Kayak helmets for people with big heads

Folks err on both sides of this
I’ve seen guys wear a full face bike helmet on a Class I run (with only one named rapid) and I’ve seen Class IV guys wear very minimalizt helmets (looks cool).

A safety instructor essentially talked the first guy into getting the best protection he could afford and this guy went all out for running Class I and easy Class II rivers. Needless to say, this didn’t last long – it was just overkill and probably not very comfortable in the warmer months.

Some of the older crowd grew up without wearing helmets in whitewater, so they seem to just wear the minimum they can get by with on Class III+ to Class IV+ creeks. These are typically very experienced paddlers who rarely swim and know when to tuck forward. If you look at their battered helmet closely, about 90% of the scratches are on the back of the helmet – ever grizzled paddlers seem to want to protect their face.

For many of us, comfort and style are important factors. If a helmet fits poorly or looks insane, there will always be that temptation to pull it off (or worse, leave it in the car). This will always happen at the worst time (see Murphy’s Law).

And, in reality most non-full-face helmets do not protect your face and lower brow. Whether you are wearing a $30 cheapo or a $200 composite, if you hang upside down long enough, you will smack a rock with your face and you won’t like it. A quick forward tuck needs to ebcome instinctual no matter what helmet you choose.

So my general take on it is to buy a comfortable helmet that is appropriate for the type of water you intend to paddle. The more risk you take, the more you move toward the full-face style. I will probably buy one if/when I really get into creeking in Class III and III+ runs. I simply don’t think it is necessary for me in Class II and easy Class III.

Shred Ready - Shaggy
I, too, struggled to find a helmet worthy of my sizable cranium. None of the Pro-tec helmets fit.

I finally found the Shaggy, which I assume was intended for hipster WW boaters with ample locks.

I find it fits me quite well.

My melon is a US 7-3/4, with a little more “fore-aft” distance than the average head. I have pads in the temples, but nothing at the front and back.

While the padding is thin, it is a high-density closed cell foam which I hope will spread the impulse over a little longer time.


Why go half way