The Best Kayak Helmets in 2022 – Top Models & Full Buyer’s Guide

Whitewater kayaking

In the last few decades kayaking has branched into all sorts of various sports and activities. These include both flat-water kayaking and whitewater kayaking which are fundamentally similar but vastly different in the level of expertise required. However, as with any other water sport out there, proper protection is a must-have. While life vests, shoes, and gloves are fairly straightforward, choosing the best kayak helmets won’t be as easy. There are multiple types of helmets as well as a number of features that you will need to take into account.

That is why, in this guide, we will quickly go over some of the best models for 2021 and then do a deep dive into everything you should know about kayak helmets!

Kayak Helmets Comparison Chart

WRSI Current Helmet
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Half-cutABS PlasticEVA liner
Tontron Whitewater Helmet
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Full-cutABS PlasticEVA liner
WRSI Moment Helmet
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Full-faceABS PlasticEVA liner
Pro-Tec Ace Helmet
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Half-cutABS PlasticEVA Liner
NRS Havoc Helmet
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Half-cutABS PlasticEVA Pads
Sweet Protection Helmet
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Carbon Fiber
EPP Liner
Vihir Water Sports Helmet
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Full-cutABS PlasticEVA Pads
Dagger Sweet Rocker
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Full-cutABS PlasticCoolmax liner

WRSI Current Kayak Helmet

Our Rating: (5/5)

Few are the companies that consistently make good wood water sports helmets such as WRSI. The company has specialized in extreme sports gear for decades now and their newest kayak helmets are some of the best on the market. The WRSI Current Kayak Helmet is one of the cheaper models from their line-up that is feature-rich and has a solid construction. While it is generally priced above most other budget alternatives on the market, it offers you a great bang for the buck and is generally one of the most well-received models for this year.

The outer shell material of this helmet is ABS plastic which has become an industry-standard lately. It is durable with a bit of flex to it that will prevent concussions and will work properly even after multiple impacts. The interior sub-shell (or liner) of the helmet is made out of EVA liner which is another material that is being used more and more in kayak helmets nowadays. Between the EVA liner and the ABS plastic shell sits a polyurethane sub-shell that adds even more rigidity to the frame and makes it even more impact-proof.

One particular field where this helmet lacks, especially when compared to its competitors is the ventilation holes. There are only three ventilation holes at the back here. Not only will that be less-than-ideal for hot summer flat water tours, but it will also be bad for water drainage in case you fall into the water. Still, for mild weather and colder climates, this helmet reigns supreme in its temperature control. Fitment-wise, there is a interconnect retainment system that lets you precisely adjust the fit of the helmet accord to your head size. Additionally, there are three sizes to choose from – S/M, M/L, L/XL, and three colors as well – white, yellow, and red. All in all, the helmet does everything that it needs to and is certified by the company for multiple impact protection and whitewater kayaking.


  • ABS shell with poly sub-shell
  • Extremely durable
  • Very comfortable interior liner
  • Multiple-impact protection
  • Great for colder weather
  • Ideal for beginners and recreational kayaking
  • Easy to adjust
  • Comes in three colors and three sizes


  • There aren’t a lot of ventilation/drainage holes
  • A bit expensive compared to its competition

Tontron Adult Kayaking Whitewater Helmet

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Tontron Kayaking whitewater helmet is one of the cheapest models on this list, yet it has enough features to give any WRSI model a run for its money. For instance, the ventilation here is superior to most WRSI helmets that don’t typically come with a lot of ventilation holes. Here, you have 11 individual vents that are there to take the hot air away from your head. They also double as water drainage points should you fall in the water by accident.

Materials-wise, the helmet uses the familiar combination of ABS plastic and EVA absorption liner on the inside. Both of these are good choices, especially on a budget model that costs a fraction of what the medium-priced helmets cost. The surprising part is that there is carbon fiber mixed in with the outer shell, which is something you typically see in models that cost well over 150 dollars. Moreover, this is a full-cut helmet. This means that it has ear muff covers. These earpads will protect the side of your head from scratches. Also, they won’t affect your hearing, which is crucial when kayaking. They are removable so you can easily use the helmet as a lighter, half-cut model if the weather is too hot. The helmet’s durability is supported by the CE EN 1385 safety standard certificate that it comes with.

