Aug 26, 2013 at 7:49 am #1306958
Jeff GerkeBPL Member
I'm going on a float with a local whitewater club. I'm going to rent a packraft to give it a try. They said I need a helmet so I am going to buy one. What is a good helmet to use? Are there any lightweight helmets you guys recommend for packrafting?Aug 26, 2013 at 7:59 am #2018692
Travis LeannaBPL Member
This also begs the question- What type of water do you expect to see? What class? If you're renting a packraft to give it a try, what other rafting experience do you have?
I guess all I'm saying is that I wouldn't take a packraft on Class III or higher if I had never been in a packraft before. I'd want a lot of experience. But that's just me.
Also, what packraft will you be renting? Alpacka?Aug 26, 2013 at 8:25 am #2018696
Chris WBPL Member
Up to about Class 3 is pretty easy in a packraft (Alpacka), assuming you've paddled in water before. Above that skill starts to come in.
For a helmet, I went with the Kong Scarab primarily because it's light and approved for things in addition to whitewater like mountain biking and rock climbing.Aug 26, 2013 at 8:38 am #2018702
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I canoe at 3 mph without a helmet. I flat-water kayak at 4 mph without a helmet. I motorboat at 30 mph without a helmet. I drive (at 100 mph in Germany a few weeks ago) without a helmet.
I wouldn't white-water kayak without a helmet, because if one rolls, there are rocks down there. Even if not completely inverted, but sideways, smacking a rock is a possibility.
So, yeah, it raises the question for me: is this more trip than you think it is? Or are they being overly conservative on this point or perhaps have a blanket club policy or insurance rule?
Back on topic – does the club require any particular specification (like UIAA certification for climbing helmets)? If not, a multi-sport helmet, while a little warmer on the river, also works for skiing, snowboarding, and bicycling:
$99 original, $65 on STP, $50-ish if you enter key code SITECOOL813 on an order over $100. 1 pound 3 ounces.
I was in a climbing shop a few months and was impressed by:
at 165 grams, it seemed to float out of my hands. It passes all the UIAA tests. Maybe there is / will be a similar offering styled for white water. $110 at REI. Or, if you prefer, only $303/pound. That's cheaper than silver bullion.Aug 26, 2013 at 9:26 am #2018714
Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
While some helmet is better than no helmet, best for whitewater is a helmet designed for whitewater.
Some important features of whitewater helmets that might not be found on other types:
– Protects for multiple (as in 10s) of impacts.
– Protects back and side of your head down to your ears (some cover your ears), not just the top of your head.
– Different sizes of helmets, with adjustable straps and foam inserts, to insure a snug fit. You should not be able to move your helmet around on your head.
– Designed to keep the helmet on your head as you are being thrashed under water
Some whitewater deaths and serious injuries were attributed to helmets slipping back on the wearer's head underwater, exposing the forehead and temple, then … wham.
I wear a helmet 99% of the time I'm on the river, no matter what class the rapids. My avatar photo is one of the few times I wasn't wearing one, but you can see it (red) just behind me, ready for the next rapid. And yes, I started wearing a helmet after a concussion in a "it's only Class III" rapid.
NRS has a pretty good selection of helmets: http://search.nrs.com/search?asug=&w=helmet, but there are many more models available from different sources. The helmet I wear is no longer made, helmets and companies seem to come and go.
You might be able to rent or borrow a helmet, if you aren't ready to commit.
Stay safe out there.
— RexAug 26, 2013 at 10:00 am #2018722
Jeff GerkeBPL Member
I was told we would be floating Class II+. The trip is geared towards noobies. I have very limited paddling experience and pretty much no whitewater experience. I'll be renting a Alpacka Yukon Yak.Aug 26, 2013 at 10:55 am #2018728
II+ water can easily flip an inflatable kayak/packraft. Prepare yourself mentally to flip and then it's not so bad.
I'd probably rent the first time unless you have plenty of disposable income, a suitable helmet will start at $50.00 (Pro-tek) and go up from there.
You might consider some neoprene as well. Even a shorty will keep you comfortable when you're getting splashed alot (and you will being in a packraft).Aug 26, 2013 at 11:50 pm #2018920
@davecLocale: The West Slope
I know of no light, or even lightish, WW-specific helmets. Rent one. If you show up to class wearing a bike or climbing helmet that will just create unnecessary problems.
IMO a helmet is less necessary in a packraft because most people aren't locked in with thigh straps and are thus likely to pop out of the boat and stay upright. If you're running thigh straps, you need a helmet. I have a BD Vector climbing helmet I like, and I've used a bike helmet. Neither is ideal for whitewater, but both will serve well enough, and get used for other stuff for 98% of their life.
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