Are face masks only for polo? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-15-2018   #1
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2017
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Are face masks only for polo?

I've been looking at whitewater helmets, and I think I want one that covers my face -- I have a nice new face scar from the beginning of this season at low water.

The consensus seems to be that full face helmets are great but make it hard to talk to people nearby. A friend told me about his helmet with a football-helmet-style face mask (but no jaw bar) that sounds like the perfect middle ground. I've seen people wear helmets with face masks for kayak polo as well, but nobody seems to sell them for creeking. Have they gone out of fashion, or are they not safe in some way?

If it's just a fashion thing, is there any reason I shouldn't but a thrift store football helmet, take the face mask off, and attach it to a whitewater helmet? I'm not exactly sure how that would work, but polo helmets look like they attach their masks using short screws.

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Old 06-16-2018   #2
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I know a bit about helmets, masks, and impacts. I would not recommend the football helmet mask idea. That's a recipe to be impaled or worse.

It is imperative that your helmet and mask are designed to work together and what you find in the market are helmets and masks that are almost exclusively designed to protect you from very specific types of impacts the wearer may encounter. Best example i can think of...Think hockey goalie masks vs full face motorcycle helmets, one is designed for repeated impacts, functions by dispersing impacts, deflecting the puck, etc. The other is designed to absord a one-time extremely heavy blow, then protect against road rash.

Also, how the mask is connected to the helmet is central to it's ability to save your face, as well as, not cause more risk or injuries. It's not just a matter of screwing it on and you are good to go. The mask material matters, how and where it is attached matters, there are a lot of variables that if not handled, lead to helmet, mask, or both failing.

Hopefully someone can chime in with some helmet and mask options that are specific to what you need.

Good luck!
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Old 06-16-2018   #3
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Well said. I would just get the full face, I can drink a beer, smoke some weed, and communicate just fine. Good head protection is a life saver.

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Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
I know a bit about helmets, masks, and impacts. I would not recommend the football helmet mask idea. That's a recipe to be impaled or worse.

It is imperative that your helmet and mask are designed to work together and what you find in the market are helmets and masks that are almost exclusively designed to protect you from very specific types of impacts the wearer may encounter. Best example i can think of...Think hockey goalie masks vs full face motorcycle helmets, one is designed for repeated impacts, functions by dispersing impacts, deflecting the puck, etc. The other is designed to absord a one-time extremely heavy blow, then protect against road rash.

Also, how the mask is connected to the helmet is central to it's ability to save your face, as well as, not cause more risk or injuries. It's not just a matter of screwing it on and you are good to go. The mask material matters, how and where it is attached matters, there are a lot of variables that if not handled, lead to helmet, mask, or both failing.

Hopefully someone can chime in with some helmet and mask options that are specific to what you need.

Good luck!
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Old 06-17-2018   #4
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FishnPhil makes an interesting point that I never thought of before. For what it's worth, I believe most of the old kayak helmets that had face masks were modified aftermarket. I believe Confluence Kayaks in Denver had someone that would do it for a while (but this was like 10 years ago). Otherwise I believe some people were just buying hockey helmets and using those.

If you want some extra facial protection beyond what the chin guard offers you might consider running a bar from chin to forehead. I've never done it, but people who have say you don't really notice it.

I think the communication issue is overblown and has a lot more to due with fashion than function. For some reason wearing a full face has fallen out of fashion and oral surgeons' incomes have spiked. You use to see more of them across the boating population 10 years ago. I think it's driven by social media, but it's become a symbol of being a gaper: you don't know how to kayak properly therefore you require extra protection or something like that.

In reality, I've seen a lot of serious facial injuries over the years to good and bad boaters that would have been prevented with a full face helmet. It does have some disadvantages. It's slightly more uncomfortable, harder to drink/eat/spit with it on, and it slightly inhibits speaking and hearing. On the latter point, however, unless you're a professional guide, I'm not convinced this is much of an issue. Whitewater is noisy and unless you're right next to someone it is hard to communicate without hand signals anyway. If you're right next to someone, the difference in a full face is not going to be the make or break.

I kind of look at it like my bike helmet. In 20 years mountain biking I've never had an accident where my bike helmet would have prevented further injury. However, I never go mountain biking without my bike helmet because if I ever do have that fall it could make a huge difference in the remainder of my life and a little extra discomfort on the ride is the worth it.
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Old 06-17-2018   #5
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i love this topic! above 5 years ago TBP (admin) i had a contest for MB users to point out in a video where my friends life was saved by a face mask.



i (TBP admin) was living in taiwan and importing hardshells and IKs. even before that as and toying around in their rivers i quickly noted a need for face masks. the rocks were razor sharp from daily landslides, the rivers were creeks and shallow most of the time, the users were inexperienced (to boating, dangers, and general being whacked in the face accidentally by your fellow boaters' paddles). i couldn't find a local supplier, Prijon resold a metal one, so did Wildwasser but then i contacted Riddell who allowed me to be their importer to taiwan so i picked them. when you've got your friends and loved ones and girlfriend it's about not letting them get hurt than style.



