Hello packrafting super geniuses

I am looking for advice about finding a light helmet for packrafting. What are folks using using? Do standard bike helmets provide enough protection?

I would be expecting to use the helmet in class III water in fairly shallow rocky creeks.


BMX helmets appear to be the same thing as my protec helmet. I think the foam inside is different though. Probably the same weight if not heavier for the BMX. What I like about the two is they cover the back of the head better than a typical all out road or mtb helmet. Usually I think this helps prevent the helmet from shifting back on my head, but that happens more while I motorize bike ride. I guess water could make a helmet shift as well. On the 4th of july I went on some class II and got flipped head over heels. I never hit the bottom or any concrete on the manmade course. But I would not want poor back of head protection in the helmet in the event I have another forced reverse somersault.

I use a Pro-Tec Full Cut Classic Water Helmet, though I’ve only used it on slow moving water and (thankfully) not tested its impact absorption capabilities!

It fits perfectly, is extremely light and comfortable, and affords as much protection as is possible with this type of helmet.

It works for me…

I wore a protect helmet (ACE Model) and I took a hit on the helmet in Campground Rapids on Eagle River. I sustained a concussion and lump on my head. I had to stop class… I was teaching swiftwater rescue to Anchorage Fire Dept. I now spend money on a good helmet. May I recommend a couple companies: Grateful Heads, WRSI, or Shred Ready. Packrafting is not an inexpensive sport between the boat, paddles, pack, drysuit, lifejacket (get one designed for the river), footwear and yes… a proper fitting whitewater helmet! I don’t paddle without one.

Thanks for the advice - I ended up going by Alaska Raft and Kayak and bought the helmet they recommended -> http://pro-tec.net/water/two_face.html . Hopefully I will not have to test its impact resistance…

Along the same lines as the original question - but one that wasn’t really answered:

I’m new to the packrafting/whitewater world. I plan on doing a lot of bikerafting, with the emphasis more on the biking and easy (C2-3) whitewater. I’d prefer not to bring two helmets, but neither type - biking & ww - seem to translate well to the other sport. Any recommendations?



After Scott wrote about his concussion incident, I looked into multi-sport helmets that would cover bikerafting, possibly with some rockfall-risking activities added. Each activity poses a different problem in design, with safety standards setting the targets. Each standard requires managing energy absorption differently. For whitewater, the helmets seem mainly to protect against multiple low speed horizontal hits; for bicycles, moderately high speed single hits; and for rock climbing/mountaineering high speed rock fall. And there is the matter of having lots of cooling vents for biking, not too many holes on top for rock fall too enter through, and flow control for water while swimming.

I found only one helmet that meets the European standards for all three. The helmet is the Kong Scarab. It’s light enough and readily available from web-based retailers, if moderately expensive. IIRC, no other helmet even covered the spectrum of bikerafting risks. For straight whitewater I might choose a good multi-hit whitewater helmet, but multi-hit helmets weigh too much for a serious walk, in my opinion, and are not safe for bicycling use. The tradeoff for lightweight is that the helmet gets replaced after a hard hit.

You can see the helmet on the manufacturer’s site in black, but I have seen it for sale on the web in red and white.

I ought to add that I found a comment on one site, perhaps by a manufacturer’s salesman, that suggested another manufacturer was planning to compete with the Scarab. However, the comment is now stale, and nothing surfaced. Vaporware; apparently providing evidence of the difficulty of designing a good packrafting helmet.


Thanks for the excellent response. I really didn’t expect to get a response that solved my problem.

Considering I also rock and ice climb, this is a sweet find.



Time to bring my earlier post up to date, in which I reported that the only helmet meeting European standards for white water, bicycling and climbing was the Kong Scarab. The new version of the Petzl Meteor III, the III+, reportedly is now similarly certified for use in those sports. The original Meteor III was not certified.

The Meteor III+ is at REI and so is easy to find, is much less expensive than the Kong, and reportedly weighs a little more than 8 ounces versus the Kong’s a little more than 9 ounces. Hard to imagine having so little weight protecting the crown jewels adequately under so many conditions. Hooray for certification!