Helmet – (COMPULSORY as per WFTDA / MRDA rules and our XRD safety standards)
First thing’s first: The most important part of your safety gear is your helmet. Cheap knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards can lead to broken bones, but a budget or badly fitting helmet can lead to much worse such as concussions and fractured skulls You break a bone and worst case scenario is you will be off skates for a few months, you do a number on your bonce and I don’t think I need to tell you what can happen. So let’s get this first, important piece of kit right!
An important factor to think about (and ask store-staff about) is whether the helmets you are looking at are one-hit-wonders (e.g, you crack your head in it once and then you have to throw it away, the helmet is only good for one impact), or if it can take multiple knocks before having to swap out for a new one. Most skate-certified helmets will be the multiple-impact type, but some helmets such as speed-helmets for bike racing are only good for one fall, and then they have to be replaced. To reiterate: you NEED to be sure that the helmet you are buying can take multiple impacts. Turning up to a bout wearing an inappropriate helmet will result in kit violation and you being told to go and sit in the audience, you will NOT be allowed to bout if your helmet isn’t recognised as a certified multiple-impact skate helmet.
There are many manufacturers out on the market, such as S-One, Triple 8, Bullet, ProTec, etc. The first thing you want to make sure of, is that the helmets you are looking at buying conform to safety certificates pertaining to skate use.
The second thing you want to get right is the fit. This is one area of kit that you should avoid buying online. Yes, it is more convenient that way, but if it comes along and doesn’t fit properly, a lot of people would be inclined to keep it anyway if it is a little loose, rather than go through the inconvenience of sending it back and getting one that fits better. Tell me this: which is more convenient, hunting high and low for a well-fitted helmet for a month, or risking injury that could result in being off skates for several months? I know what I would choose!
With this in mind, avoid buying a helmet online wherever possible. If you are a seasoned skater and know exactly how a helmet should fit, then by all means, your experience on the subject should see you right with an online purchase. You may have to send a few back and get replacements (see below for explaination regarding manufacturing processes), but if you know what you are doing, then go ahead and buy online. If you are a less experienced skater or a fresh-meat newbie, my advice would be to go to a reputable skate equipment dealer and have them help to fit you with your first helmet purchase. You could try for example, Momma Trucker Skates on Cowick Street, Exeter. These guys have been trading for years, are skaters themselves, and know exactly how to protect your cranium! I would also add that, seeing as your head is a priceless asset, you should probably spend out on a piece of headwear that is going to offer you superior protection.
Another reason I advise going to a physical retailer in your local town is that no matter how good the factory process is, each helmet differs in dimensions. Even if it is the same make, model and size! I have tried several Triple 8 Brainsavers in size medium before, and I was surprised at how differently they all fitted!
A good helmet should cover all of your forehead ( I would say almost down to your eyebrows), give plenty of buffer zone near your temples, and come down low enough at the back of your head to cover the base your skull.