Choosing the right kayak helmet is essential for protecting your head on the river.

The Helmet is one of five essential pieces of kayaking gear

Whitewater kayaking necessitates an investment in 5 essential pieces of paddling gear: boat, paddle, sprayskirt, helmet and pfd (personal flotation device).  When headed out to purchase your gear, or replacement gear, it is important that each piece of gear is sized and fitted specifically to you.  The helmet is hands-down the most important piece of gear to fit properly – and the most complicated.

Fitting a Kayak Helmet is Just Part of Good Customer Service

It takes time to fit a helmet to one’s head.  Much of the job of fitting that helmet should fall on the folks selling you the helmet.  Stop in Endless River Adventures to do a little helmet shopping and you will learn what an emphasis we put on helping you fit that helmet to your noggin.  Why do we take the time?  Because if it does not fit properly, it will not provide the protection you are looking for from a good helmet.  We spend as much time with someone who bought a helmet elsewhere and did not get it fitting properly as we do with someone who buys it from us.

There are a handful of features to consider when deciding what kind of helmet is right for you. Following is a short list on those features to help you navigate the helmet selection/fitting process.

Composite vs ABS Helmet Helmets

One of the first things to decide is whether to go with Composite or ABS for the shell material of a helmet. Composite helmets, usually Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, Kevlar or some combination of, is more impact resistant, less shock absorbing, lighter weight and more expensive. ABS (plastic) helmets have less impact resistance, do a better job of dispersing impact so you don’t feel the hits with as much force as you would composite, are a bit heavier and less expensive.  Note:  Every helmet you will find at Endless River Adventures has been through rigorous testing by the manufacturer.

Which Material is best for you?

Some people ascribe to the theory that if you are paddling whitewater on the lesser end such as class II-III and even some class IV, a plastic helmet may be better because the helmet can take more hits before needing to be replaced, and are more affordable. But that if the paddler is paddling big, fast water, and/or running creeks that composite may be the way to go.

Helmet Design and Coverage

Beyond shell material, you have many choices as to the design of the helmet and about how much coverage the helmet gives you.  Design – part of the choice is which one do you look best in. You’re wearing that helmet every time you go kayaking.  Look good!!  Then there is coverage.  A half cut helmet covers your noggin but not your ears.  Full cuts add ear protection.  Full face helmets have a guard all the way around your jaw.  There is also the “cap” version that looks like a baseball cap and has a visor that provides some additional sun protection.  There are many opinions out there about which coverage is best.  It’s your decision.  In addition, helmets also have different retention systems for stabilizing the helmet on your head.

Some help from ERA Store manager, Braden:

  1. If you take a big hit with your helmet, REPLACE IT. I know it hurts to spend the money, but think of what the doctor bills would have been if you haven’t been wearing it, or if you keep the now compromised helmet and take another hit and the helmet can no longer protect you as it should.
  2. The little “triangle” piece on the straps of your helmet. They are a key part of getting the straps cinched properly. The triangles should not be down by your chin. They should beup near your ears. 
  3. Take care of your helmet!!
    -As with ALL paddling gear wash it periodically with sink the stink.
    -If any part of the helmet is compromised, fix it, or call us and we can help figure out if it is fixable.
    -Dry your helmet completely (away from heat or sun) and store in a cool dry place without anything on top of it.

    FInally, NEVER put your gear bag down in front of or behind the wheels of a parked car. Seriously.  We see it all the time. J

As with every piece of gear we carry in our store here at Endless River Adventures, we stand behind every helmet we carry. I invite you to top in, and let us help to find the helmet that is right for YOU, or help you properly adjust the helmet you already have.

Happy Paddling! Braden, Team ERA