Helmet speakers with good sound quality, long battery life, and easy installation
Top Pick – Best Ski Helmet Speakers
Outdoor Tech is one of the leaders in making ski helmet speakers. The Outdoor Tech Chips 3.0 are their latest wireless design. They have good sound quality and up to 13 hours of battery life. They are thin enough to be comfortable and not to cause excessive ear pressure in most ski helmets. They are one of the best ski helmet speakers out there.
What we liked:
- Thin enough to not be too noticeable in ear pads
- Good sound quality for helmet speakers
- Long battery life
- Easy to use buttons while wearing gloves and mittens
- Can be used to answer phone calls
What we didn’t like:
- Has a USB-C Connector but not a true USB-C charger
- Size – 0.5 inch x 2 inch diameter
- Speaker Driver – 40 mm
- Battery Life – 13 hours
Outdoor Tech Chips 3.0 Wireless Helmet Headphones Review
Outdoor Tech is the most popular brand of ski helmet speakers out there. They make several versions of helmet speakers including wireless designs like the Chips 3.0 and also wired speakers. We picked up a set of Chips 3.0 to see how they would sound and perform on the mountain. Overall I am pleased with how well they work and how comfortable they are to wear inside a helmet. Keep reading to learn all the details about them.
2 – Bluetooth Wireless
The Chips 3.0 speakers use a Bluetooth wireless connection to your phone or audio device to play sound. Paring is easy and involves holding one button down for several seconds to enter paring mode. The 2 speakers are connected with a thin and flexible wire that is easy to hide inside your helmet
2 – Sound Quality
Chips 3.0 have a 40mm speaker driver I thought the sound quality was good when worn under a helmet. They didn’t get tinny at higher volumes. They have good bass at medium volumes. At loud volumes, a really intense bass beat can overdrive the speaker a little bit. Sound quality is good at volumes you need to be able to hear and enjoy music while skiing. They can easily play louder than skiing background sounds and wind noise.
They have a built in microphone to use for phone conversations. The microphone which is buried in the ear pad with one of the speakers does an okay job but not great picking up voice. People will be able to understand you. It will sound a bit noisy with the wind disruption if you try to talk while skiing.
3 – Battery Duration
Outdoor Tech publishes a 13 hour battery life while playing. This is good enough for 3 days of skiing for me. I turn off whatever I’m listening to for most lift rides. That seems to be chit chat time. If I’m riding the lift with my wife sometimes I’ll leave it playing. It will last most skiers at least 2 days of mountain time if you listen to it during lift rides and skiing.
6 – Controls
The Chips 3.0 has a large button on the outside of each speaker. They are controlled with different combinations of button taps. Pressing the button once which does things like answer phone calls and play and pause is easy with thick ski gloves on. You can get Siri or Alexa by pressing left and right at the same time.
Changing volume and changing tracks uses double and triple taps. Double and triple taps aren’t that easy to pull off with thick gloves on. They are easy with bare hands. Finger dexterity goes down the drain with thick gloves on.
Having only 2 buttons allows them to keep the thickness down on the speakers. It also makes the buttons easier to hit through a helmet while wearing gloves.
4 – Speaker Size and comfort
The Outdoor Tech Chips 3.0 are about 1/2 inch thick. This is about 1/4 inch thinner than the Outdoor Master and Wildhorn speakers which are over 3/4 inch. This makes them much less noticeable inside your helmet ear pads. You will still feel some extra thickness in most helmets. See the image below for a comparison of the thickness with the Wildhorn Alta. The Wildhorn and Outdoor Master are a similar design with slightly different plastic cases.
Some helmets like Smith have a 1/2 inch thick piece of foam to remove in the ear pad for speaker placement. This means that a 1/2 inch speaker doesn’t make the ear pad any thicker than normal. A 3/4 inch thick speaker sticks out makes the ear pads push on your ears a lot more.
5 – Installation
Installation is very easy. You have to open the speaker pockets in your ski helmet. Slide the speaker into the pocket. If your helmet has foam cutouts that can be removed from the ear pads. Remove those first before sticking them in. Route the wire under the lining across the back of the helmet to keep it out of the way. That is all there is to it. It takes me about 5 minutes to put a set of these into a helmet.
9 – Charging
The Chips 3.0 have a USB-C outlet on them for charging. It takes about an hour to charge them from completely dead. The charging socket does not have true USB-C circuitry. It does not support fast charging. It will only work with a USB-C to USB-A cord into a 5 volt outlet. If you plug them into a USB-C fast charging cord they will not charge.
Recommendation – Buy or No Buy?
The Outdoor Tech Chips 3.0 have good sound quality and they are easy to install. They don’t take up too much space inside your helmet ear pads so they are comfortable to wear.
See our guide to the best ski helmet speakers for other good options.
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Co-Founder & Chief Editor
I grew up back east in Pennsylvania and learned to ski on a family trip to Killington, Vermont when I was 6. I immediately fell in love with the mountains and outdoors and have been skiing across the US and Canada ever since. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, and have a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Reliability.
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.