The Best Helmets of 2022
Lids that let you push your limits
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A top-performing helmet will fit a majority of average-size noggins. What sets the winners apart is supreme functionality. If the vents don’t let in enough air or the chin buckle is clunky or the whole unit feels heavy or constricting, that helmet isn’t going to earn a place on your head. And that means it won’t serve its primary job, which is to protect you in case of impact. These lids do all that and more.
Sweet Protection Trooper 2Vi MIPS ($300)
When the original Trooper debuted in 2004, with its aerodynamic silhouette and lightning-bolt-shaped carbon-fiber streaks, it looked like a lid you’d wear to ski fast and hit cliffs. Indeed, it remains popular among big-mountain skiers but has always been too flashy for the rest of us.
Now? The new Trooper is made with thermoplastic-laminated carbon fiber and weighs just 1.5 pounds. That’s 7 percent less than the last model, which had a two-layer hard shell with carbon reinforcements. At the same time, the update has a beefier shock-dampening foam liner and a whopping two layers of MIPS, which lessen rotational forces on your brain. All together, Sweet claims the new Trooper offers 16 percent more impact defense. Its features are on point, too: a magnetic chin-strap buckle, a durable rubber goggles strap on the back, and enough venting above the forehead and at the back of the neck for moderately sweaty boot-packs.
Thankfully, its new understated aesthetic fits in whether you’re charging steeps or out for a mellow tour. Yes, it’s seriously expensive, but you’ll notice the difference.
Smith Survey Helmet with ChromaPop Visor ($270)
Best New Age Helmet
Historically, we’ve found that helmets with integrated goggles—including past iterations of the Survey—look ridiculous and don’t handle fogging well. Smith’s latest update surprised us. It’s downright stylish in the lift line, thanks to a slim profile with 16 subtle vents and an integrated visor that’s barely distinguishable from a big spherical goggles lens. Meanwhile, there’s ample ventilation at the bottom corners of the visor plus two fixed forehead vents, which keeps fogging at bay. The optics are insanely crisp, which we appreciated during stormy tree skiing. The lack of a traditional frame also boosts peripheral vision, so we could see skiers coming into our blind spots.
POC Meninx RS MIPS ($250)
Best for In-Bounds
Brilliant in its subtlety, the Meninx RS MIPS hides a slew of technical details behind a clean, racing-inspired silhouette. The helmet’s crown has 28 Skittle-size vents in four V-like rows, which you can open or close with a simple glove-friendly slider. When the mechanism was fully shut, our heads stayed toasty even while getting hammered with wet snow on a 31-degree day. To create optimal airflow for groomer laps on a 35-degree day, we positioned the slider in the middle, to close every other row. Keeping the vents fully open was a spring-skiing delight. Two three-inch-long fixed slits on the forehead add more heat-dumping capability. Icing on the cake: the magnetic chin buckle and hardy rubber goggles strap adjust single handed.
Salomon QST Charge MIPS ($200)
Best for the Backcountry
The Charge is ridiculously light and airy. Case in point: testers in Oregon’s Siskiyou Mountains didn’t even think to remove it for the skin back uphill between laps during a fitness-focused skinning session on a day in the mid-thirties. Airflow is top-notch, with two individually adjustable pairs of vents on the left and right, in addition to two fixed openings at the front and six at the back. Porous ear pads allowed us to hear friends clearly, even when they were out of breath, and vented well during a blazing-hot spring day on Mount Shasta. Still, a pocket of dead space kept our ears warm and cozy while we waited 40 minutes in a lift line on a 25-degree powder day.