Surfing is one of the few action sports where wearing a helmet is rare – at both the competitive and recreational level.
However, when you consider that head trauma is one of the most common causes of injury and death for surfers, a helmet for surfing might make more sense.
Helmet technology has come a long way, and you can find some super lightweight, low profile helmets for surfing that you won’t notice are there.
Surfers at all levels face a good amount of risk of head injury – impacts with the ocean floor, reefs, piers, jetties, your board, fins, other surfboards, other people. Wipeouts on big, fast waves or even just hard impacts to the head can lead to loss of consciousness and drowning before anyone else notices what has happened.
If you’re looking for some extra protection for your head, below are some situations that may warrant a surfing helmet.
If you’ve never worn a helmet when surfing, it’s going to feel a little weird the first few times.
However, if you’re surfing waves of consequence, crowded spots, over shallow reef, or after recovering from a previous head/brain injury, a surfing helmet might just save your life.
You’ll want something that is lightweight, secure, water resistant, and drains easily.
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When to Where a Surfing Helmet
- Surfing big, heavy waves – Big waves move fast and move with a lot of water. Falling on a wave like this can feel like hitting concrete or being hit with a brick wall.
- Surfing waves breaking over a shallow reef or rocky bottom – Hitting your head on the reef can kill you, a helmet will protect you from major cuts and going unconscious.
- Surfing in overly crowded spots – When you surf in big crowds, the risk of getting hit by other people and their surfboards goes us tremendously. It’s safer to assume that everyone around you is going to ditch their boards and send them flying towards you and to be prepared.
- For children and people with prior head trauma – Children’s heads are soft and more prone to injury. If you’ve faced head trauma in the past, a repeat injury is extremely bad news.
While surfing with a helmet might take some getting used to, it can certainly save your life in many situations.
Wearing a helmet is also going to give you a bit of added protection from the sun and the elements, as well as a place to mount your GoPro easily.
Why wear a helmet when surfing?
Helmets are commonly used in pretty much every other “extreme” sport other than surfing.
However, that doesn’t make risks of head or brain injury any less likely while you surf.
Here are some times when you can risk an injury to your head while surfing:
- Wiping out on big waves at high speed can be like falling on concrete.
- Hitting the reef with your head will cause some serious damage.
- Having your board or someone else’s surfboard hit you in the head.
If you’re not wearing a helmet and these things occur, the best case scenario is a sore head, and the worse cause scenario is a traumatic brain injury or death – by impact or being knocked unconscious and drowning.
While it may feel a little foreign at first, wearing a helmet when you surf can greatly reduce your risks of serious injury or death.
If you surf waves of consequences or in areas where an impact to the head is likely, a surfing helmet might just save your life.
Again, if you’re not used to wearing a helmet or even a hat while you surf, it’s going to feel a little weird until you get used to it.
Given the light-weight and comfort of most surfing helmets, the biggest weird thing you’ll probably notice will be how it affects your hearing.
At first, some types of sounds may feel louder and others will feel muffled. Just takes a little time to get used to it.