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7 Best Kayak Helmets in 2020

Vier Freunde auf See machen einen Kajakhelm Test.

A good kayak helmet is essential for kayakers planning real adventures. In case of an accident the helmet protects your head. Especially adrenaline junkies who are not afraid of whitewater rafting should always wear a kayak helmet.

However, we believe that everyone should wear such a helmet. The head is the most important thing we have and at the same time quite sensitive. Collisions with rocks or other kayaks can quickly lead to injuries, which can be really dangerous.

The most common cause of death in kayaking is drowning as a result of fainting. For this reason everyone should wear a kayak helmet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just doing relaxed laps, going on longer tours, navigating current waters or through coastal waters.

The kayak helmet is an important part of the kayak equipment. The large selection of kayak helmets and water sports helmets may be confusing at first. However, our best list is a good starting point to find your way around this jungle. The models presented here have all already convinced in a kayak helmet test or otherwise in practice.

When choosing a kayak helmet, especially beginners often feel overstrained. The large number of available models makes the decision for one helmet (and therefore against the others) difficult. Instead of choosing any helmet, many kayak beginners go out on the water without a helmet. This is a thorn in our side.

The beginners take a big risk. They lack experience in handling the sport equipment and also the ability to judge dangerous situations is not yet trained. With our list of best kayak helmets we have already given a quick overview of various kayak helmets. In the following we will go into more detail about the individual models.

The Best Kayak Helmets

Pro-Tec - Ace Water Helmet, Satin Orange Retro, XL Pro-Tec - Ace Water Helmet, Satin
  • High Density Injection Molded ABS Shell with Dual Density Waterproof EVA Liner
  • Multi-use Rear Mount Strap (Goggles, Head Light, Camera etc.)
  • 15 Open Vents for Ventilation and Drainage
NRS Havoc Adult Livery Whitewater Kayak Rafting Safety Water Sport Helmet, One Size Fits Most, Red NRS Havoc Adult Livery Whitewater
  • WATER SPORT HELMET: Keep your noggin safe with this 1-size-fits-most helmet for whitewater kayaking, rafting, and other water sports
  • 1 SIZE FITS MOST: Fits head circumferences between 20.8 and 24.4 inches
  • ADJUSTABLE: Easy to adjust with a simple twist of the ratchet-adjust DialFit system
Tontron Water Helmet (Matte Black Diamond,Medium) Tontron Water Helmet (Matte Black
  • ABS outer shell for impact protection. Quick dry soft EVA absorption liner.
  • Removable ear protection pads and adjustable back of head dial.
  • 11 Air-vents system for breathing.
NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut, Black, L, 42605.03.122 NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut, Black,
  • Shell Material: ABS plastic
  • Impact Foam: EVA foam
  • Fit Adjustment: Boa, adjustable chin strap
Shred Ready 2019 Super Scrappy Whitewater Helmet Shred Ready 2019 Super Scrappy
  • Nylon straps attached with metal hander
  • ABS Molded Shell
  • VN Foam liner
Pro-Rider Classic Bike & Skate Helmet (Red, X-Small) Pro-Rider Classic Bike & Skate
  • Classic Multi-Sports Helmet with Hard Outer Shell for Added Protection - Complies with CPSC Standards for Helmet Safety
  • Ventilation Channels for Cooling Comfort
  • Durable Polyester Straps with Quick-Release Buckle
Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak Helmet-MattFieryRedMet-M/L Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak
  • Shell Material: ABS, TLC Shell technology (Thermoplastic Laminated Carbonfiber)
  • Impact Foam: EPP
  • Fit Adjustment: Occigrip

Guide: Choosing the perfect kayak helmet

We had already presented some good models. The following guide will now go into more detail about what to consider when choosing a kayak helmet. For example, the type is related to the intended use. Every helmet should also be comfortable, have a hard shell and last a long time. The right size of kayak helmet also plays an important role.


The fitting accuracy is extremely important for a kayak helmet. Not every head is the same size. For this reason many models are offered in four or more different sizes (XXS to XXL). A helmet that is not properly adjusted to your head size simply does not wear well and often ends up in the corner after only a few tours.

