Pro Tec helmets

I read the archives and there are a bunch of great discussions on helmets. I have a question about the most recent models of Pro Tec helmets. Specifically about the differences between the Ace Water and the Ace Wake and whether the comfort/fit of the Wake is worth the $25 difference in price.

I’m leaning toward the cheaper model mainly because we will almost never wear them outside of winter pool sessions. Of course “almost never” means the helmets will be along on most paddles just in case circumstances warrant putting them on. If the Wake model is alot safer, or way more comfortable, then the extra 25 bucks is not that big of a deal.


Pool Sessions
The inexpensive $40 dollar model from NRS will work fine. Unless you are doing serious nasty whitewater I would think it would be fine too. You will hear lots of other opinions. Mine has hit pool bottom two or three times, hit the bottom of the ocean many times and been hit with a surf board fin once. Still works, no damage except some scratches.

Another reason for the Wake
You have taken in to consideration a couple of good points with price and safety, but you left out the most important thing. LOOKS!

The wake is a much cooler looking helmet. Kidding aside, I took several really hard licks to the noggin this summer on the Nantahala and the Wake performed great.

And, it looks MUCH Cooler than the Ace. If you pony-up the extra $25 you will at least look like you know what you are doing.

Good Luck,


Cool helmets


Why are you wearing a helmet?
That is to say, what do you want the helmet to do? And how many helmets can you afford? I personally do not wear any helmet in pool sessions, whether teaching or practicing. The risk is very, very low. But if you feel you need one, then the cheapest Pro-Tech will do fine. However, do not expect to use it on a river or in surf or touring if you are in conditions among rocks. They are notorious for shifting backward and exposing your forehead (allowing a possibly fatal blow), being split by sharp rocks, and not absorbing enough shock from direct hits. If you do any of these things then you need a quality helmet. In which case you do not need two helmets. Just use your quality helmet in the pool (or take your chances).

Pro-Tec Wake/Ace…

– Last Updated: Nov-29-05 11:03 PM EST –

The Wake is high density ABS with detachable ear pads.
The Ace is polyethylene with cut outs (no padding) for the ears.
The Wake is approximately 25 bucks more than the Ace.

I wear a Wake, and this past Summer I took the hardest shot to my head on a rock that I've ever taken. It barely scratched the finish on the Wake. My head was & is still in good condition.
The rock I took in the small of my back hurt me more, even though my pfd absorded much of the blow.

Prior to buying the Wake, I used the Pro-Tec full-cut "cheapie" for about 5 years. That one has a "lot" of gouges, scratches, scrapes, and dings in it. It is not cracked, not broken, and my forehead & head were never scratched, gouged, scraped, or cut. I have many friends who safely used the same helmet. We are/were all open boaters, and therefore did not "willingly" spend a lot of time upside down, dragging our head across the bottom of whitewater rivers, as some kayakers seem happy to do. Would I buy the old cheapie Pro-Tec now? No, because I think the Wake is a better helmet, and I think it's better than the Ace too.

Ultimately, you decide on what helmet you buy.
It is well that you are attempting to do a little research. One thing for sure; no helmet will protect your head when its hooked up around a canoe thwart, or snapped into the deck bungee on a kayak, because you might need it later.

I believe many of those forehead smashes that occured were because "the helmet was not being worn properly". The same thing has happened with many different brands of helmets, including Pro-Tec. It gets hot & people loosen the strap, and pull the helmet onto the back of their head; still see it all the time.


First, thanks for all the responses.

OK, why…

Well, the pool sessions are really just an excuse to buy a couple of helmets sooner rather than later. I believe wearing helmets is a requirement imposed by the owners of the pool. At any rate Marshall has a large bin of helmets for his students to use so again the pool sessions aren’t my primary concern.

By the time spring arrives my partner and I will be going out on our own. The Hudson River and local lakes and ponds will be the places we paddle most often. My paddling partner (aka spouse) thinks helmets are a waste of money. For 99 percent of the time she is probably right. Explaining the other 1 percent to her in graphic detail would be counterproductive so I’m just gonna buy helmets and tell her when to put it on.

I’m no stranger to the Hudson River. I’ve explored quite a bit of it in small boats. Most of the interesting coves and tidal marshes are only accessible through small inlets bridged by railroad trestles. Depending on the state of the tide these inlets develop mini tidal races. To complicate matters many of those inlets have submerged pilings that can be just under the surface.

That is just one specific circumstance that I think warrants the precaution of a helmet. Submerged pilings are a common hazard all along the Hudson’s shoreline. The shoreline itself is predominately rip-rap. Large granite blocks the size of VW’s. A forced landing in one of these areas in rough conditions would not be pretty.

Anyway, could we get along just fine without helmets? I’m sure we could. I just think for a lousy 40 or even 65 bucks it doesn’t make sense not to have one.


Lower Hudson

– Last Updated: Nov-30-05 11:53 AM EST –

You want to wear a helmet in the pool (and it, almost certainly, will be a requirement for a pool session). This you know.

I paddle the lower Hudson frequently. I have never seen anybody use a helmet! If you plan on deliberately messing around with or near pilings and rocks, a helmet is probably a good idea.

In my opinion, unless you are doing something rather unusual, I don't think you need a helmet for the lower Hudson.

Keep in mind that, unless you are in a dire and unusual situation, you can pick where you land (though, in certain parts of the Hudson, it might take you a while to find a reasonable take out).

Same thing with features
I recently purchased the Wake and I was told by the good people at Protec that the Wake and the Ace are the same helmet…that is to say they are made of the same polyethylene material (the advertising doesn’t mention this). The wake has the removable earpads and a support strap that goes around the back of the head.

Unless you need the ear protection, or are in danger of getting your helmet ripped off your head, you should be ok with the Ace. I only bought the Wake because it was on sale for the same price as the Ace

I wear my protec helmet skateboarding
more than kayaking, and I’ve slammed my noggin in the transition more times than i care to remember, keeping the strap snapped is essential, on a ramp or in the water , keep the strap snapped.