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Gear Guy

Can I use the se helmet for skiing and ice climbing?

I’d like to use a single helmet for skiing (on and off piste) and winter mountaineering/ice climbing. Should I go with a skiing or ice-climbing helmet? Or is this a bad idea? Myles Auckland, New Zealand

A: Hmmm. Interesting question. I’d probably go with an ice-climbing helmet, as most ski helmets are somewhat bulky and extend over the ears for warmth. That might not be a bad thing for ice-climbing, too, but generally I think you want a little more ventilation when working hard but not moving that quickly, such as when picking up a frozen waterfall.

Grivel Salamander helmet

Grivel Salamander

Otherwise, climbing helmets and ski helmets have a fair amount in common. Both typically have ABS plastic shells, and, most important, they don’t have a lot of vent holes so sharp rocks or ice chunks can’t penetrate. In a climbing helmet, the Grivel Salamander ($75; would do well when on ice, and wouldn’t look too out of place on the ski slopes. The Giro Encore snowboard helmet ($69;, on the other hand, would work well on ice as well as snow.

You might also look into a “multi-sport" helmet such as the ones from Bern Unlimited, a U.S. company that launched in January 2006. They make helmets that can be adapted to various sports by swapping out liners. The Bern Brentwood ($99;, for instance, could be used to climb or ski or even kayak—not bad.

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest backpack, tent, and sleeping bag.

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Filed To: Snow SportsSki Gear
Lead Photo: courtesy, REI