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MB38

Protective Helmets

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Spawned by the incident thread, it's time to think about using protective helmets for skydiving. Obviously this has been covered in great detail before, but it's a topic that wouldn't suffer from a little redundancy.

If all of the "helmet" posts from the incident thread get broken off into their own thread, merge or delete this one.

Anyways...


We all know that skydiving helmets just don't offer real protection. They'll save you from bumping your head on the door or getting a foot in your face but nothing more. They are designed for comfort, style, audible altimeters and cameras.

Here are a few links to consider. I'm sure that others will have more input.

The classic ProTec is the good 'ol standby. It's cheap and designed for protection. It's not the biggest, best helmet... and you won't win too many style points... but it works. Yee haw.

Oregon Aero makes upgraded padding to be used with various kinds of helmets... including the ProTec. Relevant to Skydiving is the upgrade for the Z1 or "any skydiving helmet". I'm sure that it won't make a huge difference, but it won't hurt.

Paragliding helmets are another good place to look. They are designed to be snag-free and fairly aerodynamic. They have pockets for in-air communication systems [audible would probably fit] and they actually have solid protection. They aren't DOT approved, but they'll still help. The Charly Insider is one of the more significantly padded helmets. The Charly No Limit is a solid full-face helmet with a visor and the Charly Air Control will blend right in with normal skydiving helmets. A company called Icaro makes several helmets as well, though the padding is apparently not as significant. The Icaro Blue Velvet is one viable option.

Beware of purpose-built hang-gliding helmets, as they are probably extremely dangerous for skydiving.

On the ground, the motorsports industry has more helmets than anybody else. They're also DOT approved, so they'll really keep your noggin' about as safe as can be. The bummer is that they can weigh a ton and have peripheral vision restrictions. Motocross helmets [with their visors] can have numerous significant snag points. The visors can be removed, but the helmets are still generally quite "angular" to look more "extreme".

A handful of these companies make DOT approved mountain biking helmets. When helmets are designed with foot-propulsion in mind, they're generally lighter. A DOT approved helmet weighing under 1.5-2lbs can be had for less money than a normal skydiving helmet.

Hopefully more people will post more links and helmets that they recommend. I'm not trying to pretend like I know something here, I'm just linking away. Hell, it's just something to think about. I'm sure next to nobody will pick up a protective helmet, but if most of your jumping consists of hop & pops for high-performance approaches, well...
I really don't know what I'm talking about.

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That icaro is a skyrunner, the color is blue velvet.

I own one and have jumped with it. It would be viable if the visor was latched, the chin did not protrude as much and the neck had a seal. All full face PG helmets have huge chins as part of the face protection. In RW it's way out there catching air and blasting your visor up.

It is it just doesn't do the job but it could with some design change. I noticed this today:

http://www.icaro2000.com/Gallery/Helmets/4fight%20paracadutismo.htm

There is a cut version without the dirty great head hook near the reserve container:

http://www.icaro2000.com/Products/Helmets/4fight/Cut%20Integral/Cut%20integral.htm

and one without the chin protrusion but the visor is unsuited:

http://www.icaro2000.com/Products/Helmets/4fight/Cut%20Jet/Cut%20Jet.htm

The chin still seems to protrude in some of these (in real life it protrudes more than is apparent from the images). Dunno about the neck & visor for sure. It's encouraging that skydiving is somewhat on their radar.

My icaro and other PG helmets have a good half inch of protection all over of rigid injection moulded styrofoam that will mitigate heavy impacts. They're still light and the extra size isn't problematic, it's nowhere near as big as a motorcycle helmet for example.

For a moderate freefall impact you may want something like memory foam as I'm not sure pure styrofoam would keep you awake, it's pretty darned firm. Brain saving stuff for hitting something hard but in PG that's the ground and you don't have to worry about being awake to pull stable & fly.

That's a key design issue I think, freefall impact vs ground impact. But a good amount of space and something light in it to be crushed instead of your brain is definitely an improvement over most skydiving helmets.

There seems to be an innate acceptance that pro-tec helmets offer more protection and some jump with them, but that hasn't translated into a market for helmets with good impact protection.

Is it the lack of products or the lack of market that's the issue? Chicken or egg?

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Good post, but I disagree on one point.

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The classic ProTec is the good 'ol standby. It's cheap and designed for protection. It's not the biggest, best helmet... and you won't win too many style points... but it works. Yee haw.



ProTec makes a line of very cool skateboarding and snowboarding helmets, that DO win many style points. I wear one, and get comments about how cool it is usually once a day.

$50 at the local sports MegaMart.

_Am
__

You put the fun in "funnel" - craichead.

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That icaro is a skyrunner, the color is blue velvet.


Thanks for catching me on that - and other - points. I would edit but it's too late.


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For a moderate freefall impact you may want something like memory foam as I'm not sure pure styrofoam would keep you awake, it's pretty darned firm. Brain saving stuff for hitting something hard but in PG that's the ground and you don't have to worry about being awake to pull stable & fly.



There's an interesting point here. For minor impacts, crush-type foam built for high-speed impacts may do more harm than good. If the impact isn't great enough to break the foam apart [to dissipate the energy], it may find its way directly into your head.

One perspective is that "even if it sends it to your head, it won't be worse than no helmet at all", but still.

For a 40mph impact with the planet, however, I would want some good 'ol breakable/crushable styrofoam up there. That said, I probably wouldn't wear a DOT motocross helmet on a RW jump.
I really don't know what I'm talking about.

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Sorry. Sometimes I can't help myself. Also, I've already exhausted myself on another "Why don't we have better helmets?" thread.

In regards to the whole helmet lining debate...

