Safety should always the top priority when it comes to skateboarding. Sure you might feel awkward wearing a helmet while skateboarding, but nobody is going to judge you. I admit I don’t always wear a helmet but only when I do basic stuff. The lack of protective wear is still quite common among skateboarders but slowly you see more and more skaters wearing protective gear.
When it comes to safety, you should be wearing a helmet whenever you are skateboarding. The very purpose of it is to protect your head from severe injury in case of a fall. Concussions and a variety of head injuries happen, especially when you’re a beginner. Even if you know how to fall properly, an accident is hard to prevent.
There are mixed opinions on this subject so let’s dig a little into that. Even if you don’t want to wear a helmet, sometimes the law requires you to wear one. I also listed a couple of popular helmets that meet safety standards.
Why Skateboarders Don’t like Helmets
According to professionals, wearing helmets is a must especially when it comes to vert and bowl skating. You can never tell when an accident is going to happen. By being proactive in protecting yourself, you can save yourself from a concussion or a skull fracture.
Some skaters who have been practicing for years don’t wear a helmet for reasons like; “It does not look cool” or that helmets feel uncomfortable. If you are a beginner, and you want to know if splurging on a helmet is worth it, look at the statistics. Beginners tend to end up in the ER more than seasoned skateboarders.
When I was younger I didn’t wear a helmet because I didn’t think about the consequences, it wasn’t so much the ‘not cool factor’ I just didn’t think about it. My friends didn’t wear one, so maybe that also played a part. I had a friend hit his head once in our local vert, his eyed roled and he blacked out for a couple of seconds.
He got up angry and left the scene (that last part was quite funny actually), we were quite worried for a minute there, it could have ended badly. Once I got older and needed to be a responsible adult, it got me thinking.
Here’s what can happen, watch this guys’ life being saved by his helmet. Without it, he would have ended up as a vegetable.
What Does the Law Require?
In the United States, almost all skateparks actually require their regulars to wear helmets in order to enter. In California, a law has been passed requiring skaters below 18 to wear a helmet on any street or public space. Other states have yet to come up with a law similar to this, but as of the moment their laws cover the use of a helmet in skateparks and other skating recreational centers.
The whole ordeal on helmet usage has been quite an issue in the skating community, but less nowadays. Even if you know how to fall a reckless driver can ruin your day. You would hear tons of users saying they do not “need” to wear a helmet because they “know how to fall” to protect themselves.
Then there are others who are hardcore advocates for safety overall. In the grand scheme of things, both sides may have a point but we must take a look into is the pros and cons of the situation and then make a logical decision.
Pros of Wearing a Helmet
- Higher visibility for drivers while you are skating by the road depending on the color.
- less chance of fatal head injuries.
- Reduce recovery time from major falls.
- Not ending up in the hospital and able to go to work or school the next day
Cons of Wearing a Helmet
Helmets are uncomfortable since it makes you sweat. Aesthetically speaking, helmets don’t look “cool” and it messes up your hair. Well, this is not a beauty contest.
Based on these points, we can definitely say that there are more logical reasons to wear a helmet than not to, it’s still up to you though. Knowing how to fall cannot always guarantee safety. And at the end of the day, safety should be more important than just looking cool or worrying about your hair. Take it from skateboard legend, Mike Valley – helmets can be cool too! Kudos to him for actively campaigning skateboard helmets.
Choosing the Right Helmet
There are a variety of helmets to choose from, but knowing which to buy and how to pick one is definitely more important than just being stylish. The best way to pick the right helmet is to go to your local skate shop. Make sure to pay attention to the following:
Make sure the helmet fits you well. In order to determine what size is best, you need to measure your head. Take a tape measure and position it approximately one inch above your eyebrows and measure the circumference of your head. Note this down and take it to the store when you purchase your helmet to make sure the fit would be accurate. Wearing a helmet that is too big or too small is uncomfortable and you don’t get optimal protection.
If your helmet shifts when you go down, you’re a long way from home. You can also opt to buy helmets with removable paddings, these often come in different thicknesses that would allow you to adjust according to your size. Some like it, others say it’s useless.
There is a standard skateboard helmet style, but there are other options in the market if you are interested in wearing something different or that has more coverage. Ideally, the helmets specially made for skateboarding have more impact resistance compared to other types. Open face helmets are commonly used, whereas full-faced ones are more popular with downhill longboard riders.
The very purpose of you getting a helmet is to ensure that you are secure. One thing to look into when you are buying a helmet is its certification. If the manufacturers of the helmets are able to meet the standards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) you can be sure that this will definitely be ideal for use.
