Like most people who took up foiling I dutifully wore a helmet to protect myself from the foil of death trying to remove my head. I worked through a couple of helmets until I found the most comfortable and best fit.
I had two problems with wearing a helmet.
The main one was that crashes hurt. The water hitting the helmet caused it to smash into my head. Instead of simply splashing into the water it felt like I had been hit in the head with a plank of wood.
The bucket effect felt like my head was being torn off and resulted in whiplash pain to my neck.
Finally, the helmet would be knocked askew and I would have to spend time straightening things up before I could ride away.
Not to mention the wind noise was deafening.
The other problem was that I had become afraid of crashing. It hurt. My foiling progress had stalled and I was just riding around. It was fun, but it was a bit disappointing. I felt more at risk with the helmet rather than feeling safer and protected.
I recently discarded the helmet. No more neck pain. No more head aches. No more mid-session helmet explosions. No more roaring in the ears.
Even better, no longer feared crashing. I could push a bit harder and work on moves. I have pulled off a few foiling foot swaps. Tack and 360 attempts are getting better. Jumping is now part of a normal session. Foiling has become fun again.
Of course, this could all be coincidence. I could have just pushed through a plateau and it would have happened with the helmet. I think not.
So, is anybody else finding helmets to have a negative impact on their riding pleasure and perceived safety?
PS. Before you tell me how wonderful your particular helmet is, I have owned a number of Protec helmets, two Gath hats, an NP Surf, and a kayaking helmet. I have tried on the Bern and Mystic helmets in the shops. There are better fitting systems and worse fitting systems. The end result is the same.
All of the aforementioned discomfort is nothing compared to a major head injury. If you'd rather run the risk of a concussion or laceration than deal with slight discomfort or the whiplash effect, that's your calculus to make.
None of the maneuvers you mentioned are limited by wearing a helmet, makes me think that whatever was stopping you from progressing was inside your head, not on top of it
Poorly fitting helmets do move around, no only being annoying, but potentially losing their value as protection when you need it. If all the helmet has is the chin strap to keep it in place, I find it won't do me much good. Only the helmets with the adjustable bit that goes around the base of the back of my skull stay put. I've tried a bunch of brands in several sports but I'm gonna refrain from naming brands as I'm trying to refrain from pimping.
I'd rather protect against the things that actually happen, rather than what might happen.
I have used several helmets with occipital stabilisers (Protec, NP Surf). Eventually you get a small impact that dislodges the helmet and bursts open the stabiliser. The end result is an amplified impact to the head and neck.
Low profile helmets are good in theory (Gath hats), but the stick on adjustment system eventually gives way. You still get the amplified impact to the head.
Following reading about 'bucket effect' on another thread which accounted for the whiplash neck ache I was getting from foil crashes whilst wearing my Mystic helmet, I bought a Gath. Since then I've not ended up with the same sore neck after a session. So I'm grateful to the forum for helping me solve. I don't have to use the stick on adjustment system since it's a tight, but comfortable fit. I do think wind noise is higher than on the Mystic lid.
Whilst the Gath has solved my soreness, I'd rather have a stiff neck every time than a catastrophic injury from foil impact on a bare skull.
Like a wetsuit, harness, or pair of shoes, correct size/ shape and PROPER FIT is everything. I see so many people riding with helmets on loose (chin strap slack). If the helmet doesn't fit well, or isn't SECURED COMPLETELY- it can't provide the protection and comfort as advertised. It can be difficult finding helmets for egg shaped head like mine, but Gath Gedi has been the best fit I can find so far. I don't know about wind noise since I wear ear protection. Ear drums are delicate and I don't want surfer's ear either since I kite a lot.
OzBungy wrote:PS. Before you tell me how wonderful your particular helmet is, I have owned a number of Protec helmets, two Gath hats, an NP Surf, and a kayaking helmet. I have tried on the Bern and Mystic helmets in the shops. There are better fitting systems and worse fitting systems. The end result is the same.
There is another important factor - weight. Less weight=less whiplash. I found very light Gath with screen. It closes durin impacts, protectig eyes from impact water jets Ride safe Tadeusz