Safety is a critical component of any ski or snowboard trip. There are things to consider before you hit the slopes, if your bindings are secure, if weather conditions are safe, and when to replace a ski helmet. Like other sports, skiing poses risk for injury and even death—and having a helmet is one of the best ways to stay safe.
When to Replace a Ski Helmet?
Helmets don’t last forever—and as an essential component of your safety while on the slopes, it’s important that you know your ski helmet lifespan as well as when to replace a ski helmet.
Generally speaking, ski manufacturers will recommend replacing your helmet every 5-7 years, and definitely right after it’s been involved in a collision or has been damaged. Let’s take a look at ski helmets and how you’ll know when to replace yours.
Ski Helmets and Safety
Although there aren’t laws in the US that require snowboarders or skiers to wear a helmet, they’ve become quite a feature at most ski resorts. In fact, those who have spent more time on the slopes are more likely to wear helmets—they know how important they are. A helmet is a very critical piece of safe skiing and throughout the years, technology has helped make helmets even safer.
In the United States alone, almost 40 people die every year due to skiing or snowboarding injuries. A lot of these fatalities are due to head injuries, many of which can be prevented by wearing a good helmet. Helmets can save lives and significantly reduce head injuries.
Helmet Improvements Throughout the Years
Thanks to advances in technology, helmets are now more lightweight and comfortable than they’ve ever been. They allow for increased airflow and aren’t as clunky and uncomfortable as they used to be. Not only that, but they’re much safer too. However, like everything else, the effectiveness of your ski helmet will change over the years and at some point it will have to be replaced.
Ski Helmet Lifespan
In many ways, the ski helmet lifespan and when to replace a ski helmet will be up to you. Your head is pretty important and protecting it should be a top priority! If you feel more comfortable replacing your helmet every 1-2 years, do it!
Generally speaking though, helmets are designed to last between 5-7 years, or 2-5 seasons. Things like hair oil, body fluids, and rain, snow, and wind will all contribute to wear and tear that eventually begins to degrade the helmet. However, there are some other reasons you might want to replace your ski helmet before the end of its ski helmet lifespan.
After a Crash
Ski helmets are designed to withstand very, very minor crashes. They are there to protect your head after all! However, any significant crash or damage will most likely diminish the ability of the helmet to protect your head, meaning that it should be replaced.
The EPS (expanded polystyrene) that lines the helmet is what protects your head from any shock. After just one crash, this liner has been compromised and isn’t as effective in protecting you from future shocks. If you’ve been in a severe accident and can see any damage on the helmet, it’s time for a new one.
After Helmet Has Been Dropped
Say you dropped your helmet on the snow, most likely you won’t need to replace it. If you’ve dropped it on ice or concrete, however, check for damage. If you just see a few scratches, you’ll be alright to continue wearing it. However, if you see several big scratches or even cracks or fractures, you’ll be due for a helmet replacement.
Also, if you’ve dropped it repeatedly over the season, you might not see any visible damage but multiple drops might mean that you should replace your ski helmet.
How to Protect Your Helmet
It’s pretty common sense, but if you take proper care of your ski helmet, you’ll help to keep it working better, longer. For instance, if you avoid dropping it or subjecting it to any unnecessary bashing or weight, you can help it last longer. Here are a few other ways to protect your helmet and keep it working well for its full ski helmet lifespan.
Use Proper Storage
The material the helmet is constructed with will disintegrate over time, and will eventually weaken. This is a natural process and will happen whether you like it or not. However, you can store your helmet in a way to slow this process down. Keep it stored away from direct sunlight and avoid storing it in a place that’s too hot or too cold.
Also, avoid stacking anything on top of the helmet. You don’t want to expose it to any unnecessary weight or pressure.
Clean it Properly
After use, clean your helmet with a wet cloth. Be sure to avoid using any harsh chemicals—detergent and bleach will weaken the materials quickly. Also, never (never!) submerge the helmet in water or use a washing machine. Be sure that it’s fully dry before storing.
While we know this is very popular with a lot of skiers, some people recommend NOT decorating the helmet with stickers or paint. This may impact the safety of the helmet. It’s advised that you check your helmet manufacturer’s website to see their specific recommendations.
If you’ve wondered when to replace a ski helmet, you’re not alone. Many of us are unsure about the ski helmet lifespan, and that is why we wrote this guide.
Here are a few key takeaways: ski helmets are designed to last about 5-7 years, or 2-3 seasons of heavy use. They should certainly be replaced after they’ve sustained any damage from an accident or repeated drops. Want to increase the longevity of your helmet? You can clean and store it properly, and exercise caution when wearing it.
Hopefully this helps, stay safe out there!