Best Ski Helmet Headphones For Music, Talk, and Messaging

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The best ski helmet headphones keep you secure and connected while you shred powder to your heart’s content. We picked the best models just for you!
Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Introduction
The Cardo Packtalk Outdoor won us over for its industry-leading audio quality and unmatched feature set.

This is The Wise Adventurer’s roundup of our favorite ski helmet headphones of the year, researched, analyzed, and compared head-to-head for all the music lovers out there. To anyone who’s ever lost a shiny white AirPod in some fresh fallen snow: You’re in the right place. 

Ski helmet headphones, snowboard helmet headphones, or helmet speakers are a tailor-made solution for staying connected out on the slopes. They’re loud, clear, and (most importantly) secure enough to hold up to all your downhill shenanigans (and the occasional spill that ensues when things go south). We’ve tried wired headphones in the past and we’ve tried wireless earbuds, but we’ve found nothing works more seamlessly than music piped directly into our helmets. 

After researching and analyzing dozens of ski helmet headphones currently available, we found the Cardo Packtalk Outdoor to be the best option overall. Cardo’s headset leads the charge in terms of refinement, durability, and high quality sound, and also happens to double as a group chat communicator that works independently of cellular service. 

Of course we also know that the Cardo won’t be every skier’s first pick, which is why we’ve also included 5 of our other favorites for every kind of skier on every sort of budget. You’ll also find a handy in-depth buyer’s guide down at the bottom of this article, where we dig into the details of what makes any pair of ski helmet headphones worth buying in the first place. 

Ready to crank up the volume? Let’s drop in. 

ProductBenefits
Cardo Packtalk Outdoor: Best Ski Helmet Headphones OverallExcellent sound quality, weather protection, and microphone sensitivity. Integrated group chat function that works without the need for cellular data. See Review
Aleck Nunchucks: Highest Overall QualityGreat sound quality, battery life, and feature set with universal helmet compatibility. Cellular-based group chat delivers unlimited range anywhere there’s reception. 
See Review
Sena Snowtalk 2: Best On A BudgetCardo-style functionality at a fraction of the price. A low-cost option for Bluetooth group communication with solid audio quality to boot. See Review
Outdoor Tech Chips Ultra 2.0A tech-focused speaker system that utilizes a fully wireless design for near-universal helmet compatibility. Outstanding battery life is further bolstered by an integrated charging case. See Review
Wildhorn Alta Drop-In HeadphonesA budget-friendly pair of helmet speakers that punch well above their price point. Decent sound quality, voice activation, and outstanding user-friendliness make for serious value. 
See Review
Shokz Openrun Headphones: Best Non-Helmet OptionA standalone pair of sport headphones that work well for a wide range of active outdoor hobbies. Open ear design helps you to stay in touch with your surroundings while you enjoy your tunes. See Review

The Best Ski Helmet Headphones Of The Year

Cardo Packtalk Outdoor

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Cardo Packtalk Outdoor 1

Specs: 
– Weight: 1.7oz (49.5g) 
– Headphone Type: Helmet mounted (wireless)
– Waterproof: Yes
– Microphone: Yes (standalone)
– Price: $$$

We’ve been using Cardo’s outstanding Packtalk communicators in our motorcycle helmets for years to great effect, so when we saw them introduce a general-purpose “outdoor” unit, we were excited to say the least. Cardo didn’t disappoint here, and the Packtalk Outdoor package is hands-down the best ski helmet headphone option on the market. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Cardo Packtalk Outdoor 2
Cardo uses an external interface and mic, allowing the 40mm JBL speakers to be as thin as possible inside your helmet.

What makes the Packtalk so special is that Cardo integrated the same cutting-edge “dynamic mesh” communication system into the Outdoor as they do their industry-leading motorcycle coms. This feature uses a self-healing Bluetooth network (no internet or data required) to wirelessly connect you and your friends for distances up to 5 miles within line of sight. The more folks you have in your group with Cardo Packtalks, the stronger the signal becomes, making the Outdoor the ideal wireless ski helmet headphones for keeping your group in touch out on the slopes. 

In addition to the unparalleled intercom system, we also love the Packtalk Outdoor for its elevated quality and engineering. We’ve ridden in all-day-rain over the mountains of Patagonia using Cardo equipment with zero issues, and they’ve never failed to deliver a full day of tunes (around 10 hours) when fully charged. We’ll also note that Cardo delivers by far the best audio quality in the segment with a pair of 40mm JBL Audio speakers, as well as the most effective and sensitive integrated microphone we’ve used. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Cardo Packtalk Outdoor 3
The Packtalk Outdoor’s Bluetooth com system is great for keeping the family together, even in areas without cellular service.

