Sea Kayaking Helmet

What are the guidelines for selecting a good kayak surfing helmet. I am looking at the new Bern Watts helmet. Initially I was going with the large which has some looseness but I figured this was good if I wore a skull cap in the winter. Problem is it presses down on my ears which is uncomfortable. The medium is comfortable but snug,definitely no room for a cap.

Other than a bike helmet I have never used one before.

Thanks ahead,


WRSI Helmets are the best value…
About $75 for a multiple impact plastic helmet.

Very adjustable in size, due to 3 sets of various foam, plus shims.

The WW crowd loves them… for a reason.

Loose fitting helmet with visor
Is not something you want in surf.

Prototec makes helmets that work just fine for surfing.

You want the helmet to fit snuggly so it does not move around. If you are paddling out through breaking heavy surf you soon give up on the visor models. I use a Gath Gedi… does not have as much impact protection, but also puts lets stress on your neck and head, keeps your head warm too. Takes a beating …and still is fine.

second the WRSI
it’s my favourite after trying a few. i was able to dial in the best overall fit, and the straps and all the components are very high quality compared to many more expensive helmets. excellent design. sometimes i wish for a larger bill, a la Sweet Strutter for sun and rain, but overall this is likely the wiser choice.

Third the WRSI

– Last Updated: May-11-08 11:22 PM EST –

You'll eventually realize that you need one for colder and one for warmer water and temps (less and more hood), and the WRSI does a great job of handling all of it for a very rational price.

Gath is also great, very comfy, different price tag though. I've had two Protecs, the second with really full and generous cover forehead etc, but the headache I get after a few hours is splitting. My head with a hood and their sizing doesn't seem to line up.

Don’t go Protec
They move around with water action and expose your forehead and are prone to coming off in the surf. The Gath is rock solid.

Cascade Full Coverage

– Last Updated: May-12-08 12:54 AM EST –

I am very happy with my Cascade Helmet.

You definitely want…
…this one:

the astronaut, i love this lid. guy had it on a course, funniest thing you’ve ever seen. bloody expensive though, it’s ridiculous.


– Last Updated: May-12-08 11:17 AM EST –

Gath helmets are popular with BCU Alphas. If you get a Gath, you might have to get a black dry suit ;-)

BTW, Danny Mongno noted that he does not think Gath helmets advisable for ww use. I use my helmet more for ww than I do sea kayaking. So, I'm sticking with my Cascade.

The Gath helmet is not perfect, but in many areas it is far and away more advanced than anything else out there.

The fit is infinitely better than anything else out there. The Gath helmet comes in 6 actual sizes. Other helmets come in one shell size, two at most, and then you stuff it with foam til it fits your head. Too much foam equals a helmet that will not stay put when you need it. With Gath, you buy the helmet/shell that actually fits your head, no added foam required.

I have a small head and most helmets feel like I am wearing a giant salad bowl on my head. The Gath is very streamlined and form fitting. No bills or protrusions to catch water or rocks, etc. The neoprene across the forehead keeps water from draining down your face after you roll back up. The helmet has ear protection and even has open/close ear ports as conditions and preferences dictate.

Clearly, the one disadvantage with the Gath is that it does not offer quite as much impact protection as most other WW helmets due to thinner padding and shell.

aye on Gath
For surf kayaking, in particular, my vote’s for

Gath. Used to have a ProTec, didn’t like it too

much as it was large and ill-fitting, got a

Gath Gedi and love it. If you get the Gedi

convertible or the Surf convertible models, it’s

like getting 3-4 helmets in one!

Also, I don’t believe the price point is very

far off of anything similiar – YMMV.

vote against WRSI
when they first came out a lot of whitewater paddlers i paddle with got them. not a single one still uses them. i’ve seen 2 fairly significant injuries through them. the plastic is just too flimsy. one impact caused a significant gash on the head through the helmet, and another caused a split in the plastic and you could see a round impact point on top of a big lump where a rivet had pushed in hard on his head.

i can vouch for shred ready helmets, and the sweet rocker is a pretty sweet (but expensive) helmet as well.

if you are serious then this is the one

try this instead
i think they discontinued that one. it was a bad first attempt at a full-face. now they have this one instead:

Beware the dark side…
Seriously though, that latest shred ready is very nice looking.

Don’t use in surf …
Serious invitation for neck injury.

In whitewater you need to worry about moving at the speed of water and hitting rocks. In surf you are moving forward and hitting enormous piles of water coming in the opposite direction at 10 -30 mph. You want a helmet that is very hydrodynamic. Bills tend to pull the helmet off backward. A face guard like that would snap your neck if you turn your head.

For Gath helmets in white water check out Corran Addison, of course we all know he wears Gath just for the chicks…

but it looks soooo kewl! NM

not a fan of the visor
I get a lot of spray on it which reduces visibility. And wiping off the salt residue can lead to small scratches which ‘dull’ the view through the visor.

Gath and White Water
"…noted that he does not think Gath helmets advisable for ww use."

There is an argument that Gath Surf hats may not suitable for WW (due to less forhead protection on some models and/or thinner padding and I’m not sure it is thiner than all the competition) this is arguable as there is equal or greater potential for damage in the surf environment these hats are designed for (calculate the impact force of a surf board fin with a wave behind it)and where they seem to do just fine. I think this comment is based on limited experience and not science. IMHO from a real world and probably scientific point of view, if the Gath is not enough then you need a full face motor cycle helmet and that may not do you much good either. If you are worried the Gedi has more forhead coverage, heavier construction etc.

These guys seem to be serious about real safety research and have been for a long time.

Visor, yes it gets spray on it but no more than sun glasses and its way easier to clean, just splash/rinse it. If it does get scratched just buy a new visor for much less than your Oakleys. Also it reduces/negates the need for sunscreen, and thus reduces the chance of sunscreen running in to your eyes and all those other sun/sunscreen related nasties.

“bloody expensive though, it’s ridiculous.”

Expensive? compared to what? a glittery skull cap and a pair of shades, simple arithmetic. Also think durability, I just retired one at 8 years of age, just because 8 years seems a long time but it still apeared in good shape no rusted rivits, broken adjusters, cosmetic blemishes etc.

“Spaceman…funniest thing you’ve ever seen.” Ok not everyone is cool enough pull off the spaceman/fighter pilot look and maybe you prefer a glittery bonnet or the Gothic/grunge look. I choose my personal protection devices from a practical point of view.

Nice to see Gath is finally making inroads into the kayaking market. Might shake up the competition which WRSI seems to have failed to do.