I will be writing an article on helmet use in the near future and am looking for feedback from DCSki readers. Specifically, I'm interested in determining whether helmet use is increasing in the Mid-Atlantic. What age groups are wearing helmets? Are helmets more accepted among skiers or snowboarders? Do you wear a helmet, or if you don't currently, do you have plans to in the near future? Would you never wear a helmet? (If not, why not?) And so forth. Any thoughts you have on helmet use would be welcome.
Please feel free to post comments in this message forum, or send your thoughts directly to me at email@example.com. I would like to include quotes in my article, so if you don't want to be quoted, let me know. If you don't mind being quoted, please include your full name and a brief description of yourself (whether you're a skier or boarder, how long you've skied, how many times you ski each year, etc.)
To kick things off, I'll start with my feelings. I'm a skier and I don't currently wear a helmet, but I'm strongly considering getting one. The statistics clearly show that helmets can reduce the risk of serious injury, and I wear a helmet while mountain biking and roller blading, so why not wear one skiing? But I'm also used to skiing without one, and wearing one would seem awkward, at least initially.
My main concern as a former military pilot who wore a helmet as a part of the job for eons, is that other than a form-fit helmet, helmet wear can be so uncomfortable that it can actually impact on safety, that is, when hotspots and hearing loss can take the focus away from the primary activity -- in this case going down a diamond at considerable speed. And in this case, wearing one can be counter-productive as the purpose of the helmet is supposed to be to improve safety.
However, the other day at Ski Chalet, I tried about ten, including a a Boeri that seemed so adaptable as to be comfortable. It didn't result in hearing loss, and was warm. I am planning on trying it out and may consider purchasing it.
Like you and Ibotta, I don't wear a helmet skiing. Perhaps I should. I wear a helmet when riding my motorcycle and bicycle - it only makes sense that I should wear one skiing. I know first hand what the results of not wearing a helmet are. I put myself in the hospital about 14 years ago when I slammed into a tree head first. I was very very very lucky in that with surgery and a couple of weeks in intensive care, I came out with only a dent in my skull and a scar under my hairline.
From what I've seen, there seems to be a broad range of individuals getting and wearing helmets from the very young where helmet use seems more common to adults. Leedom and Boeri are names that are becoming as familiar as K2 and Rossignol.
Helmet use just seems to make sense. I guess my biggest hesitation is warmth - I grew up skiing in the Western New York region and got very used to skiing in cold cold weather. Skiing here is mild and I almost never wear a hat. I guess I'm concerned that a helmet would be too warm. With the increase in helmet availability and the fact that it just plain makes sense to wear one, however, I may have to rethink my position.
That's an interesting point that you raise. I have great difficulty wearing goggles skiing, although I have friends who refuse to ski without goggles for safety reasons. But I've found that for me, wearing goggles seems to be more dangerous. They block part of my vision, are constantly fogging up, and make it difficult to breath. And I have to wear them over glasses, too (wearing contacts while skiing is a real challenge for me). I really hate wearing goggles.
I will have to try on various ski helmets to see how comfortable they are. Ideally, equipment should fade into the background so you're not constantly aware that you're using it. That's certainly the case with my bike helmet; I can't even tell when it's on, and it's well ventilated to keep my head from getting hot.
Is it possible to wear a hat underneath a helmet, or are they insulated well enough that it's not necessary to?
I have no problems with helmet use.... As long as it remains a matter of personal choice. As soon as resorts make it mandatory, there will be hell to pay!
Folks have skiied for years and never wore helmets, why the sudden influx of helmet use? I give mandatory helmet use the same regard as seatbelt enforcement....What a waste of effort!
Where do helmets make sense? For children, those pushing their ability envelope and those who want the additional sense of security that a helmet may (or may not) provide.
Where do helmets not help? High speed collisions with immovable objects (trees, chairlift poles, etc.) This is a leading cause of death of advanced skiiers (fortunately the rates are very low). A helmet wouldn't have helped Sunny Bono and one didn't help Christopher Reeve.
Is skiing like bicycling and rollerblading? No. Asphalt is a lot less forgiving than most snow surfaces.
Would I use a helmet? Under certain conditions when I'm pushing my personal envelope (terrain parks, race courses, pressing the speed envelope, rocky couloirs around places such as Jackson Hole, densely treed areas). Would I use a helmet for other situations? No.
I wear glasses too and abhor the thought of anything in my eye. However, my love of skiing overcame my fear of contacts. Let me say that was no easy feat!! Took me a whole summer just to be able to do it. I now use disposables and its great!!! The new disposable contacts are lighter, thinner and more comfortable that standard lenses. I still prefer glasses and will only wear contacts during skiing. You should keep trying with the contacts - the benefits (no fogging, ability to wear all types of sunglasses, great peripheral vision, no broken lenses, etc.) are worth it.
If contacts are an absolute out - Bolle makes a great pair of large goggle type sunglasses with a prescription insert called the Edge II. I have them as well and they were very good - just foggy at times.
I've had a terrible time with finding goggles that won't fog. Smith Turbo goggles have a built in fan that I've heard works well (there's several models in the turbo line with the fan). I opted for perscription sunglasses (Oakley EyeJackets). I got the VR28 lens color as it provides a good trade off between low light visability and brighter sun shading. While the glasses are better than goggles for fogging and wrap around enough to prevent tearing when doing figure 11's, they do still fog on occassion. A friend mentioned a product called Cat Crap and a good anti-fog wipe. I plan to check it out ASAP. Apparently it comes in a little tub and you wipe it on the lenses and smear it around with a cloth.
Hopefully this will work for me, because skiing without a perscription is out of hte question and I'm too chicken for LASIK surgery.
I am an instructor and a tree collision survivor and I have just started wearing a helmet. I tried a lot on, different manufacturers seem to believe in different head shapes. I ended up with a Leedom and I have found that so far I like skiing with it. I don't really notice the extra weight or bulk and I can hear fine and I feel a little more secure going fast. Even when teaching, which can get you sweaty with no opportunities to ski fast and cool off, I have not been overheated. BUT, good ventilation is key. One or two years ago, none of the helmets had provisions for venting. A non-vented helmet is a sweatbox.
I work with helmets in my day job. If you buy, buy one that fits (or you won't wear it), has venting (ditto), and get the helmet that has the thickest hard foam liner that meets the first two criteria. Generally, a thicker liner equals more impact protection. There are no minimum government standards for ski helmets and I have seen some that I wouldn't trust my noggin with. There are voluntary standards - CEN, ASTM, Snell - and right now Snell seems the toughest.
Goggles: Goggles piss me off as I wear eyeglasses too and goggles that fit over eyewear are hard to find and even more heinously overpriced than other goggles. Unfortunately you get what you pay for. Smith makes a decent OTG goggle - I still hate them, but they are workable. Unfortunately, you get what the mfrs think you should pay for and you have to buy top of the line to get something decent.
Some kind of anti-fog dope is vital. Get a no-fog cloth at a ski shop and use it. In a pinch, spit in the goggle and wipe it around.
Use toilet paper to wipe them off/out if you don't have a soft cloth. NEVER use napkins from the base lodge. There are grades of sandpaper that are less abrasive than these paper napkins and you will scratch your goggles and/or take off any manufacturers coating on the lens.
As to the goggle sidebar: I don't have a problem with fog. I have Smiths that have a vent, and it seems to work well. I have a BIG problem with blower snow sticking to my goggles (especially at night). I usually end up just taking them off halfway down the run