Helmets seem to be the topic of the moment in sea kayaking circles, with debate raging on whether they should be compulsory, whether we even need to bother with them etc etc.
I have always been a proponent of wearing a helmet anywhere I'm likely to encounter a velocity impact on the sea - primarily that's going to be in the surf & around the rocks. I think it's ridiculous to appeal to fear & terror to convince paddlers to carry a helmet - hell it didn't work for John Howard or George Bush - but nonetheless I do encourage people to wear them when there is a likelihood that they may end up between a rock or the sand & a hard place (like a 17ft out-of-control sea kayak). I have only to pick up one of my old lids to see an archaeological history of impacts, scrapes & bangs that may have sullied my otherwise round & reasonably presentable head, if I need reminding.
But, which helmet? Should they squish into your day hatch, which ones are safest, breathable etc etc. We've been selling the Nutcase brand now for over a year, which are big, loud & compliant helmet with everything you need to be safe on the water. It would take a bit of convincing to switch, however we have recently heard a pretty convincing story about the evolution of WRSI Helmets, which has made us re-think.
A young paddler called Lucas Turner was killed in 1998, from a blow to the head in a kayaking accident after the helmet he was wearing slipped back from his forehead. His dad, Gil, seeking to make some sense of his son's tragic death, established the Whitewater Research & Safety Institute (WRSI), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to making whitewater paddling a safer sport. Thus began the development, manufacture, and distribution of a safer water sports helmet. With engineers & public health experts from Johns Hopkins University, they produced the 2006 WRSI water sports helmet, that the developers considered to be the “safest whitewater helmet in the world.” This has evolved into the Current helmet pictured above, which is engineered, among other things, to stay fixed to your head & not slide backwards in an impact, thus exposing your forehead.
I guess the truth is that any helmet is probably better than no helmet, & the safety features endemic to this design are there for the dreaded 'worst case scenario'. Don't panic if you have a Nutcase - we still think they're an awesome product! However, I think the WRSI represents great value & an advance in safety - if you're going to have a helmet you might as well have the one that gives you the absolute best chance of surviving a big impact.
Stock will be available from next week, in red (pictured), orange, yellow, camo and white, in both a larger size for guys, & a small size for women, for $149.00.