What's the difference between helmets?

Whitewater versus skate/rollerblade type helmets that are easier to find? Any reason not to just buy one of those locally?


Big differences between WW helmets
Most WW helmets do not sit securely enough. Hitting a rock or just current can move them on your head (even if they fit properly) exposing your forehead to potentially fatal blows. The outer shells differ in how much protection they offer and the inner lining varies a lot in how much impact they cushion. That being the case, why would you take a chance on a helmet that is not even designed for WW?

Absolutely not the same
I bike, sometimes anyway, and have a good helmet. But for WW you need more coverage to be safe than in most of those other helmets, over the ears as well as down the back of the head to the top of the neck, they have to handle harsher impacts on a regular basis and the fit needs to be very adjustable because they may have to go over things like hoods or not depending on the temperature.

Anything is better than nothing

– Last Updated: Aug-27-08 9:35 AM EST –

If your choice is a bycycle/skate helmet vs. nothing then that's what you should do.
Others have mentioned coverage and fit, important in any helmet IMO. Another difference is that whitewater helmets are designed to take multiple hits. The liner does not crush permanantly. It rebounds. Bicycle helmets are designed to take one hit. The liner crushes and you must replace it. You aren't likely to bounce down the road on your head so one hit is OK there. Miss your roll and you may well take multiple hard hits while under your boat.
Any helmet that's taken one or more hard hits should be replaced.
Personaly I like my full coverage Cascade with the face guard. http://store.noc.com/store/23429
The rocks seem to like my face! The Cascades are also sold as Lacross helmets. I've seen them in many sporting goods stores that don't carry whitewater gear.
I have used a skateboard helmet in a pinch. I'd do it again if it was that or not paddle. YMMV


for me it was a question of fit
like Tommy said, anything is better than nothing

ww helmets
if you are paddling class III and up, i really recommend a high end ww helmet. for use in class II or easy III, the speeds are lower and a protec type helmet should be fine.

personally, i like the offerings from Shred Ready and the Sweet Rocker.

Hockey helmets with the closed cell foam used to be quite popular…would be better than bike helmets, not as good as a well designed properly fitting WW helmet though.

Hi End Whitewater helmets

– Last Updated: Aug-27-08 2:01 PM EST –

There is a lot of hype concerning how good the helmets are. I would buy one that fits snuggly and does not move around on your head and is designed for water sports. The recent Protec and Cascade helmets work fine. I have seen high end whitewater helmets with bills or visors ripped back and off the head by heavy surf, not very pleasant. So price does not determine performance. I use a Gath Gedi helmet that is streamlined for surfing, but I would not use it for whitewater. I can't remember the brad of the helmet designed by the guy whose son was killed many years ago wearing a poor fitting old protec, however I did see one of these fall apart, so I am not convinced about the quality and protection.

is who you are talking about.


i have one, its okay.

Full helmet
Bike helmets take ventilation and air resistence into consideration where ww lids don’t make concessions. I don’t know about the other types.

Bike helmets are designed for a heads up position with not much coverage on the nape. Some ww helmets give full coverage which is good since you’re likely you go into a tuck when you tank.

I agree that something is better than nothing.

Thanks everyone.
I wasn’t really referring to a bike helmet, more like the hockey type helmets. But I see the difference between those and WW helmets now. 'Appreciate the info.