White Water Helmet

Well I’ve got two crossover boats now. One for me and my son. The next thing I need to buy before we hit some water is a helmet. Looking for a good entry level helmet, but will spend what I need to get one that holds up… He has a skate board helmet now that has pads that Velcro on and I didn’t think that would work form him. Any thoughts. We are just starting out and will be on flat and slow moving rivers for now.




– Last Updated: Jan-25-12 1:30 PM EST –


I got my Shred Ready Shaggy from Campmor...it was cheaper than retail. I have used it for one season of whitewater so far and it works fine for me. It was not their cheapest helmet. I just checked and there is a good selection of helmets on Campmor's site. I usually check them and Sierra Trading Post first when looking for gear!
P.S...I'm in a LiquidLogic XP10. :) Go Crossovers!

The fit is first
Fit of WW helmet is way more important than the price, and you don’t need to get carbon fiber to get a good fit. And you will appreciate that fact after the first top-of-head drag on the Lower Yough, or even Maumee.

Most brands will have a slightly different fit. For example, WRSI doesn’t fit me while Shred-Ready does. Go figure.

I’d recommend to try a few helmets. The closest paddler shop to you is, probably, Riverside in Wyandotte Michigan, www.riversidekayak.com

I also suggest you hook up with the “Toledo River Gang”, they. I am quite sure they will have a whole bunch of helmets to try.

Try them on in the shop
For something like a helmet, try to buy from a shop if at all possible, unless you already know the fit of a certain make/model.

The fit is more important than light weight or fancy graphics. You pay a premium for the latter two.

Helmets come with adjustment features, including removable foam pads. Depending on the exact helmet, these may or may not create a good fit. Even then, you won’t know how well it fits until you’ve been wearing it while paddling for a while.

The one I first bought had two pressure points. If I used thinner pads the pressure went away but then the rest of the helmet was too loose. I used it for a while and gave it away, then bought a helmet with a pad system that allowed more fine-tuning. I gambled and mail-ordered it because local shops did not have any in stock. Fortunately, this one turned out to fit well. It is a WRSI, the one with a small brim and solid color in some plastic-like shell. Can’t remember the price but it was under $80.

Thanks Guys. I did just join the Toledo River Gang. Haven’t meet any one there yet. I’ll find some to try on. Good information


No such thing as entry level helmet
Get a good brand of made for WW helmet that fits you. I can show you my first helmet, which has long been retired. Bangs, dings, and scratches all over it. You will hit your head. How much is your head worth?

Fit First
I want to second (or third) the note that fit is most important. It should provide protection for crucial areas and not slide around. It also needs to be comfortable. You are going to be in the helmet for long periods of time.

It should be a helmet intended for water-sports.

It does not have to be particularly expensive, but it must be a good helmet. It is your head after all…

When you need a helmet
The general rule is that you wear a helmet in Class II whitewater and any time you are using a skirt. Though I might take a helmet off in long pools between rapids.

If you think you are going to do a lot of whitewater in the future, so ahead and spend $80 to $200 on a nice, comfy whitewater helmet. If you are not likely to move to Class II and beyond, the cheaper helmets are probably okay – just not that much risk in a big crossover boat on Class I rivers.

Try it on beforehand if at all possible…

Fourth(ing) on the Fit
Fit is the most important and, like jeans, it will vary from maker to maker. This is why people are stressing try before you buy.

I can’t wear ProTec helmets as they give me headaches. I also needed a bigger size in Gath than I had in my Shred-Ready Vixen. I also tried on all these helmets before I bought them, although I didn’t realize that the ProTec would be a pain until after a few hours of paddling.

No, you don’t have to spend almost $200 for a SweetStrutter, my personal favorite for rockin’ and rollin’(I wear a Gath for WW), but you need to try on as many helmets as possible before you fork over the bucks for a necessary piece of protective equipment.

