Hockey helmet for kayaking? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-27-2015   #1
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Hockey helmet for kayaking?

What do people think about using a ice hockey helmet for kayaking?

This year a 3 year study of hockey helmets was released by Virginia Tech.

Spoiler alert. VT isn't impressed.

It got me thinking about my kayaking helmet.

Having extensive experience with both hockey and ww equipment and use, I believe the following.

The common impacts on the ice are far greater than even class V ww. If you have not been hit by a hard puck at 90 mph, take my word for it. (goaltender talking)

Ww helmets do not protect against multiple impacts as well as hockey helmets. (I do not have the test standards, but it's pretty obvious that the coverage and padding is better) The Sweet, Rocker is very close at $220 open face and $350 full face.

Hockey helmets are always wet from sweat and squirt bottles in use. Hence, they are fine for ww. Ie do not absorb water.

The fit of ww helmets is generally inferior to hockey helmets. A couple of pads stuck in with velcro is a joke. Hockey helmets have multi part shells that can be adjusted. That feature should make its way into ww designs.

For face protection, hockey helmets have removable cages or plexiglass visors.

Due to the economy of scale, hockey helmets can be bought cheaper. Reebok makes hockey equipment!

What is the down side of a hh on the river?

It may look odd. Kayaking is associated with 'action' or 'extreme' sports. So our style cues come from skateboard and mx sports.

Kayaking is a social sport, looks count. Ever ask yourself why ff ww helmets look like mx helmets? The thick chin bar interferes with communication and makes it hard to look down when walking etc. But it looks cool.

At feather fest 2015 one boater wore a black hh with a full cage. I heard several positive comments and no negative ones. People didn't think she was being cheap. They thought she was smart. Or at least practical and cautions.

Made me think about it as an option. Even a plexiglass visor would add face protection. If you don't mind looking through water drops.

As for the VT ratings, I'd be shocked if any ww lid got even 1 star in their test.

Any logical reason why not to use a hockey helmet?

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Old 10-27-2015   #2
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When I started kayaking many years ago plastic hockey helmets were commonly used for kayaking, in the pre-ProTec days. Some years later I picked up a Cascade helmet and used it for a number of years - you see the same helmet used for Lacrosse nowadays.

There are better quality and more comfortable kayaking specific helmets available today, so why waste $$ on a hockey helmet unless you're just getting started or rafting?
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Old 10-27-2015   #3
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"Huck Finn?...more like huck-and-swim"
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Old 10-27-2015   #4
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Better fit and protection

Why use a hockey helmet?

Good question, because I find that the fit and protection of hh lidz is generally better than our current ww options. I like my super scrappy. It's the only ww helm I find that fits. But there is nothing for the face. I'm kayaking more and rafting less now and started thinking about face coverage.

That aside, my head is flat in the back. I can twist the HOG strap down to fit, but I always have a gap behind my head. I could fill it with layers of foam. But it's disheartening to have to cobble something together. And the cushioning of the scrappy will never match a hockey helmet.

The sweet rocker does not fit me at all. Neither does the wrsi line. Oddly, I find the $40 nrs havoc fits and covers well IF I add foam to the crown area. Many people comment that the havoc comes too far down on the ears.

Question is, is there any good reason NOT to use an ice lid?
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Old 10-28-2015   #5
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I rock a bauer 5000 or my reebok 8k for everything under the sun.
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Old 10-28-2015   #6
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Standards compared

OK, I did some digging and calculating. Near as I can figure the current standard for water helmets is ce 1385. The standard for hockey helmets is astm f1045.

Short story is that the water standard requires blows at 5.6 mph with a max allowable impact of 250G.

The hockey standard requires blows at 9.9 mph with a max allowable impact of 275G.

Both require multiple hits and multiple angles.

There is some conversion work in there since the water standard specifies impact speed of 2.5m/s and the hockey std calls for a drop hight of 40'' (1m).

If my data is correct, it's much easier to pass the water test for impact.

Of course energy absorption in a lab test is only one factor to consider.

The fit, coverage and stability are extremely important and difficult to test for.

My current opinion is that, on average, hockey helmet design is way ahead of water helmet design. And with the added pressure of Virginia Tech ranking helmets harshly I expect even better protection will come.

I can see no reason why a hh would not pass the water standard easily or be unsuitable for the river. And you can add a clear or tinted visor with uv protection for your eyes!

Switch to a full cage for the big hucks or the grar.


It never made sense to me that people would drop waterfalls with a jaw helmet when the face is open to horizontal objects like a paddle shaft or cockpit rim. Dane Jackson has a bar vertical down the front of his ff helmet. Seems prudent.

Thanks for reading.
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Old 10-28-2015   #7
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I'm not well educated in the ways of helmets and stuff... I don't do anything crazy so no full face helmet for me in my ducky or cataraft. but I use the Havoc Livery. I have 5 of them, (wife and kids) it's nice that any of the 5 helmets fit anybody I throw them at. They're comfy and affordable. but after reading this post. I don't really see any reason why a hocky helmet wouldnt work. and after stopping by a couple of sporting goods stores to look at hockey helmets. I'm even more convinced that they would work just fine on the water. - but heck, I see a lot of rafters wearing rock climbing helmets and such. I guess as long as your noggin is protected and you feel comfortable. do whatever.... Lewis and Clark just had beavers on their heads... I'm sure whatever helmets we pick are better than beavers. :-p
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Old 10-28-2015   #8
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Hmm... I can't seem to find a standard for Beaver helmets. And the standard for coon caps is way outdated! Haha. Thx
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Old 10-28-2015   #9
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I have a Cascade/Messier hockey helmet that would rock as a whitewater helmet. Though, the biggest issue you'll find is rust. Quality WW helmets have stainless steel rivets whereas hockey helmets don't. The other issue is materials. Hockey helmets aren't made with that much wetness in mind. I've had pads come out of my old CCM from sweat.

The only other thing that I'd be concerned with is water blowing the helmet back. Hockey helmets are more designed to not slip forward more than slip backward. Using a cage negates this but also ups the issues with rust.

All in all, for general class III and below, a hockey helmet will probably be just fine. Anything higher and I'd evaluate it based on being upside down and banging on the bottom given it's designers never took that into account.
On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 10-28-2015   #10
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Good point re rust. I've had rust in my hockey gear in the past. Lots of water in hockey. As for the suitability of a helmet over a certain grade of river, the water standard does clearly states that class V an VI is beyond the scope of the standard. So in essence, there is no standard for a class V helmet anywhere. All things being equal, the standard for hockey impacts far exceeds water standards. So on that point only, hockey helmets would be better for higher impacts. Finally, I question whether a well fitting hh would be more prone to rolling back on the head.
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