... if you want to give up the low profile for that extra protection, check this out:

http://www.boneheadcomposites.com/mil_m3t.htm

For myself. I'll stick with low profile and sufficient padding for my needs. I wore a Pro-Tec for 500 jumps, a frap hat for 500 jumps. And for the last 1500 or so, I've worn an Aviator.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peace and Blue Skies!
Bonnie ==>Gravity Gear!

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Paragliding helmets are another good place to look. They are designed to be snag-free and fairly aerodynamic. They have pockets for in-air communication systems [audible would probably fit] and they actually have solid protection. They aren't DOT approved, but they'll still help. The Charly Insider is one of the more significantly padded helmets.

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Does anybody actually jump any of the charly (or similar) helmets? They look great

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I'm kinda surprised no one has mentioned an old Bell (or similar) helmet from the 60s/70s. They have much more protection then even the Pro-Tec and you can still find them out there in good condition. I've been watching on E-bay forever for a good deal in my size to wear riding, but it worked in one era of skydiving and would do much more good then the other "helmet" from that era (frap-hat).

http://www.justifieddefiance.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=21&osCsid=8da20a1f716231ca02d338256c4ca1b9

Nevermind that these guys have some VERY sweet pin stripe work.
--"When I die, may I be surrounded by scattered chrome and burning gasoline."

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Paragliding helmets are another good place to look. They are designed to be snag-free and fairly aerodynamic. They have pockets for in-air communication systems [audible would probably fit] and they actually have solid protection. They aren't DOT approved, but they'll still help. The Charly Insider is one of the more significantly padded helmets.

Quote



Does anybody actually jump any of the charly (or similar) helmets? They look great




Yes here's that link again:

http://www.icaro2000.com/Gallery/Helmets/4fight%20paracadutismo.htm

But I've tried this and the one I jumped definitely has issues that I've mentioned already, these look a bit better but I don't trust that it's fully resolved. The issues not insurmountable though.

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As someone who has worn a helmet more than most people ever will in their life time. I have had a fair chance to try and wear just about everything out there.

For skydiving and similar sports, its more likely that you will bang your head against an A/C or another jumper and for the most part, skydiving helmets do an OK job of mitigating the damage to your head from those types of impacts. However, for true impact protection, ie: your skull crashing into the ground after your body hits the ground, there are few good solutions out there.

I have and use a Gentex flight helmet for work jumps and while it works, it is not what I'd consider an ideal head protection device as much as it is a functional piece of equipment that allows me to attach all the other work related bells and whistles to my head. I have also used the M3T helmet by Bonehead, which is an improvement on the Gentex we have been using for years but it's intention is still to attach equipment to ones head. Compared to the price of the Gentex helmet, which runs around $1200.00, the M3T is a good deal as it does have some significant padding/protection inside of it;it has to in order to meet Mil Specs.

The Pro-tec or Cascade type of helmet WITH the Oregon-Aero inserts is also a helmet that is approved by and that I use at work on occassion. By and far, this is the most ecconomical way to get a higher level of head protection from anything in the skydiving helmet market. While motorcycle helmets may provide better protection, they have been designed specifically for their application. It is not an absolute,but it is typical that in skydiving, most peoples bodies impact the earth before their head does. The Oregon Aero upgrade kit utilizes different materials in its construction which help disapate and absorb the force of impacts typicaly encountered in our sport and others without being overly bulky.

My personal opinion is that if you want better impact protection you can use an Oregon Aero upgrade kit for open face or full face helmets you might already have OR you can purcahse an M3T , which if you really value your head, is resonably priced for its level of protection. Short of going back to the old BELL hemlet, you will be hard pressed to find anything better commercially available.
"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

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I don't think a paragliding helmet would be comfortable doing belly or freeflying. Tracking or wingsuit maybe.

I wouldn't want to jump my motocross helmet, I imagine sit flying in it and it's not a pretty comfortable picture. I also imagine a hard opening...ouch. But then again it can't weigh more than a bonehead with a camera. If I were a swooper doing H&P's, it might be an option.

The "cool" protekt skate helmets generally are half shells, lacking protection around the ears and such. I have the dorky one like you see in the wind tunnel and AFF with ear protection that I use for BASE...but I'm cool with looking like a dork. I wear it even if I'm jumping into water. The protekt is loud in freefall though.

Downhill mountain bike helmets look nice...some have CE ratings for protection, which has to be better than nothing. I'm getting a Dainese downhill MTB helmet for solid/technical objects, and I think this would be a very good alternative for swoopers.
Get in - Get off - Get away....repeat as neccessary

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I don't think a paragliding helmet would be comfortable doing belly or freeflying. Tracking or wingsuit maybe.

I wouldn't want to jump my motocross helmet, I imagine sit flying in it and it's not a pretty comfortable picture. I also imagine a hard opening...ouch. But then again it can't weigh more than a bonehead with a camera. If I were a swooper doing H&P's, it might be an option.

The "cool" protekt skate helmets generally are half shells, lacking protection around the ears and such. I have the dorky one like you see in the wind tunnel and AFF with ear protection that I use for BASE...but I'm cool with looking like a dork. I wear it even if I'm jumping into water. The protekt is loud in freefall though.

Downhill mountain bike helmets look nice...some have CE ratings for protection, which has to be better than nothing. I'm getting a Dainese downhill MTB helmet for solid/technical objects, and I think this would be a very good alternative for swoopers.



I wouldn't say PG helmets were particularly bad or uncomfortable, just not suited due to the chin config mainly, fix that (compromise on length) and they'd be fine. It's not just in freefall, try turning your head past risers under canopy when you have a 8 inch beak in front of you. Or see if you can see your handles under the chin, but like I said, these are fixable.

A PG helmet is nowhere near as bulky or heavy as a motorcycle helmet, which is why I gave it a try in the first place.

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