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Old 08-18-2005   #11
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 168
I never really understood why helmet manufactures boast about being able to drive a truck over their helmets and such. I would think a little give is a good thing. Climbing ropes are dynamic, bike helmets are designed to crush, and car frames are designed to crumple. I just can't imagine a rock so sharp that it would pierce through any helmet and into the skull. As far as arrows go, don't mess with the natives. I don't plan on having a truck drive over my head either.

The goal is to distribute blunt force over a larger area and absorb impact. It the goal was to have the most rigid bullet proof helmet possible, then we should all have cast iron pots on our heads.[/b]

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Old 08-18-2005   #12
Engineering Student
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 18
as far as my above coment...
this said, I still wear a plastic helmet that a friend gave me that looks more like a skating helmet than a "kayaking" helmet. too cheap to buy a nice one right now. - maybe if this MRSI thinging sounds good, i'll get one of theirs

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Old 08-18-2005   #13
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
I think bigboater is right on. I have never believed that a hard shell like kevlar is the answer for a bomber helmet. It seems to me that the stiffer the material is the more shock it will transmit. I think the liner is more important than the shell.

Personally, I prefer the Cascade with a face mask for creeking. It is a plastic shell which I feel helps absorb impact and the liner is MUCH thicker than any I have seen in kayak helmets. The shell covers your ear and goes very low in the back. It probably has sun damage (7 years worth) so I am retiring it and getting another one. It has absorbed at least one blow every season that I would consider KO-quality. Not to mention plenty of the usual upside down bouncing along the bottom of a creek style of boating. I doubt a composite would have survived my 7 year attempt to be a creek boater.

Don't mistake the Cascade and the Pro-tec plastic helmets. I wore a Pro-tec when I was a beginner and saw stars when I hit my head in that thing. The liners are the key.
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Old 08-18-2005   #14
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 16
Last winter I was in the market for a new helmet and emailed "White Water Research and Safety Institute" many times and never got a single response. Not impressed with their customer service. I ended up buying a J3 helmet, and their customer service was even worse.

My next helmet probably won’t come from either of these two companies. Kayak helmets are all too similar to have to deal with poor customer service.

Just my opinion.
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Old 08-18-2005   #15
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8
I will attempt to clarify some misnomers about how composites and plastics work into helmet design.

A quick back ground of my credentials if it matters to anybody. I have a B.S. in Physics and a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering-spacecraft design. I worked for a few years doing materials research in both composite materials and UHMW plastics. Worked for NASA for 4 years before coming back to Boulder where I currently work aerospace projects. Not that Im the final word on this stuff, but I have spent a lot of time looking at the physics of composite materials.

So first if I wanted to protect my head from angry fishermen and landowners with guns I would want a bullet proof Kevlar helmet. Kevlar was designed for bullet proof vests where it works great and it his been used well in some other limited applications too. Kevlar is tough next to say carbon fiber, but not as tough as some good plastics. A good plastic is amazing for toughness, which I regard as energy dissipation in the material. There are lots of types of plastics on the market some great and some very poor. It can be hard with just your eye to tell the difference. The plastic Surlyn is a fantastic plastic that is very tough, which is used as the outer shell for WRSI helmets.

I see so much miss use of Kevlar and Carbon in sports applications it makes me sick. I would guess that over 90% of the sports products using carbon fiber is for marketing rather then making the product better. Composites are very difficult to design for the specific application, very difficult and if not done right it makes the product worse.

I think the grateful heads helmets that use Kevlar are good helmets, not great but good. Also very expensive! There appears to be no real engineering into these helmets in my opinion (Others might disagree and that’s okay). They have made an extremely strong helmet, to strong for a helmet. They seem to have turned what was once a plastic helmet and replaced the plastic with Kevlar and called it a better helmet for the only reason the Kevlar is stronger than plastic

