Snowboard helmets

Whether or not you should wear a helmet for snowboarding is often seen as a personal choice. However, for a sport as frenetic as snowboarding, wearing a helmet is often highly recommended - and, in some places, like the UK snow domes, even compulsory. This article will weigh up the main arguments for and against donning a helmet for snowboarding, before detailing the various types of snowboard helmets available.

Although it might make sense to always wear a helmet when snowboarding, just to discourage the most serious risks of any accident, many snowboarders still choose to forgo donning a helmet - whether due to the occasional lack of comfort, perceived unstylish appearance, hefty cost, or other, often more obscure, factors.

However, research has hinted at the often beneficial effect of wearing a helmet during snowboarding. Though the precise percentage varies throughout different reports, it is generally considered that head injuries make up a substantial proportion of injuries suffered from snowboarding. Evidence also generally hints at the effectiveness of snowboard helmets for averting or reducing injuries suffered from more minor accidents, like those occurring at speeds of 15mph or less.

Though reports suggest that snowboard helmets are less useful for averting more serious injuries, like skull fractures, concussions greater than Grade II, and fatalities, a helmet could still literally prove a life-saver in less predictable, but sadly still too common, scenarios - like when a bumbling, less experienced snowboarder unexpectedly ploughs into another snowboarder from a bizarre angle.

Though there remains one tenuous argument that wearing a helmet during an accident could increase the risk of a neck injury, there is insufficient evidence to support this claim, which strongly suggests that wearing a snowboard helmet doesn't increase the negative effects of any accident. In which case, why not always don a helmet for snowboarding, just to be on the safe side? Snowboard helmets are, after all, also good for helping to maintain the visibility of your goggles and keep those googles attached during a fall.

Once you've made the decision to wear a helmet, though, you might have to mull over which type of snowboard helmet to purchase if you have yet to buy one already. Fortunately, this task is made easier by the fact that snowboard equipment stores often categorise snowboard helmets according to their suitability for men, women and children.

Though snowboard helmets for men and women may initially appear identical, there remain a number of subtle technical differences. For one, women's helmets are often more compactly sized, owing to the generally smaller heads of women compared to men. Women's snowboard helmets often also bear an open face and dome shape similar to that of a skateboarding helmet, whereas men's snowboard helmets often come in both dome-shaped and full face designs.

Snowboard helmets for men and women both tend to have an outer shell manufactured from high-density ABS plastic, though some men's helmets, intended for use with the snowboard discipline of superpipe, have a more durable outer shell made from carbon fibre or fibreglass. Helmets for men and women also both tend to come with a series of retention safety straps, with those on the women's helmets allowing women to fit their ponytail through the helmet's rear. Naturally, children's snowboard helmets are smaller than their adult equivalents, and also tend to have firmer ears and an adjustable head circumference to enable a better fit.

So, in summary: though donning a helmet for snowboarding remains a personal choice for many people and in many scenarios, it is more frequently becoming compulsory - and even when it isn't, do the benefits of forgoing a helmet really outweigh the drawbacks? Have fun snowboarding - men, women and children.