The first time the helmet is put on, the straps must be adjusted accordingly. On a good kayak helmet, the straps are adjustable so that the helmet does not slip back and forth. Ideally, the buckle on the strap should be covered with a fabric loop to ensure comfort. The straps should also not be pulled too tight.

The ideal kayak helmet does not slip, does not disturb while wearing and still offers protection on the water.


The helmets are usually made of plastics such as ABS. The material for the perfect kayak helmet is light, robust and has a long lifetime. Such a helmet should not cause wear and tear from (salt) water or sunlight. It is also important that the chosen model can withstand several collisions. In a kayak helmet test, this can be simulated, for example, by hitting a paddle (one of the most common accidents).

The durability can often be derived from the materials used. Another good source of information on this subject is customer reviews. Often buyers give their reviews only after months or years of intensive use and also include observations regarding damage and wear and tear.

Safety certification

Before buying a helmet, always check its certification. In the American area there is the WRSI. This organization subjects kayak and Canadian helmets to strict tests. Many manufacturers also use their own test procedures to push the limits of their products. However, the results should be treated with caution.

In Europe, the EN 1385 certification is the counterpart to the American test procedures. The certification states that the tested kayak helmets are approved for white water levels 1 to 4. This European standard does not apply to rides in extreme white water (level 5). For falls from high waterfalls and other risky manoeuvres, the kayak helmets should be able to absorb even stronger impacts on impact.

We should note that kayak helmets without certification can of course also be good. Often the manufacturers do not have the product tested individually in all regions where the product is sold. Maybe the certification was simply not mentioned. With certified kayak helmets, however, you can be sure that it takes some effort before the helmets take serious damage.


A kayak helmet does not have to cost a fortune. The most expensive product is not always the safest. In fact, the price can be a good indicator of quality. Instead of buying a very cheap model that won’t last long, you should take a little more money and invest in a high-quality kayak helmet.

The helmets we present are all very good. Here and there there are minor weaknesses, but all kayak helmets from our best list are all a good choice. And the best thing is: Some of the models don’t cost much at all.

use area

In our opinion all kayakers should wear a helmet. Some paddlers expose themselves to greater risks during white water rafting and should therefore wear some kind of helmet that offers more protection.

Kayak helmets that are placed above the ears are suitable for beginners, leisurely trips and touring paddling. These helmets already offer good protection for the most sensitive parts. There are, however, a number of helmets that are slightly larger, protect the ears and have additional insulation. For tours in rough waters, the latter models should definitely be used.

In addition to the level of protection offered by the helmets, the choice of the right model also depends on the external conditions. If you are not afraid of cold temperatures, you should use a kayak helmet that covers your ears. If, on the other hand, you are mostly out in fairly warm weather, good ventilation of the helmet (through many vents) is more important.

FAQ: Choose a kayak helmet

The maintenance of the helmet is not complicated. Simply rinse it off with tap water after use. Use mild detergent and let the kayak helmet dry afterwards. Some manufacturers also include a note with cleaning instructions with their products. In this case you should follow these instructions.

How tight should a kayak helmet be?

A kayak helmet should sit securely on the head, but not press down. For this, both the choice of the right helmet and the correct adjustment by means of the straps are important. The helmet does not have to press so hard on the head that it is no longer comfortable to wear.

The helmet should be neither too tight nor too loose. The kayak helmet must not slip even when moving, but must still offer plenty of freedom of movement. It is best to test different sizes and different strap settings until you find the perfect fit.

How to determine the size of a kayak helmet?

The head circumference is the decisive measure for the size of a kayak helmet. The forehead circumference is determined with a measuring tape. Alternatively a string can be used for this purpose. Wrap it around your forehead and mark the point where the string intersects. With the help of a folding rule the length can then be measured easily.

Typical sizes are 54 – 56 cm, 57 – 59 cm and 59 – 61 cm. Additionally, some manufacturers offer extra small and extra large versions.


Right after fun, safety must always come second. For real adrenaline freaks as well as for touring paddlers, a kayak helmet is a must. It not only protects, but also keeps you warm, dry and looks cool.

With our best list and the tips from our guide, not much can go wrong with choosing a good kayak helmet. And remember: Much more important than choosing a particular model is the fact that you are wearing a kayak helmet at all.

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