The helmet comes in three individual sizes-small, medium, and large. Additionally, it has a retention strap system in place that allows you to control how snug the fit it with the turn of a knob. You can extend the helmet’s internal diameter up to 25mm on each size. That being said, the adjuster knob is there to provide minor adjustments for each head size, rather than correct the differences between the individual (S, M, L) sizes. Something I particularly enjoy about this helmet is that it also comes in a ton of color combinations. You can choose it in 11 different colors ranging from matte black to matte white snow. As a whole, if you’re looking for a good all-rounder on a budget, this helmet should definitely be on your shortlist!


  • Budget-friendly
  • Excellent for beginners
  • 11 individual air vents
  • Adjustable sizing
  • 11 color options
  • CE EN 1385 safety certificate


  • Comfort levels aren’t great
  • The straps run too long

WRSI Moment Full-Face Helmet

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

If you’ve been paying attention, then it should come as no surprise to you that another WRSI helmet has made my top 8 list. The WRSI Moment Full-Face Helmet is one of the best alternatives out there if you’re looking for a good full-face alternative. Just as other helmets from the brand, it boasts great build quality combined with excellent comfort. Unfortunately, just like every other product from the brand, it also boasts a slightly higher price tag than you’d expect. Still, there aren’t a lot of helmets in this segment, and this particular version is a good place to start your look from.

The company hasn’t made any material changes for the rest of their line-up. This means that they still used ABS plastic for the outer shell. The sub-liner is made out of EVA foam with additional layers between the shell and liner for improved impact protection. Just like other helmets from WRSI, there is multiple impact protection. Unlike the Current helmet, however, you can remove the foam inner liner here. This is great for people that want to go kayaking in hot climates and don’t need the extra padding.

At the front, there is a permanent rigid face bar that offers full-face protection. Above it, there is an extended visor that can move up and down depending on where you want it. There are only two ventilation holes at both sides that will lead hot air away from the helmet’s inside and will also direct water away from your face. The internal adjustment system is the same as any other WRSI helmet and will keep your head snug while also preventing slips. Speaking of adjustments, there are no size options available for this particular helmet, which is a huge downside for some people. As a whole, if you are willing to spend a little extra for a full-face helmet, this is a relatively good deal for your money.


  • Full-face protection
  • Excellent durability
  • Superb comfort
  • Good amounts of adjustability
  • Removable foam pads
  • Excellent for cold water kayaking


  • No size options
  • Not a lot of color options
  • No practical amount of air vents
  • Not a great helmet for hot climates

Pro-Tec Ace Water Helmet

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Pro-Tec Ace Water Helmet is another budget alternative coming from a well-known brand that produces products for all sorts of extreme sports. This particular helmet features a half-cut design with multiple vents to keep air circulation optimal. Apart from being one of the cheaper models on this list, it is also the lightest here, weighing in at only 1.1 pounds. While weight isn’t quite important, it does matter when you have to carry the helmet in your backpack up to a specific location for hours. For people who enjoy recreational flatwater kayaking, heavy helmets can also bring discomfort over long rides down the river.

The outer shell is made out of ABS plastic, lined with EVA foam on the inside. This creates a good and protective surface against multiple impacts. Still, there is no mid-layer to add that further protection, so this helmet isn’t particularly fit for whitewater kayaking, even though it has plenty of drainage holes. Speaking of those, there are 15 air vents spread around the helmet. Not only will these keep your head cool on hot days, but will also keep all the water away from your head if you fall in the river or get hit by a wave.

While the straps here aren’t very comfortable, there is a rear-fit system that provides additional lockage for the rear part of your head. Make sure you choose the right size, though, as the straps run a bit long and the helmet can feel loose. The helmet comes with a safety certificate CE EN 1385 which, in theory, makes it suitable for waters classes 1 through 4. Lastly, there is a rear mount strap that could be used for a variety of items such as cameras, head lights, goggles, and more. In summary, if you’re looking for a well-ventilated and somewhat comfortable helmet at a budget price, this is a solid choice!


