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Wild Things: The Top Whitewater Kayak Helmets of 2024

 whitewater kayaking helmets

whitewater kayaking helmets

Updated on 7/11/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
Learn More about Abigail Scott

When you canoe or kayak along rapid rivers or maneuver through eddies, the portion of your body most likely exposed is your head.

Consequently, it is necessary to reduce the risk of paddling in challenging conditions by protecting your head with a kayaking helmet. As a result, the first step in making sure that you paddle with the appropriate head protection is to be aware of what to look for when shopping for it.

We've researched and evaluated the most effective whitewater kayaking helmets currently on the market, and we'll share our findings with you so you can make an informed purchase.

Quick Summary

Kayak Helmets

Kayak Helmets

We have some recommendations for you if you're short on time. You may also continue scrolling to browse our whole list and detailed evaluations.

  • Best Overall: WRSI Trident Helmet

"A premium kayak helmet for people who won't settle for second best, the WRSI Trident is a great all-around performer in a range of situations," said the manufacturer of the WRSI Trident.

    The NRS Havoc Livery Helmet Offers the Best Value.

The NRS Havoc Livery is a trustworthy helmet for paddlers at any level of their paddling careers because it combines value and performance into one fantastic package.

  • Best Full-Face Helmet: WRSI Moment Helmet

If going out of your way to finding hard water is your idea of a good time, the WRSI Moment Helmet is the head protection you should have with you at all times.

    Best Full-Cut Helmet: NRS Chaos Full Cut Helmet

The NRS Chaos Full Cut is the helmet that is recommended for paddlers who are intermediate level since it provides improved head protection without losing price.

Our buying guide, which you'll find at the bottom of the list, also includes all the information you'll require to choose the most OK kayak helmet for your paddles.

Wrsi Trident Helmet Is The Overall Winner.



Shell Carbon-composite exterior with a liner made of EVA foam and polyurethane

When it comes to overall performance and protection on the water, the WRSI Trident Helmet is an excellent choice for paddlers.

This carbon-composite solid outer shell is used to construct its half-cut helmet. It offers an optimal balance of protection and weight savings thanks to this design. While you paddle, the EVA foam and polyurethane that make up the Trident's liner work together to help diffuse the force of any hit that you could have.

To provide the wearer with the most significant amount of comfort, the lining of this helmet has been constructed to allow air circulation and wick away sweat. In addition, the Trident's liner can be removed quickly, making it a breeze to clean and dry your helmet after use.

WRSI is responsible for creating the Trident, which utilizes its patented O-Brace harness. It is designed to wrap snugly and comfortably around the back of your head as you journey down the river, and it will keep your helmet in place and prevent you from falling off. Even in hydraulics, your helmet will stay put thanks to this model's included Interconnect Retention System, which helps keep it in place.

In addition, this headgear includes a modest brim that shields the wearer's face from the sun in a respectable quantity. Be aware, however, that the bill of this cap is solid, meaning that if you are submerged in water, water will not be able to pass through it.

However, just like any other quality piece of equipment, the Trident has some features that fall short of being impressive. The most notable aspect of this type is that it is not equipped with any built-in vents or drainage ports, and this might be a problem on hot days or on paddles in which swimming is a distinct possibility. In addition to that, the cost of this helmet is steep. But if you place a premium on quality and performance, there aren't many helmets that can compete with this one.


  • Construction that is not just lightweight but also long-lasting
  • The liner may be removed, making cleaning much more straightforward.
  • O-Brace harness provides an improved level of comfort
  • The helmet is held in place with the aid of the Interconnect Retention System.
  • Constructed with a modest brim for protection from the sun Extremely pricey


  • In large bodies of water, the solid projection can create problems.
  • There are neither built-in drains nor vents.
Our Overall Review
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Best Value: Nrs Havoc Livery Helmet

Northern River Supply Havoc Livery Helmet

Northern River Supply Havoc Livery Helmet

The shell material is ABS plastic, while the liner's fabric is EVA foam liner.

The NRS Havoc Livery is a fan favorite among paddlers concerned about cost, and it is one of the most popular kayak helmets that has ever been released on the market.The Havoc Livery was constructed by NRS using rigid ABS plastic to achieve the highest possible durability and adaptability when operating on the water. ABS plastic has been used for a long time since it is durable enough to withstand being thrown around on rocks and does not cost an arm and a leg.

