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I am doing little kayaking and just a bit more skiing (the seasons for both are very short where I live). Both of these need helmets, but I feel reluctant to buy 2 items, each of which will see little use.

So I wonder whether I can buy 1 helmet that will be sufficiently safe (but not necessarily convenient) for both activities.

My thoughts so far:

  • A kayaking helmet must be sturdy enough and protect the ears and the back of the head. I see no contradiction with skiing.
  • A kayaking helmet must have holes. No problem for skiing.
  • A skiing helmet should protect from cold. However, I don't really need this - it's never too cold where I am skiing.
  • I am not proficient enough in all the details, so I am afraid to miss some important considerations.

So, how can I choose a kayaking helmet that is also suitable for skiing? Or vice versa?

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What kind of kayaking are you doing - white water? – Aravona Mar 24 at 8:30
    
Yes. I didn't realize there were other types... – anatolyg Mar 24 at 8:32
    
yup there are loads, white water, sea, river, canal - not all need a helmet :) – Aravona Mar 24 at 8:36
    
What type of skiing are you doing and how fast do you go? – Ian Ringrose Mar 24 at 16:13
    
I do mostly off-piste skiing, not fast. Though I think this shouldn't limit the scope of the question. – anatolyg Mar 24 at 17:13
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As the protection required in these activities differ, there are different standards for helmets: EN 1385 for kayaking and EN 1077 for skiing. There are of course even more norms for other helmets. So technically, you need a helmet that fulfills both these norms. I am not aware of a helmet that has both norms. I do however use a Kong Scarab, which fulfills the norms for kayaking, cycling, hoarse riding and climbing and I do use it for spring ski touring (due to lots of ventilation). I am confident that a helmet that can protect me in a cycling crash can handle a skiing crash too. So in the end it is also a personal assessment whether a certain helmet is actually appropriate, where the norms it fulfills are good indicators of its capabilities.

However this source states, that white water kayaking of class 4 and 5 are outside of the scope of EN 1385, so if you are into such serious activities you probably need a dedicated helmet for kayaking which you should get from a specialised shop.

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The POC Receptor+ has both the EN 1077B and EN 1385 ratings -- as well as EN 1078, CPSC 12.03, ASTM 2040, and ASTM 1492, meaning that it's also suitable for skateboarding and cycling. – Pont Mar 24 at 11:04

It's not recommended to use a kayak or "CE/EN 1385" helmet for skiing. However, you can use a skiing or "CE/EN 1077" helmet for kayaking.

The helmets are manufactured and tested for specific conditions. A skiing helmet is for "faster speed" impacts and colder conditions. In contrast a kayak helmet is of course created for "slower speed" impacts and warmer conditions.

For example from 4-paddlers

To put it simple, the Rocker is made to behave better in “lower speed” impacts in “warm” conditions (CE/EN 1385), meaning it will behave well in kayak related impacts, in temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius.

The Trooper is built to handle “high velocity” impacts in temperatures ranging from +25/-30 degrees Celsius (CE/EN 1077). Meaning you have a completely different set up on the interior crash zone.

The comfort liner on the inside of the helmets are more or less the same Coolmax liner, so you will not experienced to much of a difference when using the snow helmets in water.

We cannot recommend you to use a kayaking helmet for skiing/snowboarding, but it should be no problem taking using a ski/snb helmet for kayaking (we know a lot of people who does that).

Personally I wouldn't use a skiing helmet for kayaking nor vice versa. This post pretty much sums up my personal opinion:

There's a reason why they make kayak helmets, and why people don't just wear bike or ski helmets kayaking (although a few (...) always do it). It's because they're designed to protect your head from different things. A kayak helmet is designed to protect you from multiple low-speed impacts: you go paddling, smack some rocks, get up the next day and do it again with the same rock-tattooed helmet. Bike helmets and ski helmets, OTOH, are designed to protect against a single, bigger, higher-speed hit: it has an inner layer that's supposed to crush and stay crushed when it takes a hit, after which you throw it away and get a new one.

