10 Best Sea Kayak Helmets

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10 Best Sea Kayak Helmets

To be honest, we have really only begun to understand the importance of protecting our brains in the last few decades. It has been a popular topic in mainstream sports and it is also a good reason to invest in one of the best sea kayak helmets.

These helmets breathe very well so that they do not hold in too much of your body heat when you are working hard in one of the best sea kayaks. They are also waterproof and dry relatively quickly between your paddle outings.

Most of the best designs are also very lightweight and are intentionally manufactured so that they will not block or impair your peripheral vision. You get the protection without compromising your performance.

In this guide to the best sea kayak helmets, we will review 10 unique models that you should consider for your kayak adventures. We will also dive into some important factors that will help you choose the right model for you in our Buying Guide.

So let’s examine these noggin protectors!

Photo by Pierrette Guertin via Shutterstock

Best Sea Kayak Helmets

  1. NRS Chaos Side-Cut Kayak Helmet
  2. Vihir Adult Water Sports Helmet
  3. Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet
  4. Sweet Protection Rocker Helmet
  5. Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet
  6. Triple Eight Gotham Water Helmet
  7. Triple Eight Sweatsaver Halo Water Helmet
  8. Tontron Adult Kayaking Helmet
  9. Dagger Sweet Rocker Kayaking Helmet
  10. Shred Ready Sesh Helmet

Do You Need A Sea Kayak Helmet?

Photo by RTimages via Shutterstock

Most of the people you will see wearing one of these helmets will be the owners of the best surf kayaks. That being said, simply launching and landing a sea kayak on certain rugged coastlines can necessitate the protection of a helmet.

The best answer to the question of do you need a sea kayak helmet is as follows: it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

This is the case for all of the essential kayaking safety equipment you may (or may not) choose to store in your sea kayak.

From a more practical perspective, you should consider a kayak helmet as your kayaking style shifts towards taking greater risks. Some examples of those risks could include surfing bigger waves or simply paddling among the rollers not too far off of a rugged, rocky coastline.

Choosing whether or not to buy a sea kayak helmet is less about the experience than it is about the risk associated with the type of paddling you want to do. You will see both beginners and experts alike wearing helmets if the risk warrants the added protection and the peace of mind that comes along with it.

Kayak Helmet Buying Guide

Photo by Sergio Ponomarev via Shutterstock

So what do you need to know before you buy a new sea kayak helmet? Let’s go over some of the most important factors that will guide you to choosing a model that will work for your head and kayaking style.

Style

Looking cool isn’t the primary function of a kayak helmet, but it should be a consideration. On this front, however, we are mainly referring to visor versus visorless options available amongst these helmets.

Many kayakers love to have a visor because it keeps their eyes shaded from the sun on cloudless days. They can also provide additional face protection because the visor will make the first contact with an object while it is still up to six inches away from your face versus only one or two inches.

The downside of having a helmet with a visor is mostly weight. These helmets are going to be heavier than their counterparts and can make it more difficult to turn your head from side to side to check your line and monitor your surroundings.

Some expert kayakers have also claimed that helmets with visors somewhat impair their visibility on the water. This is mainly true for owners of the best whitewater kayaks because they often need to look up, down, left, and right to keep their line, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

Construction Quality

You will also need to look at the quality of the construction of these different helmets. The easiest way to do that is to examine the various materials used to build the outer shells and interior foam padding.

Almost all of the best helmets for kayaking in the ocean use ABS plastic in the outer shell. This material dissipates impacts very well and is also reasonably easy to mold into the shape of the crown of your skull.

The most affordable helmets will feature a molded shell made of ABS plastic, and that is it. More expensive models will sometimes feature a blend of ABS plastic and some other material, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber.

These materials will provide more strength, durability, and protection. They can also allow manufacturers to create lighter helmets that make it easier on your neck when turning.

The main downside of these lighter, and yet, somehow more durable materials is that they will drive up the price of your helmet.

Fit

You will also need to make sure you measure the circumference of your head in order to choose a helmet that is the right size. To do this, use a measuring tape and wrap it around the widest part of your head.

