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Old 01-20-2016   #1
Sandpoint, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 3
Full face or no?

I need to buy a new kayak helmet, and I am wondering if I should buy a full face kayak helmet or not. I am pretty much just starting kayaking, but would like to start hitting more falls. So is it worth the extra $ for a full face?

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Old 01-20-2016   #2
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 747
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The extra money is cheap compared to the cost of dental work. Many Colorado rivers are relatively shallow and/or full of blast rock. I almost always wear a full-face unless I'm playboating.

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Old 02-04-2016   #3
El Dorado Hills, California
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 28
I agree with what was stated above. I'd much rather spend a little more money now on a better helmet than spend thousands on new dental work.
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Old 02-05-2016   #4
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 40
Wish I'd had a full face helmet when my short-lived kayak career began. While it wouldn't have stopped me from breaking a molar (which led to four root canals, a crown and final removal of that tooth) when I hit a boulder upside down in a mild rapid, it probably would have kept me from getting the twelve stitches on my face when I hit the second boulder in the same rapid.
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Old 02-05-2016   #5
gypsy, Colorado
Paddling Since: 02
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 176
Full faces over you more protection, but.

What about communication, it is distinctly hard to hear while wearing a full face and others have a harder time hearing you as well.

So if your consistently paddling new rivers where communication is critical, no I would not suggest a full face. If you are paddling the same section and aren't concerned about your paddling partners, sure, it may some day help you.
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Old 02-05-2016   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Over the years I've seen a lot of people take bad face shots that range from busted/bruised lips to missing teeth and broken jaws. I've even heard someone wearing a FF who thinks he would have been knocked out upside down had he not had one on. Given that I'm an advocate of FF helmets for many WW applications as I think the benefit far outweighs the downsides.

It is somewhat more difficult to communicate with a FF on. However, almost every exploratory run I've ever done was wearing a FF and I would call it a minor inconvenience. Generally speaking you're either using hand signals, yelling very brief instructions, or in a position where you can lift your helmet to communicate more complex instructions. If you're a river guide I could this might be a big issue though.

For beginners I could see an argument for not wearing a FF based on being in slower, less dangerous WW. That said, my very first day outside in a kayak, I went to a playpark and window shaded upstream. My face smashed directly into a rock (I survived though).
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Old 02-05-2016   #7
Three Rivers, California
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 86
The communication can be worked around. I have a love hate relationship with full face helmets. I just found using one tough for two things; visibility and heat issues during long portages had me often portaging without a helmet on, which can be one of the more dangerous parts of kayaking. The same issue with photography as I'm often out of my boat shooting, no helmet leaves you exposed to rock fall.

Still I'd say as a beginner that it's a great idea to spend a little more on a full face.
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Old 02-06-2016   #8
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 15
Full face for life
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Old 02-06-2016   #9
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 122
I would love to get a full face helmet. Wanted one for years, but none of the helmet companies will make one that fits my large xxl head. So I guess I better tuck early.
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Old 02-06-2016   #10
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 808
If you just started kayaking and are looking to "hit some falls", you should probably pop for all the body armor you can afford.

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