nonetheless, there are definitely situations in which a helmet helps. If I fall on a rail or box, I want my lid on. If I hit a rock, I want my lid on.

It’s your call. So share it. What do you think? Do you put a lid on your head, or a tea cosy? Should helmets be mandatory, or is that stepping over an individual’s right to choose for themselves? And what about the safety stats? The pro scene? As always, add your view with a comment.

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Comments
40 Responses to “Snowboarding Helmet – Should You Wear One?”
  1. I think the reason that a lot of the pros are wearing helmets in competition is because the competition organizers require it.

    I remember ten or more years ago watching some kind of competition on TeeVee and the commentator specifically mentioning that helmets were now mandatory for all competitors.

    It might be because of insurance requirements. It could be about actual concerns for safety. It could be that they wanted to set a good example for kids once Snowboarding started getting more exposure. I’m not really sure.

    The other thing about wearing a helmet is that it can sometimes give you a bit of false courage. You might feel more confident in trying something that you wouldn’t when only wearing a toque (that’s Canadian for beanie). Which in turn could lead to more serious consequences if you aren’t successful in pulling off your trick.

    The helmet I have now makes me feel that I look like Toad from Super Mario Bros. So I hardly ever wear it. Pretty much only when I am in the park or pipe.

    I am wanting to get a lighter more streamlined helmet at some point in the future.

  2. Reneator says:

    So the question here is, is it the same situation with backprotectors?
    Also just a protection at lowspeed??
    Many people i know, where saved from wearing a helmet, one a biker broke 4 helmets cause of crashes, and had no serious head injury.
    Another friend of mine, he’s called Gavin, got a head injury while a fighting with a Car. (i’m sure you know him ;) )
    At many points helmets are maybe not that helpful as it could/should be (not preventing of a head injury completly), but i think having a chance increase (also its just minimal) to prevent an injury is more important than the Style-Factor. Also i think, that helmets are not really made to protect your head of smashes at all, but it will prevent a head crack in an injury, where you could end having an “open mind” when not wearing a helmet!

    And only believe a Study you faked yourself :D (German saying)

    So all taken together, i think Helmets are an important and helpful tool to have around, also it doesnt prevent of all injuries, but at least dampening minimal.

    (Styropor is pressable at a pressure of 300 kilos, so your head will survive that better, not already spoken of the wide contact area if you crash on something, as if your skull is cracking instantly (as hard as it sounds))

  3. Gavin says:

    @Sam, interesting point about the competition organisers, I’ll try to find out more about that. I didn’t mention the false courage aspect in the article, but it is an idea that comes up quite a lot. I’m not sure about my thoughts on that, probably because (I think), I don’t get the feeling of additional confidence. That said, it is easy to imagine that others could get additional, false courage.

    As for a new helmet – I think I need one too. Isn’t there some guidance about replacing your lid after so many crashes? I bought mine way back in 2004, so I guess it counts as quite old!

    Cheers, Gavin

  4. Gavin says:

    @Reneator, I agree with your overall point. Even after reading the reports indicating that the helmet is most effective at speeds lower than 15mph, I still view the lid as an “overall increase in safety”. It still feels like the helmet will help me out with the types of falls that I take on the mountain.

    And yes, that probably is more important than the style factor. That’s why I like the example of the UK snow domes… the helmets must be worn so people just work their style choices around the helmet.

    Not sure about backprotectors – because I’ve never really looked at them. It has been something that I’ve kept in mind as a tool for helping out if I start to ride more rails. But, I think it would be the type of thing that I’d only wear in the park.

    Hmm, that Gavin guy, yeah I think I know him :)

    Cheers, Gavin

  5. Reneator says:

    I use backprotectors for overall protection on the Piste. A skiier once told me in a Lift-Ride, that he once got a bad crash with a snowboarder(or skiier dont know exactly) He drove in his back, and he got a bad back injury. Since that day he wore an Backprotector.
    Its also helpful when driving on and Icy track (whats nearly usual in austrian resorts in some months, after not snowing for a long time).
    But yeah, the Rail thing makes a big point!

    I read in a sticker on my helmet (should be in yours too) “always replace after a heavy crash”, so to ensure the material is complete functional.