So ideally this is what I would like a helmet to do. Say a rock hits my helmet while im upside down before I get a chance to roll. I don’t want that load imparted on my head be enough to knock me unconscious preventing me from rolling back up....period. If I’m unconscious I cant roll up, bad things can happen after that. So if for example a 50 lb force hits my helmet over a square inch the helmet sees 50psi on the outer surface of the helmet. The idea of the helmet is to dissipate that load over a larger area before reaching my skull. So rather then 50lb over a square inch I would prefer 50lb over maybe 25 square inches if the helmet is good. My head doesn’t feel 50 psi but rather 50lb/25in^2=2psi which prevents me from getting knocked out.(numbers are just a guess)

So the engineering of a good helmet starts with defining boundaries such as possible forces the helmet might see. Am I worried about bullets? Not really. A car driving over my head? No. The upper end forces would be something like from a blunt hit with a magnitude less then would snap my head off. I don’t know what it is 50psi, 100psi 200psi maybe? I feel at a guess it would be less then 1000psi because at some point I could care less if the helmet is intact and my head is detached from my body. This is an engineering approach compared to saying because it can withstand a car running over it will be a good whitewater helmet.

So I do feel the design of the WRSI at first glance is a much better way of distributing loads of reasonable forces one might encounter from a rock while going down a difficult whitewater run. The sandwich type construction used in the WRSI helmet that uses two layers with high density foam in-between the layers I think is an excellent approach to dissipating blunt forces. But I would like to see some actual tests done on the helmet to show its been optimized. I will point out that I think the design approach is very good, actual test data would be needed to further prove the design meets its design goals.

Sorry for the long ramble, just wanting to clear things up a little rather then have some misconceptions from the above posts about what looks like will be a great helmet.

I would be happy to go in with somebody on a pack of 10. I could take two helmets at $35 a pop. Anybody want a Grateful Heads Hard Hit for $70

Hope I helped
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Old 08-18-2005   #16
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 168
Originally Posted by Quigley

I think the grateful heads helmets that use Kevlar are good helmets, not great but good. Also very expensive! There appears to be no real engineering into these helmets in my opinion
Well, at least as of 1998 the Gratefull Heads engineering department consisted of a coulple of burned out hippies hanging out in a basement.

That same day I helped to save Jay and his kayak he took a hard hit to his helmet. He was quite proud that his lid took a hit and bareley had a skratch on it. Even though he had a splitting headach. Just because a helmet can withstand a blow doesn't mean it protects whats inside.

I've got three people in on 10 pack (including myself). Quigley and anyone else PM me so I can keep track if you want in. Quigley, you can keep that Hard Hit and use it as a wheel chock.
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Old 08-18-2005   #17
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
i'm in on the box of they all have to be identical?

-aaron to make arrangements
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Old 08-18-2005   #18
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 168
I think so. I've got a vote for the tequeila sunrise and mango orange. Both with no vents. I don't care much about the color, but I do prefer no vents. PM me if want in.
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Old 08-18-2005   #19
Highlands Ranch, CO Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 482

That is super impressive.

In my limited understanding of helmet design, I was under the impresion that some companies such as sweet use varying directional weaves of carbon fiber with maybe some kevlar. In doing so the different weaves will help dissipate that blunt hit through the shell of the helmet that is why they have such thin liners as opposed to say a cascade. If you could shed a little light on that for me, I would apreciate that.

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Old 08-18-2005   #20
Eagle, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 281
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This is a great topic! As an advocate for safe helmets and an employee of Head Trip, I can say that this line of questioning is awesome. I can also say that the helmets I represent are tested fully and anyone that would like to know factors involved in the testing or results there of, please contact Kim at Head Trip: 800.300.9813 or

The Head Trip helmets offered for action sports, such as kayaking, are the same shell we use in our DOT approved helmets. The reason we use a different liner for the DOT helmets is the puncture test. As Quigley has stated very well, the lay up is a key component to the strength of a helmet - materials can only get you so far. Advanced Carbon Composites has gone to great lengths to master this process.

I am psyched to hear folks in our community wanting to learn more about this topic, as we are one of the few sports without a defined "standard" for quality control. I do know off hand that Head Trip, Sweet, Shred Ready, and I think WRSI all pass the ASTM 1385 and European CE testing.

I hope this helps.

matt solomon
sales/team manager
Head Trip Helmets

Alpine Arms
Team Dagger
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