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Do I Need a Helmet When Kayaking?

Whether you’re just starting out and exploring the world of kayaking, or you’re a skilled paddler, proper kayak safety equipment is non-negotiable when out on the water. Many stop at a personal flotation device, or PFD, so they’ll stay afloat if anything unexpected occurs, but kayak helmets are also a necessary piece of kayak safety equipment for head protection.

When to Wear a Kayak Helmet

Many who are familiar with kayaking as a sport will agree that for more high intensity sessions on a river require a kayak helmet. Those who have kayaked out on the ocean or done cave kayaking also recommend this kayak safety feature. Since you’re going at a more rapid speed in sometimes shallower waters, the chances of hitting your head when capsizing increase in these conditions.

We recommend that you wear a kayak helmet throughout the kayaking process. From scouting to actively paddling, a kayak helmet is known to come in handy. Even if you’re enjoying a calm lake paddle or are out on a low-rapids stream, it’s a good thing to have your helmet already on and fitted in case of an emergency. We’ve heard many accounts of those who unexpectedly lost their balance and got hit in the head by their own boat on the way down. Or, there’s times where the water is shallower than you think and there’s more rocks than you anticipated.

Head injuries aren’t anything to play around with, as you can get disoriented and not be able to get back to your kayak safely, or they can put you out of commission for a few weeks depending on the severity. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so investing in a well-fitting kayak helmet for every expedition is a must.

How to Wear Kayak Helmet Properly

Not all helmets are created equal. While a bicycle helmet may work in a pinch out on the water, investing in a kayaking helmet designed for paddling is much safer. An ill-fitting helmet doesn’t do you much good, though, so here are some things to look for when researching kayak helmets:

  • The helmet should sit about 2 fingers width above your eyebrows. This ensures you’re properly protecting your forehead and temples.
  • The chin strap should be tightened enough that you can’t fit more than two fingers between it and your chin. This will prevent it from sliding off or coming loose while paddling.
  • The helmet should provide adequate coverage of the back of your head as well as the temple and forehead area. Ensuring you have a size that sits snugly but covers all these areas is important.
  • Your helmet shouldn’t be uncomfortable--try on multiple sizes to see what works best for you!

The best kind of kayaking trip you can have is a safe one. Even if you’re just recreationally paddling on a lake, bringing along a properly fitting kayak helmet will ensure you can reap all the benefits and enjoyment of a kayaking session without worrying about injury along the way.

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