Packrafting the Bear Trap Canyon

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Packrafting the Bear Trap Canyon

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    Addie Bedford
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana

    Companion forum thread to:

    Packrafting the Bear Trap Canyon

    Jason Brinkman
    BPL Member


    Locale: Idaho

    Cool trip and great report guys!

    Glad to see you wearing a helmet and regular PFD, Bill. In response to your question about the suitability of the bike helmet, it's certainly better than nothing, but…

    Most whitewater specific helmets are lower profile than bike helmets. This may contribute to less opportunity for snagging or catching in the event of becoming entangled in a strainer or with your boat or pack during a flip. Also, most whitewater helmets offer more protection over the ears and down the back of the head and upper neck, as water impacts tend to be more to the sides and back of the head, rather than on top like if thrown from a bicycle.

    I suspect maybe there's a lightweight bike helmet out there that offers more coverage than your standard design. I'll do a little poking around the next time I'm at the local bike shop.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    I wear a climbing helmet for biking. I'm thinking of switching to a WRSI helmet for biking/paddling.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    I was pretty please I took a helmet on this trip.

    When I flipped my boat and took a swim, my foot got caught in a shoulder strap of my pack. So, I had to go back under and free it. I was under for about 10 or 15 seconds during this process, and at the time, being delivered rapidly through Class III rapids.

    While I was under, I hit my head on a rock hard enough to take a nice chunk out of my helmet (a carbon fiber Sweet Rooster low-profile ski helmet). After I freed myself from my boat, the current took me into a hole where the hydraulics slammed my shoulder, and I think, my head, into another rock.

    Conclusion: Helmets are a good thing in rocky, shallow rivers because you may end up upside down for a bit. You could probably skip them in the Grand Canyon or other big, deep rivers, perhaps.

    I'm looking for a WRSI-like helmet that's nice and light. There are not a lot. They seem to cost at least 1/4 lb more than the lighter climbing helmets out there.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    A few websites put the WRSI helmet weight at 25 oz…..ouch. My petzl meteor is only about 8 oz. Maybe I'll rethink that one.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    Probably the only helmet that is certified in many sports is the Kong Scarab, I'm sure y'all know. That helmet went up in price alot over the last few years.

    Michael Davis


    Locale: South Florida

    Hey! that Kong Scarab is on sale right now at for $115! I've delt with company several times and have always been happy with their good service.

    Richard Nisley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    I used to think I had the lightest helmet / visor combination for packrafting. My Petzel Meteor III helmet weighs 7.75 oz and the Solomon kayak helmet visor, I added to it, weighs 2.25 oz for 10 oz total.

    The Kong Scarab weighs 9 oz but its optional visor only weighs .42 oz for a 9.42 oz total. The weight difference plus the wider range of certifications seems to make this the better solution for packrafting.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Oregon

    I would think a high end cycling helmet would work well, one such as my Giro Atmos. This helmet is very light, provides high tech state of the art protection and allows for great ventilation in warmer weather. These are not inexpensive but if a person is already into cycling and owns a similar helmet it could pull double duty.

    John S.
    BPL Member


    Well, I emailed WRSI about their helmet weights and they say the current helmet weighs 14 oz., vented or not vented. That is an acceptable weight to me.

    What about the number of times a helmet can take a hit and still be usable? Biking helmets are supposed to be thrown out if they take a good knock, even if not cracked aren't they? Many whitewater helmets and climbing helmets (not Petzl Meteor?) are made to be used after repeated knocks. Any thoughts?

    Richard, some over at the alpacka forum also mention Bern helmets (look like skateboard helmets) as possibly being suitable for packrafting.



    Locale: Greater Gila

    Just finished a short day run of the Gunnison River at 4,000 cfs and am beginning to consider getting a helmet! Swift water near cliffs and strainers got me a tiny bit freaked out. Running at lower water assures that even more boulders will be exposed. I've been searching online, and haven't found any recent info regarding lightweight paddling helmets. What is everyone here using?

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