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Need education about and obtain a helmet ASAP. 

  • While there are very specialized whitewater helmets, searching the web does not show what I might categorize as a sea kayaking helmet. That makes sense since use of the helmet is most often in rock play, slips on the shore, and getting hit by a fellow paddler's paddle who has had enough of me. Not much different in white water. So I assume there is no such thing as a specialize sea kayak helmet.
  • I wear glasses and that makes finding any kind of helmet (ski, bike) harder since some pinch in near the ears. This is particular true of some with the click the sizing systems.
  • What about drain holes? Makes sense but on my last paddle I saw many solid helmets.
  • What about coverage area, particular the temples and the ears. There are "side cut" and "full cut" at the NRS (https://www.nrs.com/category/3101/whitewater-kayaking/helmets).
  • I assume safety ratings matter but that is not clear.
  • Most of all, who has any selection? Last night REI Reading had one helmet in stock in a unisex size: NRS Havoc. Did not fit well, fell down over my eyes unless I tightened it too tight, pinched the glasses. Most wearing NRS branded helmets at the last paddle felt they were uncomfortable. REI has other brands online (https://www.rei.com/search?q=kayak+helmet) and of course a great return policy. Wondering about Newberry Canoe and Kayak, Charles River, EMS, LL Bean, Kittery TP.   Never heard of Outdoorplay.com but they have a lot of helmets online I will be in Portsmouth paddling this Saturday but do live in Boston.

Thanks in advance,


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22 minutes ago, alcoons said:

What about drain holes? Makes sense but on my last paddle I saw many solid helmets.

Haven't thought about this much but it seems the only time a drain hole would be effective is if you're upside down. Usually when I'm upside down there's not much draining going on anyway. Between horseback riding, bicycling, and kayaking I have a lot of helmets around and some are way more comfortable than others. I've had good experience with Outdoorplay but there's no substitute for trying them on.

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Yes there are  helmets on the market  designed specifically for sea  and whitewater kayaking. I assume the big difference between a kayak helmet and ,eg  a biking or ski helmet is the  water -friendly or water -proof nature and.or design  of the padding materials used.     Helmets are  very personal,  some just fit your  specific head more comfortably than others, so its best to try on before buying.     Some popular popular brands are NRS, Pro -Tec, Sweet Protection and Gath.
Sweet Protection Strutter  and Gath Gedi  are a bit pricier, but many of the sea kayakers I know have helmets  of these two brands. Newbury Kayak and Canoe has Gath,  Zoar Outdoors has Sweet Protection.  Sweet Protection has no drain holes, Gath does, and they both work well, and I'd be happy with either brand  so I wouldn't think drainage holes are a big consideration in selecting a helmet. 

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After a number of tries, I settled on the Sweet Protection Strutter helmet.  Fit system is superb.

It provides solid protection for sea kayaking activities and the brim is an added benefit for sun protection. 

Agree with Peter that fit is ultimately personal. 

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You probably want a helmet that meets standard CE EN 1385 CLASS I/IV – Helmets for canoeing and white-water sports.  As far as I know there is no separate Sea Kayaking specific standard.

Personally I've settled on the Sweet Protection Strutter helmet mainly because it fits my swollen head better than any other helmet I've tried.  It was in fact the only helmet Zoar had in stock half a decade or so ago that I could comfortably fit on my head.  Obviously your head is probably slightly different in size from my head.

Personally I'm glad the Strutter doesn't have drain/vent holes because I occasionally use it as an impromptu bucket to dump water, usually over myself to cool off.  Lack of holes also prevents the sunburn stripes that some of the very well ventilated bicycle helmets I've owned in the past are prone to allow.

Sadly, I must also advise you to only purchase helmets from reputable merchants.  Apparently fake helmets which look like the real thing but don't perform like the real thing have become an issue.  For example this recent NPR report about bicycle helmets, and this Youtube Motorcycle Helmet example.

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I really wanted a Sweet Strutter to fit (for the visor) but my head is short front to back and wide side to side. The Sweet Wander was a perfect fit. (I called the company and they talked me through the best choices for my head shape). Worth checking out if you have a short wide head.

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