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Helmets can often be split into two categories, classic skate-style helmets without a liner, and a snowboard helmet, with a liner. Physically, both helmets don’t differ greatly, but the presence of the liner tends to separate them. However, when it comes to snowboarding helmets, some brands add extra safety features in order to protect from the great forces working against snowboarders versus skaters.
Snowboard helmets often feature liners to help combat the lower temperatures involved in snow sports, and also to facilitate a better helmet to head fitment. These liners are often padded for comfort, and made from a polyester microfleece for warmth and moisture-wicking. Vents, mesh, or foam segments are also added to help with the release of excess moisture.
Most helmets will feature an ABS or Thinshell construction, a hard outer material that protects from impacts from sharp objects such as rocks, board-edges, trees, or other hazards on the mountain. Underneath, there is likely an EPS or EPP foam liner to reduce and disseminate the energy from a heavy impact, protecting the skull and brain. The liner also plays a big part in the safety, too, as it helps keep the helmet in place and secure on the head.
Some brands have invested in new technologies to deal with non-direct, glancing, or directional impacts, which have historically been difficult to protect against. SPIN (Shearing Pad InSide) and MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) both offer enhanced protection in these situations. Both technologies allow the helmet to react to these specific types of impact in order to reduce the stress put on the brain, making them much safer in high-risk situations.
Our own brand, Dope, has partnered with helmet giants Bern to produce a range of stylish helmets that offer a great mixture of value and safety. We’ve also hand-chosen helmets from the biggest brands around, including Oakley, Anon, POC, among others, to offer a dynamic and encompassing range of helmets that are perfect for all situations.
While the safest helmet is always the best, the question of value and use need to be considered, too. Some helmets are not multi-impact rated. A park rider is likely to fall a lot, so a helmet which is rated to endure multiple impacts may be safer. While a backcountry rider will be safer wearing a helmet that offers high-speed impact protection as well as other safety features, which may come at the cost of weight and style. Matching your needs to the specific safety features on offer is always the best route to take.