    So that was it from my side :D

    Cheers, Reneator

  6. Renata says:

    I’m very far from be a pro, but I think helmet is necesary, at least for me…I’ve seen some accidents, and It was ugly…I dont feel safe anymore going to ride without my helmet. I dont feel pretty, (I preffer to be pretty when I go out with my boyfriend hahahaha) but I like the way my goggles can stay peferctly on its place all day, even when I fall.
    But anyways, I like to know different points of views! sometimes I stop to think why people don’t use a helmet, and now I know!
    Cheers! hope you are better!
    ps: sorry about my poor english, its not my first language…

  7. Gavin says:

    @Reneator, I’m hearing a similar thing about wrist guards too. More people wearing them than I’d expected. Like with the back protector, overall, you’re going to be better off, it’s just a compromise between maximum safety and comfort/style/freedom/cost…

    I think I need a new lid :) I’ve had some hard slams in that old one!

  8. Gavin says:

    @Renata, yeah, there are a few times when I think “I should have my helmet on here”. Mostly if I’m off-piste, I just feel safer. Same as you, I prefer the look of a beanie, but a lot of the time I put that to one side an put a helmet on. It is awesome how the goggle stay in place all day :)

    Thanks for asking, I am feeling better. The leg improves every couple of days, something gets easier or my walking gets better. I tried some gentle action on a cycling machine yesterday. It felt nice.

    As for the poor english, don’t be silly! If I tried to write something in French, my next best language, I wouldn’t get very far, certainly not a reply to a blog! People with a second language don’t need to apologise :)

  9. Reneator says:

    So i’m not Stylish wearing a helmet, backprotector, and wristguards (integrated in my ziener gloves (very comfy)) at the same time? :P (rethorical question)

  10. Alf says:

    I wear a helmet whenever I’m on a snowboard. A lot of people say they need them for the park or off-piste, but nearly all my big slams have been on rock hard icy pistes when my guard is down.

    I think the idea that helmets give a a false sense of impervious indestructibility and are therefore more dangerous than not wearing one is a load of tosh. Its a weak argument along the lines of those who claim seat belts in cars are dangerous because they don’t let you jump clear of the accident.

    Ok if you don’t wear a helmet, its your choice. If I forgot my helmet – I would still ride.

  11. Gavin says:

    @Reneator – I bet you’re the style king on the mountain mate! ;)

    @Alf – I think you’re right about the guard being down. Ciara had a hard head-smash on the piste last season, just jibbing a little and caught a back edge. Actually she had her helmet on, but the point is it happened when she was just “playing”.

    I suppose if I’m honest, I kinda use it as a “reason” to wear a beanie sometimes, but I suppose I am at least vigilant at other times/on other terrain. As I said in a previous post, I haven’t experienced the boosted-confidence, so don’t really know. It’s refreshing to see a strong opinion though :) Keep them coming.

    What do others think? Is the false-courage for real, or a convenient reason to not wear a lid?

    Cheers, Gavin

  12. Reneator says:

    I think the, like Alf described it perfectly, “Sense of impervious indestructibility” is something completly individual, and just some kind of psychological effect.
    But at the beginning of my riding, i often fell on my knees when losing balance on the frontside edge. Though i often got some nice Blood pockets in my Knees. So i tried some Knee Protectors, but those gave me a false Safety feeling, and i began to get used to fall on my knees. like sitting down on a Chair, i Jumped down on my knees, when to sit down and everytime i fell over frontside (sounds a bit bad-motorical and yes it is :D ). So with the the Knee protectors the situation got even worse, and i got supporting bandagees for sport, so that its not that worse, but i still did bad.

    So at one day riding, i decided not to wear em and at that day i realy watched not falling on my knees, and since then it got really really better. But one additional Thought i have to add here is, that you can get more likely used to falling on your knees, than all your other protectors (who would jump on his head, back, hands voluntarily, also a fall on the head for example still hurts although you’re wearing a helmet), so that there will/should be no “Sense of of impvervious indestructibility” with those ones.

    (one aditional thing with the helmet! Also i neglect myself^^, once we were on vacation, and the House had a low Entrance door (at the height that it would bounce on the top of my head) I wore a helmet, and often bounced the Door top, about 3 times, after that i wore no helmet! XD that hurt!)

    So helmets are also there to prevent your head of serious injuries but not of pain, i got one more example. My father once got a Lesson by my sister (got snowboard-teacher last year ( so i caught many of her technique she used)) and my parents bet with her, if she can do it, they will take a lesson from her.
    So at the last of the two days, my father sled square with the front to the mountain downwards the slope, caught an edge, and did not downsize his body, so he fell on his head like a whip. Afterwards he said he will never ever go snowboarding again, if there is no good enough padded helmet, to prevent of this pain ;) (i dont know the point why im exactly telling you all this, but maybe im just in a speak mood)

    friendly Greetings

  13. Gavin, helmet’s definitely need replacing after any crash that causes visible damage to the helmet. The styrofoam in them can only be compacted once. So if part of the helmet is compacted then it is no longer offering protection in that area. Also some helmets also need to be replaced after a certain number of years just due to the fact that the materials break down with age and don’t offer the same level of protection.