  • Budget-friendly
  • Excellent for beginners
  • CE EN 1375 safety certified
  • EVA liner
  • 15 open vents for drainage
  • True to size


  • The straps aren’t very comfortable
  • There isn’t additional impact protection
  • Even the XL version can be small for people with big heads

NRS Havoc Adult Water Sport Helmet

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

NRS is another extreme sports brand that is known for its good quality and budget price tags. Their Havoc Adult Kayak Helmet is one of their highest-selling models for a few very good reasons. First of all, as I pointed out it is quite cheap. And despite being budget-friendly, the helmet is still made out of the traditional ABS plastic for its outer shell. This makes it relatively flexible and quite resistant to impacts. ABS plastic is also fairly resistant to long-term damage from changes in weather, heat, moisture, and more. The inside of the helmet is made out of foam pads (non-EVA) which are thick and very comfortable, especially if the fit is right. I say “if the fit is right” because this helmet has a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t always live up to its name.

The helmet can actually house heads with circumferences between 20.8 and 24.4 inches. This isn’t common in the kayak industry, as internal strap adjustments aren’t always comfortable and most people with either very small or big heads won’t fall into the adjustment range. Still, if you want to adjust the fit of this helmet, you have to twist the DialFit system’s ratchet-adjust knob at the back. The nylon chin straps are also adjustable, although not very comfortable since they aren’t covered in any type of padding.

At the top of the helmet, there are 6 individual air vents that will keep hot air and water away from your head. The half-cut design will keep your ears unprotected, however, which is great on hot days but I would always prefer to have something over my ears in case of accidental scratches or hits. Speaking of hits, the helmet is also CE EN 1385 certified thanks to its durable ABS plastic outer shell. Lastly, it comes in 5 color options which is a good amount of variety for this particular price class. In conclusion, if you’re looking for a well-ventilated and safety-certified helmet on a budget, definitely put this on your shortlist!


  • Relatively cheap
  • Comes in 5 colors
  • 6 air/drainage vents
  • One-size-fits-all
  • Adjustable via DialFit system
  • ABS plastic shell
  • Great for beginners


  • Not great for smaller adults or kids
  • The strap system is uncomfortable
  • No size options

Sweet Protection Wanderer Paddle Helmet

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

If you are on the market for a very durable helmet that comes from a reputable brand and will last you a lot of kayaking holidays, then this Sweet Protection Wanderer Paddle Helmet is just the right thing for you! Granted, it is on the expensive side of the spectrum but it has the build quality and durability to back that price tag up. The outer shell of the helmet is made out of multi-layered and molded ABS plastic. This provides a ton of support for the frame and allows the helmet to be multiple-impact rated and safe to use over and over. One thing that makes the shell even more tough and durable in the long run is the carbon fiber reinforced polymer woven into its construction. This is also one of the things that keep the price of this helmet relatively high compared to its competition.

The interior liner is made out of EVA liner. However, this isn’t just regular foam pads like on other budget helmets. In fact, it is dual-density EVA foam that is thicker, more comfortable, and more breathable. These foam pads can be moved around the interior of the helmet. This allows you to rearrange them in any combination you want, making a custom fit for your particular needs. The inside of the helmet is also entirely waterproof, making it a great choice for whitewater kayaking. Another thing that makes this helmet a solid option for whitewater paddlers is its large 4 vents at the top. These provide plenty of room for the hot air to get out as well as any water that might get trapped between your head and the helmet’s shell.

One thing I absolutely love about this brand is that they have some of the best color options out there. This particular model can come in Gloss chopper orange, Dirt black, Gloss light aquamarine, or Gloss white, all of which are very cool in person! Other than that, the helmet also comes in S, S/M, M/L, and L/XL size options which is plenty enough diversity in terms of sizes. That, paired with the Occigrip fit adjustment system makes sure that you will almost certainly find the right fit for you.


