POC Receptor Backcountry ($250)

This helmet is designed to protect your brain from the rotational forces common in ski crashes. Courtesy of Poc

States around the country are passing legislation that will make helmets at ski areas required by law. (Most of the laws now apply to minors, but who's to say they won't extend to all ages of skiers and snowboarders at some point.) Even without the law, it's a smart idea to wear a helmet. And why not wear one that's both uber safe and sleek-looking?


POC's already-popular Receptor series of helmets now has an all-new model in the lineup. The Receptor Backcountry is based on the same design and concept as the Receptor Bug, which has pro models for athletes like Tanner Hall and TJ Schiller, and the multi-impact Receptor Plus. But the Backcountry version is packed full of safety features like a double overlapping shell, a penetration barrier, a Recco avalanche reflector, and a fancy new technology dubbed the Multi Impact Protection System (MIPS). It also comes with removable earflaps and eight recessed square holes on the outer shell to keep your dome cool by allowing air to flow through the helmet.

MIPS is a Swedish firm that has spent the last 15 years researching helmet safety and POC collaborated with MIPS to create the Backcountry, the first snow helmet to feature the MIPS system. "Medical researchers fully recognize the significant life-saving benefits of decreasing rotational violence to the brain when crashing," says Jarka Duba, president of POC USA, adding that the MIPS system is designed to do just that. MIPS' breakthrough technology mimics the brain's own protection system, but instead of using cerebrospinal fluid they've created a low friction layer within the helmet to absorb more of the rotational forces involved in an oblique or lateral impact to the head, the type of impact common in skiing falls.

The helmet's only drawbacks? The hefty $250 price tag (no, the liner isn't sprinkled with gold dust) seems like a lot, but seriously, isn't your life worth that much? And I was surprised by the helmet's weight -- it's on the heavier side for a helmet, especially a backcountry-oriented one, but it's comparable to other multi-impact models on the market. Also, keep in mind, the Receptor Backcountry isn't just for backcountry skiers. "It's targeted for advanced freeskiers and snowboarders in exposed environments," according to Poc.

Find this helmet online at Pocsports.com. Or check out a local retailer near you.