Rock/Creek Down Under manager Chris Brigman reviews his favorite whitewater kayaking helmets.
Perhaps the most important piece of gear for the whitewater kayaker is the helmet. Finding the right fit is crucial when choosing a helmet.
Rock/Creek currently carries 5 brands of kayaking helmets, one of which is Sweet Protection based out of Norway. The company started out as the vision of a group of friends who enjoyed snow sports in the winter and whitewater kayaking in the summer. The obvious similarities in protective headgear between the sports prompted the beginning of Sweet. Many of today’s helmet manufacturers use tried and true materials and designs to produce adequate and safe helmets, however, Sweet pushes the envelope with innovative materials, design, and outfitting.
Sweet offers a few varieties in the water sports arena.
The Strutter is their flagship design, and probably their most popular helmet. It is a baseball cap style helmet with a substantial bill, is extremely light and comfortable, and provides adequate protection for most boaters.
The Rocker series of helmets is designed for safety conscious boaters, as well as, those who tend to “step it up a notch.”
There are three trim levels to the Rocker, they are the Halfcut, Fullcut, and Full Face.
The Halfcut Rocker is designed on the same frame as the Fullcut, with the exception that the Halfcut does not offer as much coverage around the ear.
The Full Face Rocker is the Mac Daddy of the Sweet whitewater product line. The Rocker’s fullface offers the most coverage in the line, but retains the style and comfort of others in the series. The Full Face is built on the same frame as the other Rockers but includes an additional carbon fiber reinforced jaw protector bolted onto the front of the helmet. There is an aluminum mesh panel on the front of the chin guard that allows less restricted breathing and crystal clear communication.
All of the Rocker series helmets come with a fit kit and ear pads for cold weather boating ,as well as, a removable motocross style visor to keep the sun out of your eyes.
So what does all this mean?
Whether you are running the steeps or throwing Mcnastys, Sweet has a helmet for you.
They are available in sizes to fit most heads. And if style is part of your game, don’t forget the new Legend Series. Helmets in the Legend series include graphics that will help you stand out at your local run or playspot.
Personally, I would probably go with the Flash Blue Strutter designed for Norwegian Legend Flemming Schmidt.
Whatever decision you make when choosing a helmet, remember that the fit is key and a $400 helmet is cheaper than a $4,000 dentist.
Chris is Manager of Rock/Creek Down Under and has been an avid whitewater paddler for many years. Would you like to know more about Chris? Sure you do, check out his staff profile at Rockcreek.com.