The interior of the Havoc Livery is outfitted with a glued-in closed-cell EVA foam lining that provides a combination of protection and cushioning when riding on the water. This helmet contains plush-fit padding at the front and rear, providing a better fit for spending long days out on the water. These pads offer additional comfort for the wearer. The top of the helmet is designed with drainage holes and vents so you can wear it comfortably, even on the hottest summer days.

The Havoc Livery is one of the only types available on the water that comes with a sizing system that accommodates people of all shapes and sizes. Before you paddle, you can quickly achieve a tailored fit thanks to the adjustable DialFit system with the helmet. While the helmet itself does not change the size, the system does.

Because this model can be adjusted to fit various head sizes, it is also an excellent option for anybody who wishes to keep an extra helmet on hand to give to friends or to pass around among members of their family. This adaptability is especially handy if you believe you might need to wear a hat when paddling during the cooler months of the year since it allows you to customize the fit of the cap.

The lack of an integrated brim on the Havoc Livery means that it does not provide any protection from the sun, which is a drawback of this particular livery. Because it is entirely constructed out of ABS plastic, it is significantly heavier than other, more costly variants. On the other hand, if you are looking for a dependable paddling helmet that won't break the bank, it is difficult to think of a more suitable alternative than the Havoc Livery.


  • The design of the universal sizing is highly customizable.
  • The reasonable price point
  • ABS material is used in construction for its sturdiness.
  • Ventilation and drainage holes are built right in
  • pads with a plush feel for further levels of comfort


  • It doesn't give sun protection
  • Heavy
Our Overall Review
Read full review

Wrsi Moment Helmet Is The Best Full-Face Helmet

WRSI Moment Helmet

WRSI Moment Helmet

Shell The outside is made of ABS plastic, while the interior is made of EVA foam and polyurethane.

WRSI Moment Helmet
The WRSI Moment Helmet is an excellent choice when the most important thing for you is to ensure that you have the highest level of protection available while you are out on the water.
The Moment is a full-face helmet made of ABS plastic that offers you the highest level of protection possible when paddling in the whitewater of Class IV and Class V. Specifically designed for paddlers who participate in the whitewater of these classes. In addition, it includes a highly breathable, completely detachable lining. It is designed to feel comfortable next to the skin so you can paddle for extended periods without fatigue.

In addition, the specialized Interconnect Retention System that the firm offers comes included with this model. This technology is meant to keep the helmet in place no matter how much the rapidly moving water attempts to pull it in the other direction. In addition, the Moment has an Adjustable O-Brace Harness that encircles the back of the user's head to provide increased safety when paddling.

The Moment offers protection on top of your head and around your ears, chin, and cheeks if you find yourself in an environment with potential dangers. This helmet also features a visor that has drainage holes built into it so that you may protect your eyes from the sun without compromising your ability to roll.

Last but not least, in contrast to many other full-face versions, the Moment features vents situated around each of the wearer's ears. If you go swimming while wearing this helmet, you won't have to worry about getting water in it because it breathes well and drains it quickly. While you're out on the water, the padding on your helmet shouldn't get in the way of your ability to hear, and these ventilation holes may assist make sure that doesn't happen.

When used for paddling in the summer, the Moment is heavy, thick, and generates a lot of heat, much like any other full-face helmet. After going for a swim, some kayakers find that the detachable liner in this helmet has a tendency to move and slide about, which can be uncomfortable. However, if excellent protection is what you're after, the WRSI Moment is one of the few models on the market that may meet your needs.


  • The ABS plastic exterior is highly long-lasting.
  • Protects the user's entire face in challenging environments.
  • ventilation openings around each ear to facilitate breathing and drainage
  • Featuring a visor that has drainage holes for improved overall performance.
  • A harness system that is adjustable to ensure the greatest possible fit


  • Heavy
  • It is frequently too warm for paddling throughout the summer.
  • There are a few flaws with the liner's fit.

NRS Chaos Helmet, Full Cut Version

NRS Chaos Helmet, Full Cut Version

NRS Chaos Helmet, Full Cut Version

Shell is our pick for the best full cut. The outside is made of ABS plastic, while the interior is lined with EVA foam with a dual density.