Some skateboarders that wear a helmet find it distracting while riding. Choosing an open face helmet with ample ventilation and air outlet positions can keep your head cool, avoiding the uncomfortable feeling as well the supposed pending distraction of sweat getting into your eyes in the middle of a trick.
It also depends on the weather, of course, wearing a helmet on a hot day is much more uncomfortable than a cold day. Think about this when you opt for a helmet.
Retention System and Straps
These two are what keeps your helmet in place. It comes in a variety of styles but what is important is that they can be fastened and adjusted according to your comfort. You can choose a quick release buckle system or even an ordinary one, as long as you are able to secure your helmet on your head, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Skateboarding helmets vs bike helmet
One thing you have to keep in mind is that there is a major difference between the two. The main reason you should not use a bike helmet for skateboarding is due to its ability to protect. If you use a bike helmet, make sure it also covers the back of the head like MTB helmets do.
Going back to our list, safety should be your number one concern, wearing a bike helmet that is built for lesser impact will not help you when you’re on a 20 ft half pipe seconds away from impact. Sure the bike helmet can break the fall, but this doesn’t guarantee anything, which is why skateboarding helmets are made with extra padding, a closed back, and foam shell that protects you against hard falls.
Top Six Helmets on the Market
When buying a helmet, go for quality and don’t cheap out. Think of the helmet as a long term investment, you should not hesitate to spend a little more, for something that can ultimately save your life. Here are the top helmets on the market today:
Note: below are links that earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Thousand Skate Helmet
Let’s kick this off with a helmet that not just looks good, it is also is ASTM F1492, CPSC, and CE EN1078 safety certified. I came across Thousand a while ago and I really love what they are doing. For one, you should check out their mission and philosophy about saving lives and sustainability. The helmets are just rad so I decided to get one.
Yes, you pay a bit more, but if you hate to wear a helmet this one might convince you because it looks good on everybody. Check out my review or check out their designs (link to their website). Comfy helmet with a couple of very neat features no other brand offers.
Triple Eight with Sweatsaver Liner
Popular for its brain-saver rubber, this helmet’s advance multi-impact design has been quite promising. The sweatsaver lining has been a favorite due to its absorbent properties. Along with the TSG helmet, this is probably the best and affordable helmet you can get. Here’s a link to Amazon if you’re looking for a top-quality helmet.
TSG has made quite a name for itself over the years. They’re on par with Triple Eight, but both are an excellent choice. My vert-skater friend swears by this helmet and likes it even more than the Triple Eight. Personal preference of course but consider this helmet if you want the best. Check it out at Amazon and don’t forget to read the reviews on Amazon.
Protect offers maximum impact absorption with 11 vents and nylon-webbed straps. Pro-tec is certified by CPSC, NZ, and the ASTM, therefore guaranteeing ultimate safety. It is one of the brands that meet all safety standards. The only disadvantage of getting a Pro-Tec (Amazon) would be the visibility of scratches due to its matte finish, but who cares?
Punisher Skateboards Pro Series 13
A one-size-fits-all helmet that comes at a really affordable price. It includes 3 inner padding sets that can be changed to fit any user perfectly. It has a dual safety standard and has a total of 12 vents to keep your head cool in spite of the padding. Some people report the inner pads not being included. Make sure you get them or return it otherwise.
This helmet can be used for a variety of activities such as cycling, skateboarding and rollerblading. It is dually certified and is highly resistant to impact. The aerodynamic design allows for maximum ventilation. However, there have been issues regarding the straps of this model, although adjustable it isn’t as durable as the entire helmet itself.
This helmet is ok for kids and a bit cheaper compared to the other models. Still, I wouldn’t save money on a helmet, it’s adequate but not the best. I’m therefor not including an affiliate link.
Similar to the Pro-Tec, it has met all safety standards. It is quite affordable and versatile. It comes with padded inserts that allow you to adjust according to your size and has enough vents to quickly dry sweat. It is equipped with polyester straps that are quite easy to adjust with a quick-release buckle.
The only downside in purchasing a ProRider BMX helmet is that the design is not as attractive as the others we have mentioned. It’s perfect for kids but as an adult, I wouldn’t buy it.
Wrapping it Up
Whether you should wear a helmet really is up to you but beginners and kids definitely need to wear a helmet. Especially kids are vulnerable, I never let my kid skate without a helmet. By doing so, you are setting an example for kids to prioritize safety above all else.
I started wearing mine more when I started teaching my kid how to skateboard. Use this guide to pick the right helmet for you and if possible visit your local shop, they need your support!