Best Budget Ski & Snowboard Helmets 2023

A helmet is an essential piece of gear for skiing and snowboarding in the mountains no matter what your ability level is. It provides crucial safety for your head while riding. It used to be a lot of people who didn’t wear helmets when they went skiing. That is no longer the case, and there’s no reason not to wear one when skiing or snowboarding. Helmets have come a long way and are more comfortable and safer than ever. If you don’t want to spend too much on a helmet and still want a decent helmet with good protection, then a budget snow helmet can be a good option. It will still keep your head safe and protected.

Below is the list of the most affordable helmets that will protect your head on the slopes.

1. Smith Holt

Smith Holt
Construction: ABS
Ventilation: Fixed (14 vents)
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.

Smith is a popular company that makes some good ski and snowboard gear. This company is also popular for making ski and snowboard apparel and their gear and clothes are popular among the community. This particular helmet features a simple and sleek design with clean lines and hard shell durability. These features keep this helmet always in the best-selling category. Smith Holt helmet provides good value for money and some good features for its price. One of the good things about the Holt helmet is that the design is not very bulky and it doesn’t give you that mushroom look.

The shell is durable and uses an ABS construction that can withstand high impact. The adjustment strap is an elastic band instead of a dial. It is surprisingly well on the head. Smith Holt is a comfortable helmet but it still gives a cheap look. The foam is thick enough and warm for cold days but it feels cheap and muffles sound more than you would want. The helmet has 14 vents and it uses the AirEvac 2 ventilation system. However, these vents are fixed and can’t be adjusted. These vents are also a little small and limit ventilation, which makes your head hot on warmer days.

What I like: A good value helmet that is easy to wear with snow goggles.

What I don’t: Fixed vents, limited ventilation, and a cheap look

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2. Wildhorn Drift

Wildhorn Drift
Construction: In-mold
Ventilation: Adjustable (13 vents)
Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz.

Wildhorn Drift is a budget ski helmet with adjustable air circulation vents. There are 13 vents that you can adjust according to your need and will keep your head ventilated on warmer days. This is a budget option but it still provides elite-level performance. At the back, you get a snap where you can bring your goggle strap around and your goggles will be always connected to your helmet. The shell is made of polycarbonate combined with EPS foam liner. This combination gives a very premium feeling. The interior is very plush and provides excellent comfort and insulation. The earpads are removable and compatible with Bluetooth headphones.

The helmet has a slim and sleek design and it doesn’t give a bobblehead feeling that most cheap ski helmets do. However, the helmet is a little on the heftier side weighing around 17 ounces. The ventilation system on this helmet is known as VNT Ventilation System, which has patented adjustable ventilation control and it is compatible with most goggles. However, if you want even more compatibility, you can get a pair of Wildhorn Snow Goggles. Overall, the performance and comfort of this helmet are unmatched if you consider its price. You can even use it for professional competitions.

What I like: Well padded, adjustable vents, sturdily built, and great price

What I don’t: The helmet needs adjustments on the back periodically but it is manageable

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3. Giro Ledge MIPS

Giro Ledge MIPS
Construction: ABS
Ventilation: Fixed (8 vents)
Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz.

Giro is a well-known brand in the field of ski and snowboard helmets. They make helmets in a variety of categories from low-end to high-end. Giro Ledge is a rugged helmet in the mid-range category. It has a minimalist feel and it looks almost like a skate helmet. It features a hard shell construction with MIPS technology making it a good option to consider in this price range. The comfort is very reasonable for prolonged use in different conditions. The earpieces fit tight around your ear and do not cause pain. They also keep your ears warm in colder conditions. The adjustment system is Giro’s Auto Loc 2, which is a bit tricky but easy to get used to it.

The helmet provides enough warmth when you are wearing a beanie underneath. You can remove the beanie on hotter days but you will need it when the weather turns colder. There are 8 vents on the helmet and they do a good job of ventilation. However, these vents are fixed and can’t be adjusted. This is a downside along with the fact that it’s heavy. The Ledge helmet offers great compatibility with Giro goggles and they both work seamlessly. However, other ski goggles can make you feel the difference. Nevertheless, the Ledge helmet is a great option to consider in this price range.