The NRS Chaos Full Cut Helmet is a handy choice for novices and experienced paddlers since it is both cost-effective and adaptable, making it an excellent alternative for paddlers who want increased protection without compromising comfort.Paddlers who choose the Chaos receive a helmet constructed from durable ABS plastic for protection and long-term use. This plastic shell protects not only the head and ears but also wraps around the head to give more protection from pebbles in the water.

The Chaos is cushioned and comfortable during paddling, thanks to the dual-density EVA foam interior. This dual-density foam, when paired with the helmet's ABS plastic shell, can effectively dissipate the forces of an impact if you were to take a swim while descending.

NRS designed the Chaos with vents that line the top of the plastic shell, even though many paddlers believe that full-cut helmets like this one don't allow for adequate ventilation. At the same time, vents are incorporated into the helmet's earpieces to guarantee that your hearing is not impaired when you are paddling. In this way, the helmet provides improved communication.

However, it is essential to remember that Chaos is not a helmet that comes in all sizes. Instead, this model is available in five different sizes, and you will need to choose the most appropriate one. However, a quick-adjust harness is included with each size of helmet, allowing you to fine-tune your helmet's fit before you paddle.
It should also be noted that after a long day on the water, the strap that comes with this helmet might be a little bothersome to wear for confident paddlers. However, if you value adaptability, defense, and cost-effectiveness equally, the Chaos Full Cut helmet is an excellent option.


  • Affordable pricing point
  • Performance and comfort are ensured by a combination of an ABS shell and dual-density foam.
  • Integrated vents on the crown of the head to improve airflow and comfort
  • Offers protection for the ears
  • The drainage holes in each earpiece provide better acoustic isolation.


  • It may be challenging to locate the appropriate size.
  • Some kayakers find the chinstrap to be a little too restrictive.

Whitewater Kayaking Helmet Buying Guide

Your safety on the water is as essential as a helmet. And you should know what to look for before making a purchase. To make your search for the ideal kayak helmet a little bit easier, we have compiled a list of the most important factors and characteristics you should bear in mind.

Types Of Kayaking Helmets

There are three primary varieties of kayaking helmets, each with characteristics that paddlers may find beneficial or unfavorable. These are the following:

  • Full-Face – A full-face kayak helmet is designed to give you the most level of protection possible when paddling on the water. Its form and style are comparable to those of a BMX or motorbike helmet. These versions wrap entirely around your head and the bottom half of your face, providing cushioning around the skull, jaw, ears, and cheeks. Consequently, they are perfect for paddling in water with a lot of waves or for someone very concerned about getting hurt. Before making a purchase, it is essential to remember that these helmets have a reputation for being cumbersome, cumbersome, and inadequately ventilated.
  • Full-Cut – Full-cut kayak helmets are a popular choice for intermediate paddlers because they provide the same level of protection for the skull and ears as full-face helmets, but they do not cover the chin or the face. These helmets include a plastic shell covering the entire ear, which is beneficial for swimming in waters with higher levels of risk. In the same vein, they provide increased airflow over a full-face helmet in this regard. The disadvantage of full-cut models is that they may be uncomfortable if they are not correctly sized, and some individuals find that they impair their ability to hear when wearing them.
  • Half-Cut Kayak Helmets Sit Above the Ears for Maximum Comfort and Ventilation Half-cut kayak helmets are open-face helmets that sit above the ears to provide maximum comfort and breathability. These models will safeguard your skull, but your face and ears aren't protected to the same extent. Therefore, they are perfect for rivers of moderate difficulty, where the likelihood of getting hurt is significantly lower. These helmets often come at a low price point, making them an excellent choice for novice paddlers.

Form & Follows Function

kayak helmet

kayak helmet

Said, if your kayak helmet does not provide a good fit for your head, it will not be of much help to you while you are out on the water. As a result, the level of comfort provided by your helmet and how well it fits your head should be your priority while shopping for one. This is because a helmet that does not work correctly poses a risk, mainly if it obstructs your line of sight when paddling or slips off underwater.

Therefore, it is vital to look at many models until you discover one that is a good fit for you and is comfortable enough to wear for an entire day of paddling.

Some helmets, like the NRS Havoc Livery Helmet, include a universal adjustment mechanism that allows them to fit the head of virtually every paddler. However, to guarantee that the other models, particularly full-face ones like the WRSI Moment Helmet, work correctly on your head, you will need to purchase the correct size for that model.

