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Do snowboard helmets expire? This is a question most first-time snowboarders often ask, but do you know the answer?
Snowboard helmets do not expire, but they do lose their effectiveness over time. As they take more hits from falls, their components, such as the plastic shell, straps, and comfort pad, lose their structural integrity. Because of that, it’s best to replace your helmet regularly.
Snowboarding helmets are designed for use within specific periods based on impact testing standards. That said, many factors determine how often you should replace your helmet. Read on for in-depth information on this topic, including the factors that affect your helmet’s shelf life.
Do Snowboard Helmets Expire?
Generally, a snowboard helmet doesn’t expire since the EPS foam inside them remains intact for up to 30 years. Instead, it’s the shell that gets degraded and weakened by UV with time. Besides, sweat and salt wear out the chin straps, making them ineffective.
1. Stop Wearing Your Snowboard Helmets When They’re Out of Date
So while a helmet does not become expired as food may do, you should stop wearing them when they’re out of date. If you’re still unsure about which is which, remember this rule: if your helmet has an expiration date on it, then use this data to decide when to get a new one.
To find this information, look for a sticker with a date, usually shown in two different formats (DD/MM/YY and MM/DD/YY), on the helmet.
How To Tell if a Snowboard Helmet Has Expired
There are other ways you can determine if your helmet has expired. These include:
- The foam inside looks compressed. If this happens with your snowboard helmet, then time for a new one.
- Chips and cracks on the exterior. If your helmet’s shell has chips or cracks, then it’s time to replace it.
- Any faded coloration of either black or white lids from high UV exposure from sunlight and any discoloration on padding foam. Again, if you notice these signs with your helmet, then replace it.
- The straps are in bad shape. If you find that the straps do not stretch easily – which is what they’re supposed to do – and do so with a lot of force, then ensure these are replaced immediately as well.
Caution: I don’t recommend tampering or altering a snowboard helmet to extend its life. Doing that might disrupt the functions of internal components and could lead to injury in future accidents. Take time when inspecting your helmet before each use to ensure safety – invest in a new one once it starts to show signs of wear.
2. Discard Your Snowboard Helmet After Two to Five Seasons
A snowboard helmet should be discarded after two to five seasons or if it has been three years since its purchase, whichever comes first. If your headgear exceeds this time frame, you won’t enjoy the same level of protection that a new one would provide, increasing injury risks if you fall.
The length of time a helmet should be used can vary depending on the following factors:
- The type and construction materials from which it was made: A helmet constructed with less durable materials will break down more quickly than a well-made, quality snowboard helmet.
- The frequency and severity of falls while wearing it: Helmets that work harder and protect against more frequent or severe falls will need to be replaced sooner.
For more information on when to replace a helmet, I recommend that you watch this video:
In a nutshell, it’s best to note that helmets can and do fail in some instances. Additionally, the continual use of malfunctioning helmets could endanger a snowboarder.
Additionally, helmets purchased on sale are also likely older models, which reduces the probability that they will still meet minimum safety standards.
Furthermore, unpadded hats (such as a baseball cap) cannot replace a proper helmet due to their inability to reduce the impact on the head from sharp objects such as branches or grass.
3. Replace a Snowboard Helmet After a Crash
You should replace a snowboard after a crash, especially if there’s a sign of inside or outside damage. This is because a helmet that has been compromised by crash forces might not provide adequate protection.
In general, most people do not realize that a snowboard helmet is for more than just prevention against head injuries. It can also be used to protect your neck and chin from harm during an accident.
Therefore, it’s crucial to replace your helmet if you do have any accidents with your board in the future.
An important thing about replacing helmets after a crash: don’t do this without first inspecting the inside of the helmet before using it.
If there’s no visible damage on the outside, then inspect carefully around where impacts may have occurred or could occur for signs of hidden trauma. These include under straps and between padding layers.
Your assessment should then inform whether to buy a new one or not.
4. It’s Not Safe To Use a Second-Hand Snowboard Helmet
It’s not safe to use a second-hand snowboard helmet because you might not know when the gear was manufactured or how long the seller has used it. Besides, it may have been involved in crashes, compromising its safety.
To understand this better, let’s take a look at the composition of a typical helmet:
Helmets have five layers that work together to protect your head if you fall while snowboarding.
- The first layer is an energy-absorbing foam called EPS or expanded polystyrene (styrofoam). For the EPS foam to absorb energy from impact, it must be free of dirt, grime, and other volatiles that could cause it to expand less than usual when it hits a surface. Doing so could result in what we call “concussive damages,” in which the force of an impact has significantly reduced your brain’s ability to do its job.
- The second protective layer is a hard plastic shell that acts as a barrier between you and other things, such as trees or rocks on the mountainside while snowboarding. It also stops objects from cutting through EPS foam during crashes.
- The third layer is the harness, which helps stabilize you and your snowboard while riding downhill at high speeds. This also means it’s vital to make sure this part of the helmet is always tightened before going out on the slopes.
- Fourth up are comfort pads that do precisely what they sound like. They provide a degree of comfort and prevent sweat from accumulating on your skin, preventing irritation.
- The fifth layer is the strap. It helps you tighten the helmet around your head so it’ll stay in place when moving at high speeds.
When a helmet has been in use for some time, chances are one of the layers might have been damaged due to crashes or drops. Besides, the EPS might not be as effective as that of a new one.
That means that even if the other layers are in good shape, you still end up with unsafe gear when you buy a second-hand helmet.
5. There Are Risks If You Use an Expired or Ineffective Helmet
Using an expired or damaged snowboard helmet comes with several risks, including:
The effectiveness of your helmet decreases over time. As this gear wears out, it becomes less efficient in absorbing impact forces that happen upon contact.