i am a detail technical person like fishnphil, ALL after market masks are screwed in with SCREWS that are mini arrows and i wondered in a heave impact could the screw be driven into the head? but when i got my first Riddell samples i noted that even the NFL use the same mask and the same attachment method so i defaulted to it would be impossible for the screw to be impaled into skull/face. i also noted that all the standard whitewater helmets already have some rivets which are the same as little sharp arrows. even a plastic buckle could be impaled into throat cause more injury if it went there. but not having this safety gear would be far worse than to go without it.


i had a rule in my club, no face mask you went allowed on our trips.



as taiwan became more westernized and i wasn't the only one taking taiwanese on river trips, foreigners were showing up with USA gear. i noticed each year the helmets would get smaller, less area protection... did you notice the sort of same with motorcycle helmets. full face went to 3/4 went to a bennie shell, (almost less than a 1/2 shell. it's partially rebellion to start laws requiring helmets and i'm going to get the smallest helmet i can to show them! partly by someone who's never been in a crash. at age 11 my parents bought me a honda CT 70, helmet not included, and i rode that to high heaven until i crashed head on with a full body armor teenager on a Hodaka 125 Super Combat on a blind tall grass corner. now, i love adventure but i try to be as safe as possible with all gear and helmet with face protection is the #1 gear. it's just not worth it to me to have less. what taiwanese girl would want to kiss me if i had no teeth LOL!


you NEVER should have started this topic, i've got more stories plus will come back later with MORE LOL!


imported to taiwan from USA and germany were way to expensive and it was a miserable nightmare for me. then my girlfriend said "my uncle has a plastic injection factory and he made a helmet for a foreigner 10 years ago". i'm not positive but i believe this is how it was back then, most USA/euro helmets were polyproylene plastic. the uncle explained to me he'd do ABS plastic which was much stronger and the thickness was higher than Protech sample i showed him. also he said he'd line it with the best foam on the market. (there's a big diff in the foam lining in helmet which are as important as the shell). he was not impressed at all with the helmet i showed him. but i'd been using that for years and it probably was a low end i got from Western Mountaineering in San Jose CA which is now gone. he showed me how much better his shin strap would be too. we didn't really get any deal just because it was her uncle, i told him i appreciated his advice, work and made sure we'd pay his normal item cost. including delivery to our store the helmet cost us about USD1.30 but the minimum order was QTY 500. not one of those helmets every broke, many are still using them because they are high quality UV stabilzed. when other water sports in taiwan saw i had those helmet they were coming to us.


who cares what you look like, the point is to live and enjoy being with your friends and family.


opinion expressed is solely mine, admin, and NOT TBP company.







because of music put in vids youtube has removed from listing, deleted, banned, filtered out music... and who knows how long this will remain. it's a shame, i no longer have source and can't edit it. it was fine and entertainment for viewers for nearly 20 years but now slowly all these are being removed. at 5:08 a Riddell full face mask saved a friends life.

https://youtu.be/yafRE7bhENA?t=5m5s
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Old 06-17-2018   #6
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
helmets and masks that are almost exclusively designed to protect you from very specific types of impacts
You have a good point there. I hadn't thought about the differences between kayak polo impacts and creek kayak impacts, but it makes sense that a polo helmet wouldn't be great for creeking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by El-Butcher
I can drink a beer, smoke some weed, and communicate just fine
Quote:
Originally Posted by KSC
unless you're a professional guide, I'm not convinced this is much of an issue
Thanks -- this is comforting to hear.

theBoatPeople, do you still boat with a face mask? Do you have a source for them in the US?


I'll probably end up buying a full-face whitewater helmet and trust that people who design kayak helmets for a living know what they're doing, but one more question first: does anyone have experience kayaking in a hockey helmet?

Comparing the certification requirements for hockey helmets to a summary of the whitewater certification requirements, a hockey helmet sounds like it offers better protection for less money. A hockey helmet must protect from multiple, increasing impacts at 3.5 m/s, 4.5 m/s, and then 5.5 m/s, while CE EN 1385 only requires a whitewater helmet to protect from 2.5 m/s impacts. Hocket helmets have face masks rather than rigid chin bars, solving the communication problem (if it exists) and offering eye and nose protection as well. I can imagine them not drying as well, though.
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Old 06-18-2018   #7
 
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Kayaker/rafter/hockey player here:

Hockey helmets while not designed/"approved" for whitewater use are designed for multiple impacts and have very well-designed cages. They're tough--this is a huge reason why rodeo bull riders are now wearing them (although I notice they're paying $150-200 for re-branded $100 hockey helmets). $150-200 gets you a top-of-the-line hockey helmet on sale.

The only caveat I would offer is that a full-face hockey cage can make it difficult to blow a whistle in a rescue situation. I wear a full cage when playing, but don't wear a cage when coaching kids because it's very difficult to blow a whistle quickly.
Try it at home and make sure you can still blow your whistle.
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Old 06-18-2018   #8
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I want to add further clarification to my earlier response:
The OP asked about attaching a football face mask to a whitewater helmet. Should something happen, this is a sure recipe for disaster and in my opinion offers little/no additional protection while increasing risk for injury.

My advice is simply to buy a kayak helmet with a mask/face guard because that will be the safest option.
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