This measurement will give you a good starting point when you are looking at helmet sizing. For those of you that are between sizes, however, it can be tough to decide whether to go smaller or larger.

If this is your case, consider whether the helmet is equipped with a turn-dial adjustment system. If it is, you can more easily get away with choosing the next size up and adjusting down, but if it is not, you may be better off choosing the smaller size.

Certifications

The last thing we want to mention is that some of these helmets come with industry-standard certifications and some do not. These certifications are given out by an independent third party after inspecting and testing the helmet’s construction.

A number of years ago, a standard was settled upon when it comes to the quality of protective headwear. Kayak brands that have their products tested may pay extra to do so, which, to you, is a sign that they are committed to producing helmets that will actually protect your head when you need them the most.

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NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut - Yellow - Medium
Adult Water Sports Helmet with Ears - Helmet Men Women for Bike Skateboard Boating Kayaking Canoeing Sailing
Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet, Dirt Black, Medium/Large, 845091DTBLKML
Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak Helmet-GlossWhite-M/L
Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet Gloss White, S/M
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NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut - Yellow - Medium
Adult Water Sports Helmet with Ears - Helmet Men Women for Bike Skateboard Boating Kayaking Canoeing Sailing
Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet, Dirt Black, Medium/Large, 845091DTBLKML
Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak Helmet-GlossWhite-M/L
Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet Gloss White, S/M
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NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut - Yellow - Medium
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NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut - Yellow - Medium
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Adult Water Sports Helmet with Ears - Helmet Men Women for Bike Skateboard Boating Kayaking Canoeing Sailing
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Adult Water Sports Helmet with Ears - Helmet Men Women for Bike Skateboard Boating Kayaking Canoeing Sailing
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Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet, Dirt Black, Medium/Large, 845091DTBLKML
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Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet, Dirt Black, Medium/Large, 845091DTBLKML
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Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak Helmet-GlossWhite-M/L
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Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak Helmet-GlossWhite-M/L
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Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet Gloss White, S/M
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Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet Gloss White, S/M
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Sea Kayak Helmet Reviews

1. NRS Chaos Side-Cut Kayak Helmet

NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut - Yellow - Medium

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  • Dimensions: Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.7” up to 24.2” skulls
  • Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385

The NRS Chaos Side-Cut helmet features a total of eight ventilation ports to help keep you cool in hotter climates. It also includes removable ear pads that can remain in place for extra protection or be removed to help you enjoy less restricted hearing.

The latter can be a really nice feature if you frequently paddle in a group setting and this kayak helmet also boasts a quick-adjust harness that allows you to find the right fit and keep it secure with ease.

The Chaos helmet is built with a durable ABS plastic shell that dissipates impacts on contact. The dual-density EVA foam on the inside also provides both a comfortable fit and an additional layer of protection.

2. Vihir Adult Water Sports Helmet

Adult Water Sports Helmet with Ears - Adjustable Multi Helmet Men Women for Bike Scooter Skateboard Boating

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 19.7” up to 24.9” skulls
  • Weight: 1.01 pounds
  • Certifications: Unknown

The Vihir Adult Water Sports helmet is one of the more affordable options on our list. It is made with an ABS plastic shell and features EPS foam padding on the interior to both dissipate impacts and provide a cushion for your skull.

While the ear pads are designed so that they can remain in place without negatively impacting your hearing, they can be removed if you desire. The interior also includes an adjustable head circumference so you have to worry less about buying a perfectly sized helmet upfront.

Also in the interior, this helmet boasts a single-piece waterproof lining that is cold-molded into place using EVA foam. This keeps the foam from breaking down when it gets wet and also improves its ability to dry more quickly.

With a total of 11 ventilation ports, this sea kayak helmet will also breathe very well on warmer paddling days. Plus, all of the rivets are made with stainless steel, which means you can use this helmet in saltwater without worrying about rust or corrosion.

3. Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet

Sweet Protection Strutter Helmet, Dirt Black, Medium/Large, 845091DTBLKML

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.85” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.84 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385 Class I-IV

The Strutter helmet from the folks at Sweet Protection is designed to handle up to Class IV whitewater, which makes it perfect for sea kayakers that are interested in charging some larger ocean waves.