What I like: The most inexpensive MIPS option, simple, minimalist, and protective

What I don’t: Fixed vents, heavy, poor compatibility with non-Giro goggles

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4. Anon Raider 3

Anon Raider 3
Construction: ABS
Ventilation: Fixed (6 vents)
Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.

If you are looking for an affordable helmet that you can also use for non-motorized activities other than skiing and snowboarding, then Anon Raider 3 is something worth looking at. The Raider 3 helmet features a simple and minimal design and it only focuses on the job it is meant for. The design is very simple with park-ready looks. There is nothing fancy about it. The shell uses the Endura-shell technology with two-piece construction. It features a hardshell ABS exterior which makes it more durable to withstand impact. The interior padding is soft and very comfortable to wear for longer periods.

The Raider 3 helmet has a warm feel to it, which makes it a good option for colder days. The padding along with earpieces is removable so you can wash it easily. The helmet is also rated for multi-seasons, meaning it is certified to use in multiple seasons. There are 6 fixed vents, which I think, are not enough for ventilation, which results in fog building up in your goggles. The helmet can also be a little too warm for hotter days. The Raider 3 helmet weighs around 22 ounces, which is a little on the heftier side. This helmet makes your neck uncomfortable during prolonged use. It also lacks an adjustment system and there’s no option for a custom fit.

What I like: Durable, soft interior padding, and warm

What I don’t: Lacks adjustable fit system, limited ventilation, too warm for hotter days

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5. Giro Nine MIPS

Giro Nine MIPS
Construction: In-mold
Ventilation: Adjustable (12 vents)
Weight: 15.4 oz.

This is another entry from Giro on this list. As I mentioned earlier, Giro makes helmets in all price ranges and the Nine is a basic helmet that performs similarly to some higher-end helmets. Giro Nine has been a flagship of Giro for a very long time now. It provides an exceptional fit, which makes it very comfortable to wear. You can wear it all day long without feeling any discomfort. There’s an adjustment system that lets you customize the fit. This in-form fit system works great for a variety of head sizes. This system even works better than most adjustment systems found on other helmets.

The earpieces of the helmet are thick and surprisingly soft. They provide adequate warmth on colder days. Also, there are 12 vents out of which 10 can be adjusted. So, when the weather turns hot, you can adjust the vents accordingly. The remaining two non-adjustable vents are at the backside, away from the normal flow of air. These vents make a huge difference in maintaining the overall temperature inside the helmet. The Giro Nine helmet weighs around 15 ounces, which is not the lightest option but not the heavier option either. It also has better compatibility with non-Giro goggles than Giro Ledge mentioned above.

What I like: Good value for money, covers all essential features, reasonably lightweight

What I don’t: Materials look cheap, not flashy

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6. Giro Ratio MIPS

Giro Ratio MIPS
Construction: ABS
Ventilation: Adjustable
Weight: 1 lb. 9 oz.

Giro Ratio is a low-profile helmet that provides excellent safety on the slopes. The shell of the helmet is a traditional hard shell that features MIPS safety technology. On the inside, there’s a low-friction foam liner and an elastomeric attachment system. This system allows the foam liner to rotate independently around your head. This reduces the rotational forces before they are transmitted through the helmet. Giro Ratio has a very stylish design and it looks good on your head. The helmet is also very comfortable to wear. However, it is a little on the heavier side weighing around 25 ounces, which makes your neck uncomfortable during prolonged use.

The ventilation system on this helmet works great. This is an adjustable system that uses Stack Ventilation. In this system, the exhaust aligns with the top vents of the goggles to prevent fogging. This adjustment system allows for a maximum of 6 cm of adjustment and it also includes a vertical turning feature. You can adjust the fore/aft tilt of the helmet for better peripheral vision and optimize the lift of the helmet with goggles. It also provides great compatibility with Giro goggles like the Giro Nine and Ledge. However, like the Giro Ledge, it lacks compatibility with non-Giro goggles. The most common problem you may face is fog building up in your goggles.

