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Protect your noggin: Shred Ready helmets for whitewater kayaking

This article was written by Rock/Creek paddlesports manager Sara Horne. Sara knows what’s up. Read on!

With winter paddling (and holiday gift-giving) season upon us, we’ve been getting a lot of questions in the shop. The topic of conversation lately has been helmets. Which one is best for me? What’s the most comfortable helmet? Most protective? Is this full-face safe for meeting my girlfriend’s father at Thanksgiving?

We always recommend trying on helmets and finding the best one for your special needs. Obviously fit is important, as is comfort, construction, price, and aesthetics. If you look good, you feel good, right?

While trying on your selection in person is the best answer, we also realize that some of you good folks might not live close by. Fortunately, several of our helmets come with a fit kit that includes different sized pads that can be arranged in a variety of ways to fit your unique dome. Two key fit tips we’ve learned over the years are:

Fit pads: This is what truly keeps the helmet on your head, so experiment with the kit. Rearrange the pads so that the helmet touches as much of your skull as possible. There shouldn’t be any gaps at your crown, temples, or the back of your head. Also, you can cut the pads for a totally custom fit. A lot of people find that cutting the ends off of the forehead strip relieves pressure at the temples, preventing headaches. If you can’t arrange the kit to securely fit your head, then you may want to switch helmets or cut your hair, you dirty hippie.

Helmet straps: Try keeping just enough room to slide two fingers between your chin and chinstrap, but not enough room for the strap to come over (and off of) your chin. For comfort, keep the triangle sliders up towards your earlobes. And lastly, take a look at the two straps that attach to the helmet on either side of the ear. If you keep the front one just slightly shorter than the back, it will help ensure that the helmet won’t blow off your head in squirrely water or expose your forehead to rocks. Consider wearing a helmet the same as purchasing head insurance, and adjust it as necessary.

Shred Ready is one of our favorites for a secure fit, solid construction, and looking good. There are definitely other great brands on the market, but several of our employees wear one SR style or another for our kayaking exploits. Here are a couple choices, and why we like them:


Right: Andrew Gamble @ Baby Falls of the Tellico
Shred Ready helmet of choice: Standard Full-Cut
Features: low profile, ABS injection molded shell

“I’ve been paddling in this helmet since I started 3 years ago, and it’s been great. It stays put no matter what I’m doing and doesn’t interrupt my field of vision.”

“Honestly, I bought it because I could afford it, but it’s held up to plenty of abuse.” — Gamble


Right: Sara Horne @ Upper Zig-Zag of the Green Truss
Shred Ready helmet of choice: T-Dub
Features: wide brim, composite construction

“I love it because of the brim. It’s literally like wearing a tank on my head. When I put on my helmet, I feel like I’m going into battle. I have trouble communicating in a full-face, so the coverage of the T-Dub is awesome without concealing my mouth or muffling my hearing. It’s also great for keeping the sun off my face when raft guiding in the summer. One drawback is that the brim can limit my field of vision.” — Sara


Right: Sam V at North Chick Falls
Shred Ready helmet of choice: Standard Full-Face
Features: ABS injection molded full-face

“I don’t always charge the gnar, but when I do, I choose the Shred Ready Full-Face.” Just kidding… Sam’s always charging the gnar. In fact, it’s so hard to get him out of a kayak and into “real-person” clothes that we only employ him one day a week. Note: Sam was unavailable for comment, partly because he smashed his phone, partly because it’s raining in Chattanooga and he’s probably kayaking.

Thanks for reading. See you on the water! –Sara