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The Brain Bucket

by Jim Sullivan

Gear Essentials: Part 3

The Brain Bucket

As with any sport, it’s important to protect your personality. A lot of rivers are relatively shallow, and if you find yourself upside-down at any point, you’re exposing your head to rocks. That means wearing a helmet is a must. Even if you think you can breeze down the river without flipping over, there are plenty of other hazards that pose a risk to an unprotected noggin. Choosing the right helmet is all about fit and comfort. Sweet Protection, Shred Ready, WRSI, and NRS all offer great options for helmets at the Outfitter’s Shop.

A properly fitted helmet should be snug around your head but not so tight that it pushes on pressure points or causes headaches. It should also sit low enough on your head so that it covers a good part of your forehead - that's where your personality is. A good test to see if the helmet fits is to grab the brim and try to wiggle it around. You should feel minimal back and forth movement when you do this; the helmet should move with you. Don’t forget to tighten up that chin strap and buckle it up. If it doesn’t feel solid in the shop, it’s not going to feel solid on the river!

A lot of the helmets at Zoar come in several different sizes, and the Shred Ready helmets come with fit-pads to customize the fit further. It’s important to take the time to size your helmet correctly when you get home so you can feel comfy and protected. For a first-time helmet purchase, the Shred Ready Standard Halfcut is a great choice that's easy to customize and adjust.

If you’ve had your first helmet for a while, or it’s starting to waft out some river funk, it may be time for a new one. Certainly after any major impact you should change helmets, but even the UV exposure from long days in the sun will deteriorate the integrity of the material over time. When you replace your first helmet, you might think about upgrading to a higher performing model that offers more comfort and impact protection. Look for a composite helmet, many of which are reinforced with materials like carbon to make them stronger and lighter. One higher end helmet to check out is the Sweet Protection Rocker Halfcut.

Stepping up the difficulty of whitewater that you’re running may call for even more protection. If you’re particularly worried about rocks, whether it be a personal choice or the fact that you’re running difficult shallow rapids, a full face helmet might be a good option for you. For a helmet with greater face protection, try the Sweet Protection Rocker Full Face.

Across the four brands of helmets that the Outfitter’s Shop carries, we have a helmet for everyone. Whether  it's an accent piece to your river attire, a super-protective essential for difficult creeking, or just a brain bucket, we have a helmet for you. Give us a call or come in next time you're in the area.

This article is Part 3 of our Gear Essentials series. Read Part 1 to learn more about picking out the right boat, and Part 2 for more information on PFDs!


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