In Helmet Headphones

The touch of the snow on your skin as you sail through the air while making a wicked jump is the very heart and soul of snowboarding and skiing. The only thing that could make such a moment better is the sound of your favorite song hitting the chorus just as you jump off the ramp and take off into the air. But dealing with earbuds and headphones can be a pain. Regular headphones are bulky and hard to control, even with a glove or mitten on. Plus, many headphones can’t tolerate freezing to Sub-Zero temperatures. But those audio issues are now a thing of the past. 

Winter headphones are available on the market, and these headphones are thin enough to wear under your helmet. So if you’re tired of hearing birds chirp and people yelling, keep reading and learn all about the best in-helmet headphones for skiing and the best in-helmet headphones for snowboarding.

What Are Headphones In-Helmet?

At first glance, you may think that in-helmet headphones are headphones that are built inside the helmet. But this is not correct. In-helmet headphones are special headphones that skiers and snowboarders can wear to listen to music while they are out in the snow. Owning a great pair of in-helmet headphones is truly a game-changer and can amplify and improve your skiing and snowboarding experience. Listening to your favorite music will definitely boost up your spirit, especially while you’re gliding down mountain tops and flying through the air. Using regular headphones is too difficult, and the cold and the falling snow easily damages them. But when you have a pair of in-helmet headphones designed for winter sports, everything changes for the better.

These headphones are built to withstand freezing temperatures, So they will not crack or freeze in the cold. And you’ll have no problem stopping the music or changing the song, even while wearing a glove. Many types of in-helmet headphones have glove-friendly buttons, so you never have to take off your glove. You don’t have to worry about your dripping sweat ruining the headphones. One common feature for in-helmet headphones is sweat and moisture protection, so your headphones will operate no matter how sweaty you are or if the sky suddenly turns dark, and rain begins to pour. 

What are Helmet Speakers?

Helmet speakers are small corded speakers that can attach to a skier or snowboarder helmet so the person can listen to music but not have their hearing obstructed by headphones that go directly into their ears. Your helmet needs to have audio pockets to place the speakers in to use these types of speakers. But this should not be an important issue because most winter sports helmets now have audio pockets because it is such a popular feature. Because they have to wear helmets for hours, helmet speakers are popular with motorcyclists. It is illegal for motorcyclists, in many countries, like the US, to wear headphones or earbuds while they are operating they’re motorcycle. So helmet speakers are a great alternative for them.

This in-depth guide is about in-helmet headphones, so I will not mention any helmet speaker products on this page. But these devices are great if you want to listen to music, and you hate the feeling of headphones over your ears.

Are Skiing And Snowboarding In-Helmet Headphones Different?

Not really. In fact, there are no in-helmet headphones built specifically for skiers or snowboarders. The type of headphones you need depends on the helmet you use, not the sport you practice. However, skiers and snowboarders have a different problem when it comes to in-helmet headphones. Since snowboarders do not have to use skis to move around on the snow, they have less need for grip and dexterity. So snowboarders are more likely to use mittens. 

Mittens are gloves that have the last four fingers all together in one sleeve. The only finger that is alone is the thumb. Now the problem with in-helmet headphones for snowboarders is that they cannot manipulate buttons on the headphones because of their massive mitten. So snowboarders have to look for headphones with larger buttons so they can press the buttons without taking off their mitten. But this is the only real difference. There are no in-helmet headphones that specifically say that it is for snowboarders. Usually, they just have larger buttons, which skiers like as well.

Types Of In-Helmet Headphones

There are several different types of in-helmet headphones, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. Most likely, you already have a helmet, so you must consider the shape of your helmet when looking for headphones to purchase. Purchasing the wrong Headphone set will ruin your skiing or snowboarding experience, and you will be a major waste of money if you are unable to return it. You should also know if your helmet has audio pockets. If you have not purchased your helmet yet, it might be easier for you to first find the perfect in-helmet headphone and then find a high-quality helmet to pair it with.

Regular

The most standard of all headphones, regular headphones are audio devices that go over your ears and are connected with a plastic holder that goes over the head. These types of headphones are extremely versatile and can be used in multiple places and situations. One major downside to using regular headphones that go over the head is that they usually do not wrap around the ear. They simply rest on top of the ear, which makes them prone to falling off from too much movement even while walking. Over-the-ear headphones can be placed underneath the helmet but may feel extremely stiff and uncomfortable if the helmet was not made to accommodate this type of headphones.

In ear

If over-the-ear headphones are the most common type of headphones, then inside the ear or earbuds are the second most popular. Because there is nothing connecting the earbuds together, this type of audio device is preferable because they can work with any type of helmet. Like over-the-ear headphones, earbuds are also prone to falling out of the user’s ear if there’s too much movement. Plus, there’s also a size issue. Earbuds that do not properly fit inside the user’s ear can stretch out the ear canal opening, which is uncomfortable. Or the earbuds can be too small and loose, so they will continuously fall out throughout the day. 