The main downside of the Packtalk Outdoor is its price, which at around $250 is by far the most expensive option on our list. That expense only multiplies if you want to extend your network by adding more skiers to your group, but aside from cost, we have zero complaints with the Packtalk unit or its intuitive interface. 

Pros:Cons:
– Wireless group chat functionality
– Excellent sound quality
– Rugged and utterly weatherproof
– Excellent microphone and voice activation
– Expensive



Aleck Nunchucks

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Aleck Nunchucks 1

Specs: 
– Weight: 2.7oz (77 g)
– Headphone Type: Helmet mounted/wireless
– Waterproof: Yes
– Microphone: Yes (integrated)
– Price: $$

Aleck specializes in out-of-ear audio for outdoor activities, and their wireless “Nunchucks” are their latest and greatest invention specifically designed for ski helmets. Building on the success of their original “006” helmet speakers, the Nunchucks are better in every way, and arguably the most popular option on the slopes today. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Aleck Nunchucks 2
Aleck Nunchucks are lightweight and super thin, making them universally compatible with any snow helmet’s ear pads.

So what makes the Nunchucks great? In short, you’re looking at 18 hours of battery life, a built in microphone, outstanding high-fidelity audio quality, and a super-slim profile that’s designed to be universally compatible with any helmet’s ear pads. The Nunchucks also sport an innovative group chat/com function that utilizes your smartphone’s data to stay connected with unlimited range.

We also love that Aleck designed the Nunchucks with a super simple user interface, employing just one button on either speaker to control either music/volume or chat functions. Everything more involved than that is handled through the excellent Aleck app on your smartphone which includes setting up group chats, a real-time “friend finder” that displays your buddies’ locations on a map, and a custom equalizer to fine-tune your audio. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Aleck Nunchucks 3
We give the Nunchucks the nod for their outstanding audio quality, battery life, and unlimited group chat range via the Aleck app.

Our main issue with the Aleck Nunchucks is that they’re limited to IPX4 weather protection, which works fine for ski/snow use, but could certainly be improved for peace of mind. We’ll also note that because Aleck’s group chat functionality is dependent on your smartphone’s reception, it isn’t guaranteed to work everywhere unlike a Bluetooth-based com. 

Pros:Cons:
– Group chat and PTT feature
– Good sound quality & equalizer app
– Outstanding 18 hour battery life
– Limited IPX4 weatherproofing
– Group com limited to cell reception



Sena Snowtalk 2: Best On A Budget

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Sena Snowtalk 1

Specs: 
– Weight: 2.15oz (61g) 
– Headphone Type: Helmet mounted/wireless
– Waterproof: Yes
– Microphone: Yes (standalone)
– Price: $

If you’re loving the sound of Cardo’s group chat feature but aren’t looking to drop Cardo money, we’ve found the Sena Snowtalk 2 is the best alternative on a budget. Sena is another name we know and trust from the motorcycle world, and their products have a well-deserved reputation for quality and durability. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Sena Snowtalk 2
Sena’s Snowtalk 2 works with most any audio-ready ski helmet, and its large tactile buttons are easy to use with gloves.

We’ve found it’s best to think of the Snowtalk 2 as a “Cardo Light” as it basically does everything the Packtalk does, but to a slightly lesser degree. The Bluetooth group com, for instance, uses older Bluetooth 4.1 tech, which means the connection isn’t quite as strong and is limited to four people and around 700 meters of range. 

The same goes for the Snowtalk 2’s audio quality, as both the speakers and microphone attachment deliver quality sound and clear communication, but we’ve noticed that Sena’s slightly smaller 32mm speakers can’t deliver the bass or depth of Cardo’s 40mm JBL units. We’ll also note that while the Snowtalk will easily provide 8-10 hours of music on a full charge (depending on the outside temperature), constant use of the group chat feature reduces battery life to around 6 hours. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Sena Snowtalk 3
Solid audio and Bluetooth coms both come in at a budget-friendly price, making the Snowtalk one of the best wireless ski helmet headphones we’ve seen.

Clearly the Snowtalk 2 is a bit of a give-and-take in terms of features and performance, but we’ve found it still easily outperforms many of its expensive competitors with more features, better audio, and a high-performance microphone. We’ll also note that Sena is the only other option we’ve found that delivers group communication that doesn’t depend on cell phone service (group chat is conducted through Bluetooth), so it’s also effectively the only other game in town if you don’t want to invest in a Cardo.  

