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On safe headgear


bob budd

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He would have survived if his helmet had stayed in place, but it slipped backward and exposed his forehead. He sustained a fatal blow to the center of his forehead."

That wasn't because of a design flaw in the helmet. Either the chin strap was too loose, or, as I see many whitewater paddlers do, he wore a baseball cap or visor inside the helmet. When you are flipped upside down in turbulent water, the visor will scoop water and pull the helmet backward off your forehead.

I had just glued a visor inside my helmet before a whitewater trip to the Deerfield this summer. I flipped just above Zoar Gap, my helmet was pulled back and I hit my forehead on a rock. I was lucky enough not to sustain a serious injury and was able to roll up before hitting the Gap, but I had an instant goose egg bump on my forehead.

Needless to say, I tore the visor out of the helmet that day.

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"Actually, I have never read any of the comments good or bad on the bulletin boards of any type, anywhere. Getting this thing done has taken all of my energy and time. I don't have a vendetta against Protec, but surely, some of the senders of at least 100 emails I have received about the "Poortec" (name borrowed, not coined by me) must have one, especially the ones with blood streaming down their faces. To me, it's all about preventing other families from having to go through what my family has for the last 7 years. Certainly, if my son was killed using the full cut helmet they sell, others must have suffered the same fate, but I have not heard from them!!!

Honestly, I have never posted on a bulletin, and invite you to do as you wish with this comment, private or public. Still, the "proof is in the pudding" so I will say no more until you guys have these helmets and give us your honest opinions about them. First shipment arrives in the U.S. next week.

Safe Boating,

gil"

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There is so much variation in paddler's head and facial dimensions for any one helmet to fit everyone perfectly. It's up to every paddler to find a helmet that fits well enough to stay in position. It's also up to the paddler to adjust and wear the helmet correctly. No manufacturer can be held responsible for someone not fitting, adjusting or wearing a helmet correctly. While there are definitely differences in protection among helmets, a well fitted low-end helmet may provide better protection than the best helmet on the market that's not fitted or worn correctly.

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See the recall info on the foundation's website:

http://www.whitewaterhelmet.com/helmet_recall.html

Seems that the Protec's design with one strap attaching the helmet would be at a disadvantage in preventing rolling (fore and aft) on the head.

Hadn't thought of the disadvantage of a visor in ripping the helmet off the forehead. Sea kayakers rolled in surf, rock gardens or currents may experience the same forces. Something to think about.

Also, the EVA foam liner rather then hard foam may withstand repeated impacts better: literature with most hard foam liners (e.g. bicycle helmets) suggests you replace the helmet after an accident.

Speaking of bike helmets, many if not the majority of bike helmets are probably not fitted properly. It breaks my heart to see young kids wearing helmets with loose straps as the helmet is essentially useless.

What is really needed is objective testing by an independent entity to find out what designs give what kinds of protection.

Scott

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>See the recall info on the foundation's website:

>http://www.whitewaterhelmet.com/helmet_recall.html

This is the personal vendetta I spoke of. It's a one-man campaign. It reminds me too much of Tim Ingram's crusade to have sponsons on all kayaks.

>Seems that the Protec's design with one strap attaching the

>helmet would be at a disadvantage in preventing rolling

>(fore and aft) on the head.

That would vary from one person to the next, depending on their head and facial structure. For some, it may not work, for others, it may work perfectly. The downside is that it lacks adjustability, but that's where proper fitting comes in. If it doesn't fit, don't buy it. A helmet with a multi-strap system won't work any better if it's not fitted and adjusted correctly. When I recently purchased a new cycling helmet, I must have tried 20 different model/size combination to find the right fit and spent nearly an hour fine-tuning the strap adjustments.

Paddlers also have the additional consideration of being able to fit a hood under the helmet for use in cold water. The result is either a helmet that's too tight with a hood under it or too loose without one, unless you're willing to buy and carry two helmets. Hoods with visors may create a problem, too. I haven't seen any paddling helmets that have quickly adjustable fitting systems like most current model bike helmets do. These systems make it easy to adjust the helmet to accommodate a hat or headband underneath without compromising safety. Are there any paddling helmets on the market like that?

>Hadn't thought of the disadvantage of a visor in ripping the

>helmet off the forehead. Sea kayakers rolled in surf, rock

>gardens or currents may experience the same forces.

>Something to think about.

That is a good point. It also makes you wonder about helmets with built-in visors, ironically, like the WRSI helmet Gil Turner is selling. Notice that all the "fire hose" testing touted in the Johns Hopkins article was done on a prototype that didn't have a visor. Hmmm.

