Can you Use a Rock Climbing Helmet for Kayaking ?

Adventure sports are an excellent way of being occupied. They not only provide a good way to rejuvenate but are an excellent way to keep your body & mind in perfect shape. You may be engaged in multiple adventure sports and want to know if you can interchange the gear. For example, if you have a rock climbing helmet, you may want to know if you can use it for kayaking.

Rock climbing and kayaking are different adventure sports and have separate safety requirements. Rock climbing helmets are made of hard plastic shells to withstand shock from falling rocks and ice. On the other hand, kayaking helmets have carbon fiber shells and are meant to protect the kayaker’s head when he falls into the water. Since both the helmets are developed for different purposes, they should be used for the intended application.

Helmets are crucial for any adventure sports. It saves you from an impact and protects your skull from any injury. You need to know which helmet is best for the sport you are undertaking. If you are new to adventure sports, you may want to know more about rock climbing and kayaking helmets.

This article will provide you with the details to understand the difference between rock climbing helmets and kayaking helmets. Read on to find more.

Kayaking helmets

Kayaking helmets are made to protect the kayaker’s head from any impact from the rocks, or save your skull while you are in the rapids.

There are of two types:

  • half-cut
  • full-cut kayaking helmets

Half-cut helmets cover the top portion of the skull whereas full-cut helmets protect your skull and your ears. Full-cut helmets provide complete protection. Half-cut helmets provide a comfortable fit and ease of use. Full-cut helmets are generally worn while you are on difficult white waters. Half-cut helmets are worn for leisure kayaking trips.

The exterior shells of kayaking helmets are made of plastic, carbon fiber, or kevlar. These are durable and lightweight materials. They protect your cranium during an impact with rocks during a rapid or during an underwater collision. On the flip side, they cost more due to the expensive material used for them. The kayaking helmet standards can be found in the BS EN 1385:2012.

Rock climbing helmets

Rock climbing helmets are categorized as helmets with hard shells and helmets with soft foam shells. Helmets with hard shells are meant for serious rock climbing. Helmets with soft foam shells are meant for casual rock climbers. Both the helmets are meant to protect your head from falling rocks and ice while you are moving towards the summit. The hard helmet shells are usually known as suspension helmets or hybrid helmets.The hard shell helmets are made of ABS plastic with a thin foam liner. The soft foam helmets are made of polystyrene or polypropylene material.

The hard shell helmets are low-cost and durable. The soft foam helmets are lightweight and have good ventilation. On the other hand, soft foam helmets are expensive due to their advanced raw material and design. The rock climbing helmet standards can be found in BS EN 12492:2012.

Using a rock climbing helmet for kayaking

Having understood the rock climbing helmets and kayaking helmets, it is time to understand if they can be interchanged.  Strictly speaking, they cannot be interchanged. Both the rock climbing helmets and kayaking helmets are made for different situations. They have different construction and raw material. Also, their testing standards are different. Hence you will do well to protect yourself by using the right type of kayaking helmet for your next trip.

While kayaking, you may like to have a helmet with ears uncovered. The rock climbing helmets usually fully cover your ears. If your ears are covered, you will not be able to hear what your group members are saying. It could be an instruction or a warning for upcoming rapid. Also at places, there are strict laws that ask you to use a proper kayaking helmet while kayaking. Hence you will be on the wrong side of the law if you use a rock climbing helmet in place of a kayaking helmet.


It is good to use a proper kayaking helmet for a white water expedition. They are constructed for the very purpose of kayaking and will protect you from any danger that may come your way. If you don’t have a kayaking helmet, you will do well to invest in one. After all, your life is precious than anything else. We hope that our discussion on the matter has convinced you to get yourself a proper helmet before you move on to your next kayaking adventure.

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