Before you go out and buy a helmet, take measurements of your head and consult the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer. The next step is to try different models of helmets at home to see which offers the best fit. You will be required to return it to receive a different size if it does not. If you don't, you risk increasing your likelihood of getting hurt while you're out on the water.

Brims & Sun Protection



In addition to protecting your head from impacts, many kayak helmets now come equipped with integrated brims, sometimes known as visors, that shield your eyes from the sun while you're paddling. If you reside in an area with a lot of sun, these brims might give you much-needed shade while you journey down a river.

However, very long brims can impede your ability to complete a roll if they begin to interact with the current while you are submerged. This can happen if the bill is too long. Despite this, they offer the necessary protection from the sun's heat. Thus it is essential to consider this while shopping for a kayaking helmet.

If you are afraid that a brim will prevent you from paddling effectively, then you may find that a model with a shorter bill less prone to create issues is more suitable for your needs. Kayaking helmets with brims that have holes built into them to enable water to flow through them are less likely to cause problems for you while you are on the water. Make sure you keep this in mind.

Water Drainage & Ventilation

Ventilation is an essential consideration for any headgear, and kayak helmets are no different in this regard. In addition to ventilation, kayaking-specific headgear also needs to be concerned with water drainage in case you fall into the water while paddling. This is necessary if you get a head injury.

This is because paddlers are more likely to experience discomfort while wearing helmets that do not include vents and drainage holes.

Thankfully, ventilation and the capacity to drain water go hand in hand with water drainage capabilities when it comes to kayak helmets. A good number of the vents already integrated into kayak helmets may also serve as drainage holes when you paddle in the water.

Consequently, it would be best to keep an eye out for these characteristics whenever you go shopping. When it comes to the ventilation and drainage holes of a kayaking helmet, the more, the merrier is the usual rule. A little breathability is always welcomed while you're in a kayak, but this is especially important to keep in mind if you paddle in hotter areas.

Weight & Bulk

Weight & Bulk

Weight & Bulk

These days, whitewater paddlers almost always wear helmets, and there's a good reason: helmets provide essential protection against the perils lurking in rivers.

However, things weren't always like this. Paddleboarders, like skiers, bikers, and other athletes, haven't always liked having to wear helmets because of the weight and bulkiness that helmets may bring to your head.

The fact that kayak helmets can be cumbersome and cumbersome does not diminish the benefit of wearing one when out on the water. It is always best practice to wear one whenever the conditions require it. On the other hand, investing in a lightweight and compact helmet may do wonders for the degree of comfort you have when wearing it.

Consequently, most paddlers choose to utilize helmets constructed from premium materials, such as carbon composite, because these helmets offer superior protection while also reducing overall weight. However, high-end helmets like the WRSI Trident Helmet typically come with a premium price tag, so you should keep this in mind before purchasing one.


When searching for a kayak helmet, the durability of the helmet is the final crucial aspect to take into consideration.

It shouldn't be surprising that kayak helmets are inherently robust pieces of gear, given that they protect you from significant hits. This should be expected. However, some models are constructed out of materials that are harder than others.

In particular, helmets made of ABS plastic tend to maintain strength even after years of continuous usage. Even though it is cumbersome, ABS plastic is more resistant to abrasions such as scratches and nicks than more expensive materials such as carbon composite.
To be approved for whitewater kayaking, a kayak helmet must be constructed to resist the high-impact forces that may be applied to it. However, if you choose a model not built from ABS plastic, you will need to be prepared to handle it with care while not in the water, and this will ensure that it remains in good operating condition for the most extended amount of time possible.

kayak helmet, the durability of the helmet

kayak helmet, the durability of the helmet


Very few pieces of equipment are more crucial than your helmet when you go whitewater kayaking. However, choosing the most OK kayak helmet may be challenging since there are a lot of different aspects that you need to consider before making a purchase.

The WRSI Trident Helmet is, in our opinion, head, and shoulders above the competition compared to the other kayaking helmets now available on the market. This is because the carbon-composite shell, detachable foam liner, and adjustable harness system of the Trident combine to give paddlers the balance of protection and comfort they require while out on the water.

On the other hand, Kayak helmets are one of those items that are only effective if worn by the person using them. Consequently, you must get the model intended for how you paddle, which is pleasant while worn on your head. You will be able to acquire the necessary protection in this manner before your subsequent kayaking excursion.