The Snell Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing helmet safety standards. Snell created the RS-98 ski and snowboard standard in 1998 and it remains the most rigorous of standards. It’s also a voluntary standard—no manufacturer is required to pass RS-98 in order to sell their product, which helps explain why helmets bearing its certification sticker are extremely uncommon. As of August 2017, there are no snow helmets certified to this standard.
Harder Hits, Full Range of Testing
As with most Snell helmet standards, RS-98 places an emphasis on high-energy protection. While it allows for a greater transmission of G’s to the head during an accident than either EN-1077 or CSA Z263.1, is also required that helmets be hit with 100 joules of force during flat anvil testing. By comparison, EN-1077 and CSA Z263.1 would subject helmets (using an identical, 5-kilogram headform) to an impact generating 73.5 joules.
Moreover, Snell’s RS-98 standard requires impact testing on three types of anvil (flat, hemi and edge), whereas EN-1077 and CSA Z263.1 only impact on the flat anvil. While the ASTM F2040 standard includes all three anvils, the impact energy on the hemi and edge anvils is lower than that required by Snell (49 joules on the edge anvil versus Snell’s 80 joules and 58.8 joules on the hemi anvil rather than Snell’s required 80 joules).
Finally, RS-98 demands greater penetration resistance than other standards—dropping a 3-kilogram striker from the greatest height (1 meter). If a helmet possesses a chin bar, RS-98 also requires a deflection test that involves dropping a 5-kilogram weight on the central portion of the chin bar. If the chin bar breaks or deflects more than 60 millimeters, the helmet fails. No other snow sport standard contains a similar provision for testing chin bars.
The Snell Foundation conducts all RS-98 certification and includes ongoing random sample testing of helmet models that have already earned a Snell RS-98 certification—this ensures that helmets truly meet Snell’s standards and continue to do so after gaining that initial stamp of approval. As of August 2017, there are no snow helmets certified to this standard.