What I like: Good comfort, enough warmth for colder days, adjustable fit

What I don’t: The goggle retainer on the back is flimsy and feels cheap, heavy

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7. Oakley MOD 1

Oakley MOD 1
Construction: In-mold
Ventilation: Fixed (6 vents)
Weight: 1 lb. 4.5 oz.

Oakley MOD 1 is built on the platform of MOD 5 and MOD 3. As the name implies, the MOD 1 is an entry-level and budget snowboard helmet with a simple design. When you first look at the design, it looks like a downgraded version of MOD 3 and MOD 5. The Oakley MOD 1 design is inspired by freestyle combined with Oakley design language that is pleasing to look at and easy to identify as an Oakley. For the price, MOD 1 offers some great features like a magnetic strap, which makes it easy to use. The shell of the helmet features an in-mold construction, which is a little less durable than a hard shell and it also requires some care.

The inner of the helmet features a beanie-like lining, which is very comfortable to wear. The inner lining also has a soft feel and it molds onto your head nicely. You also get Boa’s proven 360-degree fit system, which adds to the overall comfort. The MOD 1 features Oakley’s no-pressure ear pads. These ear pads are removable and comfortable to wear. You can wear it for longer periods without feeling any discomfort. Overall, it is a good option to consider if you are just getting into skiing or snowboarding. It is an entry-level option and lacks some features, but for the price, you can’t complain.

What I like: A good set of features at an affordable price.

What I don’t: Minimal ventilation, very generic look

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8. Pret Cynic X

Pret Cynic X
Construction: In-mold
Ventilation: Fixed (12 vents)
Weight: 15.5 oz.

Pret is not a well-known brand in the field of helmets but they make some good cheap snow helmets that everyone should look into. The Cynic X provides good safety features like MIPS and RECCO. It also offers features like a magnetic buckle and an easy-to-use dial. These features make this helmet very easy to use. You can easily get a dialed-in fit with this helmet. The Cynic X is very comfortable to wear. It features blended wool as fabric and recycled polyester fleece lining. It feels soft against the skin. The liner is removable and easy to wash. Also, the earpieces are removable so you can fit speakers or you can just feel the breeze with the earpieces removed.

On the inside, the helmet has a blended wool fabric that makes it very comfortable and warm. There are 12 fixed vents throughout the helmet and they do a good job of ventilation. However, there is no option to adjust ventilation so it can be challenging on tough days in the mountains. Also, the helmet can be warm on hotter days. The Cynic X weighs around 15 ounces, which is pretty lightweight even though it has insulated padding and removable earpieces. The Cynic X provides great compatibility with a wide variety of snow goggles. Finally, the matt matte finish looks cool and gives it a professional feel.

What I like: Lightweight, great goggle compatibility, cool look, comfortable liner

What I don’t: Fixed vents, can be warm for hotter days

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Comparison Table

Smith HoltABSFixed (14 vents)No1 lb. 4 oz.
Wildhorn DriftIn-moldAdjustable (13 vents)No1 lb. 1 oz.
Giro Ledge MIPSABSFixed (8 vents)Yes1 lb. 2 oz.
Anon Raider 3ABSFixed (6 vents)No1 lb. 5 oz.
Giro Nine MIPSIn-moldAdjustable (12 vents)Yes15.4 oz.
Giro Ratio MIPSABSAdjustableYes1 lb. 9 oz.
Oakley MOD 1In-moldFixed (6 vents)No1 lb. 4.5 oz.
Pret Cynic XIn-moldFixed (12 vents)Yes15.5 oz.

Critical Ski & Snowboard Helmet Considerations

How to Choose a Helmet for Skiing and Snowboarding?

Choosing a helmet may seem straightforward but most people make some fundamental mistakes while choosing a helmet. Choosing the wrong helmet not only compromises your safety but also feels uncomfortable to wear. So, in the below section, I will explain in-depth about helmet types, safety features, fit & size, etc. so you can make an informed decision.

