Kids who balk at the idea of wearing head protection for outdoor activities might find it harder these days to argue that helmets aren't cool.
From dry-erase helmets to ones shaped like animals and bugs to others in bright colors, many of today's helmets are designed to make kids want to wear them long after the bike is parked or the snowboard stowed.
'We'll lay out 10 different character helmets at a skate park and let 20 kids try them on and play with them. We're able to see immediately which designs resonate with them, ' says Brad Blankinship, a spokesman at Los Angeles-based C-Preme, which makes helmets and other skate and bike gear.
Some of what's new:
C-Preme's helmet line Raskullz has a wide range of styles shaped or painted like dinos, sharks, ladybugs and pussycats complete with appendages such as fins, antennae and ears.
There are lightning bolts, zebra stripes and a Mohawk trim. A toddler Miniz version of the lineup was added this spring, and this month the Raskullz line adds additional 3-D animal attachments like raccoon tails and feathers. raskullz.com
Helmet Zoo makes colorful, elasticized fleece helmet covers on themes such as sea, farm and woodland creatures, and fantasy characters. Pandas, tigers, skunks, snakes, pink poodles, devils and a generic version of those popular ill-tempered birds are all available, as are multi-legged spiders and a pink fairy princess with tiara and veil. The covers will fit any style of helmet. helmetzoo.com
Low-key-cool Burton has the RED helmet line that includes kids' Avid Grom, a cross-sport helmet for snow and pavement. No wild graphics, but hip colors such as green, red, black and orange branded with a logo. altrec.com
Smith Optics makes the Gage snow helmet in matte black or white, or more vivid hues like cyan, bright green and violet. They're embellished with an understated, stylized graphic on one side. Also from Smith, a combo of Cosmos Jr. helmet with Galaxy goggles; a magnet and slide-release buckle keep the two pieces together. The Zoom Jr. has a soft, fuzzy lining, and all have lots of head vents. smithoptics.com
Swedish company POC makes a helmet named Pocito Light. In-mold technology means the outer hard shell is thinner, and there's expanded polystyrene foam all through the inner layer to disperse impact. A fluorescent orange would stand out on a snowy hill, and there are options for different weather conditions, too. xsportsprotective.com