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4  
There's another reason - skiing helmets might not drain freely enough for rolling, or may have liners that hold water. As you can wear extra insulation under either (e.g. a skullcap for kayaking) and cold water cools you faster than very cold air, the warmth difference isn't worth worrying about. But I wouldn't wear a kayaking helmet that wasn't meant go below zero - winter is the WW season here and the air temp can easily be <0 over flowing water (a seal launch on ice is fun). – Chris H Mar 24 at 13:17
    
In the UK, it is often below 0 degrees Celsius when there is enough water to have fun kayaking. – Ian Ringrose Mar 24 at 16:14
    
I think this post covers it with Chris' comments as the 1385 standard includes a bouyancy test (must float after being submerged for 4 hours) while the 1077 includes a penetration test (for pointy objects). There is no real multi-impact test in these standards; any hit below what would crush the foam will just be passed through to your head, and so in that sense a ski helmet would have even more resistance to multiple low-speed impacts. – requiem Mar 27 at 0:23

There seem to be many widespread assumptions about helmet design, particularly regarding how well they handle multiple impacts. The poor availability of the relevant standards documents[0] does not do much to help this.

As others have mentioned, relevant helmet standards include EN 1385 (for kayaks and whitewater sports) and EN 1077 (alpine skiers and snowboarders). There is some overlap between the standards, and it seems likely that the paucity of multi-rated helmets is more likely due to the expense of testing than significant design differences. Here is a rough comparison of the major requirements for these standards:

  • Field of vision: (Both standards) Making sure the helmet design does not interfere with the user’s field of vision.
  • Extent of coverage: (Both standards) Making sure the helmet covers all necessary parts of the head.
  • Shock Absorbing Capacity: The most important is the shock absorbing capacity of the helmet. This is tested in a specialized instrument where the helmet is dropped:

    • EN 1077: from 1.5m onto a solid metal anvil with a 4 kg metal head inside.
    • EN 1385: with the speed of 2.5m/s onto a solid metal anvil with a 4 kg metal head inside.

    Inside the metal head there’s an accelerometer that measures the forces within the impact.

    • EN 1077: The helmets are tested in three conditions: Room temperature, -25°C, and after artificial aging.
    • EN 1385: The helmets are tested in four conditions: High temperatures (+35°C), low temperature (0°C), after artificial aging, and after the helmet has been submerged for 4 hours.

    Each helmet is tested on several areas (crown, side, rear & front). The peak acceleration must not exceed 250G for any of the impacts.

  • Resistance to penetration: (EN 1077 only) While skiing or snowboarding there’s a risk of poles, skis or branches penetrating the helmet. The resistance to penetration is tested by dropping a hammer with the mass of 3 kg from 75cm onto a sharp cone shaped metal punch placed against the helmet. The point of the metal punch must not reach the head inside the helmet.

  • Bouyancy: (EN 1385 only) After being submerged for at least 4 hours, the helmet must float to the surface.
  • Retention system performance: (Both standards) This test covers the strength of the retention system (webbing), as well as its effectiveness, i.e. the webbing's ability to keep the helmet securely positioned on the head.
  • Durability: (Both standards) After all these tests the helmet should not show any damage that would cause any additional damage to the wearer.

A helmet tested to the EN 1385 standard is not intended for use in white water class V and VI.

For those who haven't done the math, a 2.5m/s speed corresponds to only about a 0.3m drop, or about half the speed most helmets would be tested for. The reasoning is apparently due to the expectation that someone floating in water will have difficult reaching high speeds.

Beyond applying impacts to different parts of the helmets there is no multiple-impact testing included in the standards. Low-speed impacts to a helmet that meets either standard will simply fail to crush the foam and the force (though distributed by the helmet rather than focused) will be passed along to the head. (Some types of multi-impact helmets might make use of materials like EPP foam instead of EPS, but the rebound behavior of EEP is still, I believe, not yet well-characterized.)

References:

[0] While the documents can be located, it is often required that they be purchased for prices far in excess of what the general public would be willing to pay. E.g. BSI sells a copy of the EN 1385:2012 standard for about $223 USD.

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+1 For a detailed comparison and proper references. – fgysin Mar 29 at 8:05

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