|Kayak Helmets: Major Info, The Best and The Worst !!!|

kayak helmet

Last updated on September 2, 2022

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When you’re in danger, use your head! This doesn’t only mean philosophically but also literally. Whether you’re in calm or rapid waters, kayaking isn’t completely safe. You might get run over by boats, slam with other Kayakers, or slam unto rocks. It’s essential to protect your head while kayaking. Always wear a kayak helmet because it will help you enjoy the liberty of old age. As like PFD (Personal Flotation Device), the helmet is another ultimate necessary gear you should wear.

Knowing about helmets is as crucial as learning about kayaks. For instance, some types of helmets perform well for kayaking, while others are utterly useless. Having a good helmet is tantamount to safer extreme kayaking. That said, don’t hesitate about getting one.

Let’s talk about helmets for a while. Get your coffee, sit on the couch or sofa, and read what I have to say.

Open Face Helmet/ Half Cut Helmet

The open-face helmet (half-cut helmet) is a type of helmet that covers the uppermost portion of the head. To be specific, it protects the parietal and frontal lobes of the skull. Other areas, on the other hand, are left unprotected. This includes the sides of the head, the back, and the front.

Some Kayakers prefer the open face helmet because it’s very airy. As a result, its the best helmet to wear during warm seasons. However, its drawback is that it doesn’t offer foolproof protection. It would be best if you opted to layer an open face helmet with a thin head garment to upgrade its protective effect.

Pros and Cons of Open Face Helmet


  • the airiest type of kayak helmet
  • not uncomfortable on the head
  • lightweight and non-bulky
  • very affordable


  • doesn’t absorb damage from all directions
  • gets cracked easily

Full-Cut Helmet 

The full-cut helmet covers the upper portion and the sides of the skull entirely. Compared to the open face helmet that only protects the parietal and frontal lobe, the full-cut helmet also protects the temporal lobe, sphenoid, and occipital lobe. The full-cut helmet provides more protection than the open face helmet. Consider having it for kayaking in class 2 or 3 rapids.

Your ears get covered when wearing a full cut helmet. As a result, it decreases hearing slightly. Don’t worry about this issue because the ears will eventually adjust and you’ll still be able to listen to others well

There are also full-cut helmets that are suitable for cold water kayaking. Usually, they come with a thin lining of fleece on the inside to keep the head warm.

Pros and Cons of Full-Cut Helmet


  • covers most of the head except the face
  • doesn’t crack easily
  • warm and great for cold water kayaking


  • bulky
  • might feel uncomfortable for some
  • feels very hot when worn on warm seasons

Full Face Helmet

Last is the full-face helmet. This kind of helmet covers not only the sides and upper portion of the skull but also the face. The full-face helmet is ideal for class 4 or class 5 water, which feature a lot of sharp protruding rocks. You should consider buying this even if you already have a full-cut or half-cut helmet. Wear the full-face helmet for extreme wave kayaking. Aside from the brain, it also protects your looks.

Pros and Cons of Full Face Helmet


  • provides the best protection out of all types of kayak helmet
  • very durable
  • protects the face


  • bulky
  • hot
  • reduces the field of vision
  • might impair hearing

Is A Heavy Helmet Better?

Some Kayakers think that a more massive helmet is more durable and protective against lighter ones. This kind of thinking is just plain wrong. Change your perspectives if you also think like this. A heavy helmet isn’t necessarily better than lighter ones. The weight doesn’t have to do with shock absorption. Design, material, and advanced functions are the primary factors that affect a helmet’s capacity to protect the head.

Speaking of advanced functions, why not try kayak helmet that has the MIPS system? MIPS is a shorter term for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. In a nutshell, this kind of helmet mimics the cerebrospinal fluids that act as a natural shock absorber for the brain. Thus, it’s more efficient in absorbing shocks weak or strong.

Should You Consider Getting A New Helmet After A Crash?

Let’s say that you’re whitewater kayaking. While riding, the kayak capsized accidentally, and the current carried you to a rocky area. As a result, you slammed unto a rack headfirst. You didn’t suffer any serious injuries because you’re wearing a helmet and other safety gear. Of course, you’re happy because your helmet didn’t have any dents even after such a hard crash. Now, an essential question arises. Do you have to buy a new helmet knowing that your existing one took a hard crash?

The answer is yes. Every time you bang your head hard, the helmet’s durability decreases. This means that it might not perform as well as before. This is very true if you’re using a helmet that’s not using the MIPS system. Consider getting a new helmet after a crash. Sell the old one as a second-hand item and get a fresher helmet to be safe.

Is It Okay To Use Multi-Purpose Helmets?

Multi-Purpose helmets are helmets that you may use for kayaking, cycling, skiing, etc. Some Kayakers get this to save money. Just imagine, buying a helmet that you can use for all kinds of activities is better than purchasing various helmets for a specific purpose. Multi-purpose helmets help to save money. However, I doubt if they excel in giving protection for kayaking.

Jack of all trades but master of none. This saying applies much to multi-purpose helmets. In essence, multi-purpose helmets only provide a certain degree of protection. However, they don’t have any special features that are useful for a specific purpose. In this case, kayaking.

On a personal note, multi-purpose helmets are the worst helmets for kayaking together with bike helmets.

Summing Up

There are three types of kayak helmet that you can choose from; half cut helmet, full-cut helmet, and a full-face helmet. Go for the half-cut helmet for comfort. In contrast, pick the full-cut helmet or full-face helmet for maximum protection.

The heaviness doesn’t have to do anything with a helmet’s capacity to absorb shock. Factors that affect shock absorption and head protection are design, material, and unique features. In terms of special features, pick a kayak helmet that uses the MIPS system.

Finally, avoid using multi-purpose helmets for they won’t work well. Get specialist helmets instead. You can only use them for a single purpose, but they give foolproof protection. Also, don’t hesitate to buy a new helmet after surviving a life-altering accident while kayaking.

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