Whether you’re a brand new kayaker or you live on the water, it’s important to wear a helmet during your kayaking adventures. If your vessel happens to capsize, a helmet will protect you in the event that you hit your head.
Helmets aren’t one size fits all, so it’s important to try various options before making a purchase. Below are a few tricks of the trade that will ensure you pick up the perfect helmet for you.
A great fit is key. When fastened, your helmet should stay in place and not move around. Make sure you opt for a helmet that is designed for paddlers, and choose one that is certified. Look for helmets with adjustable mechanisms to ensure the perfect fit, and just as importantly, make sure you can see while wearing your helmet.
I recommend trying on helmets in person whenever possible. If your purchase is from a paddling store, even better! Expert advice is always encouraged.
Look for a helmet that offers plenty of protection to the entire head, including the temples and forehead. It should also extend past the ears and the nose. The padding should extend throughout the entire helmet.
While you want the helmet to fit close to the head, avoid options that cause any discomfort. An ill-fitting helmet can suck the fun out of an otherwise fun outing.
Note: When securing the chinstrap, the gap should be no more than two fingers wide.
Your helmet will include a retention system. You’ll want to make sure the straps fit comfortably and are adjustable. Look for webbed systems with at least four anchor points.
You may be tempted to opt for a helmet that’s designed for multi-use. Many helmets do look similar, but there are subtle variations that make a big difference. Because of this, choosing a kayak-specific helmet is essential.
If you’re whitewater kayaking, you’ll need to pick up a whitewater-specific helmet. These helmets are buoyant and are designed to last even when submerged in water.
Kayak helmets are constructed with a strong shell. To test a helmet, try to squeeze it in your hands. It shouldn’t change shape or feel soft.
I recommend purchasing a brand new helmet. While kayak helmets are designed to last, multiple impacts do take a toll on the construction.
Don’t skimp on cost when it comes to kayaking helmets. Prices vary greatly, so be sure to check reviews and do your research before making your ultimate decision.