Even if you’re a die hard skier or snowboarder, there’s one thing everyone can agree on — having tunes in your head as you carve down the mountain makes your run that much better. It doesn’t matter if you’re carving moguls, grabbing rail, or catching major air, the right music will pump you up. And since we all know that protecting your dome is equally important, the perfect combination exists in the following best ski helmet headphones.
There are certain unique features to consider when buying helmet headphones, including their durability in cold and wet conditions, the ability to handle tumbles and falls, as well as their fit into your helmet. If you’re looking for the best pair of cans for your helmet this upcoming ski season, read on.
Top Factors to Consider
As mentioned before, there are a number of factors to consider when buying ski helmet headphones, some of which are unique to this specific type of product, and some which can be said for any set of cans you buy. Here are the most important factors to consider during your search for the perfect pair:
Wired vs Wireless.Bluetooth headphones are clearly the future, but they aren’t without flaws. Connection on the mountains is far from a sure thing and your tunes might cut in and out as a result. This, however, will only become less and less of a concern as technology gets better. We wouldn’t put too much stock into this one. The bigger concern for many people will be the price. Bluetooth anything will carry a higher price tag. It’s up to you to determine if the convenience of not having wires draped around you is worth it.
Ability to Make and Receive Calls. Most top helmet headphones these days aren’t just for music. Most will allow you to answer an incoming phone call if your speakers are connected to a phone. More importantly, being able to place a call if you injure yourself or get lost on the slopes. Helmet headphones are not only for jamming out, afterall, but could save your life.
Ability to Operate with Your Gloves or Mitts On. This one is more about comfort than life-protection. It’s cold on those mountains. Lifts, especially, can get bitter cold. No one wants to be fumbling around with their MP3 player trying to change the volume or skip to the next song. Being able to control your music with simple clicks that don’t require optimum dexterity is clutch.
Audio Quality. As with any headphones you buy, it’s important to have balanced audio. You want to hear your tunes in all their richness and complexity. Don’t cheap out and buy a pair of headphones that will make you wish you were listening to the wind in your ears instead.
When Outdoor Tech launched the OT0032 Chips, it became the first universal Bluetooth headphones to work with any helmet — ski, snowboard, motorcycle, skateboard — anything. Others have been launched since then, but the original is still the best.
The cylinders themselves are small, but powerful. The hi-fi audio cans slide seamlessly into the lining of your helmet, and best of all — they stay there. No sliding, no slipping, just tuck them in and get ready to jam all day.
You can place or receive calls with a simple click on the right speaker. In fact, any action you want to take can be accomplished with a simple click of the speaker. Music too soft? Press once on the left speaker to raise the volume. Music too loud? Double click the left speaker. Just one tap on the right speaker and you can play/pause your music or answer/hang up a call.
These cans are also completely wireless. The Bluetooth works great, so you shouldn’t have to worry about poor connections. These guys are built for the outdoors, too, maintaining optimum functionality at temperatures down to -4°F. You can’t go wrong with the Outdoor Tech OT0032 Chips.
The Smith Skullcandy Direct Connect’s are a much more budget-friendly option and also deliver most of your skiing audio needs. The one big flaw the the Direct Connect? There’s no way to answer calls or pause your music. However, for the price, these guys are compact and deliver great sound quality.
These headphones are also specifically designed for Smith helmets. While you might have success with them fitting into a couple other brands, they aren’t universal like the others on this list.
The sound quality is superb — even when the headphones are at max volume, the audio is clear and crisp. The headphones don’t block out ambient noise either — a huge safety consideration when you’re skiing in a crowd.
If audio is all you need, then Direct Connect is your answer. If you have a little extra cash and want a more premium option, than upgrade to the OT0032 Chips — it’s a significant step up.
The UClear HBC120 is another great bluetooth ski helmet headphone option. The price is steep — the most expensive pair on our list in fact — but you get what you pay for. These speakers are compatible with any speaker-ready helmet, they allow you to answer phone calls, skip tracks, and do all of that wirelessly.
There are three buttons on the outside of the speakers that control all your functions. It takes a little bit of time to memorize the layout and functionality of each, but once you have it down, working them is a cinch. The HBC120 delivers great sound quality as well. The only thing stopping these cans from rising higher on the list is the price. Don’t get us wrong, they’re great, but not worth the price in our opinion. Outdoor Tech’s OT0032 Chips have better functionality at a cheaper price.