Both ski and bike helmets can be expensive, and they’re bulky to store. If you don’t ski a lot, you might wonder if you need to purchase a separate helmet for skiing or if you can just use a good bike helmet.

The two helmets are quite different, however, and it’s best to learn about the protection and comfort each helmet offers.

Ski Helmet vs Bike Helmet

Impact

Ski helmets and bike helmets are designed for two different types of impact. Bicycle helmets are generally lightweight, and they use lightweight foam to deflect impact.

They’re designed to be strong enough to protect a person’s head if they fall on pavement or another hard surface. However, bike helmets are designed for impacts at relatively low speeds, as most people don’t go too fast while biking.

Amateur bicyclists usually travel between 17 and 18 miles per hour, while professionals can reach speeds of up to 28 miles per hour.

If you’ve ever skied, you know that you can pick up speed very quickly when going down a slope.

Recreational skiers tend to ski at between 10 and 20 miles per hour, but downhill skiers can reach speeds between 40 and 60 miles per hour on a casual ski slope, and professional skiers can break speeds of 100 miles per hour.

Ski helmets need to be strong enough to protect a person if they crash at one of these much higher speeds. When a crash occurs at a high speed, the impact is much greater, and a bike helmet generally can’t hold up to that force.

Bike helmets are also designed for a single hard impact. If you have an accident and hit the helmet on a hard surface, the helmet has done its job and will need to be replaced.

Otherwise, the padding in the helmet could be compromised, and during a future impact, the helmet might not protect the head properly.

Ski helmets are usually made to take multiple impacts. It’s always a good idea to have the helmet inspected after any hard fall, but you should be able to use the helmet over and over again, even if you fall repeatedly.

man skiing fast downhill

Ventilation and Padding

Another important difference between the two helmets is the ventilation and padding. Bike helmets are designed to be lightweight, and, since most people bike when it’s warm outside, they’re well ventilated to keep the head cool.

Ski helmets are worn in very cold weather, so they’re made to keep your head warm. They have fewer vents, and these vents can be closed off during colder temperatures.

The helmet also has padding that covers the ears, keeping them warm and protecting them from ice in the event of a fall.

Ski Helmet vs Bike Helmet

Protection Location

If you look at a ski helmet and a bike helmet side-by-side, you’ll notice that the ski helmet is larger and covers more of the head. When a skier falls, they often fall backward.

For this reason, ski helmets are designed to protect the back of the head. They also work to protect and brace the neck during a fall. Ski helmets also have great padding on the sides.

Bicyclists, on the other hand, don’t usually fall backward. Instead, they often fall to the side.

Sometimes, depending on the type of crash or accident, cyclists can be thrown forward and launched over the handlebars.

This can result in an impact on the front or even the top of the head. These areas are where bike helmets protect the head the most. The padding is concentrated at the front, sides, and top of the helmet.

There is some padding at the back of the head, but the helmet doesn’t extend down and doesn’t offer any protection to the neck.

man riding a street bike on open road

Goggles

Ski helmets are designed to work with goggles. Skiers must wear goggles to protect their eyes from snow, ice, debris, and the harsh glare of the sun on the snow.

Most ski helmets have a google clip at the back, which works to keep the goggles firmly in place by holding onto the goggle strap. Some ski helmets even have a built-in visor that can be flipped up and down.

Bike helmets, on the other hand, are made to be worn with sunglasses. They don’t have a google clip, and the goggle strap can slip off or move around when used with a bike helmet.

ski helmets with goggles

Can you wear a bike helmet skiing?

It’s not a good idea to wear a bike helmet while skiing. They don’t protect the places on the head and neck that are most likely to be injured while skiing, and they’ll be much too cold.

Some ski areas won’t allow you to ski with any helmet other than an approved ski helmet. Some state laws also state that a proper ski helmet, designed specifically for the sport, must be worn at all times while skiing.

If you don’t want to purchase and store two helmets, however, you can buy a dual sport helmet. These helmets are versatile and can be used for biking, but they offer more protection than a standard bike helmet, making them a great option for skiing.

They also tend to be relatively inexpensive.

couple riding mountain bikes wearing helmets

Do you need a different helmet for snowboarding?

A ski helmet works well for snowboarding or vice versa. They offer the same types of protection and warmth.

Some snowboard helmets also have Bluetooth speakers, so you can listen to music as you enjoy your time on the slopes.

Ski helmets sometimes look a bit different than snowboard helmets, so you can choose whichever style suits you.

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