Kayak helmets for people with big heads

This is kind of funny to have to admit, but my noggin is big! I think my head measures somewhere around 24 1/2 inches which puts me in the 7 3/4 hat size range.

I’ve noticed than most manufacturers list their helmets to fit up to around 23 1/2 inches if I’m lucky. I did try on a NRS universal and it fit well in all areas except it pressed tight right above my ears. And from years of wearing motorcycle helmets I know that pressure spot will be searing pain within an hour…

Anyway, anyone else had any experience shopping for a large helmet and what did you find out?


A football helmet. Those linemen have huge heads.

Ryan L.

I ended up with a Pro-Tec model.My head is 23.5", it was the cheapest helmet in the ProTec line they had that fit the best. All the other brands /models seemed too short front to back and too wide. I must have tried on a dozen diff helmets.

Seems WW helmets are made for long narrow skulls. I agree w/radio…it doesn’t have to be a kayaking helmet, any good solid helmet will do. Lacrosse, skiing, football, bicycle, whatever works , fits , is comfortable, and has good drainage/ventilation. IF you plan on playing in cold water , leave room for a cap underneath the helmet for warmth.

from other sports…I never thought of that! I guess I can head to the Sports Authority or somewhere and try a few things out. good thinking.

Gath Helmets
Take a look at Gath Helmets. There are a few dealers that stock them. Not knowing where you are, hard to make a recommendation. Take a look online at www.murrays.com


Two Face
I think it’s a ProTec, search for TwoFace Helmet.

Jim. 7 3/4"

Nix on the Pro-Tec

– Last Updated: Aug-21-11 10:36 PM EST –

I know lots of people use them because they are comparatively inexpensive but they are dangerous. The primary risk comes from the helmet moving back off the forehead in current and exposing your forehead to possibly fatal injury. There are better helmets out there. Don't choose one on the basis of size alone.

The Gath Gedi will fit you and is very safe. I have one and it sits solidly in place and will absorb strong, sharp blows.

Dangerous advice
Only use a helmet made for kayaking. “Any helmet will do” is terrible advice. If you value your head and your life get a helmet designed for the conditions you will actually face.


– Last Updated: Aug-21-11 10:57 PM EST –

For the OP, note that American size 7-3/4" corresponds to European size 62 cm (actual head circumference in cm). The Gath Gedi XXL, size 610-620 mm should fit. Also note that for UK products, English hat sizing is slightly different, and you would be size 7-5/8", not sure why it's different, but it is.

PS there are a number of very nice Stetson hats in your size - Carl (also 7-3/4)

No problem
I have used the Two Face in Class II and Class III whitewater and as long as I properly adjust the chin strap, it doesn’t have any issue riding back. Lots of bumps and scratches with it, but then again I have learned to tuck quickly in shallow spots and that seems to make more of a difference than which helmet (unless you go with a fill face).

And the Two Face isn’t their cheapest helmet. I think it runs $80 or so. The helmets mentioned above may be better, but they appear to use the same materials.

If you really want to protect your hear, a composite or a huge full face are the ultimate in safety, but I kinda doubt I’d wear the full face very much and the $250 composites are still on my wish list…

Bern xxl finally fit me

And I do agree
I do agree that you ought to try to find a helmet for water sports. It will likely be more comfortable, drain better, and hold up better. Many other helmets are designed for harder impacts, but that often means they are bulkier. Some won’t have adequate drain holes and some may not hold up to constant immersion in water.

Pro-Tec Ace Wake Water Helmet
My Pro-Tec Ace Wake Water Helmet provides forehead protection with good stabilization:


My other helmet is a Cascade Water Rescue Helmet. There is a face cage available for this helmet.


The XL in each fits my largish head.

Doc, do you really think his Protec was
designed specifically for kayaking?!?

And do you really think that the canoe/kayak helmet industry has arrived at a shared understanding of what a helmet should do? Similar to the shared understanding operative in the motorcycle industry?

I assure you, they have not.

Because of my prominent horns, I have had to use Protecs for several decades. But I know that I could go out and find lots of hockey, lacrosse, snowboarding, etc., helmets that would actually exceed the Protec’s ability to absorb a big hit.

I just bought a Shred Ready t-dub that just barely fits. It has a great shell, but the liner is thin and stiff, and I can imagine many big hits that would stun me unconscious so that I was unable to self rescue. I like the Sweet liners better, but they don’t fit. Gath I haven’t seen in the flesh.

So, facing high end helmets of questionable capability, and low end helmets that almost certainly can’t handle a major blow, what is one to do? If one hasn’t got much money, the hockey helmets may have some basic protection to offer.

Great site!
And I am in CA, so I’ll check out their Gath helmets for sure. Thanks!

second the Gath suggestion
I have a Gath Gedi, and it’s the only helmet I’ve tried that didn’t feel too tight front-to-back. This one fits perfectly. I got a Large, but there are 2 sizes above that (XL, and XXL). Not the cheapest helmet, but really comfortable and light.


just so we’re clear…
I was kidding about a football helmet. I thought the linemen head joke would make that clear.

Ryan L.

helmets …
I did not mean to imply that one has to buy the cheapest helmet that fits. It just turned out , for me , the only helmet that DID FIT the best , just happened to be the cheapest one the dealer had on hand. Given that the ProTec model i bought has a 4-point anchor system, I’m not to worried at this time of it sliding backwards at a crucial moment. And I see nothing wrong with using helmets meant for other sports for water sport activities. If anyone knows of a study that shows other sport helmets are totally inadequate for marine use…please post the link.

the helmet is a ProTec Ace model

As far as I can tell, all these watersports helmets pass the same testing criterion. It is CE EN-1385. Whether it’s the $25 close-out Protec or the Multi-hundreds Carbon fiber full-face.

I’ve read that there needs to be better testing criterion developed, so that the better helmets can show they are better than the cheapies, and us consumers have more detailed and impartial info upon which to base a decision.

Without a better test criterion certified by trusted independent agencies, it’s hard for me to view a lot of the discussion about which is better as much more than speculation.