Why You Should Never Have Headphones On While Skiing or Snowboarding

no headphones when snowboarding

Whether it’s for rhythm on your regular morning run or fun on the slopes, nothing can stop you from keeping up with your favorite music playlist. As crazy as it may sound, skiing provides the best opportunity to go off the grid and probably, one of the best times to get in sync with your tunes. Running the slopes and listening to your favorite tunes sound like a lot of fun, however, using headphones that isolate you from your immediate surroundings and the rest of the world may not be a good idea after all. You need to stay aware all the time and need to hear what’s going on around you, especially when you are out skiing or snowboarding if you want to remain safe at all times.

So does that put you at greater risk of injury?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself this question like a dozen of times, maybe you haven’t, but the bottom line is that ski technology has advanced so much in the last couple of years that it is something that many skiers are now beginning to ask. When talking about ski technology, it is easy to notice that the technology has improved in several ways. Skis are routinely receiving makeovers, jackets and pants are becoming more versatile, and helmets are getting lighter and stronger.

Headphones on While Skiing

“If people want to go out by themselves and put on some classical music and ski in a winter wonderland, we want to give them that opportunity—within reason. We want to reinforce critical safety messages, but at the same time we don’t want to be a bunch of killjoys; there are plenty of people who probably can ski with music in a very controlled manner,” says Dave Byrd, director of risk and regulatory affairs for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).

This is one reason most ski areas don’t prohibit listening to music while out on the slopes. Another reason is that thanks to the modern-day headgear, hats, and high-collar jackets, nabbing earphone users is just too difficult to police. It’s nearly impossible. So instead, skiers are encouraged to follow some “responsibility code” and to have a full and complete awareness of their surroundings at all times.

How dangerous it is?

However, the exact answer to whether it’s dangerous to put earphones on while skiing or snowboarding is still debatable, as different ski groups and skiers of varying ages have different opinions regarding the same. If you ask an experienced skier who is accustomed to the old school ways, you’re likely to get a “no” for an answer if you were to ask if it is safe to fly down a groomer while some crazy song is blaring in your ears. As the same question to a spirited teenager and you will very likely to get mixed response.

Headphones on While Skiing

It’s true that technology has made it increasingly easier for skiers and snowboarders to take their music library with them to the mountain. The popularity of music on the slopes is growing, but the question of safety really depends on what situation a skier/boarder is in.

Listening to music increases the risk of collisions on the slopes, or even worse, because you don’t get to hear someone or something approaching from behind, leaving you completely vulnerable out there on the slopes. They may cut you off, they may ski too close and startle you, or you may take an abrupt turn not realizing someone is behind you. It’s necessary to avoid distraction when you’re skiing on the mountain or hitting down the slopes. You have the power and responsibility to always stay in control, and you must have the knowledge and ability to ride safely.

What the studies showed?

Previous studies have shown that people wearing headphones – or who are distracted because they are talking on a mobile phone – can be affected by “inattentional blindness”, a reduction in attention to external stimuli that has also been dubbed “iPod oblivion”. This can result, for example, in people paying less attention to traffic when crossing the street. Headphone wearers have also been shown to suffer a reduced ability to hear a range of ambient noises. Same goes for headphone wearers on the slopes as well. Personal audio players have migrated their way into the everyday lifestyle of people across the world, including athletes. For skiers, this migration is extremely evident.

Headphones on While Skiing

Ultimately, this raises an additional question, is there such thing as too much technology on the slopes? Skiing is not just about sliding down snow-covered hills on skis; skiing requires your complete focus, concentration, and awareness to protect not just yourself, but other skiers around you. It’s not like the integration of music and smartphone technology on the slopes has made things more dangerous for skiers. However, it is argued that music makes skiing a little dangerous, both for you and your fellow skiers on the slopes. Remember, you need to be totally aware of other skiers and other environmental changes such as an oncoming avalanche and other atmospheric noise to keep you out of harm’s way.


Remember, navigating the slopes can be quite risky with your headphones on. However, music certainly enhances the overall skiing experience, making it more enjoyable on the slopes. Music inspires, motivates, drives, and helps us in ways even we cannot understand. Many people find skiing to be therapeutic and music is something that makes it even better. You need an earphone that will provide you with superior comfort and good quality audio while keeping you aware of your surroundings. You need an earphone that wouldn’t compromise your ear health, especially if you plan on using your earphone continuously as you go skiing all day long.

Headphones on While Skiing

So, if you are using these devices while on the slopes, we advise you ensure you are not dangerously distracted and that you remain aware of what is happening around you. If you try it and you aren’t comfortable, that’s fine. If you try it and you are confident about your safety and those around you, that’s good too. But understand that it is something you should test out before you go blazing down the mountain side.

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