Pros:Cons:
– Similar functionality as Cardo for less money
– Good sound quality and microphone sensitivity
– Group chats works independently of cell service
– Can’t quite match the audio quality of Cardo
– Lower intercom range and battery life than Cardo



Outdoor Tech Chips Ultra 2.0

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Outdoor Chips 1

Specs: 
– Weight: 2.9 oz (82g) 
– Headphone Type: Helmet mounted/wireless
– Waterproof: Yes
– Microphone: Yes (integrated)
– Price: $$

While most of our favorite wireless bluetooth headphones still require some creative routing of at least one wire for a clean install, the Outdoor Tech Chips Ultra 2.0 take things fully wireless by using two standalone speaker pods with no cords in between. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Outdoor Chips 2
The Outdoor Tech Chips 2.0 are completely wireless, making them the easiest ski  helmet headphones on our list to install and remove.

We also appreciate that Outdoor Tech doubled down on modern technology with their latest iteration of the Chips, incorporating the latest Bluetooth 5.2 for a stronger connection, a case that doubles as a charger (and fully charges the headphones in just 1.5 hours), and seamless voice assistant functionality for wireless communication through your smartphone. We also loved that they designed the Chips to utilize a single large button on each pod, which makes them among the most glove-friendly options money can buy. 

We’ve found the Chips 2.0 are particularly well suited for backcountry use, due largely to the fact that their charging case is capable of storing four full recharges without the need for an external battery bank. Outdoor Tech’s truly wireless design also means nearly universal helmet compatibility regardless of size or brand. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Outdoor Chips 3
The Chips 2.0 are a great option for tunes in the backcountry thanks to their outstanding battery life and integrated charging case.

The main shortcoming we’ve found with the Chips 2.0 is that their sound quality doesn’t exactly meet audiophile standards. Compared to industry leaders like Cardo and Aleck, the Chips lack some depth/bass to our taste, so while they always come through loud and clear, you may want to look elsewhere for a serious “bump.” 

Pros:Cons:
– Near limitless battery life with integrated charging case
– Voice activated smartphone compatibility
– Completely wireless = universal helmet compatibility
– Not the deepest sound quality
– No integrated group com feature
– A bit expensive for what they are



Wildhorn Alta Drop-In Headphone

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Wildhorn Alta 1

Specs:
– Weight: 3oz (85 g)
– Headphone Type: Helmet mounted/wireless
– Waterproof: Yes
– Microphone: Yes (integrated)
– Price: $

The Wildhorn Alta is another budget-friendly ski helmet headphone we’d recommend, and is arguably the most popular option on the slopes around the $100 price point. These headphones nail the basics for tunes and calls on the slopes, but we’ve also found they punch well above their asking price value-wise. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Wildhorn Alta 2
The Alta gets the job done for less money with long battery life and integrated voice control through your smartphone.

Our favorite feature of the Alta headphones is their battery life: A single charge routinely lasts for 10-12 hours depending on your use, so you never need to worry about recharging them mid-day. We’ll also note that the overall build quality of these ski helmet headphones is well above average despite their budget-friendliness, and the Altas even sport a solid IP45 waterproof rating, which is sweat-resistant and well suited to use in snow or rain. 

We’ll also give the Alta Wildhorns props for their user-friendliness. The Altas are tailor-made for use with even the burliest ski gloves, sporting a simple three-button interface that’s easily manipulated through your ear pads to adjust volume, find your favorite music, or handle incoming phone calls.

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Wildhorn Alta 3
Three simple buttons handle all the controls, while Alta’s free app allows you to fine tune your sound for a high-quality audio experience.

While we’ve found the Alta Wildhorns to be well worth their asking price, they do suffer a few foibles common to budget-friendly electronics. The first is that they’re a bit thicker than some, which means they’re best suited to “audio-ready” helmets rather than DIY-ing an existing helmet with less space integrated into the pads. We’ll also note that while the Alta’s 40mm drivers and integrated microphone provide decent sound quality and sensitivity, neither quite measures up to the quality of a Cardo Packtalk or similarly “premium” options we’ve used. 

