Unless you’re the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, you should probably wear a helmet when you’re hitting the slopes. Head injuries are not reserved for the risk takers out there. They can happen to anyone at any time, so it’s a good investment to protect your dome. Plus, helmets are lighter and more comfortable than they've ever been, they keep you warmer than most hats, and you can get them hooked up with audio ear pads and other cool features. Get a snow helmet; it’s not a great idea to try and use your bike or skate helmet with a beanie thrown under it. The added bulk of the beanie further separates your head from the interior of the helmet, which can lead to a secondary impact in the case of a crash.
Helmet construction consists of an outer shell and an inner liner. The outer shell is usually made of ABS high impact plastic. Its purpose is to protect the rider from sharp objects and help spread the force of impact over a larger area. The inner liner is typically made of EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam, which is designed to absorb high velocity impacts in order to reduce brain injury. The manufacturing process can vary from brand to brand, model to model, resulting in some helmets being lighter weight with lower profiles.
Make sure that your helmet fits your head securely and comfortably and test how your goggles fit with it on as well. Measure your head if you don’t know what size you are or can’t try on the helmet before purchasing. Your helmet should be snug, but not tight. If the helmet jiggles around when you shake your head back and forth, it’s probably too big. If you have to push the helmet down on your head to achieve full contact inside the helmet, it’s probably too small. Your goggles should be flush up against the brim on your forehead without pushing down on your nose.
Helmets can come with a variety of different venting styles, so if you tend to get hot, you can look for a helmet with better venting. Some helmets come pre-wired with audio speakers built into the ear pads. Other helmets allow this through an accessory purchase. Depending on the helmet, it may have Bluetooth connectivity or just a headphone jack. With the popularity of action cams like the GoPro on the rise, some helmets are coming with camera mounts pre-built into the shell.