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7 Best Budget Ski Helmets Guide [Test and Reviews]

Updated April 9th, 2024

best budget ski helmets under $100

Skiing and snowboarding are a lot of fun. Accidents do happen no matter how good a skier you are or how careful you are. One of my ski friends got a concussion standing in the lift line after being run over by an out of control skier. Wearing a helmet can help protect your head, keep you warm, and help defog your goggles. Good helmets don’t have to be super expensive. There are many good options under $100.

See below for our top picks for best budget ski helmet. Keep reading for ski helmet reviews and our helmet guide.

The 7 Best Budget Ski Helmets Under $100

1 – OutdoorMaster Diamond MIPS

☆ Best Overall
diamond mips helmet product image

Specifications

  • Construction – PC Shell with in-mold EPS liner
  • MIPS – Yes
  • Adjustable vents – Yes
  • Goggle defog vents – Yes
  • Audio Compatible – Yes

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What we liked:

  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Advanced PC Shell with in-mold construction with MIPS
  • Adjustable venting including goggle defog vents
  • Bungee attachment for goggle straps

What we didn’t like:

  • Not available in an extra large size
    Styling is a little bland

Bottom line:

A great value MIPS ski helmet that is very comfortable with the latest freestyle trends in styling

Summary

The OutdoorMaster Diamond MIPS Ski Helmet is the latest offering from OutdoorMaster. I have personally been wearing one for most of this winter. It is very comfortable with a lot of good features. It is a large improvement over the popular Kelvin helmet while still keeping the price low under $100. This helmet uses advanced in-mold construction with a PC shell and EPS foam inner. It has MIPS technology to make the helmet safer in angled impacts and glancing blows. The ear pads are deep and have pockets to use with speakers for those who like listening to music on the slopes.

Review

See our full review of the OutdoorMaster Diamond MIPS helmet to learn more.

Ultra XL and Diamond helmet

2 – Smith Optics Mission MIPS

☆ Top Pick
Smith Mission MIPS product image

Specifications

  • Construction – ABS shell with EPS Foam liner and Koroyd
  • MIPS – Optional
  • Adjustable vents – Yes
  • Goggle defog vents – Yes
  • Audio Compatible – Yes

What we liked:

  • Plenty of room to wear a hat underneath
  • Comfortable for a long day on the mountain
  • Helps to keep your goggles defogged
  • Uses koroyd honeycomb energy absorber on the sides

What we didn’t like:

  • Size adjuster feels a bit cheap
  • Earpads are difficult to remove

Bottom line:

A comfortable ski helmet with advanced koroyd energy absorbers and MIPS that is great for any day skiing at a resort.

Summary

The Smith Mission helmet is the mid level offering from Smith Optics. It has every feature almost any skier would want. It has adjustable vents, AirEvac goggle defogging vents, adjustable sizing, and removable ear pads. The ear pads have pockets that will work with blue tooth speakers. It has an ABS plastic shell with EPS foam energy absorber. It has Koroyd honeycomb for better energy absorption and weight savings around the sides. The Mission helmet is available with and without MIPS. It’s worth it to spend the extra $20 to get the MIPS version.

Review

See our full review of the Smith Mission MIPS helmet to learn more.

Smith Mission with 4D front view

3 – Wildhorn Drift

☆ Best Value
wildhorn drift product image

Specifications

  • Construction – Polycarbonate In-Mold
  • MIPS – No
  • Adjustable vents – Yes
  • Goggle defog vents – No
  • Audio Compatible – Yes

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What we liked:

  • Lightweight at 13 oz for a size large
  • Low cost with lots of features
  • Effective adjustable vents
  • Perforated liner material that is comfortable and dries quick
  • Wrap around ear pads that are audio compatible

What we didn’t like:

  • No MIPS version is available
  • No goggle defog vents

Bottom line:

A good basic starter helmet with adjustable venting and audio compatible ear pads.