Behind the head

Instead of headphones that sit on top of the head, there are some headphones that go around the back of the head. Headphones like these usually wrap around the ear, so the headphones won’t come loose as you walk, run ski, or snowboard. At first, behind the head headphones might feel uncomfortable, but after wearing them a few times, you’ll get used to them. It might be easier to find behind the ear headphones that are more comfortable than over the head headphones. This is because the weight of the helmet is not pressing down on the behind the ear headphones. 

Helmet Attachment

There are even some headphones that come with the helmet. The helmet was made to accommodate them perfectly, so there’s no discomfort. The helmet and headphone combo is perhaps the best choice if you spend long hours out on the slopes, but it is usually the most expensive option.

In-Helmet Features To Look For 

Here are some interesting and popular features to evaluate when you look for your new in-helmet headphones. While shopping for your new headphones, take your time and consider all of your needs and what you want the headphones to do. Be sure to investigate all of the reviews for every headphone that you like. All of these different factors put together will help you find the best helmet headphones.

Comfort

How in-helmet headphones feel on your head and underneath your helmet is important. You need to try on headphones while wearing a helmet to know if you’ll be able to ski or snowboard with them. You’ll be wearing both your helmet and your headphones for several hours at a time, so both of these things must rest easy on your head. 

Bluetooth

Wires are a major pain to deal with, no matter what kind of device it is. But there are many in-helmet headphone sets that are Bluetooth enabled. You won’t get tangled up in a wire, or if you ski or snowboard near a branch, your headphones will not suddenly fly off and land in the snow or mud. 

Weight

Most in-helmet headphones don’t weigh a lot, so this might not be a trait to watch out for. But if someone is wearing heavy headphones, they could soon find themselves with a tired neck from supporting the extra weight. Remember that the headphones are not the only device on top of your head, your helmet is on your head too. Choose headphones that are light, and you won’t feel uncomfortable. 

Battery life

Any pair of headphones with a decent battery should last at least 10 hours. Some headphones can last for more than 20 hours, but they tend to have a thicker design and weigh more. There are two types of battery modes for wireless and rechargeable headphones. The standby battery life and active battery life. Active battery life means that you are actually using headphones by listening to audio or making phone calls. The passive or standby battery life means that they are just on, but the headphones are not active. 

Extreme weather function

Any set of headphones needs to be able to stand up to freezing cold temperatures, fog, falling snow, rain, and wind. It is not enough to be waterproof; it must be able to handle anything that mother nature throws at it.

Waterproof

Many headphones are not waterproof, and they cannot be because of the holes that release the audio to the ear. But most are water-resistant, so they can handle getting a little wet. 

Glove-friendly

Headphones and headsets that are glove-friendly are designed with large buttons and obvious knobs, so the skier or snowboarder can use the buttons through their gloves or mittens. 

Durability

A helmet is designed to protect the skull from being damaged by collisions and accidents. It might be the toughest piece of skiing and snowboarding equipment. Some in-helmet headphones will sit inside the helmet, so they need to be able to shake off collisions and falls without a scratch. There’s no point in purchasing high-quality headphones with pristine and wonderful sound if they break one of the first few times they fall into the wet snow. You might as well go to the 99 cent store and purchase several cheap earbuds, so you don’t have to fret about losing or replacing them.

Voice Control

Any headphones that are capable of a Bluetooth connection should also have a small mic in the speakers to answer phone calls. Just like poor music quality and durability, not being able to use the buttons on your headset or speaker without taking off your glove is silly. When you purchase headphones to plug into your phone, the mic should be somewhere on the wire near your mouth. 

Sound Quality

Many headphones sacrifice sound quality for durability. What’s the point of perfect sound and bass if your headphones die the first time they fall into the snow? There are in-helmet headphones that are water-resistant or waterproof, and they also have amazing and rich sound quality. Usually, headphones that are both water-resistant and sound amazing tend to be more expensive than those headphones that are completely durable and waterproof, but the quality isn’t so good. 

The Best In-Helmet Headphones For Skiing And Snowboarding

Smith Optics Skullcandy Direct Connect Helmet Earphones

Smith Optics Skullcandy Direct Connect Helmet Earphones

Skullcandy is known for its fashionable and high-quality audio devices, and now skiers can use their Skullcandy ski helmet headphones to improve their skiing experience. Although these Skullcandy helmet speakers were not made for the cold, they actually do hold up in the freezing temperatures quite well. These earphones fit easily into the audio pocket of a helmet and are extremely lightweight, so they won’t even feel like they’re on your head. For such a low price, its sound quality is great, and you’ll be able to hear all of your beloved songs just the way they were intended. Since these speakers don’t go over the ear, they cannot block out the surrounding noises.