Get something light

– Last Updated: Jan-25-12 6:26 PM EST –

I have 2 helmets, and even though I like the features on one of them better, I usually wear the other one as it is about 1/2 the weight! Both are cheap plastic ones but they stay put well enough for my needs. The one with the "sun-shade" probably offers a bit more protection for my face as well as actual sun-shade; it also has some plastic structure that offers a more secure fit at the back of the head so it won't slide-up your head if you hit something harder. Still - I wear the other one as it is more comfortable and lighter, even realizing that it offers a bit less protection...

If I had to buy again, I'd get something with the fit of my better fitting helmet but with the weight of my light one or even lighter... But for now these to work well enough for my "mild" white water use...

Fit is the problem
Fit is most important but problems don’t show up until the helmet is worn for several hours. Most helmets will feel OK trying them on in a store for a minute or two. Buying a helmet that feels good in the store doesn’t mean it will still feel fine after prolonged use. I don’t have the answer but think trying helmets with small, medium and large pads is a good idea.

White Water Helmet
I prefer the Gath helmets as they’re really affordable, have full head coverage (ears included), are light yet tough, and have several styles, some quite innovative to choose from. check out murrays.com

I must be either a better or a luckier
paddler than others, because I’ve worn a Protec for most of my 35 years of whitewater. For most of that time I had no choice, as Protec was the only helmet that fit my fat head.

I just have not hit my head very often. When I have, the Protec was good enough.

Sweets are too narrow, I haven’t had a chance to try on a Gath, but I now have a Shred Reddy T-dub that just barely fits. It will ward off penetration better than my Protec, but I don’t think it will keep me conscious any better.

Protec has a new design with a better liner and better skull positioning. But it’s too small for me.

Anyone else needing an “entry level” helmet might try one, but only if you’re as competent or lucky as I am.

Maybe, in terms of actual frequency and seriousness of incidents, we’re making too much of the helmet issue?

It depends on what you’re doing
If you run Class I and easy II in a big wide crossover, you just aren’t likely to be upside down much.

If you run II-II in a little playboat and really play, you need a helmet that has some decent protection. Even if you have a good roll, you’re going to find a rock occasionally and sometimes it sounds like “smack!”. If you know what you’re doing, most of those scratches and dings will be at the back of the helmet because you’ll be tucked forward protecting your face.

In creeky class III/IV, a full face isn’t a bad idea.

problems don’t show up until the helmet
“…problems don’t show up until the helmet is worn for several hours.”

How very true. My first helmet felt fine in the store, but after time on the river it was extremely painful. It is now a loaner. My second helmet is comfortable all day but is not as custom fitting as my third helmet. I usually bring a spare helmet and often end up loaning which ever one I’m not wearing. Many I know keep a spare. The best is if you can borrow helmets until you find one that is comfortable to wear for hours.

How deep is your water?
Where I go with the WW boat is often very shallow and always rocky. My helmet shows the scrapes, and so does my boat. I see a lot of scratched helmets around.

My ww helmet saved my life
I tried to do a roll in shallow water and smashed my head. I also wore it for blackburn and 70 miler in case I smack my head on rocks or ccement dock. They also stay on when you duck under limbs. And when worn with a visor, they do not blow off. I never wear the helmet because I mainly do flatwater. Dressing warm enough to swim is a bigger priority.

It is wonderful that you and your son enjoy the water. I am not sure you need a helmet for crossover but it is your choice. Enjoy

When it come to your head . . .

– Last Updated: Jan-28-12 1:00 AM EST –

you don't want to take the cheap route. I use a Shred ready, even though I have not paddled over Class III - and am glad of it, after spilling in shallow, rocky, Class II and bouncing around on my head for quite a distance. This helmet is designed for complete protection all-around - check out the story behind its design before you make your decision on a helmet.

Many runs on the middle Ocoee,
playing here and there. But most helmet strikes were on unfamiliar western rivers like the upper Dolores.

One factor is that for most of my ww career, I was paddling c-1, where after an initial moment of hanging downward, my head and body would swing out to one side in anticipation of rolling. There is less head risk in c-1s.

See above. Nothing that deep about
the Dolores below Rico, the Taylor, the Blue below Green Reservoir, etc. But c-1 paddling probably does not expose the head as much.