  • Carbon-fiber reinforced polymer shell
  • Very durable construciton
  • Double-layered EVA foam pads
  • Four unique color combinations
  • Lightweight construction
  • Multiple impact protection
  • Occigrip fitment


  • Very expensive
  • Not enough air vents for hot climates
  • No rear mount strap
  • No safety certificate

Vihir Water Sports Helmet

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Vihir Water Sports Helmet is another excellent alternative for beginners that don’t want to burn a hole through their pocket buying a new helmet. It does everything right and is good all-around the stats sheet. Just like other kayaking helmets, it has an ABS shell on the outside which has decent impact protection. On the inside, there is cold-molded EVA foam that takes care of the comfort. While it is a bit on the firm side, it is waterproof, making the helmet great for some faster streams. Since this is a full-cut helmet, there are earmuffs. These will protect your ears against scratches while also not interfering with you hearing your teammates.

On the helmet, there are a total of 11 air vents that will keep your head cool and dry by doubling as drainage vents. All these features make this helmet suitable for other water sports as well, such as surfing, boating, kayak fishing, and more. The ITW buckles and straps aren’t very comfortable since they are made out of harder plastic and nylon. The head circumference dial also feels cheap, although it does its job well.

Sizes-wise, there are three particular options to choose from. The Small size is meant for heads with a diameter from 19.7 to 21.3 inches. The medium size is for people with heads with a diameter of 21.3 up to 23.3 inches. Lastly, the Large size is good for heads up to 24.9 inches. As you can see, the helmet isn’t exactly suitable for people with really large heads even when you use its additional adjustable system. Apart from this downside, there aren’t really a lot of other things I can pick on here, especially at this price. In fact, in this particular price bracket, there is little to no competition for this helmet, making it a great deal if you’re a beginner on a tighter budget!


  • Great for beginners
  • 6 color options
  • 3 available sizes
  • Additional adjustment system
  • ABS plastic shell
  • EVA foam liner


  • The buckles and straps feel cheap
  • Not very comfortable
  • Not great for people with large heads
  • Not certified for whitewater kayaking

Dagger Sweet Rocker Kayaking Helmet

Our Rating: (4/5)

Last on this list is the Dagger Sweet Rocker Kayaking Helmet. It isn’t last because of its quality or durability but rather because of its price. It is, by far, the most expensive helmet here for a few reasons. First and foremost, in terms of comfort, nothing even comes close to this helmet’s performance. Thanks to its Coolmax liner, it manages to keep your head dry and the fit snug throughout your kayaking route. It is also anti-allergenic and moisture-wicking, essentially making wearing this helmet far more comfortable compared to some other models with a harder EVA foam padding.

The helmet is also lightweight and superbly well put together. Everything screams quality, from the buckles on the straps to the visor at the top. There are additional fit pads on each side that allow you to personalize the fit even further. Sizes-wise, there are only two options, however. Still, the adjustment system has a lot of leeway, allowing most people to fit under those two sizes.

The helmet is EN13895 class I-IV certified, making it more than suitable to handle whitewater kayaking and rough water. As a whole, if you want the best of the best and are willing to pay the price, this is it.


  • Superb build quality
  • Very durable
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Large vents
  • Rated safe for whitewater kayaking
  • Fit Occigrip turn dial adjustment


  • Only two size options
  • Very expensive

Kayak Helmets Buyer’s Guide

When buying your first kayak helmet, there will be plenty of things to take into consideration. For starters, the type of helmet should be your first concern. After you choose between half-cut, full-cut, and full-face, you will be faced with a ton of additional features to think about and compare. Some of these include the overall fit, drainage, level of protection, and more. All in all, as prices of these helmets vary a lot, they are easily separable in price brackets. In order to make a faster choice that will be a better bang for your buck, first set your budget and then pick the best product in that particular price class.

Now, let’s take a deeper look into each of the individual helmet types and see what their pros and cons are…

Types of Kayak Helmets

As with most other sports helmets, in kayaking, there are three main types. These are:

  • Full-face Helmets
  • Half-cut Helmets
  • Full-cut Helmets

Full-face Helmets

If you’re into whitewater kayaking, full-face helmets are what you should be putting on your shortlist. They offer the maximum amount of protection compared to the other two types of helmets. The main reason full-face models have such a high amount of protection is that, unlike the other helmets, they have a bar that goes across your face. This means that they do not only protect your head but also most of your face.