One big downside of these earphones is that they do not have buttons to control the sound and music. If you want to change the volume of the music or the song, you will need to press the buttons on the earphones themselves. However, there is another version of these headphones that do have music control buttons. 

Outdoor Technology Bluetooth Helmet Audio Headset for Wireless Music in Helmet

Outdoor Technology Bluetooth Helmet Audio Headset for Wireless Music in Helmet

These headphones are Bluetooth compatible, so not only can you listen to music, you don’t have to fiddle with wires. When someone calls you, you can answer it through the speaker, and you don’t even have to press the button because you can control it through voice commands. Designed with large buttons, this headset’s Outdoor technology makes it glove-friendly, so you never have to expose your hand to the cold in order to turn them on or change the song. These headphones are also extremely durable and can last in Sub-Zero temperatures up to -40 degrees. If you don’t mind paying 15 extra dollars, you can purchase a two-year warranty in case it is damaged or broken. 

BE Headwear Bluetooth Headset

BE Headwear Bluetooth Headset

You can only use these headphones if the helmet you have has an audio pocket in your helmet. But you will barely feel them on your head because this BE Headwear only weighs 0.14 lbs! Talk about lightweight! The battery is made of lithium, so it will last a long time without damage or wear. The active playtime for this headset is only 9 hours, so it just barely makes the cut for decent playtime. It can be charged by USB port. It’s connected to your phone through Bluetooth technology, and it comes with a microphone so you can make calls and listen to music or audiobooks while you ski or snowboard. But that’s not all. When you use this headset, you can truly have a hand free experience because you can control the headset with voice commands.

IASUS XSound 3 High Definition Helmet Speakers

IASUS XSound 3 High Definition Helmet Speakers

With a sleek chrome finish and a two-color style, these helmet speakers from UClear are exactly what you imagine when you think of a high tech spy chasing after the bad guys on a snowboard. The wire that connects the speakers is reinforced, so the wire will not damage or fray if it is pulled.

Displace them into the audio pockets on your helmet and start listening! These speakers are so unbelievably lightweight that you might forget they’re on your helmet! They only weigh 1.2oz, so you can take them anywhere, and they’ll never weigh you down or take up too much space. 

The only true downside to these amazing and fashionable helmet speakers is that many reviews say the speakers have manufacturing issues. A number of reviewers purchased these speakers only to find that they did not work at all, or only one speaker worked. That’s quite a bummer, but it does have enough five and four-star reviews to stay on this list.

UClear Digital Pulse Wired Drop-in High Definition Helmet Speakers

UClear Digital Pulse Wired Drop-in High Definition Helmet Speakers

This is the best ski helmet headphones if you want great audio quality and don’t want to worry about batteries. When it comes to audio, the standout feature about the speaker is the bass. The bass sounds full, almost as if it has a subwoofer inside. The overall sound quality is excellent, especially for the price. It does not run on Bluetooth, and it is not wireless, so you may have to get used to having a wire running from your helmet to your thigh. But that doesn’t mean that they do not have a battery life so you can keep listening to them all day long without worrying about battery life or charging them. 

How To Clean Your Headphones

When you take your brand new headphones out of the box, they will look pristine, clean, and have that wonderful factory smell. Unfortunately, it won’t stay that way. The hours and hours you spend out in the snow will inevitably get them dirty. So here is a quick instructional guide on how to clean your headphones, so they perform just as well as the day you took them out of the box.

First, if your headphones have removable rubber pads, remove them and watch them separately. Once you remove them, you may see even more dirt and gunk stuck onto the main headphone piece. 

Second, you need to purchase special electronic cleaning wipes. These types of wipes have a small amount of wetness, and the moisture from the cloth disinfects your headphones and dries quickly. If you have never heard of electronic wipes before, all you need to do is type electronic cloth into Google. You will get several dozen products that clean and disinfect any type of electronic device but without the danger of water or moisture damage.

If you do not have any electronic wipes with you, but your headphones desperately need to be clean, you can always rely on alcohol pads. Since the pad has alcohol, the alcohol in the wipes evaporates the moisture quickly.

Conclusion

Finding the best snowboard helmet headphones for you is hard, and skiers know the same pain. If you are still wondering what kind of in-helmet headphones you should purchase, there are plenty of reviews about in-helmet headphones on YouTube that you can check out. Also, when you shop for your headphones at a store, ask to test out the audio before you purchase them. It may sound like an extreme request, but you will save yourself a return trip to the store if you don’t like them.


Harry Sowers

Harry has been skiing and snowboarding since he was a boy growing up outside of Denver Colorado. He is most passionate about skiing and when he was in college a UC Boulder he even participated in the olympic trials for the USA Olympic Downhill Ski team.