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 like fins, antennae and ears. There are lightning bolts, zebra stripes and a Mohawk trim. A new toddler Miniz version of the lineup was added this spring, and in May the Raskullz line adds additional 3-D animal attachments like raccoon tails and feathers. www.raskullz.com
Helmet Zoo makes colorful, elasticized fleece helmet covers on themes like 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, and are cleanable. www.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 like green, white, red, black and orange branded with a logo.www.altrec.com