Pros:Cons:
– Great value for the money
– Hands free mic for voice assistant
– Outstanding battery life
– Thicker than some
– Good-not-great sound quality
– Microphone isn’t the best



Shokz OpenRun Headphones: Best Helmet Mount Alternative

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Shokz Openrun 1

Specs: 
– Weight: 1 oz (28g) 
– Headphone Type: Open ear/wrap-around
– Waterproof: Yes
– Microphone: Yes (integrated)
– Price: $

While helmet-mounted skiing headphones are best suited to use on the slopes, not everyone wants to drop $100+ on a pair of bluetooth headphones that only work in one situation. If you’re looking to get double duty out of your investment, we recommend checking out the Shokz OpenRun wireless headphones. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Shokz Openrun 2
Shokz headphones sit outside your ear, making them comfortable with any helmet and ideal for keeping track of your surroundings.

We love the OpenRun headphones because as the name suggests, they’re actually built for a wide variety of outdoor activities like running, mountain biking, and cycling. They achieve this by using a secure “wrap around” design that holds steady when you get rowdy, which means you don’t have to worry about an ear bud going flying should you happen to take a tumble or have a less than graceful dismount from the ski lift.

We also love the Shokz because they use an “open ear” design, transmitting music through the bones in your face rather than piping it directly into your ear canal. This leaves your ears open to take in your surroundings, be it coms from your group on your ski walkie talkie or just other skiers coming down the mountain in your vicinity. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Shokz Openrun 3
We love that because Shokz don’t depend on a helmet to function, they double as great active headphones for everything from trail running to road cycling.

Our main complaint with the Shokz is that although they’re much more secure than AirPods or other earbud-style headphones, they still can’t touch the rock-solid dependability of helmet-mounted headphones. We’ll also note that while the Shokz OpenRun still handles phone calls and other hands-free functions for your smartphone, there’s no group communication feature, which can be a major perk around the resort. 

Pros:Cons:
– Secure connection stays put in a spill
– Open ear design allows you to pay attention to your surroundings
– Work well for running, cycling, and pretty much everything else
– Not as secure as helmet-mounted options
– No group communication function



Buyer’s Guide To The Best Ski Helmet Headphones

Wondering how we decided on these particular ski headphones for our list? Here are the specific metrics we look for when selecting, analyzing, or testing a set of speakers ourselves. 

Fit

In-helmet ski headphones walk a fine line between overall size and fit. On the one hand, a larger speaker typically makes for better sound quality (more on that below), but you’re also working with a limited amount of space inside the helmet pads. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Fit
Thinner speakers, like these Aleck Nunchucks, are more likely to fit comfortably in a larger range of snow helmets.

The good news is that ski helmet headphones have exploded in popularity over the last few seasons, and helmet manufacturers are rising to the occasion. Many helmets nowadays include specifically designed ear pads that are tailor-made to accept speakers, but you’ll want to double-check your helmet of choice to be sure. 

With that being said, pretty much any helmet with attached ear pads can be made to accept a pair of helmet speakers. You may have to do a little cutting to get your headphones of choice seated, but when in doubt, remember a thinner pair of speakers is more likely to fit comfortably than a thicker set. 

Sound Quality

Poor audio quality is a bummer. Whether you just want your music to sound loud and rich or you need calls and other communications to be as clear as possible, good sound quality is a hallmark of the best ski helmet headphones. This can be a difficult metric to nail down without comparing multiple pairs yourself, which is why roundups like ours are so valuable. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Sound Quality
40mm speakers seem to be the sweet spot for sound quality, and Cardo’s super-thin JBL units are the best sounding we’ve tested to date.

In our experience, we’ve found the best sound quality comes from manufacturers who outsource their audio to the experts. A great example of this would be the premium speakers found in Cardo headsets, which are made by the sound wizards at JBL. We’d love to see Bose getting into that business too.

We also look for some form of sound adjustment whenever possible, which typically comes in the form of an equalizer app on your smartphone. An equalizer delivers excellent sound quality by giving you the ability to fine-tune the audio characteristics of your headphones, increasing bass, mid, or treble as you see fit. 

Ease of Use and Features

Ideally, a good pair of helmet headphones works as a “set it and forget it” product, meaning you don’t have to go digging them out of your helmet every time you need to change a song, answer a call, or listen to a message. This is why our favorite options either come with exposed exterior controls on the outside of the helmet (Cardo, Sena) or large, simple buttons that can easily be used inside your ear pads with gloves on.

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Ease of Use
Because most ski headphones have to be controlled with gloved hands through your ear pads, large, simple buttons are ideal.

Generally speaking, the fewer buttons your headphones use, the better. You only need a few basic functions for hassle-free audio, so we prefer a less complicated user interface whenever possible. 

This is also an area where voice commands come in handy. Whether your headphones use a proprietary system or simply utilize the “hey, Siri” function in your iphone, voice commands and a responsive microphone make for an incredibly user-friendly interface on the slopes. 