It is a super-lightweight design due to the outer material being composed of a blend of long fiber thermoplastic nylon and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. The interior padding is made of an impact-dampening EVA foam.

This helmet also boasts a visor that will help keep the sun out of your eyes on especially sunny days. Sweet Protection’s Occigrip turn-dial adjustment system also makes it a cinch to tighten the helmet down without worrying about awkward strap adjustments.

This helmet is also an excellent choice for kayakers interested in running the best rivers to kayak in the United States. It even comes with a helmet bag and removable and adjustable pads to help you dial in a custom fit.

4. Sweet Protection Rocker Helmet

Sweet Protection Rocker Kayak Helmet-GlossWhite-M/L

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.85” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.22 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385 Class I-IV

The Rocker helmet from Sweet Protection is a more rugged design than the Strutter and it is made primarily for kayak surfing, playboating, and whitewater applications.

This helmet features a visor for added sun protection and visibility assistance like the Strutter. The difference, however, is that the visor on the Rocker helmet is adjustable according to the angle that you need for maximum protection.

The shell of the helmet is made with a thermoplastic laminate carbon fiber material that is injection-molded for rigidity and strength. The shock-absorbing EPS liner inside the helmet is fused directly to the shell for added durability and noggin protection.

As you can probably see from its image alone, it truly is a helmet made for the roughest of kayaking conditions. As a bonus, however, it does come with Sweet Protection’s Occigrip turn-dial adjustment system, removable and adjustable internal padding, and a helmet bag.

5. Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet

Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet Gloss White, S/M

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.85” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.22 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385 Class I-IV

The Sweet Protection Wanderer Helmet is a slightly more affordable model than the previous two and it is designed for all-around use. It boasts an ABS thermoplastic shell that is reinforced with carbon fiber to improve strength-to-weight ratio, impact resistance, and performance.

In the interior part of the helmet, they have designed gate shields to help the best and most famous kayakers in the world enjoy protection from gate impacts. These shields combine expanded polypropylene with polycarbonate shells, which are then molded into the main EPS liner.

From a functional perspective, these shields help to protect the existing shock-absorbent nature of the helmet’s shell from cracks and other damage. The shields are placed in the front and back of the helmet to protect against frontal and rear impacts.

The EPS liner is also finished with a full covering made of CoolMax material. This material is both anti-allergenic and moisture-wicking, so it provides comfort in a variety of environments.

Like the other Sweet Protection helmets above, you will be able to enjoy easy adjustment with the Occigrip turn-dial system. Plus, this helmet boasts plenty of vents for extra ventilation and comes with fit pads that allow you to add or remove padding for comfort.

6. Triple Eight Gotham Water Helmet

Triple Eight Gotham Water Helmet for Wakeboard and Waterskiing, Gun Matte, Medium

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.1” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.43 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385

The Gotham helmet from Triple Eight is a low-profile design with excellent ventilation and a comfortable fit. This model doesn’t include ear flaps, but they can be bought separately and installed if you desire.

It is constructed with a durable, high-density ABS plastic outer shell and they used dual-density, closed-cell EVA foam for the interior liner and crown of the helmet. Adding onto that, the Sweatsaver Halo liner keeps everything watertight in there.

That Halo liner is designed with a combination of three layers of foam that are then wrapped in plush fabric for a super comfortable feel on your skull. The liner can even be removed and is machine washable if it starts to get a little smelly after a few sweaty days on the water.

The Gotham helmet also includes a slight brim to provide a minor improvement in terms of sun protection and visibility.

7. Triple Eight Sweatsaver Halo Water Helmet

Triple Eight Sweatsaver Halo Water Helmet for Wakeboarding and Waterskiing, Carbon Rubber, Medium, 395

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.1” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.43 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385

Triple Eight’s new Sweatsaver Halo helmet will feel heavenly on your noggin and provides excellent protection for kayak surfing, sea kayaking, and whitewater adventures. It also breathes really well in hot climates due to the company’s unique ventilation port design.

The Sweatsaver Halo liner is held in place with Velcro and can easily be removed when you need to wash it. The liner is constructed with three foam layers and finished with soft and comfortable plush fabric.

