Hey, let’s talk about helmets for sea kayaking. What are folks preferences and recommendations and why? I have to admit- paddling in the SE US, I mostly wear a helmet to protect me from other paddlers because we ain’t got no rocks here. I don’t care about looks so much as I’m gonna stick decals all over it anyway, but am very interested in fit and comfort and overall quality construction to protect my bean in the event of a surf catastrophe (known to happen). Cheers---------K

I use a WRSI helmet
because I like the way it fits.

Gath Gedi-No visor


– Last Updated: Aug-31-08 9:57 PM EST –

For what you are describing.... Gath!
Not the best protection in a whitewater, head vs rock scenario, but for what you describe, it is perfect.

Gath padding/protection is not as robust as WW helmets but they are light-years beyond other helmets in all other design aspects.

My favorite thing about Gath is that they come in 6 actual shell/helmet sizes. Other helmet shells are manufactured in one or two sizes only and then you pad them out to fit your noggin. All that padding allows a helmet to move when put under pressure (just when you least want it to move). With Gath, you buy the helmet that fits your head and it doesn't move. No additional padding required. Accurate fit also equals comfort.

In the surf means being underwater and rolling... a typical WW helmet acts like a big ole salad bowl. Every time you roll up, they dump a bucket of water across your face. Gath has that neoprene gasket across your forehead. That and the proper fit keep it from loading-up with water and dumping it over your head on roll-up.

Gath helmets are close fitting and have no bills to catch waves which can jerk you head around a little.

Gath Sport Hat is great:

I like my shred ready
super scrappy with the hog retention system.

Voz Evolution
Good deal on this helmet at Sierra Trading Post.


I’ve read good reviews elsewhere but as with all helmets it probably depends on the shape of your head. It’s got EPP foam (best for multiple impacts).

I picked one up and it fits me well. The included fit pads are not as versatile as those that come with some other helmets.

Someone clue me in here, as I am relatively new and haven’t paddled hardly at all w/anyone else. Do I need be concerned about wearing a helmet? Are we talking “full contact kayaking”?

I don’t mean any dis-respect, OP, I’m serious!


– Last Updated: Sep-01-08 1:08 AM EST –

You really only need a helmet if you are playing in the surf, rock gardening, caving in your kayak and/or white-water kayaking... any scenario where you might hit your head on a rock (or the bottom) or where your or another boat might get out of control and hit you... moving water.
Flat water... no need.

Helmets - Sea Kayaks ???

Sounds like …Tilley Time to me.

…but what do I know

Paddlin’ on


Full Contact Kayaking …
Yes …


Alas, one Tilley limitation . . .
My Tilley won’t stay on when I wipe out while surfing, which I do a lot at this stage. No fun smacking the bottom, bending the paddle shaft, having the boat going in one direction and the hat going in another while you’re taking a tall drink of salt water.

Lessons learned: (1) SOT harder than surfboard for me at this stage, will wear thigh braces for better control; (2)Continue to use cheap paddle while developing kayak-surfing skills; (3) Do not wear Tilley Hat surfing again - no matter how attached you are to hat; (4) Do continue wearing PFD, because eventually it helps you find which way is up (opposite direction from bottom); (5) Get helmet.

be careful sticking decals to your helmet because the glue may impact and soften the plastic shell over time (depending on what it’s made of, what the decal is made of and how long the twain spend together in the hot sun).

My other hobby is riding horses so I’ve seen a lot of people smash a lot of helmets in a variety of interesting ways over the years. At this point I am too old to have any more concussions so I don’t put stickers on any of mine.

I like the fit, and I’ve had my head pounded in the surf a few times, so far so good…

WRSI Here Too
Fits snugly on my noggin, and it fits in my Romany’s day hatch.

Gath or WRSI
K -

Gath or WRSI seem good, but not every Gath model. I asked the RCO and he recommended the WRSI which I now have and like. It fits very well and is comfortable for all day use.



WRSI Because…
It is easy on the pocketbook while still having the most critical fit feature for use in sea kayaking, to me anyway. It has inserts so it can be adjusted to fit comfortably and securely all day with or without a neo hood, which comes on and off depending on the season. I previously was using Protec helmets, one for summer and one for winter. But I still had a horrid headache by the end of a day because I couldn’t make either fit quite right.

Inserting the strap support piece that secures the helmet so it’ll protect your upper neck vertebrae is a giant pain in the ass in the WRSI. But it’s real secure once it’s in there.

The doesn’t-cause-a-headache part is much more important for me in sea kayaking use than in WW. At my stage of WW, class 2 and an occasional wander into short bits of class 3, the helmet isn’t on all day long without relief because of breaks, shuttle etc. But in sea kayaking the thing goes on in the morning and doesn’t come off again except for a quick lunch break until late afternoon.

I’ve borrowed a Gath for a day and it does the same thing, really really comfy and still totally secure, but for a much higher price tag. ShredReady has some very nice features including optional ear covers, costs between the two and worth a look. One of these also offers a cage that goes in front of the face, there seem to be some strong camps about whether that’s a great idea or a really bad one.

There is some controversy among WW folks about whether the WRSI helmet is strong enough for that environment. That may or may not be the same level of risk to your noggin as working among rocks in a sea kayak depending on the specific location.

the new (I think 2007, but may be 2008) models of the WRSI have an optional ear protector piece which clips in to the helmet. I wear mine with the ear protectors installed.


Stand corrected
I may have that piece too and forgot it was a separate piece, if not will have to check for accessories. Thanks!

try a bunch of different ones
Everyone talks about how comfortable WRSI helmets feel. I have tried them and had reps fit me for them and they still hurt my head an incredible amount.

I admit the last thing that you want to do is price shop when your looking for safety equipment, but the price is right on there helmets and throw bags…