That can lead to severe injury during subsequent falls, so it is essential to replace it before this happens.
Your Safety Won’t Be Guaranteed
Your safety can’t be guaranteed if the straps are too loose or tight: do not rely on your helmet to do its job if it is strapped incorrectly.
The straps must be tight enough to not shake around during use but loose enough so the wearer can still move their head easily and without restriction.
If the helmet does become too loose because of a loosened strap or other issues, ensure you tighten it before continuing.
Improperly worn helmets are less effective and can lead to severe injury during falls or crashes.
Another risk of using a helmet for longer than the recommended duration is that it might not be the right size for your head, which can cause discomfort.
Besides, the straps on your helmet might become too tight or loose, which can cause serious problems like neck pain.
Also, insufficient ventilation in these helmets can make them uncomfortable and cause sweat accumulation inside the padding.
Additionally, using an expired helmet can also cause problems for the wearer when it comes to visibility. Some helmets do fog up during use, which might result in a snowboarder not being able to see properly or seeing objects coming towards them too late.
During periods of intense activity, this lack of visibility could be dangerous and increase the odds that you’ll have an accident, such as crashing into a tree.
Tips on Maintaining a Snowboard Helmet
Like other snowboard gear, a helmet requires regular maintenance to keep it in the best shape and ensure it provides maximum protection. In that regard, here are some guidelines to follow to make the most of your headgear:
Clean Your Helmet Regularly
Clean your snowboard helmet regularly to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated: do not wait until it’s completely dirty to do so.
When doing that, use a mild soap and water solution, then dry the helmet with a soft cloth.
I recommend that you do this at least once a week or more often if you use your gear more frequently.
Wax the Helmet’s Exterior
Apply wax to the exterior of the snowboard helmet for added protection against corrosion.
However, if the helmet is already corroded, you shouldn’t do this. Instead, it’s best to get a new one in such a scenario, as it’s safer that way.
Snow the Helmet Away From Heat and Sunlight
Store your snowboard helmet in an area with no direct sunlight or extreme heat: don’t store it in places that may cause the helmet to be dry or overheat.
Also, don’t leave your snowboard equipment near a source of heat, such as an oven or heater, because you risk damaging them permanently.
Doing so can also make the interior padding too dry or even melt some components inside of helmets, which will make them less effective or do more harm than good.
Replace Old or Worn-Out Straps Regularly
Replace your old, worn-out straps with new ones as soon as possible because they’re just as important for safety purposes
If the strap is no longer in good condition, it will be more difficult to put on and also less secure.
Replace a Helmet if It Has Cracks
Purchase a new snowboard helmet if you find any cracks in it. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Any cracks in a helmet can lead to leakage or the inner padding drying out, making the helmet unsafe to use.
If you’re looking for a quality snow sport helmet, I recommend this OutdoorMaster Ski and Snowboard Helmet from Amazon.com. It’s built with an EPS shell and an ABS core for maximum comfort and safety. The headgear features 14 vents for comfortable snowboarding. Besides, it comes with a size adjustment for the best fit.
Other Factors To Consider When Buying a Snowboard Helmet
Besides the expiry date, here are additional factors you should consider when buying a snowboarding helmet:
Does It Meet Certification Guidelines?
The snowboard helmet should be compliant with safety guidelines.
Inspect the back of the helmet for a sticker with a code indicating certification. Either ASTM F2040 or CE EN 1077 suggests that the helmet has passed tests for shock absorption, penetration resistance, and durability.
Who Will Use the Helmet
Are you buying the helmet for an adult or a child?
If you’re buying it for someone under 18, do not buy an adult-sized helmet. Instead, get one that is sized appropriately for their head and will provide them with better protection.
The Type of Helmet You Want
Do you want a helmet with more ventilation to prevent overheating?
Alternatively, it would help if you considered whether an ABS or polycarbonate model would serve you better. An ABS helmet is cheaper, heavier, and less likely to scratch, so it’s the best bet if you’re in the market for durable gear.
On the other hand, a polycarbonate one is lighter and thinner for portability. Besides, this helmet type is generally more flexible.
The Helmet’s Shape and Size
Is the size of your head compatible with the shape and size of the snowboard helmet you want?
It’s best to do some research beforehand so that you get one that fits well. It may also be difficult or uncomfortable if you do not do so.
Modern helmets feature safety technologies like in-molded construction. This provides a helmet with more strength and durability, less weight, fewer vents to reduce heat build-up in the head area, and increased protection against impacts.
These helmets do not have any exposed foam because they are instead made entirely of one material: do so because this minimizes potential injuries from objects that could poke through or scrape foam.
If you haven’t replaced your helmet in a while or it has been knocked around and damaged, I recommend replacing it. It may seem expensive to make a new purchase, but it can be worth every penny compared to what could happen with even one accident.
Although snowboarding helmets do not expire, they lose their effectiveness over time because foam starts to break down and becomes less effective at protecting your head. Therefore, it’s best to avoid injury risks by getting a new helmet regularly and always inspecting your headgear before stepping out.
- New York Times: Wirecutter: When Was the Last Time You Replaced Your Bike Helmet?
- Canada: Ski and Snowboard Helmets
- PubMed: An Analysis of Head Injuries Among Skiers and Snowboarders
- JSTOR Daily: Is the 30-Year-Long Styrofoam War Nearing Its End?
- Boston Children’s Hospital: Ski and Snowboard Safety: Helmet Guide
- New To Ski: When To Replace Your Ski Helmet? The Unbiased Answer
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