Unless you’ve suffered a serious head injury, a helmet probably isn’t the first thing on your mind as you walk out the door to the mountain. But you may want to think twice about that (see Dr. George for statistics). Although you may be ridiculed and harassed, it’s up to you to decide if that brain of yours is worth protecting.

Helmets are becoming more prominent on the slopes: Parents are putting them on their little kids, most big-air contests require them, and many riders are wising up and wearing them by choice. After all, sooner or later you’re bound to wreck on the slopes (check out Letters), and obviously the best way to prevent a concussion or permanent damage to your noggin is by protecting it. So here are some of this year’s goggle-friendly helmets, which all include a low rear shell to protect you from heelside slams. The features you definitely want to be aware of when purchasing a helmet are comfort, peripheral vision, ventilation, minimal ear coverage, and weight.

K2
Semi-automatic (Suggested Retail Price $89)
www.k2snowboards.com
1-800-972-4038
The Semi-automatic features controllable, passive rear vents to let air in, but keep snow and rain out. Also, the open-ear design of the shell allows you to hear, but part of the removable/washable interior-fit pads include detachable ears for warmth. There’s a padded chin strap on this comfortable and lightweight helmet as well.

RED
Decaf (SRP $90)
www.burton.com
(802) 651-0400
Riders looking for minimalism or warm-weather riding should check out the Decaf-a fully protective helmet with great ventilation, no ear coverage, removable fit pads, and a padded chin strap. This helmet is comfortable and lightweight, it has the most padding of the helmets listed, as well as the most ventilation. If increased coverage is what you want, check out RED’s Skycap for ten dollars more.

Leedom
Limit Phase 1 (SRP $109)
www.leedomhelmets.com
(781) 440-0633
Leedom introduces this model to further enhance the comfort, performance, and appeal of the Limit (high-cut style for a freer feel) series for every type of rider. The lightweight helmet features a controllable airflow system and a padded chin strap, and includes a decent amount of soft padding. No ear coverage.

Pro-Tec
Freeride (SRP $60)
www.pro-tec.net
(310) 318-9883
The Freeride’s appearance is most like a skate helmet. It features fairly thin removable interior-fit pads and padded detachable ears, but unfortunately doesn’t offer much warmth. Also, there’s no ventilation, and it happens to be far heavier than the rest. However, the price is much less.

Santa Cruz TSG
Snow Helmet (SRP $65)
www.scsnowboards.com
1-800-543-7979
This lightweight helmet is the most basic of them all. It includes a padded chin strap, adjustable interior padding (but not much), tuck-away earflaps, and two small vents on the front and back.

Boeri
Axis Rage (SRP $135)
www.boeriusa.com
1-800-394-6741
The Axis Rage is a lightweight helmet that combines a removable drop liner with ear coverage, soft interior padding, a padded chin strap, and ventilation holes along the top.