Battery Life

Lithium batteries have come a long way in the last decade, and as a result, we rarely find a pair of ski headphones that can’t last a full day on the slopes. For most skiers that translates to around 8 hours of battery life, and anything over that is just icing on the cake. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Battery Life
8+ hours of battery life is ideal, but a portable charging case like this one on the Outdoor Chips Ultra 2.0 is even better.

We’ll also note that depending on your preferred style of skiing/snowboarding, most ski headphones can be easily topped off with a recharge while you grab a bite inside the lodge. Obviously this doesn’t apply to cross-country skiers out exploring the backcountry, so if your headphones of choice won’t reliably deliver a full 8 hours of use, you’ll likely want to pack a power bank as well. 

Keep in mind that how you use your ski helmet headphones will also impact battery life. Higher volume tunes require more juice than moderate volume, and if your headphones include a group-chat or push-to-talk feature as well, leaving it on standby constantly will also impact performance. 

Weather Resistance

As is the case with most outdoor electronics, good ski headphones are classified for weather resistance under the standard IP scale. Understanding these ratings and what they mean plays an important role in your decision, so let’s touch on them briefly. 

Take the common IP rating of IP67 for example. Here, the “6” signifies your headphones’ resistance to the ingress of dust and small particles, while the “7” signifies their resistance to water ingress. Many ski headphones skip the first digit entirely (IPX7, for example), because water resistance is the only relevant factor in snowy conditions. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Weather Resistance
Snowy conditions require an IP rating of 4 or higher, but more is always better in our experience.

While maximum protection on both fronts is preferable, ski headphones don’t actually need to be fully waterproof to be snow-worthy. At minimum, any pair of outdoor headphones worth buying will be IPX4 rated or higher, signifying that they’re tested to withstand direct splashing of water for an extended period. 

The highest performers are rated IPX7 or above, however, which means they can be fully submerged for 30 minutes without issue. If you’re planning to use your headphones for all-around outdoor use, this can be a feature worth paying for, but if your headphones will only live a) in your helmet and b) in the snow, there’s no need to overpay for extra protection. 

Durability

While this can be a difficult thing to gauge in a pair of headphones, durability is definitely a sign of overall quality. We believe part of the durability equation comes with solid weatherproofing as described above, while the rest simply comes down to quality construction. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Durabillity
Ski headphones put up with weather, travel, and the occasional tumble, so a well made pair from a reputable brand is always a smart choice.

With that being said, first hand testing is really the only way to get an accurate idea of how much abuse your headphones will take before calling it quits. For this reason, first hand reviews like ours, as well as a thorough review of second-hand accounts from existing customers, are the best way to determine the longevity of your headphones. 

Our Testing and Review Process

While we’re still a relatively small team here at The Wise Adventurer, we’re lucky enough to have a handful of hardcore snow lovers in our midst. We’ve got cross country skiers, terrain park junkies, and even a few folks who enjoy nothing more than a walk through the woods with a good set of snowshoes. We’ve also used helmet headphones on dozens of motorcycle trips through rain, snow, and desert heat, so we know a snow-worthy set of headphones when we see one. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - Testing and Review
We fully encourage our staff to play hookie anytime there’s fresh powder on the ground.

Between the half-dozen or so editors and contributors on our team, we’ve tried just about everything from just about every brand out there, so we’ve got a litany of first hand experience to call upon when selecting and reviewing products. While we can’t always test everything ourselves, we spend countless hours digging through specs, reading existing customer reviews, and speaking with our friends and families who use these products to get the most objective information possible into our roundups. 

The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict On The Best Ski Helmet Headphones

Taking the above metrics into consideration, we found the Cardo Packtalk Outdoor were the best ski helmet headphones overall. Cardo’s combination of industry-leading features, top notch JBL Audio speakers, and uncompromising build quality makes it a clear winner in the segment as far as we’re concerned. 

Best Ski Helmet Headphones - TWA Verdict
The Cardo Packtalk Outdoor gets our vote as the best ski helmet headphones overall.

Cardo’s stuff doesn’t come cheap, however, so if you’re looking for a similar feature set for less money, the Sena Snowtalk 2 is a smart alternative. We consider Sena’s Snowtalk 2 to be “close enough” to the Cardo for most users, but there’s no denying Cardo has a leg up when it comes to audio quality and connectivity. 

If you’re not interested in Bluetooth communicator functionality, we’re also big fans of the Aleck Nunchucks. These wireless helmet speakers deliver excellent audio quality as well as unlimited group chat range wherever cell service is available. 

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