Surf Helmet Advice

Looking to buy a helmet for surfing on the Great Lakes. Something in the sub-$100 range, and will not be used for whitewater or rocks.

Got any suggestions on what to look for? Shell materials, padding, strap outfitting? Full-cut vs. ball-cap style? Visor?

It was common knowledge when I rode motorcycles that one should replace any helmet that got even a slight konk, as the inner foam would compress only once. Kayaks move a lot slower (usually), but does this hold true for surf helmets too?


shred ready shensu
On sale

“All along we’ve been wearing our Shred Ready Shensu helmets proudly. The Shensu is a great helmet for the surf, it creates little drag when getting wiped out, and provides ample protection from reefs, rocks, beach break, and hitting your head on your paddle and or boat.”


For what it is worth…

– Last Updated: Jan-08-08 12:27 AM EST –

For the amount of money you want to spend go to NRS catalog or webpage and buy any of the protec helmets. For best protection buy a full coverage helmet.

A lot of people will now post about how poorly these helmets protect your head, but they are basing this on old models of helmets. The new ones work fine and take multiple impacts with no problem. I wore one for 3 years and took several poundings in heavy surf, boat collisions, getting pounded into a jetty. Worked fine.

Cascade makes good helmets. For surfing you want a hydrodynamic helmet with out the bills and visors etc. Your neck will thank you for it when you have to punch through those heavy breakers.

I currently use a Gath Gedi, but that is out of your price range, very light, warm and comfortable, and very little drag when punching through or getting worked.

yeah right :slight_smile:

– Last Updated: Jan-08-08 1:38 AM EST –

"I wore one for 3 years and took several poundings in heavy surf, boat collisions, getting pounded into a jetty"

No wonder you write all those strange nonsensical comments on this board ;) j/k

Actually, I am not a huge fan of Protec's. They are okay helmets ...have the new ace ...and yes it protects you ...but I hit my head playboating a lot. I tried a friends Shred Ready and when I took hits ...I barely felt em ....but with the Ace ... I felt em for sure! Its more the impact stuff on the inside that helps slow things down than just the fancy Kevlar on the outside. Plus Shred ready helmets on sale/closeout are pretty reasonable.

Seadart, when you coming out to Denver so I can take you out to Golden to get a beating with me ;)


I use a Protec
full cut helmet without a visor for my surfing on Lake Superior. The full cut gives me maximum protection and I didn’t get a visor because most of the surfing is done during poor weather conditions.

I’ve been using
aa WRSI helmet that I used to replace my older ProTec model.

This one feels more comfortable to me and like most ww helmets is designed to take multiple hits.

Thanks for all the user input! Hard to know what I’m looking at on the 'net.

Looks like Shred Ready is introducing a new helmet next month, called the Standard. Available in three different cuts, and featuring multi-impact EPP foam, it lists for only $69-99.

Oddly, it seems their only other full-coverage model without a bill is the AHM 5000, at $55, and which appears to use cheaper foam (and has all the style of a rental helmet).

Actually, the Gath Gedi mentioned by Seadart is also available in a Surf model, and is only $99–still in my range.

Canoecopia is coming up in a few weeks, so I hope to try a few helmets there.

Thanks again!

Don’t Know Your Head Size
but SEDA has stopped making their glass helmet. Too bad… I like mine a lot after two years of hard usage. No (duck)bill (to get torgued around) but full coverage. Mine is slightly bigger to accommodate a goretex baseball cap in the warmer temps and a surf hood w/visor in colder temps.

They still have some small and medium for $30.


Asaad, the Shred is a great helmet but
the dial up tension widget in the back rusts in continued exposure to salt water. If the poster only needs it for surf I’d likely get something without that as the maintenence of that component might be a pain in the neck.


I’ll be in boulder next week…
Thinking boulder creek is a bit icy for my taste right now.

Gath Helmets - ? Impact Protection
Be advised that the Gath Helmets probably do not have the same impact protection of heavier bulkier helmets. If you are surfing in common conditions should be fine.

Defnintely want good ear protection.

– Last Updated: Jan-09-08 11:59 AM EST –

You are right, you really should replace ANY helmet after an impact, but most kayakers have decided they know better. If you decide you don't want to purchase a new helmet every time you take a hit, at least assess the hit before deciding it's okay to keep using the helmet. Did you really feel the hit through the helmet? Inspect the helmet. If it has scratches in the spot where it hit (more than just reasonable abrasion of the plastic), andy sign of indentation, or especially if there is any small cracking, replace the helmet.

Also, the plastic on helmets doesn't last forever, should ideally be replaced about every 5 years. Same as PFDs - they break down and lose their efficacy over time. Unless you don't have a problem throwing away $90+ every 5 years, or $100+ helmets away every 5 years, it's a good reason to avoid the high-end gear. As long as the helmet is meeting all the appropriate ANSI standards, and the PFD is USCG approved, there are a lot of reasonably priced items out there. For the helmet, I would caution you to get one designed specifically for paddling, but fortunately for PFDs you can forego the sometimes ridiculus "kayak chic" markup on paddling gear, and buy a comfortable type III designed for fishing or waterskiing for $30-40 instead of a "kayaking" PFD for $90.

You’re right, assad
"Its more the impact stuff on the inside that helps slow things down than just the fancy Kevlar on the outside"

With any helmet or hardhat, it is the suspension webbing or foam inside that is really doing the protection, not the shiny shell on the outside. The purpose of the shell is to provide protection for the suspension or cusioning, and penetration protection.

i use a $40 helmet
one of those plastic jobs, padded on the inside, with the the holes in the helmet to let water drain out. It comes down over my ears–doesn’t look as cool at the more expensive ones, but the protection has saved me several times from getting hit in the head with a boat, but even more for when i bounce my head of the bottom. Don’t see a reason to get a more expensive one, except for the cool factor. you’ve seen them–it’s the kind of helmet disabled kids wear. Kayak shops, some, carry them for about $40. The more expensive ones, i’ve noticed, don’t come down and cover the ears, and the very lowest part of the skull, where it meets the neck in back. so, i’ll keep my $40 helmet.

Beyond impact protection
It is vital that a helmet not move at all on your head. Very few helmets can meet this criteria. Most (including ProTec) are easily moved back off your forehead exposing your head to potentially deadly impact. Surf is especially bad for moving and removing helmets. One helmet that I know from experience stays put is the Gath.

I don’t think salt is a problem
surfing in the Great Lakes…