A strong and well-made kayak helmet can save your head if you have an accident on the water. Because of this, it should be high on your list of priorities when preparing for a kayaking adventure. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie that goes whitewater kayaking or a recreational kayaker that enjoys relaxed paddling, a helmet has a very important purpose.

But how do you choose the right one? A good helmet should be comfortable, fit well, and be strong enough to withstand impacts. To help you decide, we’ve presented the best kayak helmets on the market and created a buying guide that will explain the features and answer all your questions.

How To Choose A Kayak Helmet – Buying Guide


Size and Fit

Fitting the helmet properly is one of the most important things to do from both the comfort and safety aspects. Not has the same head shape and diameter, so sizes usually range from extra-small to extra-large kayak helmets for big heads

When you put the best kayaking helmet on, you should tighten the straps so it isn’t able to move around. At the same time, you should feel comfortable having it on (it shouldn’t be too tight). The point of finding a perfect fit is to avoid undesired movement if you get thrown off the kayak and hit the water.

Retention System

The chin straps on your helmet for kayaking play a very significant role. For maximum protection and comfort, they should be easily adjustable on both sides. The buckle on the best kayak helmet should be secure, with at least four anchor points, two on each side.

Using the Helmet

As you certainly know, all kayakers should use helmets. However, some people take part in more extreme activities such as whitewater kayaking, which is why there are different types of helmets available. For basic kayaking, a half-cut helmet usually does the job just fine. It usually sits above the ears and provides good protection to the skull.

Next, there is a full-cut helmet, which is similar, but slightly larger. It covers the ears, giving your head extra protection and added insulation. Finally, you can get a full face whitewater helmet which looks a little like a motorcycle helmet. A full-face kayak helmet extends around the lower portion of your face, giving you maximum protection.

Besides impact protection, the helmet is also designed for different weather conditions. For colder weather, you should choose a model that extends over the ears, while the best kayak helmet for warmer temperatures should have many ventilation openings to allow breathability. These openings also double as drains, which is important if the water is splashing a lot.


When buying a new piece of kayaking equipment, all of us want it to last a long time. Luckily, helmets for kayaking are generally very durable. The most common materials used in the construction are hard plastic, composites, or carbon fibers.

The best helmet for kayak should be able to protect you and stay in one piece on many occasions, so take some time to read the specs and user experiences to find out whether it can really do this.


While you don’t have to go out and get the most expensive whitewater kayak helmets, the price can sometimes be an indicator of the quality of the product. This being said, don’t opt for the cheapest product because it might fail when you need it most.

All of the kayaking helmets that we’ve reviewed are very good, so you have plenty of options to choose from. In addition, you can also use these products to compare to others and see if they are worth your money.

Safety Certificate

You should always check if the helmet you are buying has a safety certificate. For example, WRSI gives their certificate to a helmet as proof it has gone through serious testing. There are also different standards to which whitewater rafting helmets are tested that indicate how much damage a particular model can endure.

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Most top kayak helmet brands thoroughly test their whitewater helmets and display this information, so we advise that you always take a close look at this. Of course, helmets without certificates can be good too, but you can’t be certain of the amount of abuse it can take before it cracks.



Q: How Snug Should Kayak Helmet Be?


As we’ve pointed out when talking about the fit, the helmet should be the snug but not too tight. The best whitewater kayaking helmet shouldn’t press on your head or make you feel uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be too loose either.

An easy test you can perform to check this is to put it on, adjust the straps, and then shake your head in different directions. If the helmet moves around, it’s too loose and you need to readjust or go with a smaller size.

Q: How To Clean Kayak Helmets?


When maintaining your water helmet, you should only use clean water and mild detergent. After washing, make sure to leave it to dry naturally. For easier cleaning, some models allow you to completely remove the inner lining. Depending on the product, some of these linings can even be washed in a machine on a gentle cycle.

Q: How To Measure For Kayak Helmet?


The best way of measuring a helmet is by using a soft measuring tape to record the circumference of your head at forehead level. With this information, you can see where you place on the helmet size chart and choose the size accordingly.

For reference, the head circumference for standard sizes is as follows – 21.6 to 22.4 inches (small), 22.4 to 23.2 inches (medium), and 23.2 to 24 inches (large). In addition to the regular ones, many of the best kayak helmets also have extra-small and extra-large sizes.

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To fully enjoy your time on the water, you must also think about safety and protection. We hope that our reviews and kayak helmets guide helped you decide on the type of helmet you want, so you know what to look for when buying. 

If you are uncertain, feel comfortable to choose any of the best kayak helmets we’ve featured. The most important thing to remember is to be responsible when setting out on the water and always protect your head.

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