Summary

The Wildhorn Drift Helmet comes from one of the official suppliers of the US Ski Team. It is a step up from the most basic ski helmets with a few extra features. The price is still very affordable under $100. The helmet is ASTM 2040 certified to keep you safe. It uses a polycarbonate shell with in-mold EPS foam construction. There is no MIPS version of this helmet. The Drift has adjustable venting with a slider on top of the helmet. It does not have goggle defogging vents. The earpads are easy to remove. They come with pockets for putting in your favorite Bluetooth speakers.

Review

See our full review of the Wildhorn Drift to learn more.

Wildhorn Drift and Roca on mountain

4 – Outdoor Master Kelvin

☆ Best Under $50
Outdoor Master Kelvin Product Image

Specifications

  • Construction – ABS hardshell
  • MIPS – No
  • Adjustable vents – No
  • Goggle defog vents – No
  • Audio Compatible – No

Get 10-20% OFF with code ERO2022 at OUTDOOR MASTER

What we liked:

  • Very good ventilation
  • Stylish appearance
  • Low cost

What we didn’t like:

  • The sizing runs a little small and there is no Extra Large size
  • Vents aren’t adjustable

Bottom line:

A solid basic starter ski helmet with good amounts of ventilation available in a lot of colors

Summary

The Outdoor Master Kelvin ski helmet is one of the best cheap ski helmets available today. It is one of the most popular ski and snowboard helmets on Amazon. It has many features that make it a great value for its price. This helmet has a tough ABS shell and EPS foam liner with 14 vents. The ear pads are easily removable. It is ASTM 2040F certified for head protection. This helmet is available in sizes small-large. The large size runs a little small compared to most other helmets. There is no extra large size available.

Review

See our full review of the OutdoorMaster Kelvin helmet to learn more.

OM Ultra XL and Pro

5 – Giro Ledge Snow Helmet

Giro Ledge product image

Specifications

  • Construction – ABS Hardshell
  • MIPS – Available
  • Adjustable vents – No
  • Goggle defog vents – Yes
  • Audio Compatible – Yes

What we liked:

  • One of the cheapest MIPS helmets you can get
  • Durable rugged construction
  • Goggle defogging vents

What we didn’t like:

  • Very bland styling
  • Vents aren’t adjustable

Bottom line:

A cheap durable basic ski helmet that will last and protect for years of use on the mountain.

Summary

The Giro Ledge ski and snowboard helmet is the Giro entry level helmet with minimal styling. The helmet has conventional hardshell construction with an ABS shell and EPS liner. It has fixed vents that do not close and goggle defog vents. It is well made and durable feeling. I have used Giro helmets for biking for years and they have stood up very well to mountain biking abuse. Where this helmet shines is that it is one of the cheapest helmets available with MIPS if you buy the MIPS version.


6 – Outdoor Master Emerald

Outdoor Master Emerald Product Image

Specifications

  • Construction – ABS hardshell
  • MIPS – No
  • Adjustable vents – Yes
  • Goggle defog vents – Yes
  • Audio Compatible – Yes

Get 10-20% OFF with code ERO2022 at OUTDOOR MASTER

What we liked:

  • Low cost with lots of features
  • Has adjustable vents and goggle defog vents
  • Audio compatible earpads
  • Wide and roomy fit
  • Sturdy ABS hard shell construction
  • Bungee goggle strap attachment

What we didn’t like:

  • No MIPS version is available
  • Chin strap could be longer

Bottom line:

The Outdoor Master Emerald is a good entry level starter helmet with lots of features for it’s price.

The Outdoor Master Emerald Ski Helmet is the latest entry level helmet from Outdoor Master. Their older Kelvin helmet is the most popular helmet on Amazon. The Emerald keeps the very low price of the Kelvin but adds several nice features.

The Emerald has a similar basic ABS hardshell construction with a size adjuster and removable fleece liner. It adds adjustable venting, goggle defog vents, and audio compatible ear pads. All of those were missing on the Kelvin helmet. The fit is a bit wider and larger which is an improvement. The chin strap is still on the short side.