These helmets are meant for pro paddlers and people who go kayaking into fast rivers. This poses a much higher risk than just flatwater touring, hence the need for better equipment. One of the most important things you need to check when trying a full-faced helmet is whether you still hear external noises well. This means that you will be able to hear the other paddlers in your group in case something happens in the water.

Half-cut Helmets

Being the complete opposite of full-face helmets, half-cut models are very minimal in their design. Their overall weight is the lowest out of the three types here and they are perfect for people that just want the base level protection. If you’re kayak touring, fishing, or just going on a flat-water trip, this is a good helmet to have. Their breathability and water drained are typically very good. Also, the helmets are very unrestrictive when it comes to your vision, unlike some full-cut and full-face helmets.

That being said, half-cut helmets rarely have visors to help with the sun and water getting into your eyes. Additionally, they don’t extend over your ears, which is what full-cut helmets do.

Full-cut Helmets

As I just pointed out, full-cut helmets are pretty similar to half-cut ones with the main exception that they extend over your ears. They are a bit bulkier and heavier when compared to some half-cut models but have a much better safety record. Since these helmets cover your ears, they will also have a more snug fit which won’t move as much as the one of the half-cut helmets. However, when it comes to being able to hear what is going on around you, these will be a worse choice compared to half-cut models.

For some of my best kayaking tips for beginners, make sure you visit this article on the topic!

Important Features

Guy in kayak sails mountain river

While choosing a helmet might seem easy at first, there are plenty of things to look into and compare between different models. Some of the most notable features that will play a role in a helmet’s practicality and quality are:

  • Fit & Sizes
  • Drainage
  • Retention System
  • Durability
  • Safety Certificates
  • Comfort
  • Weight
  • Additional Features
  • Price

Apart from all these features, you will also have to consider the type of kayaking you will be doing. Some people will enjoy basic kayak touring that doesn’t require anywhere near the same amount of protection that whitewater kayaking does. This is exactly why there are multiple kayak helmet types existing out there. After you’re done selecting the exact type to match your paddling style, you should dive into these features…

Fit & Sizes

In extreme sports, how snugly the helmet fits is paramount to it doing its job properly. A loosely fit helmet is a lot worse than a snugly fit one in an accident. In addition to finding the right size, you will also have to look at the adjustment mechanism of each helmet. Ideally, a helmet shouldn’t be able to move back and forth or sideways when you shake your head around with it. Full-cut and full-face helmets are far easier to get to the right position without much moving around, while half-cut models are a bit trickier since they cover a smaller area of your head.

Sizes-wise, there are quite a lot of different ways companies measure their helmets. While typically the head circumference is the main factor by which the size is judged, most helmets out there are simply divided into junior and adult models. This is so because there are additional adjustment mechanisms that will help you get a better fit out of the helmet, no matter your head size. Still, there are almost always going to be small, medium, or large options to choose from, so don’t worry.


If you’re about to go whitewater kayaking, the helmet’s drainage is definitely something you shouldn’t overlook. All watersports helmets will include holes in them. These holes are primarily meant for ventilation and will keep your head cool if you’re just doing flatwater tours. However, these holes will also double as drainage vents if things get spicy. If for some reason you fall into the water, these drainage holes will keep the helmet dry once you get out since they are placed at strategic locations. Normal helmets that don’t have this feature will retain most of the water even if they have ventilation holes.

So, in short, if you decide to use another type of helmet for flatwater kayaking, the ventilation holes will help with preventing your head from overheating. However, for whitewater kayaking, a watersport helmet is a must, since it will also keep your head dry from all the water that hits it.

Retention System

Every watersport helmet will come with a strap to it. In most cases, it will be called the helmet’s retention system or retention strap. Those are the straps that allow you to adjust the fit of the helmet under your chin. They can be padded and quite comfortable, as well as easy to control. However, some helmets will have poor straps that won’t hold well and will have to be re-adjusted again in time.

In addition to the chin strap, some helmets will have a superior retention system that is also called a “harness”. These harnesses wrap around the top part of your head and can be adjusted via a dial knob. This adjustment will make sure that they fit snugly around your head and don’t move even on the most extreme occasions. Helmets with such harness systems are ideal for whitewater kayaking.

