Helmet recommendations for surf landings

and launchings would be greatly appreciated. I have searched the archives and didn’t find an answer specific to what I need, so thought I would post my question…

I am not one to enjoy playing in the surf, and I don’t paddle whitewater, but I do tour in the ocean, and would like to have my own helmet for landing and launching through surf. I have a small head (21 1/2 inches), so fit with rentals during classes and tours is often less than ideal. I know I want a full coverage model, and a liner. My local paddling group gave a thumbs up to the cascade line, and I see that the less expensive ProTec also seems to have many happy users, although the reeviews here on pnet are not good. I prefer not to spend more money than I need to meet my needs, but if one product is truly superior, and I will rely on it to protect my head, I am able to spend whatever it costs to buy a quality product. What do you guys think?

If you paddle with me, I will use this helmet for roll and surf landing/launching practices, and the occ. local landing/launching when conditions are good. If conditions aren’t good, I plan to high tail it back to the harbor before exiting my boat:)



Crushable foam VS minicell

– Last Updated: Aug-27-04 2:15 PM EST –

The crushable foam actually absorbs energy by sacrificing its structure. The foam in the cascade is both a tiny bit resilient like minicell, and crushable, like the foam in your bike helmet. This gives it multiple impact resistance.

Minicell absorbs but redistributes energy (over space and a very short period of time) by compression and re-expansion. Its structure does not absorb energy.

Knowing this I choose cascade. Ugly, bit it offers the best protection at a reasonable price. Is there a reason that the coast guard uses cascade and not pro tec. Yes there is!

Others prefer other helmets.

I have the basic full-coverage Pro-tec, and have no complaints. I did add a bit of foam to custommize the fit. The Cascade I tried recently also looked decent but didn’t fit my head shape as well. I’d think either would be fine for your use.

I found that adding a visor(Salamander makes one that velcros on) made me more likely to wear my helmet, and I often wear it now when I go out solo to play in rough water in the touring boat. It’s part of my extra layer of safety precautions for paddling alone.

Go To A Shop

– Last Updated: Aug-27-04 3:06 PM EST –

and try different ones. Whichever fits you best is likely to be worn and then disappear into the background, as it should.

I've surfed with several folks that don't use helmets. That's their choice and I don't make anything of it, though I won't do go without. What you get when you wear one is one more layer of protection when your skills fail from keeping you upright.

Frankly, I said this in another thread, my self modified pink skateboard helmet has taken alot of thumps in the past several years, and some major ones at that. When I came out to Santa Cruz, that's that's the one I packed and the other helmets stayed home. I am still around and the pink helmet goes on my head whenever I hit ww or surf. It's a comfortable partnership and I dont' need to think more about it. Can't say anymore than that.


i like my cascade and
the added face guard for white water and surf kayak use.

Pro Tec
is what I have been using for the last 3 years, with no complaints. Cheap, comfortable, durable. I use mine year round for surfing (about 2 times a week), sometimes around rocks. In my opinion, you are making a wise choice to require full head protection (ears included). Make sure you get one that fits well, whatever the brand.


Pro-tec work just fine.

– Last Updated: Aug-27-04 7:49 PM EST –

It seems like their later models have a problem with the slider buckle, it can come off if you don't pay attention to it. I lost one and they replaced it in about 24 hours when I sent them an email. You can gey these for about $35 bucks and they work just as well as more expensive helmets. Go with the full coverage models. I can certify that the helmets will protect your head and neck in all sorts of collisions. (Testimony of clutz kayak surfer.) You might also want to look into buying a neoprene helmet liner for winter paddling.
NRS is a good way to get a decent helmet for cheap.

Of course if you want to spend money the only way to look cool in Kalifornia... you have to buy a Gath surf helmet.

I know you have no interest in surfing but I bet if you get a helmet within a year you are going to be ripping it up in the surf .... the slippery slope of addictive habits First its a helmet .... then it will be a surfing lessons ...

Check the screws and/or rivets often.
While attending a guiding class this year, we were all alerted to the fact that the screws and/or rivets that almost all of the helmets use rust in salt water.

It’s an easy situation to fix when you see them starting to rust, just replace them with stainless steel pop rivets or nutsw and bolts. Our instructor related an incident where his helmet just came apart from the rust.

Almost all of us found that are helmets have rusting fasteners that needed to be replaced.


Not much chance of that Val!
I don’t even like landing in dinky surf, now that I am paddling a sink! I find it way more stressful. I hope to be competant for the conditions I might find myself in, but as much as I love long paddles in the ocean, I don’t like big waves-only really little ones!

Thanks for the tip.

I just got a Shred Ready Shredder…
… largely because the Cascade - which I thought I wanted - was a terrible fit for me. It was so uncomfortable that I knew I wouldn’t wear it regularly. Keith at CCK has an entire treatise he wrote a few years ago regarding helmets (which is too lengthy for me to type out one handed!). I’ll try to call you tomorrow if you’d like and share some thoughts.

I also believe there was a helmet post here on P.net not too long ago.

Get a comfortable one, but make sure it’s a good one also!


Good Tip
I replaced a rivet already in my Protech. The salt does a number if you don’t rinse out the helmet.

Grab the helmet, grab the strap and give several good tugs. A rusted rivet will just pop off. A blind rivet replacement kit will cost you around $7-10 in some hardware stores. This includes rivet attachment tool and spare rivets. You’ll need 1/4" or 3/8" rivets, depending on your helmet, and some small washers. the washers are used against the helmet strap to prevent the rivet from coming out, or pulling through the strap.



Check out USK
for a technique to practice side surfing in flat water. This was also published in Seakayaker a few years ago.

I found that if you get pro active and intentionally broach before the wave hits you that it is much easier to land upright without any of that panicky feeling.

Wayne’s technique for using a sling to help learn how to side surf really works - give it ia try and your confidence level will go way up.


Hi Glenn,
I read the helmet treatise posted on the WSK archives, but just purchased the full coverage Protec in small, because it fit great and was on sale at REI:) )I stopped by on my way home from work, as there’s a big Lanor Day sale in prgress)

Truthfully, I don’t expect to be in the surf much. I just need something for safety, for the occ. landing and launching through small surf while touring. I am the person who has always worn her seatbelt, even on very short drives! If I have a personality transplant and decide I like paddling in rock gardens and surf kayaking, I will re-visit the cascade helmets.

Hope you are feeling better. If your recent injury has nixed your Mendocino plans, give some thought to heading to Lake Natoma, and we’ll feed you while you sit in the sun, or float on the water:)

Thanks to everyone for their advice and feedback.


REI !!
this November is moving to a shopping center 3/4 of a mile from my house, on the way to Beacon’s Beach … I guess some forms of crass commercialization are not so bad.

I don’t really think of REI
as crass commercialism since it’s a co-op, and I am a member:) It’s the only place I will buy athletic/sports shoes since I have a foot problem, and I am free to bring back what doesn’t work, no questions asked.

Live in Encinitas, huh?
That will be a nice store.

Yup looks like it will be cool.
In Colorado I used to spend way too much at REI.

At the company I worked at we used to joke that they should just send part of all our pay-checks to REI as direct deposit since everybody there was into some form of outdoor activities.