Years ago, everyone skied with their favorite "cool" hat with things sticking up and bright colors. These days, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone without a helmet. It's kind of like the "old" days when no one wore a seatbelt in the car, now....there's not a choice. Same with helmets, in most cases, there is not a choice. It just isn't worth it. You only have one noggin, let's protect it. The great thing is, they're not even that expensive. If you don't want to buy one, all shops rent them as well. If you plan on putting your kids in lessons, well...you won't have a choice. Most all resorts require kiddies have helmets and even "gobbles". (When Emily was little, to her....they were "gobbles").
January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. Resorts all across Utah and the country join together to get people out on the slopes and into the fresh air. A great idea as the flu sweeps the nation, get out of stuffy buildings and into the fresh air and excercise! I headed to Ski' N See to get some tips from the guys on how a helmet should fit and what's the difference between the $150 helmets to the $60 helmets. I have a nice fancy helmet, but time to upgrade the kids. Since it's not my head, I can't say if it's too tight, not too tight.
For kids, the Giro helmet is a great way to go. If you're like me, you try to squeeze at least 2 seasons out of everything...from pants to jackets to helmets. The Giro has the adjustable form fit lever on the back so you can fit to the kids head. At Ski' N See, they also measured the kids heads and the helmets have a sizing on them in metric-cm-and the Giro gives you a range to fit. I've had this one for my kids for years and had great luck. It has vents on the top to help their head breath a little. There are also inserts inside to help with the comfort instead of just the hard foam. You can take them out if needed to make room for a beanie underneath. The main thing is when the helmet is on, it must fit snug...not tight. The right fit puts it above the childs eyebrows by an inch or so and when you move it on their heads, you should just be able to see the skin on their forehead move. I find snapping their chinstraps first and then putting on the neck gaiters (I prefer Turtle Fur). Do you need more expensive helmets with brims/moveable vents...? No, not for kids. The brim really doesn't do much except make you "look cool". The moveable vents are more for adults as you get older it gives you some venting for your head. It just tacks on more to the price which with kids, they are expensive enough :) Also, I learned something new, the vents in the front of the helmet help the goggles from fogging up! One more tip, ask your local shop if they are an approved helmet. There are some brands which are really just a hard head type protector. With the foam in helmets, if you've had a big fall, the kids throw their helmets on the hard ground...inspect them. If there are any cracks or big dents, you must replace them, they are no longer any good!
I just also learned about hard eared helmets. Most helmets you use for recreational everyday use have the softer ears for comfort. Little Miss Emily has joined the ski team and it is required she wear a hard eared helmet. It provides much more protection especially when the kids start skiing at high speeds. We chose a POC, which in my very limited research has proven to be a winner. More on racing and Emily moving to this new level in another blog.
Onto the "gobbles". I have always worn Smith. Any reason? I find they are affordable and have always done the job. You can get a decent pair for the kids for around $25-$30. Now...here's a tip on keeping kid's goggles around for more than one year: Get a little bag to put them in! Kids are careless and you don't want to be buying them new ones each year. I've always kept goggles on their helmets...not any more! They should fit just below the top of the helmet when on their face. Believe it or not, the kids can be in a Jr size until they are 12! They have little faces. There is a new, slightly thicker foam on the sides I like that helps the fit be a little snugger and also has a little layer for sweat. Another thing Smith does is put a sticky surface on the inside of the strap. It helps hold them in place on the helmet so they don't slide down and off. Another awesome tip I learned is don't rub the inside of the goggles when they are wet! It will scatch and remove the layer that is put in there for defogging. Didn't know this one! When they dry off, use a little microfiber cloth to clean them up.
So, there you have it. Safety first! Check out Ski' N See for more deals and rentals. And check back with me as I take on my first lessons in 15 years!