Helmet Type & Construction

The main thing to loot a helmet is its type or construction. There are two main types of helmets available; i.e. in-mold and hard shell. There are some helmets available that use the mixture of two, but they are rare, found only in high-end models, and beyond the topic of this article.

  • In-mold Construction: The way in-mold helmets are made is by using a tough polycarbonate outer fused in an impact-absorbing Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam liner. This foam is usually shock-absorbing and provides better ventilation when combined with a polycarbonate shell. As a result, you get a lighter and thinner helmet with a more compact venting system that you can open and close. But all these features come at a cost and helmets with in-mold construction costs are higher than hard shells.
  • Hardshell Construction: Hardshell helmets are made slightly differently. They have a tough outer and then an energy-absorbing foam inside. They are made in two separate parts which are then tucked together or attached. This results in a slightly chunkier helmet that is great for freestyle use. They are a little bit harder wearing but you tend not to be able to do much with the venting. The vents are usually fixed and permanent so you can’t open or close them. However, hardshell helmets keep the cost down and you can get a decent helmet at an affordable price.
  • Hybrid Construction: You may also have heard the term hybrid construction. This is the mixture of in-mold and hardshell. They tend to use in-molds to keep the weight down and then the hardshell in the areas which tend to get more knocks. The downside is that they are a little heavier and more expensive, of course.


The next safety feature to look for in a helmet is MIPS. This stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It is a critical feature that makes your head more secure during an impact. Helmets with MIPS technology come with a little yellow sticker that indicates that the helmet is using MIPS. This technology reduces the rotational force on the brain that is caused by an angled impact. These helmets feature a low-friction layer between the inner and outer liner. This layer allows the helmet to move relative to the head during an angled impact, which as a result, absorbs most of the impact.


Venting in a helmet is important because it allows you to regulate the temperature in the mountains. There are two main types of venting systems found on snow helmets; i.e. passive venting and active venting. Passive venting is usually found on cheap snowboard helmets. They are fixed and permanent that you can’t open or close them. These are full-time holes within the lid of the shell. However, these keep the cost low. They are also found on park helmets.

Active venting, on the other hand, is usually found in high-end models. It’s a more complex system that will allow you to open and close the vents. This system alters how the air flows throughout. It is a great choice for you if your head easily gets hot or sweats a lot. This system will make sure you get proper venting according to the weather.

Size and Fit

If your helmet doesn’t fit you properly, it won’t work as effectively as it should. There are different fit systems available; i.e. standard or non-adjustable, auto-adjustable, and fully adjustable.

Standard or non-adjustable helmets come in a variety of head sizes; i.e. S, M, L, and XL. You can measure your head (between your ear and eyebrows) by using a measuring tape. You will get a reading between 52 and 62 inches. This reading will allow you to choose the right size for your head. The auto-adjust usually uses some form of an elastic band at the back to fit on your head and just adjust slightly. Finally, the fully-adjustable helmets have some sort of dial or a thing at the back, which can be tightened or loosened for different head shapes and sizes. It doesn’t always pull just in the back but it also pulls in around the helmet as a whole to give a better and more secure fit.

For a comfortable ride, the front of your helmet should sit two finger-widths above your eyebrows. If the front part is too low, it will reduce your field of vision. If it sits too high, it won’t protect your head. Make sure the helmet is not moving when you move your head. If it moves, this indicates that the fit is not proper.

Safety Certifications

Helmets have to pass various vigorous tests to be classified as snowsports helmets. This is different from motorbike or bicycle helmets because of the conditions you are facing in the mountains as opposed to on the roads. If you are unsure if the helmet is suitable for snowsports, you can always look under the liner there will be a sticker in there somewhere. It will be either ASTM 2040, which means it reaches the US safety standard, or EN 1077, which is the European safety standard.

Year after year, helmets are getting better. Brands are bringing in their additional safety features but at the end of the day, you do kind of get what you pay for with a helmet. A cheap helmet would tend to have more basic venting, a more basic fit system, and construction. Where you pay more, you get a better fit system and better venting control.