However, they aren’t a must for flatwater touring since they only bulk up the price and don’t provide anything you will absolutely need. If you want a snug fit, though, and don’t want to rely on the helmet’s size rating, look for one with a retention system in place that allows for further size adjustments inside the helmet.


kayak group going down a river

When you’re handling waves in your kayak, having a helmet with some proper durability to it is a major advantage. As complex as durability often is, in most cases the primary reason for a helmet being tough is its outer shell material. There are, of course, contributing factors such as the build quality, manufacturer process, and others that will help improve the overall short- and long-term durability. Still, let’s briefly discuss all the material options you will be faced with when choosing a new helmet…

Outer Shell Materials

The outer shell of the helmet is its top-most part that covers everything inside. It is the thing that you see from the outside and it covers the inner lining and, in some cases, the inner shell if it is present. There are a few materials that are used in making outer shells these days. These materials are ABS plastic, carbon composite, carbon fiber, and other plastic polymers.

ABS is one of the most common plastic materials used in plastic outer shells. The reason for that is because it is fairly cheap to produce and it has excellent durability properties for the money. It consists of a thermoplastic polymer that is very easy to mold over different shapes and is quite flexible once cooled down. Exactly that flexibility makes it a top choice for low and mid-tier kayak helmets.

Carbon fiber and carbon composite materials are used only in the most expensive watersport helmets out there. It goes without saying that this material is superior in almost every way apart from flexibility when compared to any of the plastic polymers. Carbon fiber is tougher, more durable in the long run, absorbs impacts better, and can’t be affected by the weather in any way.

Inner Lining materials

Most helmets will have a second layer of protection below the outer shell. That layer is called the inner lining or simply “liner”. For this layer, manufacturers use materials such as EPP and EVA. Expanded polypropylene (EPP) is a foam that is outstanding in one category – shock absorption. This is why it is used in a lot of helmets, not only for watersports. Thanks to its closed-cell anatomy, this versatile foam also has superb buoyancy, great thermal insulation, and exceptional resistance to water and other of nature’s elements. It is also very durable and can’t be damaged easily by impacts or other wear and tear. Lastly, EPP is 100% recyclable giving it an added bonus compared to EVA foam.

Speaking of EVA foam, it is the other good alternative for internal insulation for sports helmets. It is softer than EPP and has better flexibility. Just like EPP, it is UV-resistant and won’t crack over time, even when exposed to extreme heat. Again like EPP, it is also waterproof and can absorb shocks quite well. Both of these materials are crucial for the helmet’s shock absorption capabilities. Therefore, getting a helmet with EPP or EVA foam on the inside is a must if you’re into more extreme kayaking.

Safety Certificates

The topic of safety certificates is a bit difficult, especially for first-time buyers. The reason for that is because manufacturers don’t always disclose their ways of testing. Nor do they disclose the acquired safety certificates for their kayak helmets. This is why you can’t always access that information straight away but would rather have to dig for it if it is present at all. Some companies like WRSI, Tonton, and Pro-Tec make sure that they display their safety certificates.

The most common certificate out there is the CE EN 1385 water sports safety standard certification. This is a standard safety certificate issued to helmets used for canoeing and white water sports in classes 1 through 4 water.


Even though we didn’t touch this topic at first, the comfort of a sports helmet is one of its most important features. After all, chances are that you will be spending most of your day with it on your head. In order for it to be comfortable, it has to have a high-quality internal lining (or “liner”) that will protect your head and make sure that the helmet stays snugly fit and soft on the inside. EVA and EPP foams are both quite comfortable and do a fairly good job at keeping your head cool most of the time. If you go for a helmet with a thicker internal foam layer, make sure that there are more than just a few vents. These vents will keep the hot air out and will also help with water drainage should you fall in the water.

Another thing that plays a major role in the helmet’s comfort is its strap. Look for straps that are well-padded. If you go for a half-cut helmet, make sure that the straps near your ears are padded as well, otherwise, they will rub against the side of your head and might cause irritation or rashes on a long kayaking day. Other things such as the helmet’s visor will also play a major role in its comfort, especially on sunny days.


