For many of us ultra-light foam constructed climbing or bike helmets have been the accepted norm. I have often wondered about the limited protection these helmets provide on the sides and back of the cranium. In looking for a better alternative I started eyeing ski-helmets. There are ski-helmets that are of the same lightweight construction but offer comparable protection to that of a kayaking helmet. I will be adding one to my packrafting kit. In the bikerafting blog there was a link to a very atractive ski-helmet made by Bern (http://www.bernunlimited.com/).

I am inspired by the movement to step up the knowledge and education of packrafting safety and rescue. The development of rescue techniques using swimmer grab loops in the stern and tow lines in the bow proved critical on our recent all-Alpacka descent of Cataract Canyon. If we (packrafters) are to be taken seriously and accepted by land managers and the larger river running community it is critical that this trend continue.

Forrest makes an excellent point – bike hemets, while light do not seem to offer enough protection as we found with a swimmer pulled under a log recently. Head was painfully bumped below the bike helmet on the back of the head.

Ski helmet sounds good.

Why not just a paddling helmet? They weigh approximately the same - and a paddling helmet has a visor to protect your face. The helmet you mention weights the same as this helmet:


I’m not sure what the technical differences are (other than the visor) but it seems ski helmets have a few unnecessary extras like a goggle clip. They also come with various padding that would be spongy if submerged underwater. It also seems that boaters spend a fair amount of time with their head underwater rapidly approaching rocks and other debris; everyone knows a boater with a good face scar… a solid visor helps in situations like this.

The Sweet Strutter Helmet is a nice cap. However, it is both more expensive and heavier then the Bern Brentwood Helmet. The Strutter is made of carbon fiber and the Brentwood is a foam/plastic. The Strutter maybe more durable and is a true kayaking helmet. The Brentwood is an “action sports helmet”, has an optional visor, and is probably more versatile for multi-sport adventures.

Sweet Strutter Helmet
Weight: 460 grams (another website reported it only weighs 400 grams)
Suggested Retail: 190$
Intended use: kayaking

Bern Brentwood Helmet
Weight: 354 grams
Suggested retail: 100$ (on sale for 40$ at backcountry.com)
Intended use: action sports

What do you think of those lightweight pro-tech hockey-style helmets some boaters wear?

The Pro-tec Ace water looks like a good option (http://www.pro-tec.net/water/main.html). I like the looks of the Ace more then the other Pro-tec models because it does not cover the ears. I have a Pro-tec plastic kayaking helmet that I have used for a few years when paddling roadside whitewater. It covers my ears and I find that a bit annoying. The Ace has lots of vents for ventilation and draining-a big plus. I could not find it’s weight anywhere. It retails for only 40$. REI has them.

Also check out the helmets at http://www.wrsi.org


How have climbing helmets worked out for people who’ve used them for packrafting? I was thinking of using my Black Diamond Halfdome helmet for packrafting this summer, but haven’t had a chance to test it out yet.

Lots of people have used climbing helmets. They are better then nothing. However, climbing helmets are more designed to protect your head from falling rock not hitting your head a rock. Nor is there much protection on the side of your head.

Here is some info on helmets…www.helmets.org

The multipurpose page and short blurb on whitewater helmets is good to read.


this is from helmets.org:

“Whitewater sports have their own helmets. The impacts are lower than in bicycling, but more frequent, and the sharp rock hazard results in a need for more coverage. Water must drain from the helmet as well to prevent “bucketing,” and some canoeists mention the ear as a vulnerable area if your head is being dragged under water. A bike helmet will be better than a bare head for whitewater, but a canoeing helmet should be considerably better adapted to the sport. ASTM is working on a whitewater standard, but does not have it in place yet, so you are on your own to make a choice. There are some whitewater helmets out there with multi-impact EPP foam in them instead of the squishy stuff, which should be an improvement.”

This past spring I bought the Grivel Salamander helmet for ski mountaineering. It is fairly light and the back of the helmet extends down quite a ways to protect the back of your head. It’s not as beefy as my skiing helmet and not as light as my climbing helmet but it’s a good compromise - and hopefully will protect the back of my head in the event of a bad skiing fall or boating rock smack. If you’re looking for an all-in-one helmet you might consider it.


Here is a challenge for the designers/mad scientists in the crowd (Sheri, you listening?). How about a helmet that can also be used as a cook pot? Obviously it would have to made out of a lightweight metal, like titanium, and would need to have a removable padding system that clips into place for boating. A prize is offered for the first viable design!

Clearly, using Brad’s novel interpretation of multiple use Packrafting gear, making the Inflation Bags out of the material used to manufacture boil-in-the-bag food bags, creates an extremely large boil-in-the-Inflation Bag.

The mind boggles!
(Presumably from wearing a titaniun cookpot as a Packrafting helmet!). (o:

I am quite serious about a helmet that doubles as a cookpot. Soldiers in World War I used to cook out of their helmets. Such an invention would be ideal for mountaineers, kayakers, and packrafters (and perhaps adventurous skateboarders). Made out of titanium, with a clip-in liner system and a visor that doubles as a handle, this could be a big advancement in multi-use gear. Call me a “pot-head” if you want, but you’ll be jealous of mine once I’ve got it figured out.

I did transiently wonder whether my plastic food bowl could be modified to become a helmet…and with a pair of scissors, you could then go on to do some really attracive hair cuts as well!

The titanium cookpot/helmet idea has plenty of merits, and is not that difficult to design (the described design would be perfect) - I think the biggest problem would be finding someone to make it, as it’s technically a bit beyond the DIY types. ?any metal workers out there

There’s a guy over on Blade Forums who’s actually bought a metal helmet specifically to use as a cook pot once camp is made, he’s posted reports, updates and photo’s too.

As its 0-Dark:30 here and I’ve just gone through 10 pages looking for it, I’ll look again tomorrow!

I found that the Pro-Tec Classic Full Cut Water Helmet to be an absolutely perfect fit, and it weighs nothing, and yes, mines yellow… the best colour!

Brad! You stole my idea!

We generally go helmet-less… sticking to almost never swimming as protection for the head, but I’ve often founded myself wishing for that additional layer of protection, especially if it could double as foul-weather insulation and didn’t add much weight. I look at our titanium pot and think, “It’s just the wrong shape.” We usually cook on three rocks arranged around a fire, so a round-bottomed pot would likely be just as stable as a flat one. And you’d look pretty gnarly in a dented fire-stained helmet.

And I’ve only rarely used our cookpot while packrafting, and never wished for a helmet while cooking…

It’s a tough one to jerry-rig though, since fabricating the titanium shell probably requires some pretty serious industrial technology.

But yeah, just like Brad describes, a clip in system for the foam padding. Perhaps the chin strap would be affixed to the foam and thread through the metal shell to hold the two together.