People typically buy kayak helmets based on style. Once upon a time there was only one type of whitewater helmet and it was plastic. The only decision to be made was which color best helped you to express yourself. Those days are over now. Nowadays kayak helmets are made of a variety of different materials with styles that make you feel cool just wearing them. This guide will help you navigate your way through the world of setting out to choose and buy a whitewater kayak helmet.
A kayak helmet contains three main parts. The shell is the hard outer portion of the kayak helmet. The lining refers to the foam inside of the kayak helmet that contacts the head. Lastly the strap system keeps the helmet secured to the paddler’s head.
Whitewater Kayak Helmet Types
While the outer look and style of a kayak helmet might vary, there are only two basic types of helmets. There are full-cut kayak helmets and there are half-cut or above the ear helmets. Full-cut kayak helmets include outer shell ear protection. As the helmet comes down over the ear of a full-cut helmet, by extension it also offers better protection of the temple area of the head. Half-cut helmets don’t cover the ears of the paddler. They are generally more comfortable and looser fitting than full-cut helmets. Half-cut whitewater kayak helmets have become the norm nowadays.
Kayak Helmet Materials
When considering the materials of a whitewater kayak helmet the paddler should first determine the type of shell they want and then find the helmet made from that material with the most comfortable liner. The hardest and strongest whitewater kayak helmet shells are made from carbon fiber, Kevlar, and composite polymers. Plastic helmets are the lowest strength helmets although they are well proven, having been used for decades in whitewater.
Properly Sizing and Putting on a Kayak Helmet
A kayak helmet should fit both securely and comfortably on the kayakers head. It should not be so tight that it hurts or gives the wearer a headache. On the other hand, the kayak helmet should not be so loose that it can be pushed or pulled off of the paddlers head. Basically, the inner liner should be slightly depressed and there should be no gap between the lining and the paddlers head while it is being worn.