    As for not wearing a helmet due to the “Sense of impervious indestructibility”. I didn’t mean to imply that it was a reason not to wear a helmet. What I really meant was that people need to be aware that a helmet will only reduce the likely hood of injury, but can’t prevent it completely. People need to make sure that when they ride with a helmet they are still riding within their abilities and not increasing their risk level unnecessarily.

  14. Reneator says:

    @Sam MacCutchan I fully agree with your point, i just wanted to show the importance of the psychological Factor at Riding, and what i experienced on my one self.

    Greetings

  15. Gavin says:

    @Sam, that’s a good point, when people mention the fact that a helmet can give people a false sense of courage, that doesn’t mean they’re advocating to not wear one at all! Nice. And although I don’t think it’s necessary widespread (and I know you weren’t suggesting it was, either), I’m sure there are times when shredders think “it’s ok, I’ve got all this safety gear on”. Like you said, ride within your ability.

    @Reneator, so your sister is an instructor? Cool. The story of your dad and the low hanging door are close to the money. To me, the decision to wear a helmet, or any other safety gear for that matter, is a personal balance between the gear being needed, and the gear not being needed. Some people will view the likelihood of accident higher than others, and the consequences for that matter. What’s more, personal experience can have a biased effect on the judgement of what is likely to happen. Your dad for example, wants an uber padded helmet :)

    Cheers guys, Gavin

  16. 9wizard9 says:

    I’ve always worn a helmet (pretty much anyway) as I learned at one of the snowdomes – by the time I got on the real mountains I’d already got into the habit.

    I don’t think I get a false sense of security, but the odd time I’ve ridden without, I’ve felt really vulnerable (though a little freer).

    I’d definitely wear a helmet most of the time – you just never know when you might catch an edge or wash out and suddenly find the hidden rock under the snow with your head. Not to mention other slope users who may lose control and smash into you.

    I also encourage others to wear one. They may not save you in massive crashes, but I’ve not seen much evidence they’ll do damage, and I know I’ve probably avoided injury several times.

    That said, maybe I’m just cautious – I also wear knee pads since landing badly once and not being able to walk very well for several weeks due to bruising.

    Neither of these saved my shoulder when I had a badly balanced take off and caught a toe edge on the landing – smashed it nicely and ended up with pins. So protective gear can make you less likely to ruin your holiday, but can’t make you invulnerable!

  17. Gavin says:

    Hey wizard, I definitely agree that the snowdome culture encourages people to wear helmets when they’re out in resort. Like you said, you just get used to it.

    With regards to not being effective in high-speed crashes, I’m like you, I think there are still plenty of situations when the helmet does help you out. If you have a really bad slam, it’s going to hurt, and maybe do some real damage. But with things like wrist guards, knee pads and helmets, they can reduce the chance of ruining your holiday from a smaller injury.

    After writing these last couple of articles on safety gear, I found that lots more people than I expected continue to wear knee pads and wrist guards. They’re common injuries on the hill!

  18. Manuel says:

    I’d just like to jump in and say excellent post and interesting discussion!

    We have recently completed some research into common snowboard injuriesand found that head and neck injuries are still the most prevalent…accounting for between 10-20% of all snow sports injuries.

    So I guess I’ll be wearing a helmet when hitting the slopes this season…

  19. Gavin says:

    Thanks Manuel,

    interesting stats on the injuries. I think I’d read that wrist injuries were the most common, but I’d say getting reliable stats, and stats relevant to oneself, is pretty hard.

    Cheers, Gavin

  20. Johno says:

    It Is bullshit that helmets are too expensive. At KMart An all-round weatherproof ASA approved helmet is $15 AUD. I wear the same helmet when I,m on my mountain bike. I also wear it rock fishing which has save my life once. Without my helmet I would of been knock out and drown. Its cheap to replace at $15. Give it 5 years and it will became compulsory at all resort worldwide for skier and Boarders to wear helmets. It will be only the greedy element that will sue the resorts if they became injured, claiming that the resort has a duty of care to maintain and not having a compulsory helmet law is lacking of Duty of care.

