Helmets for surfing

What kind of helmet does everyone recommend for surfing in a kayak?

The first time I thought it might be a good idea to wear one surfing, I just put on my bike helmet, but when I wiped out, it really pulled my head around in the water - I assumed the hydrodynamic qualities of the helmet. I worried about that causing neck injury, so I since switched to one used for skateboarding and rapelling, but the padding on it feels kinda wierd when it gets wet. What does everyone think is the best helmet for surfing?

I should have added cheap!
I don’t want to pay $50 bucks for a helmet. I’m used to wearing hardhats for work, and I always toss mine for a new one every couple years to make sure I’m well within the lifespan of the plastic. I don’t want some beautiful tricked out helmet I will be reluctant to throw away 3 years from now because I spent a pretty penny on it. As long as it meets ANSI standards, it’s good enough for me.

Cheapest Is Protect
The cheapest surf helmet I know is Protect. I have a couple. About $40. It is usually recommnded you get one with ear coverage for surfing.

To avoid burst eardrums?

Prevents Getting Boat Stuck In Ear…
Helmets with ear coverage stay on much better.

The Infamous “Pink Helmet”

– Last Updated: Apr-14-05 7:32 PM EST –


I got four helmets, the most expensive being a $150 composite Lidds. My most often used helmet, a second hand skateboard helmet I bought for $20 bucks for my kid. Since he didn't use it anymore, I ripped out the styrofoam padding and customed fitted minicell foam in place. Reason I like it is that I tend to wear a surf hood in winter or a baseball cap in the summer. Didn't want to destroy my expensive helmets to fit hood/hat. These other helmets are used by kids, wife and guest paddlers (or me if I want to go top naked). The pink helmet actually wraps around but does not cover my ear.


PS. Proves I dont' care what folks think and say about me and my equipment. :) Trust me, I get a lot of comments on the helmet going through white water and surf.

Easy To Spot Sing In The Lineup!
That was how I recognised Sing when we first met at Santa Cruz

I personally use protec but…
(see my profile photo, makes me look like the surfkook that I am.)

You want full converage to protect your head from rocks and keeping your ears attached to your head as well. The hockey helmet look is reputed to be definetly uncool. Check out the latest generation of whitewater helmets that look like 1940s french police hats.

Real kayak surfers use Gath helmets made for surfers,(these are more hydrodynamic) to look cool you have to wear one, they seem to attract really hot women when guys like Coran Addison wear them. I don’t think it would work for me.

Check Out Pro-Tec
I was just checking the Pro-Tec site. I do need a new helmet. Mine is too tight. I have a whitewater helmet that fits better, but no ear protection.

The new models are much cooler looking

Pink = Macho
If I was a “bad guy” (which I’m not) and I happened along on Sing surfing in his pink helmet I wouldn’t mess with him…

…anyone who is secure enough in himself to wear that must be one tough mutha…


I Have The Protect W/ Snap On Ear
protectors. I was not careful in rinsing the helmet after each usage in the salt. The snaps rusted off on the ear pieces. Same thing can happen to most of the helmets with the metal rivets that hold the chin straps in place.

Be conscientious with rinsing after salt water usage.


Thanks for the good advice
I never even thought about ear ptoection. Fortunately, there is pretty much nothing but soft sand under the Galveston surf, but you can’t be too careful.

What is you head worth?
If you got a head injury, could you live with the idea that your saving $20 may be a factor. Maybe so? OTOH the liklihood is small…

This is a helmet that will last. Ugly and effective with crushable foam. Used by the USCG and other serious rescue folks. low cool factor except in the minds of cognoscenti:


Here is a cooler helmet very effective:


Neither is very expensive, both are whitewater and watersports rated, (multiple impact).

The WRSI Helmet Is A Cool One
havent’ seen it on the market yet though.

Best protection for the head… Don’t do anything that threatens it. :slight_smile: I am brain damaged already.


ANSI standards are ANSI standards.

– Last Updated: Apr-14-05 9:14 PM EST –

Unless you are buying a Kevlar helmet, you're paying for better styling and name brand, which I don't care about. MAYBE you'll get scratch resistent coating, better riveting, more durable webbing, giving you a few more years of use on the helmet, which is useless to me because I'll have tossed the helmet two years after buying in the first place.

When you wear protective gear for your job like I do, you learn what is really important, and what is just added on for shop appeal when that gear is modified for recreational uses.

These sound cool. What are the prices on them?

What do you mean by multiple impact? With hardhats, you get a hit and you toss them. Even if it was minor and you can't see any damage.

In surf zone you would buy a lot
of helmets

Plan on getting some impact from time to time when things go wrong. If you only surf 2-3 foot waves, maybe not a problem. I get hit by my boat and paddles quite a bit. Sometimes the bottom, sometimes other kayakers (usually my own son believe it or not.)

On the Texas coast
we have alot of space between surf kayakers, so getting hit by them isn’t a problem, except once I was out with some buddies and one of them got pushed into me after I wiped out and was just standing up. Cracked two ribs. Our waves are pretty small and there’s nothing but soft sand under them, so the chances of a ding are probably a lot smaller than in other parts of the country, but never say never, so I wear a helmet.

does look good. I will be curious to see if it fits “mellon heads” like mine - Sweet helmets sure do not.

If you go to the “helmet recall” section there is a disturbing bit of info regarding Protec helmets. Food for thought.


The latest edition of Whitewater , 2005
gives a rundown on helmets including cascade, prijon, head trip, shred, greatful heads, protec with pros and cons included. The article states, “Cascade provided the most complete coverage. Like Pro -tec, the Cascade is a polyethylene helmet. Impacts are softened by a multiple impact polypropylene liner. … while the cascade helmet provides the most bomber coverage, we found that it was the most spartan in terms of cushiining and outfitting”. The report also goes on about plus and minues of plastic lids saying “the pro tec helmets are made of plastic, and plastic does not provide the stiffest shell” “NRS - the source for Pro Tec - advises that these helmets are intended for lower gradient rivers where coming into contact with a rock at high speed is unlikely” . Protec and Shred were the cheapest. I use a Cascade and have bashed my brain a few too many times. It works for me.

Multiple impact

– Last Updated: Apr-15-05 1:05 AM EST –

If you think about a styrofoam helmet if you take a crunch the foam gets crushed and once crushed abaorbs no more energy. The cascade helmet I wear is crushable but somewhat resilient, so it can take multiple impacts, and absorb some energy on each one. This is a requirement for a helmet to be CE rated for watersports. The idea is that a single incident is likely to provide multiple impacts. I would be more likely to use a non composite helmet for multiple incidents, plastics like lexan or composites are more likely to have undetectable cracks than the polyethelene shell. The main reason for a shell is to distribute impact over a wide surface area of the liner wher the energy can be absorbed. IN the late 70's I had many conversations with kids about the difference between a hockey helmet and a first generation bell styrofoam-lined helmet in a crash. The shell of the hockey hemet might keep the curb from cutting the scalp, but the energy absorbed by the styrofoam instead of a brain could make a difference to one's mental health.

The multiple impact feature might be more important for white water, but If I had not rolled up the last time I messed up partying in that rock garden who knows, there were a lot of rocks about. (Even though I rolled up, it was great to see my buddy doing about 6 knots toward me)