Should you wear a full face or an open face helmet while skiing? This is an interesting question and in the answer lies your safety in a game in which you travel at high speeds. The downhill speed of professional skiers can be 150 mph or more.
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Speed & how it impacts safety
The latest record of the highest skiing speed is 158.424 mph set by Simone Origone of Italy in Vars, France, in 2016. Even recreational skiers clock between 10 and 20 mph. Those competing at the Olympics have to ski at 75 to 90 mph while downhill racers travel at 40 to 60 mph.
With great speed come bigger risks. Skiers travel at extremely high speeds where even a small error can expose them to grave injuries. More than anything, keeping one’s balance at such high speeds is a great feat in itself and accidents are common.
Now, let’s look at the question once again. Full face or open face helmet, which one will you recommend to skiers?
Open face or full face ski helmets?
The considered opinion in the matter seems to favor an open face helmet. And it is primarily for two reasons. One, it supports skiers’ balance by being small. It does not interfere too much with the skier’s body movements. It does not become an obstacle in how the skier’s body negotiates high speed and the opposing winds.
Two, in case of a crash at a high speed, the open face helmet does not seem to overwhelm the head and brain. It does not give that part of the body additional jerks, pulls or thrusts because it is one tightly held piece as the head can be if the skier wears a full face helmet. In short, full face helmets can exaggerate the injuries if there is an accident.
Now, let’s examine how these two types of helmets fare against each other. Let’s examine our original question a little further and deeper.
How full face ski helmets are different from open face helmets
The only major difference between these two types of helmets is that the full face helmets have an inbuilt visor and chin guard. The presence of these two components in the ski helmet makes it bigger and heavier.
The head safety gear becomes too big and too heavy for a skier who needs to work on balancing himself on a fraction of a second basis. He needs to bend, turn, bow, and do a myriad of body movements to keep himself going on the smooth snow and the obstacles that may come his way.
Full face helmet: Good for salmon race
However, you should wear full face helmets when you are participating in a slalom ski race. This is the kind of race in which the skiers have to negotiate a winding course on which there are several gates. These gates have two wooden poles with flags mounted on them. These are makeshift in nature. In this kind or race, there is a possibility for the skiers to hit the gates with their face. They can receive injuries in their face in this type of accident. So, it is recommended to wear a full face helmet while competing in a salmon ski race.
Full face helmet: Good for big mountain competition
Full face helmets with a visor and chin guard are also considered a better option in big mountain competition. In these types of races, not speed but the difficult level is high. There are chances of facing getting hit by tree branches or by a fall to the ground. Since the speed is not very high, the head or neck does not receive a serious blow.
Ski helmets are crucial for the safety and success of all types of this hugely popular game. Accordingly, there are many top brands out in the market with their helmets. The prices vary significantly but seem to average out at $125. You can find a good quality ski helmet even for $50 but a more feature rich helmet may cost you $200 or even more. But as we said, you can find reasonably good quality helmets in the range of $125n to $150.
A good quality ski helmet has to be lightweight. This is important for maintaining the balance of the body and let it make all the movements during the game. We have discussed this aspect earlier in this article when we compared open face and full face helmets. So, the question is how lightweight is the right weight for a ski helmet. At this stage, we must realize that full face helmets would be heavier than open face helmets.
Ski helmets are available in amazingly lightweight models starting from about 250 grams to about 600 grams, with 500 grams to be a standard average.
Goggles or visor
Goggles or visor are yet another very important component of a good quality ski helmet. So, you should check out to ensure your helmet is compatible with your needs.
As a novice, you may think that goggles being dark may block your vision. This is when you need to see far and wide and chart a smooth course. There are obstacles that come pretty fast at the speed skiing is played. But it’s good for you to know that the shade that goggles provide is for your good. It prevents direct sunlight from hitting your eyes. In the snowy landscape, the sun rays can reflect powerfully and dazzle you blind. Goggles offer the perfect and much needed safety to your eyes. If the snow gets into your eyes, it can leave the eyes itchy and you completely disoriented for some time. Goggles or a visor protect your eyes from this.
Pros & Cons for goggles and visor
- Protect your eyes from direct sun rays
- Protects from snow
- Protects from any other external injuries
- Keeps you warmer
- Adds to your looks and style
- Can fog up and block vision
- Can add weight to the helmet
- Price – Extra cost for visor and goggles
What makes for a great ski helmet?
There are some features common to both types of helmets. These are as follows:
When you are working for the top speed and negotiating difficult twists and turns at those great speeds, it is natural for you to get sweaty. You need helmets with a good ventilation system that allows hot air to escape and some fresh air to get inside. Good quality helmets also have goggle ventilation that helps it prevent fogging the lenses.
Some helmets have vents on the forehead area. This ensures that the air flows down to goggles’ foam and this prevents fogging up inside the goggles as you breathe in and out. The vents make a significant contribution in regulating the temperature inside the helmet and over your head and face. Good quality ski helmets have a toggle or switch to open or close the vents.
This way you can regulate the temperature in your face head areas. However, there are also fixed vents located conveniently on the helmet. These are always open and keep a continuous and uninterrupted airflow.
Headphones: WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity
Some ski helmets have smart features such as an inbuilt set of headphones located in the ear pads. These have power and volume toggles to make it go as you go up and down the slopes in your ski.
Some headphones are audio compatible. This means, there are discreet pockets in ear pads to install the audio kits and use them.
You can link your headphones or audio kits with mobile devices through WiFi or Bluetooth. This would allow you seamless connectivity and communication with the rest of the world. And, you can listen to your favorite jazz while skiing on great locations.
Good quality and great looks
Ski helmets must have great looks and quality. Working in a predominantly white background, there is little to jazz up the ambiance and mood. Helmets with their colorful looks and striking design features stand out. Good quality shows without doing anything. These qualities are common to both open face and full face helmets.
Selection of models to choose from
There is no dearth of good helmets on the market as skiing is a popular game attracting a huge number of enthusiasts to ski resorts all over the world. The market is big and the game is associated with luxury and money. So, there are big companies and top brands in the ski helmet space. There is a wide variety of ski helmets available both in open and full face models.
Always wear a helmet when skiing
The safety of the head which is linked to the safety of the brain is an important consideration in whatever we do. While broken bones and torn ligaments can be healed in a few weeks to a few months, the same is not true when it comes to head injuries. As we have discussed earlier in the article, skiing is an extremely high speed game and it can give you really nasty falls. While in such falls, the rest of your body can withstand the impact and violent jerks, your neck and head cannot. Any injury to these parts of your body can be extremely serious.
As per different studies, helmets can reduce the chances of head injury by 70%. Wearing a helmet saves your life. In light of this, now more people are wearing helmets and this is true also about skiing.
Skiing is a popular snow sport. It’s played at dangerously high speeds. That makes it necessary for the players to wear proper safety gear especially to protect their heads. In the debate between the open face and full face ski helmets, the balance seems to tilt in favor of open face ski helmets. But, there are certain events where full face ski helmets are more appropriate