  21. Gavin says:

    Hey Johno, I’m guessing that it’s a snowboard helmet you wear on your mountain bike rather than a mountain bike helmet that you wear on the hill?

    Sure – there are some more affordable helmets out there, and they’re going to help you in a bunch of situations… do you think that some of the new “snowboarding helmets” are overpriced at all? Or do you think that if one particular shredder doesn’t think they can afford a lid, they should look for something cheaper that will still do the job?

  22. Johno says:

    Hi Gavin and all and thanks for opportunity to reply to this issue.
    I found my lid in the skateboard accessories specials bin, so I guest its a skateboard helmet and are today,s lids over priced. From and safety point of view, yes. from a practical point of view, yes. From design and style point of view, it depends on your self ego approval. With my Helmet I can remove and replace my ear piece easy compare to the new helmets, where you have to remove or disconnect the helmet or tumble with your MP3 when listening to people. If you can,t afford a lid then I say spend the lift ticket money on a Helmet and sneak onto the lifts.

  23. Gavin says:

    Hey Johno – I like that advice, buy the helmet and sneak on the lifts ;) Or hike the hill!

    One of mates rides with a skateboard helmet, and I’m pretty sure they do a decent job. I know that there are bunch of people out there who know all about the helmet tech – ratings, dealing with cold, etc, maybe they will comment…

    Keep up the shred!
    Gavin

  24. Hagop says:

    I have been snowboarding 16 years and am now an instructor. My helmet has saved me so many times.

    I would never consider going riding without one.

  25. Steve says:

    Been skating and snowboarding from the early days of both sports and only wore a helmet on vert ramps but never in pipe or early day boarderX/parks. I’m not real supporter of putting them in place for snowboarding but I guess with the large obstacles in the parks now days it’s a good idea especially if you’ve got bigger balls than brains. I say if you’re not pushing your ability then no helmet should be required. I see the same garbage cash grab I saw back then, hills asking for additional $$ to qualify you to ride on their hill or now the park. No doubt a insurance liability checklist. This year I’m planning on getting back into the parks (knees willing) and will be sporting a 1990~ Pro-tec helmet with original release “Not for Resale” SKATEBOARDING IS NOT A CRIME stickers. If insurance companies are behind it then we should all be wearing a helmet while in a cars. Sometimes head injuries smarten people up, meaning don’t push you luck or you pay for it.

  26. Gavin says:

    @Hagop – I’ve definitely had times when I’ve thought “so glad I had my lid on there”. Obviously without being able to repeat the contact without a helmet, it’s speculation that the helmet made a difference – but I still have a strong feeling that it did.

    As such, I’m replacing my current helmet for a new one. Still gonna rock it most of the time when in the park or off-piste.

    @Steve – it’s an interesting point about pushing yourself. On one hand, even if you’re not pushing yourself, you could have an unfortunate impact that would have benefited from a helmet being in place. But then – you could say that about almost anything in life, like, “ooh, maybe I should put a helmet on because it’s icy outside…”

    If you’re pushing yourself, then yeah, you’re increasing the chances of impact so it’s probably a good idea to wear a lid. BUT – so many pros don’t bother. Pressure from sponsors? Maybe. Experience? Confidence…

    Good to hear you’re getting back into the park, and props for the old-school stickers ;)

  27. James says:

    Old article I know….but I was riding at hemel lastnight and thought i’d have a crack at my first kinked rail. The kink off the end of the particular rail I attempted had a bit of a whip to it I didnt anticipate and basically sent me off the end horizontally….

    Landed back of head followed by body, ringing in ears, confused and not far off knocking myself out.

    Thank feck for my ugly old green protec helmet, or a fall like that could have been much worse…

  28. Bas says:

    A helmet saved my freaking live dude.. Just put the earpads out. beany, goggles, helmet with stickers. Goodlooking!!

    did a huge 360 in the pow and slamed my head right in to a tree..

  29. Gavin says:

    @James and @Bas – defo agree, there are times when you think “man, I’m glad I had my lid on there”. That’s got to make it worth wearing it…

  30. Clayton says:

    Hi there, great read – I like your brutal honesty about the facts. If you’re going overseas to ski, remember that your insurers probably won’t cover you if you’re not wearing a helmet. That’s a hard fact that should have some sway in whether or not you wear one. We are running a snowboard and ski safety campaign at the moment, trying to encourage people to wear them by offering 10 percent off ellis bringham helmets – some rpetty stylish lids by all accounts . Check out our infographic for more: http://www.essentialtravel.co.uk/travelinsurance/use-your-head-2011-facts.asp

  31. Ollie100 says:

    Hey heading off on a boarding holiday next week only my 3rd week out there but skate, wakeboarder etc so picked it up rather swiftly never previously worn a helmet just beanies but thinking about getting onto some more serious stuff in the parks so rekon its time to invest in a helmet. If im just cruising the slopes no doubt there will be points i revert back to the comfort of my beanie but dont fancy bashing my head on a rail or hard kicker landing without a lid, anyway helmets nowerdays are looking pretty stylish and i personally think theres been an increase in helmet use from when i used to ski as a youngun !