Another aspect of the helmet’s comfort is its weight. How much a kayak helmet weighs is going to impact its overall comfort in a lot of ways. When it is on your head, a lighter helmet will be much easier to wear over extended periods of time. When it is off your head and in your gear pack, the added weight will be felt when you have to constantly carry it around with the rest of your gear. This is why manufacturers make continuous efforts to make helmets lighter and lighter each season. More expensive helmets that use a carbon fiber outer shell have no weight issues since that material typically cuts their weight down by more than 50% compared to models that use a plastic polymer for the outer shell.

Additional Features

The more additional features a helmet has, the better option it becomes when put side by side with its competition. If you’re often kayaking at sunny locations or are going out fishing in an open lake, having a visor on your helmet is a must. This will act as a hat’s brim and will keep the sun away from your eyes. Some open-cut helmets will have large surround visors that will keep the sides of your head protected as well. These are geared more towards recreational kayaking, though.

Other additional features include more vents and the ability to be able to control what the vents do. Some multi-purpose helmets will have a switch that will allow you to close and open the vents depending on the weather outside. This will allow you to control the inside temperature within the helmet with more precision. Being able to choose from a variety of color options is also a nice thing to have, especially if you want to color-match your gear to your kayak.

Another important additional feature to look for is a GoPro helmet mount. Some helmets will come with special slots that will let you attach camera mounts straight away without the need of buying extra accessories. This slot can be either at the top of the helmet or on its side, or at both locations. This is incredibly handy if you want to record your next kayaking trip!


Last but definitely not least is the actual price of the helmet. Depending on the materials used for the outer and inner shells of the helmet, you will see quite the price range for different models. Starting from helmets that have plastic polymers both inside and out, you will be able to get one at quite a bargain price. The higher you go, however, the more you will see professional helmets that have top-shelf materials in them. Those can typically set you back 200-300 dollars. Still, don’t forget to determine how much you’re willing to spend and then focus on the important features within this price range – comfort, durability, and safety!

If you’re also interested in life jackets for kayaks, make sure you check out my detailed buyer’s guide by clicking here!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really need a kayak helmet?

While the answer to this question might seem pretty straightforward and obvious, there is a certain division on it. For recreational kayaking, people don’t always wear helmets. However, certain agencies have them as mandatory if you want to tour with them. For whitewater kayaking and other kayak sports, it is a must to have a good helmet on your head. As a rule of thumb, if there is even the slightest chance of your head getting hurt, wear a helmet.

Can you use a cycling helmet for kayaking?

The simple answer to this question is no. However, if you are into recreational kayaking and simply want a bit of extra protection for your head, a bike helmet will be better than no helmet, so go for it. However, both motorcycle and bicycle helmets are made to withstand impacts different from the ones in kayaking. There are also additional features that make them less interchangeable than you’d think. If there is a helmet type that could save your head in all sorts of situations, it is a climbing helmet.

What are some of the dangers of kayaking?

One of the most common injuries in this sport involves the shoulder and wrists of paddlers. Impact injuries are the ones with the highest rate, followed by the harm caused by extreme heat and/or dehydration. If you aren’t well-protected against the sun, you can also get sunburn. In colder climates, hypothermia is another big risk factor that you should consider when figuring out what to wear when kayaking. Lastly, as with any other water sport, there is always the risk of drowning.

Can sharks bite through kayaks?

Although this is rare, there are known cases of shark attacks on kayakers. In most cases, these tend to happen in shark-infested waters where the predator took the kayak for prey and bit on it by mistake. Depending on the shark’s size, damage to the kayak and the paddler might vary.

Final Words

When choosing between the best kayak helmets for this year’s kayak season, you will be faced with a plethora of choices. Some of those options won’t be great, and some will be more than a great deal for your money. It is important, however, to learn which features deserve your attention. Start by choosing the right helmet type for your kayaking style. Then, move onto the durability of the helmet, its safety certificates, and its overall comfort. A good helmet shouldn’t feel too tight or loose on your head and should allow plenty of breathability while keeping your head dry and warm.