>Also, the EVA foam liner rather then hard foam may withstand

>repeated impacts better: literature with most hard foam

>liners (e.g. bicycle helmets) suggests you replace the

>helmet after an accident.

Bike helmets are a one-use item with a crushable liner, like motorsports helmets. Kayaking helmets must be multi-impact, due both to the nature of the sport and financial considerations. Unfortunately, that means that they are inherently less protective, since multi-impact foams cannot absorb as much energy as single-impact, crushable foams.

>Speaking of bike helmets, many if not the majority of bike

>helmets are probably not fitted properly. It breaks my

>heart to see young kids wearing helmets with loose straps as

>the helmet is essentially useless.

It's just as prevalent among adults. I wish I had a buck for every person I've seen riding along with their helmet on the back of their head like a yarmulke.

>What is really needed is objective testing by an independent

>entity to find out what designs give what kinds of protection.

True. The organizations exist (Snell, ASTM, CE, etc.), but the paddling industry doesn't take advantage of them to the extent that they could. Interestingly, the current Pro-Tec helmets are CE certified, but WRSI helmet apparently are not.

Unfortunately, Gil Turner has chosen to adopt the misleading name "Whitewater Reasearch and Safety Institute" for his company, creating the illusion that it's some kind of standards organization, which it's not. Between that and his attacks on Pro-Tec, it gives me a bad feeling about dealing with him or his company. Its a shame, as the product looks like it may be pretty good.

Whitewater being the risky endeavor that it is, it's just a matter of time until someone is severely injured or killed while wearing a WRSI helmet and he faces the same type of assault that he has launched against Pro-Tec. I imagine that he'll have to adopt the same position, too, that no helmet can protect paddlers from every type of impact.

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While I honestly hope that he's come up with a "better mousetrap", I really don't like the approach he's taken. All helmet designs are compromizes. All of them will fail to protect paddlers in some situations. His helmet is no different in that regard. Eventually, someone will die while wearing his helmet, too. That's the nature of the products and the sports(s) they're designed for. It will be interesting to see how he handles it when he ultimately gets sued for over-promoting the protective capabilities of his helmet.

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...the use of a double shell. I'm not aware of any other helmets that incorporate that design. I don't see anything in their literature or on the site that explains the advantages, but it would appear to help spread impact forces. There are no details on their "superior retention system", which looks similar to what many companies use. The WRSI helmet is "one size fits all" from 6 3/4 to 7 3/8, which raises serious questions about the fit in my mind, since most other helmets come in multiple sizes. There's no explanation of the fitting process on the site, either. It's also not big enough for many people when worn with a hood underneath.

I guess it's going to take a few people to plunk down their money and buy one so the rest of us can get a look. With what I've learned from fitting cycling helmets, I'm hesitant to buy any paddling helmet that I can't try on first.

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I am one of those folks who constantly wear something under my helmet, either baseball cap or neoprene surf hood (with visor). In five years, I have never had a problem of the cap/hood pulling my helmet off. This includes numerous flips through the Gap, surfing and going through a class IV strainer. Just about everything else got stripped in the strainer but the hood/helmet stayed on! :)

The key is to get a helmet that fits and wears well with the strap on snug. I have in fact four helmets (I mostly use two) to adjust to what I wear underneath. Also, when I wear a cap underneath, it tends to be made of supplex. Very flexible and really bends with the forces underneath.

It's possible that the water movement will move a visor and thus move the helmet. Again, I have only experienced that minimally if the strap is on snug (make sure to adjust the snuggness after every several capsizes). I find the benefit of wearing a cap/visor is that it allows me to see better on the water. It also minimizes the amount of drip that gets into my eyes, right after a roll and also when going through foaming white water or breaking waves. Maybe because I have bad eyesight, but I get a bit paranoid when I can't see things as clearly. This affects my confidence which then affects my performance.

YMMV

sing

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Seems that the Protec's design with one strap attaching the helmet would be at a disadvantage in preventing rolling (fore and aft) on the head.

Practically speaking, I can't see how there is any difference between a full-cut helmet with a single chin strap and a helmet like WRSI's that has two straps that meet the chin strap below the ear. The tendency of either to roll fore and aft will be more affected by the snugness of the helmet on one's head, unless you really crank down on those side straps to force them into the sides of your face. (Nobody is going to do that.)