Like the Gotham helmet, the Halo can be adapted to include ear pads that snap into place if you desire. These pads, however, do not come with the helmet and must be purchased separately.

The Halo does feature Triple Eight’s iconic skate-style design with all the features you need in a kayaking helmet. That includes a dense ABS plastic outer shell and a closed-cell EVA foam liner and crown.

8. Tontron Adult Kayaking Helmet

Tontron Adult Kayaking Surfing Helmet with Magnetic Buckle (Matte Black, Medium)

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 20.1” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.08 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385

The Tontron adult kayaking helmet offers a variety of sizes for different fits and features an ABS outer shell for reliable impact protection. The EVA foam liner is waterproof and feels comfortable on your skull.

At the back of the head, there is a dial that allows you to customize the fit so that this helmet will stay on your head no matter what. It is very similar to the kind of adjustability you will find on many rock climbing helmets.

In addition to that turn-dial adjustment system, this helmet features a German-imported magnetic buckle. This buckle allows you to lock it easily with one hand without pinching and keep your other hand free for your paddle.

In addition, there are a total of 11 ventilation ports on the top of this helmet to help your head breathe. Plus, it features removable ear pads that can be left in place for protection or removed for comfort and improved hearing ability.

9. Dagger Sweet Rocker Kayaking Helmet

Dagger Sweet Rocker Kayaking Helmet, L/XL

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  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Sizes Available for 22” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Certifications: CE EN 1385 Class I-IV

The Sweet Rocker Kayaking helmet from Dagger Kayaks is the one-and-only full-face kayaking helmet on our list. That provides the kind of jaw and mouth protection that others cannot, but it also makes this helmet one of the heavier and more expensive models out there.

The outer shell of this helmet is constructed with thermoplastic ABS plastic that is reinforced with carbon fiber and the interior is built with a comfortable EVA foam. Because this helmet is also constructed in collaboration with Sweet Protection, it features the CoolMax moisture-wicking liner.

The visor at the front of the helmet provides sun protection and helps with visibility when paddling at sunrise or sunset. The visor can also be adjusted or even completely removed if you desire.

Kayakers tackling some of the roughest whitewater conditions on the planet will also love the Occigrip turn-dial adjustment system on this helmet. That allows you to easily dial in a comfortable, custom fit every time.

10. Shred Ready Sesh Helmet

PC Salamander Paddle Gear

  • Fit (i.e. Head Circumference): Adjustable for 21.25” up to 24” skulls
  • Weight: 1.15 pounds
  • Certifications: Unknown

Unlike the rest of the helmets on our list, which require you to measure the circumference of your head in order to pick the right size, the Shred Ready Sesh helmet is completely adjustable to offer a nearly universal fit.

This adjustability is due to the internal frame that opens or tightens down with a turn-dial at the back of the skull. Once you put the helmet on, adjust the dial until you can shake your head back and forth and up and down without the helmet moving.

Then, you can snap the nylon chin strap’s Duraflex fasteners into place and be on your way. This helmet is made with a durable ABS plastic outer shell and the straps are held into place with metal rivets on the sides of the helmet.

With its improved adjustability, classic look, and extremely affordable price tag, the Shred Ready Sesh helmet is also a great choice if you need to outfit multiple kayakers in your party with helmets.

Our Pick – NRS Chaos Side-Cut Kayak Helmet

NRS Chaos Helmet - Side Cut - Yellow - Medium

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The NRS Chaos Side-Cut Kayak Helmet is our choice for the best sea kayak helmet because it provides ample protection and it is available at a very affordable price compared to some of the other models on our list.

This makes it accessible for beginners and experts alike. Plus, we like that it comes with its own ear pads (i.e. you do not have to purchase them separately), but those pads can be removed if you don’t like how they feel or simply want to hear better.

While it does not feature some of the fancier fit adjustment systems you will find on higher-priced models, there is a benefit of that. There is less to break or malfunction over the course of the helmet’s lifetime (i.e. sometimes, simplicity is king!).

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Best Sea Kayak Helmets

Author: Peter SalisburyPete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.

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