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Which helmet?
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Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 00:15:48 MST Print View

I've packrafted easy rivers and flat water, but am looking to expand to livelier rivers. I know nothing about helmets. Point me to a good packrafting helmet for class 3-4 rapids. I like less expensive, but not at the expense of quality and protection.

While you're at it, throw in some suggestions for clothing, if you will. I'll be starting with some short day trips to practice on more rugged water.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 01:18:49 MST Print View

http://www.nrsweb.com is one place to start for gear.

I highly recommend taking some whitewater classes. Fast water can be a real adventure, but you need to know what you are up against. I equate it with climbing.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 01:22:31 MST Print View

Thanks Dale. Yes, I should look into whitewater classes. Good call.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 01:55:01 MST Print View

I'll be a little bit of a rebel and ask, Why do you need a specialtiy rafting helmet?

Cause you might invert and smack your head on a rock, right? Or hit a tree trunk overhead, or smack a rock to one side.

Somewhat akin to what a skier or rock climber or bicyclist might do, right? And I for one already have all those types of helmets around the house. Several of each.

The rock climbing helmets seem to have the best resistence to penetration.

The bicycling helmet has the most energy-absorbing foam (and therefore the most floatation.

The skiiing helmets are in between the climbing and bicycling.

Now if the point of someone's kayak slams right into the top of your helmet, maybe you want a river / climbing style to resist penetration. Certainly if you were Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940, about to killed by an ice axe blow to the head, you'd want penetration resistence above other criteria.

But what if you smack at high speed into a rounded boulder as are often found in rivers? Then I think you want the energy absorption of styrofoam that bike helmets have the most of and ski and river helmets have some of.

My point is you probably already have helmets around the house that meet someone's certification for energy absorption and penetration resistence. Use one of those for your first few trip while you consider if you need any special features in a helmet (visor, headlamp attach point, monkey-cam mount, etc) and then consider if you want to continue with that other helmet or add another one to your collection.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 02:15:22 MST Print View

They are required on some river runs. I would like to buy one helmet that would cover bikes, climbing, skiing, and kayaking--- all those sports that can be defined as falling gracefully at great expense :)

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 02:16:35 MST Print View

David,
Your point is well taken. I personally do not own any sort of helmet at the moment, but could probably borrow a bike helmet for testing purposes.

However, the question remains: Are sport-specific helmets worth the investment, or are there perfectly capable multi-sport helmets that would be sufficient for packrafting? Bike helmets seem to offer more protection on the top of the head, while paddling helmets seem to offer side and ear protection as well.

Since I don't really plan on taking up any other sport that requires a helmet, I'd prefer to direct my money at something that would serve me best for packrafting. If a bicycle or climbing helmet can do that, then I'll certainly consider any head protection that will keep me from turing my noggin into scrambled eggs.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 02:59:13 MST Print View

You're right that adult bicycle helmet are mostly over the top of your head. Bell, etc, have tried 3/4 coverage helmets (like motorcycle helmets with the chin portion but in lightweight foam and plastic cover) but adults only buy them for their kids, not for themselves.

Check a Walmart, if you have a smaller head, a large youth helmet might fit fine and provide good forehead, side, and back coverage. $11 to $21 including some identified as "multisport". NRSweb.com has whitewater helmets from $40 to $150.

Packrafting seems inherently safer for your head then whitewater kayaking in which people expect to be upside down in fast water. I'm thinking you won't be rolling your pack raft, but will be doing a wet exit if things get ugly.

In my area, I'd be more concerned about hypothermia than head injury and would look at which helmet would accomodate a hood to help keep my head and neck warm.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Which helmet? on 01/11/2012 07:33:57 MST Print View

The Kong Scarab is probably the best known multisport helmet, but it is expensive now. Looks like the Petzl Meteor III+ may be an option for a cheaper multisport helmet.

http://packrafting.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1035

Edited by jshann on 01/11/2012 07:48:10 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Full cut helmet on 01/11/2012 11:55:54 MST Print View

Thanks everyone.

Thoughts on the need for a full cut helmet?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
packraft helmet on 01/11/2012 13:03:59 MST Print View

If you're going to get a helmet, get a full cut one. Depending on your weight and how you flip, there's a decent chance you won't just fall out of your deck. If you're going to hit a rock while inverted, high probability of hitting the side of your head or your brow. I've a non-descript Protec helmet that works just fine.

In addition to a rain jacket, paddling pants with a high neoprene waist band are nice. Conventional rain pants seem more prone to letting leaks in on the sides. A farmer john wetsuit provides insulation where you need it most, and is nice cheap insurance for day trips. You'll try harder and be more likely to run stuff if you're not worried about freezing if you flip. Sierra trading post often has wetsuits dead cheap. A drysuit is obviously the ultimate, but they're crazy expensive.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: packraft helmet on 01/11/2012 13:13:49 MST Print View

David,
Regarding the farmer john wetsuit...are you speaking of just the bottoms, or to implement a two-piece wetsuit?

Edit: Nevermind. I see what you mean by the farmer john suit. A preliminary google search brought up some two-piece thing.

Edited by T.L. on 01/11/2012 13:21:48 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: farmer john on 01/11/2012 13:21:45 MST Print View

Just the overalls, so to speak. Keeps the legs warm when sitting in a flooded boat and while wading around to scout, and the core warm when you swim. I usually layer a baselayer shirt under it and a rain coat over.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: re: farmer john on 01/11/2012 13:22:34 MST Print View

Cool, very helpful. I suppose I could make use of my Gore-Tex socks in this application?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
WRSI on 01/12/2012 20:36:50 MST Print View

I like the sound of these helmets and seem to be a solid helmet for the price.

http://www.wrsisafety.com/helmets.asp

Edited by T.L. on 01/12/2012 20:37:20 MST.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re on 01/14/2012 04:44:18 MST Print View

Is it wrong of me to feel frustrated that conventional gear doesn't typically list weights?

What type of floatation vest did you go with, Travis?

Edited by Ike on 01/14/2012 09:28:53 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: re on 01/14/2012 07:36:24 MST Print View

Ike,
Yeah, I wish weights were listed too. However, head protection is a category where I'd rather carry more weight if it offered better protection. A penalty I'm happy to take.

I haven't begun looking at vests yet, but it will be of the foam variety--no inflatables for whitewater.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
backpacking with a wetsuit on 01/26/2012 12:25:48 MST Print View

On cold water trips where a wetsuit is a welcome piece of gear, how do you backpack with it?

When you're ready to put on the wetsuit, do you completely strip naked? I just got a farmer john style, so I'll wear a base layer shirt, but what about your legs/pelvis region? Finagle it over light leggings? Just underwear? Nothing?

School me in the ways of the wetsuit.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: backpacking with wetsuit on 01/26/2012 13:18:24 MST Print View

You could wear undies under a wetsuits, but you'll get minimal extra warmth. Best to just pack 'em away and have something dry to change into.

Wetsuits do make pretty good sleeping mats.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Which helmet? on 01/26/2012 13:28:00 MST Print View

I use the Kong Scarab mentioned above, but it's not cheap at ~$115.

I wanted one helmet for packrafting, mountain biking, commuting, and if I ever get in to it more, climbing. As far as I know it's the only one approved for all of these and more (ok, it's approved in Europe but that's good enough for me).

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Whitewater on 01/26/2012 14:02:28 MST Print View

I wouldn't wear anything under your wetsuit typically. I never have anyway.
With regard to a helmet, I bet most of your packrafting is in class III or lower. In that case, I personally would not likely take a helmet in the raft. I would get experienced in class I water and class II water before hitting class III in a packraft.