The Emerald makes a really good starter ski helmet for anyone just starting out who doesn’t want to pay much. It still has ASTM 2040F safety certification. There is no MIPS version which we would like to see.

Review

See our full review of the OutdoorMaster Emerald helmet to learn more.

OM Eagle Emerald Sideview

7 – Oakley MOD3

Oakley Mod3 product image

Specifications

  • Construction – Hybrid shell with EPS liner
  • MIPS – Available
  • Adjustable vents – Yes
  • Goggle defog vents – Yes
  • Audio Compatible – Yes

What we liked:

  • Modular brim system
  • Hybrid ABS shell and in-mold construction
  • Very comfortable ear pads and liner

What we didn’t like:

  • Polarizing appearance. You will either love how it looks or hate it.

Bottom line:

A comfortable helmet with Oakley style and MIPS safety protection.

Summary

The Oakley MOD3 is the mid-priced budget offering from Oakley. It is a high tech advanced helmet with many great features. It has the Oakley modular brim system that lets you get rid of goggle gap on almost any set of snow goggles. The MOD3 uses a combination of ABS shell and in-mold construction. There are both MIPS and non-MIPS versions of this helmet. The styling of Oakley Mod helmets is a little unconventional. Some people like the look of this helmet. Others do not.

Review

See our full review of the Oakley Mod 3 helmet to learn more.

Oakley Helmet and Goggle side

Pulse XL at powder mountain
Outdoor Master Diamond MIPS helmet

Budget Ski helmet guide – What to look for

There are many things to consider when looking for an under $100 ski helmet. There are basic features that almost all ski helmets will have. These include vents, adjustable size, and removable ear pads. There are other nice to have features such as adjustable vents and audio compatible ear pads. Let’s discuss what you should look for.

If you are still wondering whether or not you need to wear a ski helmet, see our article 5 reasons why you should wear a ski helmet to help you decide.

Price

Low end budget ski helmets start around $50. A $50 helmet will be ASTM2040F or EN1077 certified so it will be safe. It will not have every feature that you will eventually want in a ski helmet. It might have adjustable vents but won’t have goggle defog vents. The ear pads might be speaker compatible but they might not be. Nothing in the $50 range will have MIPS protection. It will be a good basic helmet that will keep you safe on the slopes in most situations.

Moving up to $100 ski helmets you add more features and less compromise. A $100 helmet should have goggle defog vents. The design should at least have MIPS available although it may be a $20-$30 extra.

When we go up to $150-$200 helmets, they should have every basic helmet feature. MIPS should be available. They should have goggle defogging vents. Vents should be adjustable. The earpads should be Bluetooth speaker compatible. Helmets in this price range should not be missing any main ski helmet feature. A few will also have more advanced hybrid construction or honeycomb energy absorbers.

Helmet construction

Most budget ski helmets all have very similar construction. They all involve a plastic shell, either ABS or PC, and an EPS foam energy absorber. The 2 main helmet shell materials are ABS and PC or Polycarbonate. The 2 main construction methods are Hardshell and In-Mold construction

ABS vs PC shells

  • ABS shell – ABS material is heavier and more scratch resistant. It’s also cheaper than Polycarbonate. Most helmet shells on budget ski and snowboard helmets are made entirely of ABS.
  • PC shell – Polycarbonate is lighter and stronger than ABS but it is also 3 times more expensive and scratches much easier. PC is used as a shell material when the goal is saving weight. Some helmets with hybrid shell construction will have some portion of their shell made from PC.

See this article from ThingsThatFold.com to learn more about the differences between ABS and PC plastics.

In-Mold vs Hardshell construction vs Hybrid

Both types of helmet construction use EPS foam for their energy absorber. Both offer the same protection for your head and are equally safe.

