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Author Topic: Ice helmet foam question  (Read 193 times)

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Offline Query

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Ice helmet foam question
« on: June 23, 2017, 04:22:08 PM »
I seek a helmet, with a retractable face shield that actually covers the face.

I confess this is for a completely different sport. I am sufficiently confident of my fall practice not to worry about helmets while skating (then again, I've never tried a backflip or similar move), but whitewater boating is a completely different case, because bad things happen super-fast, including under poor visibility conditions, like under (muddy) water, and mobility is impaired by the kayak - I've twice hit my forehead on rocks, and once came close to drowning as a result.

At least one company GATH makes a retractable face shield helmet sometimes used in water sports. Maybe there are others I haven't found. (You know of any?) Retractable is good, to briefly cool off, and it is absolutely essential in that sport to be able to drink water.

(There are many "full face" whitewater helmets - but they just have visors and chin guards - some of the face is uncovered. And gridded face guards are dubious - a stick could get caught in the guard, and hold one under water long enough to drown.)

But one on-line review says Gath helmets offer no padding. So maybe I should start with an oversized helmet, and add foam.

There have been many discussions on this board about foam to pad helmets for figure skating, some of which advocated rigid foams like polystyrene, which have to be replaced after every collision, but that is unsuitable for my purpose - in whitewater boating, there will inevitably be multiple impacts. However, unlike skate insoles, we aren't talking about hundreds or thousands of impacts, so super-minimal compression set isn't required, and there is no need for rebound. In addition, the foam will get wet, so open cell foams are probably out. OTOH, the helmet can be much more awkward, ugly and heavy than one might want for figure skating.

Could anyone recommend suitable foams, and perhaps how many inch(es) of foam would be needed? Assume the helmet is fairly rigid, so skull penetration by sharp rocks is not an issue, and that it will spread out the impact fairly well (I hope - which means that things like ball bearing drop tests aren't very relevant). I.E., I only seek gradual deceleration.

BTW, am I right that motorcycle helmets (some of which are much cheaper than Gath helmets) offer very poor ventilation and may in other respects be unsuitable? I assume they are pretty good at cushioning impact, and many do have retractable face shields.

Offline DressmakingMomma

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Re: Ice helmet foam question
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2017, 03:17:03 PM »
I can't help with most of your questions, but I can say that motorcycle helmets are heavy, super bulky, and sometimes hard to see around. I have both street and motocross helmets. The motocross is lighter and easier to see around, but you wear goggles with it instead of a face shield. My helmets aren't new, so maybe technology has produced something much better. I went out with my husband for a ride today and was just thinking about how uncomfortable a helmet is, even so, I would never ride without one. I can't imagine they would be good for whitewater rafting.

Offline Query

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Re: Ice helmet foam question
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2017, 12:00:37 PM »
Apparently, most motorcycle helmets, like most bike helmets, are made of crushable foam (e.g., expanded polystyrene), and can take only one hit, because it is cheaper and lighter. But maybe there are exceptions.

Offline Leif

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Re: Ice helmet foam question
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2017, 04:09:03 PM »
Apparently, most motorcycle helmets, like most bike helmets, are made of crushable foam (e.g., expanded polystyrene), and can take only one hit, because it is cheaper and lighter. But maybe there are exceptions.

I believe motor bike can only take one hit because the outer shell loses its integrity once damaged. And I would suspect they are dangerous in water due to the weight. The push bike helmets I have seen can take multiple hits, as can my inline skating helmet. Then again they are designed to take lesser impacts. Dare I suggest that you look at ice hockey helmets, and even American football helmets, as they can take multiple hits, and they have a cage. However, not being a kayaker, it may well be that such helmets are dangerous for kayaking for reasons unknown to me, so you really need expect help. For example, push bike helmets are usually unsafe for ice skating because they have a pointed back, which can cause neck injuries in a fall.

There are some full face kayaking helmets here:

http://www.canoeandkayakstore.co.uk/541/whitewater_helmets.aspx

Other good shops are available.

Would not a kayaking forum be the place for your question?

Offline Query

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Re: Ice helmet foam question
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2017, 12:37:36 PM »
Quote
Would not a kayaking forum be the place for your question?

Probably. I also asked in such a forum, and received a number of suggestions.

BTW, I have a "full face helmet" designed for Lacrosse, that some have used for whitewater. Does not cover my forehead, nose or mouth - a suitably shaped rock could still kill me. Unless I added a face cage, making it impossible to drink or to escape a "strainer" branch that got caught in it. Hockey helmets, according to the local hockey store, get very heavy when wet. Single hit ski helmets are built to an international standard tougher than the whitewater standard - but multi-hit ski helmets are not.

So it really looks like helmets really are pretty specific to their sports, maybe for good reasons. I still think a somewhat bulky and heavy helmet with a retractable or flip-up face shield, a sufficient thickness of closed cell foam, and a quick release, could work for many sports (including figure skating, BTW) - but it probably doesn't exist off-the-shelf without modification.

Gath replied to my email to them, that two of their helmets meet the EN1385 whitewater rafting standard. On further research, that standard does not cover class 4 or 5 whitewater - but I don't plan to go that high again - did class 4 only a few times, got hurt once, and escaped a sticky hole by pure luck (a maneuver I didn't know was possible) another time.

Anyway, thanks for your replies.