Personally, I'd rather have the fullcut protection over my ears and cheekbones. I have just as many scrapes on the ear protection of my helmet as I do on the top. Many creekers wear a helmet fitted with a facemask as well. You want to protect your whole head, not just the top.

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For what it's worth in this discussion, I use a Grateful Heads helmet with four straps that converge to the chin strap. It allows for infinite adjustability. I have a strip of padding in the front of the helmet that is held in place with duct tape so that I can remove it or add it according to what I'm wearing under the helmet to keep a snug fit. It also has a Salamander visor attached to the outside (not worn underneath), held in place by velcro. Often when I roll in strong whitewater the visor will be flipped up when I roll up. It gives in current so that the helmet doesn't have to move.

Helmets with hard brims and faceguards worry me. Faceguards can snag on underwater branches or other flotsam. I'd want it to be a tear-away guard. Hard brims suggest the possibility of jarring the neck at impact, but that's just conjecture on my part.

All that said, the first thing that goes through my mind any time I flip in shallow or rocky water is to tuck hard against the front deck. So far, so good.

And I agree with Brian about the one-man vendetta. Bad news.

Kate

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looks to me like the weight would hang you straight upside down going through the Gap. There are several places in the drops where it'll wedge in nicely. ;) I can picture your head jammed somewhere deep in the green and your legs flapping wildly in the foam for a minute or so before they just conform to the motion of the water.

But the real problem with that helmet is the darn ugly color. Everything seems to have a negative aspect. Life can suck that way. ;)

sing

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Brian:

These days, many watersport helmets come with adjustable liners:

In the past three years, I've bought helmets from Shred Ready, Bell and, yes, Protec that have a kit of foam shims of various thicknesses that velcro to the liner.

It comes in handy when I loan them out during trip leader training or trips with surf involved: people can adjust to fit.

Also does what you asked about: switch between no hood and or hat and having wearing either one.

Scott

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>Brian:

>

>These days, many watersport helmets come with adjustable

>liners:

>In the past three years, I've bought helmets from Shred

>Ready, Bell and, yes, Protec that have a kit of foam shims

>of various thicknesses that velcro to the liner.

>

>It comes in handy when I loan them out during trip leader

>training or trips with surf involved: people can adjust to

>fit.

>

>Also does what you asked about: switch between no hood and

>or hat and having wearing either one.

>

>Scott

Well, it's probably about time that I replace my early 80's vintage Pro-Tec with something better. I'll be checking out their new models as well as other brands.

I wasn't aware that Bell makes anything suitable for paddling, thought they do make one BMX/skateboard model (the Faction) that's similar to the Pro-Tec. Is that what you have? I really like the adjustability of my Bell road helmet (Sweep) and would love to have that in a paddling helmet.

Who around here carries a decent selection of helmets?

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I googled "(manufacturer) kayak helmet and found only a website for Shred Ready with no links to local retailers. There is plenty of ways to buy any of these from the web. Also found an article

http://www.paddlermagazine.com/buyer_guide...0/helmets.shtml

from Paddler magazine. Of course we've all read having faithfully received the magazine along with our ACA cards...

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I just tried on my Pro Tec helmet tonight (Ace Water Rodeo) and I found that it easly slides back on my head.

The chin strap is attached to the helmet in two parts above my ear. It then combines below my ear to a singe strap. Cranking down on the straps pushes the helmet back on my head and hurts my chin.

-Jason

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FYI, the ProTec helmet that Turner is complaining about is the "Classic Full Cut" model that has only a single strap with no adjustment, not the helmet you have. I'm not sure why ProTec still makes it that way, as it would be a simple matter to add another strap mounting hole or two to correct the problem, but I digress...

Use the adjustments at the points where the straps combine to improve the fit. Specifically, shorten the front straps and lengthen the rear straps. That will move the chin strap forward, which will pull down more on the front of the helmet, preventing the helmet from rotating backward. Adjust it in small increments making sure that you don't go too far and allow the helmet to pivot forward. You want to find the best balance between the front and rear straps, that will keep the helmet in place.

There should have been instructions with the helmet that explain how to fit it properly, but this is the same method that's used to adjust the fit of most types of sports helmets. Shame on you for not reading the instructions first! ;-)

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Brian thanks for the help, but I think that you jumped to a conclusion that its user error a little to early. I did read the instructions. By design the only adjustments are fit foam and how tight the strap is.

Without removing the stitches and restitching the attachment points there is no moving how the straps connect. Since it wasn't in the manual and no needle/tread were provided I don't think that they envisioned that as part of the normal use.

-Jason

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