  32. Gavin says:

    Hey Ollie,

    gotta agree with you about the style of helmets these days – they are getting good. I just replaced my previous lid with a Bern Baker – and I really like it. Comfortable, great fit and I like the look.

    Have a good time next week – hope you get some good tricks down in the park!

    Cheers

  33. Ollie100 says:

    Cheers Gavin yer hopefully ill get some tricks down and the snow reports have been good too :) , yer the bern baker helmet looks nice im going for the K2 Rival Pro quite exspensive but hopefully itll last a while ! Light weight, comfy and doesnt look bad either !

  34. bfsi says:

    I guess that having worn a helmet since I started riding, I don’t really think about it. I have tried riding without one, but it feels naked and I find my riding is much more cautious.

  35. gnar says:

    after what happend to kevin pierce hell yea imma b wearin a helmet

  36. rob says:

    I’ve not been boarding for very long but I remember at a relatively early stage standing at the top of a mostly empty mountain and thinking “I really don’t want to be stranded up here with a smashed in skull…” I practically edged it all the way to the bottom and went straight into a shop to buy a helmet. I don’t particularly like wearing one but I always do. I’ve had many spectacular wipeouts since then, but none of them have involved a major head impact. The only fall that has came at low speed on a flat that was practically an ice rink. I fell backwards, slammed into the ground and my (be-helmeted) head whipped back into the ice. Without a lid that could have been very messy (literally).

    I think one of the main factors to consider is the time it takes to treat a head injury. If you fall down on the street and bang your head, you’re in trouble – but you can count on receiving emergency medical attention pretty quickly. OK, if you crash on a piste or in the park then you’ll probably be treated quickly enough, but when you’re off piste then there’s a very good chance it’ll be game over – and even if you go over the edge of a piste, you could be very difficult to rescue.

    I think there is some truth to the “false confidence” argument – for some people at least – but it tends to get overstated by people who simply don’t want to wear a helmet. And I do understand this – the feeling of freedom when you tear down a mountain is the main reason most people ride I reckon, and whichever way you cut it that feeling is compromised when you’re encased in body armour. And ultimately it is of course a personal decision (at least until the laws change, which they might), but you have to consider the consequences for others of a serious head injury. I couldn’t live with myself if I ended up needing long-term care from my family because I chose not to wear a helmet.

    And let’s not forget Natasha Richardson – I’m sure cases like hers are exceptionally rare, but that’s not much consolation if you happen to be one of them.

  37. Gavin says:

    Hey Rob,

    that’s a pretty strong argument! I think, as you said, that it’s a personal decision. As such, people are obviously going to have a different view on it, and for many, either desire or a less cautious approach rule the day… and I imagine that many of those people would agree that a helmet is safer, but they still don’t want to wear one.

    Like smoking, and a million other different things out there.

    Personally, I wear a lid. Somewhere between 75 and 100% of the time.

    Cheers for commenting,
    Gavin

  38. Ashley says:

    I’m doing a health project on the personalities of snowboarders and how they differ from personalities of other athletes. I learned that many snowboarders are compassionate, loyal and treat there friends equally. I also learned that to them their sport is an art that they work to perfect. I am also a snowboarder and I would really appreciate any comments back!! Thanks!
    I just want to know what any people on this blog think about their personalities as a snowboarder!

  39. DME-Direct says:

    I am a huge fan of wearing all the popular styles of helmets. Personally, I feel wearing a helmet provides safety and protection even if they are more expensive. A lot of injuries can be easily prevented if a person is wearing a quality head gear. Thanks for taking the time to write this informative post.

  40. Natalia says:

    Recently I got the best protected hat! I was always thinking that it would be cool to put hat on my helmet. And I found them! Helt-Pro. The company located in Germany. Some guys in US are selling some of them now. Really cool looking helmets) I got mine few weeks ago and very happy warm and protected (not really good protection but really fancy)