  • Hardshell construction – The helmet shell and EPS foam liner are molded seperately and then glued together. This method is cheap and easy to manufacture. Because of tolerances the helmet can’t have really intricate venting holes and details.
  • In-Mold construction – The helmet shell and EPS foam liner are molded together in one mold. This construction method costs more but produces a lighter weight helmet. Because the shell and foam are molded together, the vent holes and channels can be more controlled.
  • Hybrid construction – Hybrid helmets are made of more than 1 molding. Part of the helmet uses hardshell construction and part uses In-Mold construction. This is less expensive than a full In-Mold helmet and somewhere in the middle as far as weight and other benefits go.

See the below video for a quick explanation of hard shell vs in-mold helmet construction

ASTM vs EN vs CE certifications

The main standards used to certify the safety of snow helmets are ASTM2040F and EN1077. One is the American standard. One is the European standard. Both do similar testing although there are subtle differences. They use different impactor shapes on the helmet. They have different acceleration limits. Both use 4 samples to get their results. Both test at a variety of temperatures. You can feel equally safe wearing a helmet that was certified to either standard. See these articles from Aurora Helmets and Satra Technology to learn more.

MIPS

MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. It is an inner liner in your helmet that lets the outer shell and energy absorber rotate about your head while the MIPS liner stays in place. In angled impacts such as a glancing blow to the side of your head, the helmet won’t force your head to rotate. This reduces the strain on your neck and brain.

If you are skiing in the trees and hit your head into a tree but not straight on, MIPS will give you better protection. In any situation where you hit your head on something at an angle, MIPS will help. Go to mipsprotection.com to learn more about MIPS.

Helmet features

The main features you’ll see talked about with ski helmets are venting, size adjustment, and earpads. Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

Venting

Venting helps keep your head cool and dry. Without venting, sweat will build up on your head making you feel disgusting at the end of the day. In general more venting is better for most ski days. On really cold days too much airflow can make you feel cold.

Adjustable venting that can be closed on colder days is a nice ski helmet feature. On some higher cost helmets, you can open and close front and rear vents separately. I’ve personally never owned a helmet with this feature and not sure it has that much real world value. Standard adjustable vents have worked fine for me.

Goggle defogging vents

Smith pioneered the AirEvac goggle defog vent system. This puts vents on the lower front of your helmet that push air through your ski goggles and keep the fog out. Most helmet makers incorporate these into their mid to high priced helmets now. They are well worth the extra cost. I rarely ever have goggle fogging problems these days. If they do fog a little while I am standing around, they quickly clear up as soon as I start skiing.

Audio compatible removeable earpads

Almost every ski and snowboard helmet made has removable ear pads. They can come off for warmer spring days or if you want to use the helmet for biking or skateboarding in summer. Some are much easier to remove than others. Smith helmets have ear pads that need the size adjuster unhooked to take and are a pain.

Some people like listening to music or other things while skiing. Bluetooth helmet speakers are a great way to do this. Some helmets have earpads with pockets built in for holding headphones or speakers. This makes installing them very easy.

See our guide to the best ski helmet speakers to learn more.

Adjustable size

Every ski helmet sold has adjustable sizing now. There is a dial on the back of the helmet that you turn to adjust the size. It will tighten a band that goes around the helmet inside. Helmets with BOA cables such as Oakley and ANON work a little differently but the function is the same.

Helmet Goggle compatibility

A proper fitting ski helmet should have a good fit with your ski goggles. You want to have as small a gap between your goggles and helmet as possible. A large gap means your forehead will get cold and the goggle defog vents on the helmet won’t help. If you have a really big goggle gap people may call you a gaper. You want to reduce the goggle gap. Most helmets are designed to work with ski goggles these days.

Different helmet brands shape their helmets and goggles a little bit differently. To get the best fit between your snow helmet and goggle, use the same brand goggle and helmet. If you use different brands, it is a good idea to try them on together to see how they fit together.

See our Ski Helmet Gear Guide to see our ski helmet picks across all price ranges.

Doug Ryan Portrait Skiing 200x200

Doug Ryan
Co-Founder & Chief Editor

I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible. Visit our About Us page and learn more.

doug@adventuregearinsider.com