Jan 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm #1283986
I've packrafted easy rivers and flat water, but am looking to expand to livelier rivers. I know nothing about helmets. Point me to a good packrafting helmet for class 3-4 rapids. I like less expensive, but not at the expense of quality and protection.
While you're at it, throw in some suggestions for clothing, if you will. I'll be starting with some short day trips to practice on more rugged water.Jan 11, 2012 at 12:18 am #1823049
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
http://www.nrsweb.com is one place to start for gear.
I highly recommend taking some whitewater classes. Fast water can be a real adventure, but you need to know what you are up against. I equate it with climbing.Jan 11, 2012 at 12:22 am #1823050
Thanks Dale. Yes, I should look into whitewater classes. Good call.Jan 11, 2012 at 12:55 am #1823054
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I'll be a little bit of a rebel and ask, Why do you need a specialtiy rafting helmet?
Cause you might invert and smack your head on a rock, right? Or hit a tree trunk overhead, or smack a rock to one side.
Somewhat akin to what a skier or rock climber or bicyclist might do, right? And I for one already have all those types of helmets around the house. Several of each.
The rock climbing helmets seem to have the best resistence to penetration.
The bicycling helmet has the most energy-absorbing foam (and therefore the most floatation.
The skiiing helmets are in between the climbing and bicycling.
Now if the point of someone's kayak slams right into the top of your helmet, maybe you want a river / climbing style to resist penetration. Certainly if you were Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940, about to killed by an ice axe blow to the head, you'd want penetration resistence above other criteria.
But what if you smack at high speed into a rounded boulder as are often found in rivers? Then I think you want the energy absorption of styrofoam that bike helmets have the most of and ski and river helmets have some of.
My point is you probably already have helmets around the house that meet someone's certification for energy absorption and penetration resistence. Use one of those for your first few trip while you consider if you need any special features in a helmet (visor, headlamp attach point, monkey-cam mount, etc) and then consider if you want to continue with that other helmet or add another one to your collection.Jan 11, 2012 at 1:15 am #1823056
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
They are required on some river runs. I would like to buy one helmet that would cover bikes, climbing, skiing, and kayaking— all those sports that can be defined as falling gracefully at great expense :)Jan 11, 2012 at 1:16 am #1823057
Your point is well taken. I personally do not own any sort of helmet at the moment, but could probably borrow a bike helmet for testing purposes.
However, the question remains: Are sport-specific helmets worth the investment, or are there perfectly capable multi-sport helmets that would be sufficient for packrafting? Bike helmets seem to offer more protection on the top of the head, while paddling helmets seem to offer side and ear protection as well.
Since I don't really plan on taking up any other sport that requires a helmet, I'd prefer to direct my money at something that would serve me best for packrafting. If a bicycle or climbing helmet can do that, then I'll certainly consider any head protection that will keep me from turing my noggin into scrambled eggs.Jan 11, 2012 at 1:59 am #1823065
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
You're right that adult bicycle helmet are mostly over the top of your head. Bell, etc, have tried 3/4 coverage helmets (like motorcycle helmets with the chin portion but in lightweight foam and plastic cover) but adults only buy them for their kids, not for themselves.
Check a Walmart, if you have a smaller head, a large youth helmet might fit fine and provide good forehead, side, and back coverage. $11 to $21 including some identified as "multisport". NRSweb.com has whitewater helmets from $40 to $150.
Packrafting seems inherently safer for your head then whitewater kayaking in which people expect to be upside down in fast water. I'm thinking you won't be rolling your pack raft, but will be doing a wet exit if things get ugly.
In my area, I'd be more concerned about hypothermia than head injury and would look at which helmet would accomodate a hood to help keep my head and neck warm.Jan 11, 2012 at 6:33 am #1823112
The Kong Scarab is probably the best known multisport helmet, but it is expensive now. Looks like the Petzl Meteor III+ may be an option for a cheaper multisport helmet.Jan 11, 2012 at 10:55 am #1823244
Thoughts on the need for a full cut helmet?Jan 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm #1823301
If you're going to get a helmet, get a full cut one. Depending on your weight and how you flip, there's a decent chance you won't just fall out of your deck. If you're going to hit a rock while inverted, high probability of hitting the side of your head or your brow. I've a non-descript Protec helmet that works just fine.
In addition to a rain jacket, paddling pants with a high neoprene waist band are nice. Conventional rain pants seem more prone to letting leaks in on the sides. A farmer john wetsuit provides insulation where you need it most, and is nice cheap insurance for day trips. You'll try harder and be more likely to run stuff if you're not worried about freezing if you flip. Sierra trading post often has wetsuits dead cheap. A drysuit is obviously the ultimate, but they're crazy expensive.Jan 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm #1823313
Regarding the farmer john wetsuit…are you speaking of just the bottoms, or to implement a two-piece wetsuit?
Edit: Nevermind. I see what you mean by the farmer john suit. A preliminary google search brought up some two-piece thing.Jan 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm #1823327
Just the overalls, so to speak. Keeps the legs warm when sitting in a flooded boat and while wading around to scout, and the core warm when you swim. I usually layer a baselayer shirt under it and a rain coat over.Jan 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm #1823330
Cool, very helpful. I suppose I could make use of my Gore-Tex socks in this application?Jan 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm #1824057
I like the sound of these helmets and seem to be a solid helmet for the price.Jan 14, 2012 at 3:44 am #1824589
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
Is it wrong of me to feel frustrated that conventional gear doesn't typically list weights?
What type of floatation vest did you go with, Travis?Jan 14, 2012 at 6:36 am #1824603
Yeah, I wish weights were listed too. However, head protection is a category where I'd rather carry more weight if it offered better protection. A penalty I'm happy to take.
I haven't begun looking at vests yet, but it will be of the foam variety–no inflatables for whitewater.Jan 26, 2012 at 11:25 am #1830013
On cold water trips where a wetsuit is a welcome piece of gear, how do you backpack with it?
When you're ready to put on the wetsuit, do you completely strip naked? I just got a farmer john style, so I'll wear a base layer shirt, but what about your legs/pelvis region? Finagle it over light leggings? Just underwear? Nothing?
School me in the ways of the wetsuit.Jan 26, 2012 at 12:18 pm #1830051
You could wear undies under a wetsuits, but you'll get minimal extra warmth. Best to just pack 'em away and have something dry to change into.
Wetsuits do make pretty good sleeping mats.Jan 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm #1830055
I use the Kong Scarab mentioned above, but it's not cheap at ~$115.
I wanted one helmet for packrafting, mountain biking, commuting, and if I ever get in to it more, climbing. As far as I know it's the only one approved for all of these and more (ok, it's approved in Europe but that's good enough for me).Jan 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm #1830070
I wouldn't wear anything under your wetsuit typically. I never have anyway.
With regard to a helmet, I bet most of your packrafting is in class III or lower. In that case, I personally would not likely take a helmet in the raft. I would get experienced in class I water and class II water before hitting class III in a packraft.Jan 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm #1830077
You are correct that much of the packrafting I've done is not Class III. Actually, none of it thus far! However, I've done some class I and II. I plan on hitting the Roaring Rapids section of the Peshtigo River here in Wisconsin, and this can be Class III+, and a helmet would be in order for this stretch of river. I'm going to try and get in more practice this spring.
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