How to Choose a Ski Mountaineering Helmet

Ski mountaineering helmets are indispensable elements of our safety, and have a double certification for both mountaineering and alpine skiing. Here we’ll tell you how to choose one.

Camp Speed Comp, ultra-light helmet for double certification ski mountaineering. Photo: Camp
The history of ski mountaineering helmets changed in 2017, when the ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation) required the use of a helmet in all events under their auspices, and further announced that they must be double certified, for skiing and mountaineering/climbing.

Immediately, helmet manufacturers reacted by designing helmets in accordance with the new ISMF standard. Which, as we will see, led to the fact that the majority of skimo practitioners, today, made the healthy decision to take a helmet on their outings.

Ski mountaineering is an aerobic sport. Until the creation of this type of helmet, few people used this safety element, because an alpine ski helmet is not practical for this fast activity (it was popular to say "taking an alpine ski helmet for ski mountaineering would be like taking a motorcycle helmet to go cycling"), and a climbing helmet, as we will see, does not protect you from falling during a descent.

But, why is this double certification?

Camp Speed Comp. Double helmet certification for ski mountaineering

Double Certification of Ski Mountaineering Helmets

  • A climbing helmet is designed to protect from higher impacts that could fracture bones (falling stone, ice, material, etc.), but not to cushion impacts when falling at ski speed, which would imply brain movement that could cause brain damage. Its front, side and rear protection is limited.
  • An alpine ski helmet is designed to cushion blows against ground, etc., caused by a fall, preventing the brain from moving and receiving internal damage, with blows usually frontal, lateral and rear, y to prevent frontal, lateral and rear penetration, but not so much to protect from impacts from above, such as falling stones, etc.

The ISMF considered that, since mountain skiing is a sport that combines mountaineering with skiing, a helmet suitable for this activity should:

  • Protect from impacts from above, like mountaineering protection
  • And in turn cushion a blow while in movement, front, side or back, like a ski helmet.

To decide: you had to comply with both certifications:

  • EN 12492, for climbing and mountaineering helmets
  • EN 1077, for type B ski helmets (in full, you can discover them)

In this way, we are protected both in the event of falling rocks or ice during the ascent, as well as impacts due to blows or penetration during the descent.

Evidently, this is easier to decide than to do. Mainly because safety is only a part of efficiency: for aerobic sports, lightness and, above all, ventilation, are fundamental.

Ski Mountaineering Helmet Ventilation and Design

    There are several problems to solve. If we think that some are designed to prevent damage from falling elements and others to cushion blows when falling, it is easy to imagine that:

    • The soft alpine ski helmets have ventilation in the upper part
    • Climbing helmets generally have ventilation on the sides

    As can be seen, the general solution has been to replace the lateral and rear openings with material linings that do not affect the resistance, allowing to comply with the certification of the ski helmet, and eliminate the displacement of them directly located in the upper zone of the helmet, to comply with the approval of a climbing helmet.

    Dynafit ST Helmet, ski mountaineering helmet

    On the other hand, to achieve European certification of alpine skiing helmets, the sides and neck area must be protected, which should not happen with climbing helmets. The helmet is lower in these areas.

    Además:

    • A ski mountaineering helmet cannot have the heat capacity of an alpine ski helmet
    • You need the lightness of climbing helmet
    • With all these parameters, although it is difficult to combine them, skimo helmets were created. And the results have been excellent: lightweight, well ventilated helmets that protect us in all situations.

      This is why their use is expanding massively: finally there are helmets that, in addition to providing us with the necessary safety, have a design compatible with highly aerobic sports such as ski mountaineering. Helmets that can be worn comfortably for the whole outing.

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      Binding leash for ski mountaineering boot

      In the case of choosing a leash, and as you can guess from seeing the photo, if in an impressive fall the skis come off, they will fall near your boots, with great possibility that in their turns and movements they will impact against your head violently.

      With leashes, the use of helmet is practically mandatory.

      Other Things

      • Ski mountaineering helmets incorporate a fastening system for a head lamp and ski mask.
      • Normally the ears can be covered, with a detachable system, but except on very cold days, they can be uncovered.
      • As with climbing helmets, the most ultra-light ones, for competition, can be less durable, more sensitive to transfers, carrying them in a backpack, etc.
      • Except in competition, where it is not permitted, anyone who decides to take up their alpine helmet touring, if mainly dedicated to freeride, climbing, or mainly climbing, for their mountain skiing activities. It''s a personal choice, but you should know, as we explained in this article, that the protection will not be complete.
      • Some models, like this Movement 3Tech Alpi W, triple the certification: alpine skiing, climbing, cycling.
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        Movement 3Tech Alpi W, triple helmet certification: skiing, climbing, cycling

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      Online shop: www.barrabes.com

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