How to Choose a helmet?
In Australia the sport of Paragliding is considered to be of a fairly small size, but when it comes to buying a helmet, there is a surprising amount of choice out there. You need a helmet when you fly, so how do you make the right choice when there are so many varying degrees of protection offered?
Should I go Full Face or Open?
Most sports aviation helmets aimed at Paragliding or Paramotoring will in two general shapes, the open face that looks a little like a bike or snowboard helmet. Full face helmets have the addition of a chin bar.
Open face helmets generally offer a good level of protection for your brain, however they obviously provide less protection for your face. They are considered to be lighter a positive if you suffer neck fatigue and tend to give a better visual range. Full face helmets offer some extra facial protection but at the expense of decreased peripheral vision, some extra weight, and often some hearing loss. A positive of a full face helmet can be that there is a reduction in wind noise, and with the right radio Push to talk set up it can help with radio communication.
We are seeing more full face helmets being designed with ear cut outs. This style helps to reduce wind whistle while not disturbing the airflow around the helmet. Again making it easier for the pilot to judge airspeed by the sound of the airflow.
Specific helmets will offer the option of a detachable visor. A visor gives another option to wearing sunglasses to avoid sun and glare. This also comes with its own set of cons many pilots like to judge their speed based on the tactile sensation of both hearing and feeling the wind on their face.
A good helmet should consist of a twin shell construction a hard outer shell â€“ usually made of thermoplastic, composite fibre or Kevlar â€“ combined with carbon fibre that resists penetration if your head should hit soothing sharp. And in inner shell of crushable foam, usually made of expanded polystyrene which helps to prevent and reduce injuries in a collision.
Head injuries aren’t caused by speed, but by the sudden stop when our head hits a hard surface. A helmet reduces the peak force applied to the head in a sharp impact. Having a good fitting helmet can help reduce this force on impact.
So what should it feel like? The helmet should fit snugly, but comfortably. Keep the helmet on for around 30 minutes. Moving your head around. A correct fit with no continual pressure points is what you are looking for. If there is continual pressure points in one, several of all over you head, it probably means that the helmet is to small. If the helmet starts to slip, or fall down around your eyes when you look downwards, then its probably to big. If your helmet offers adjustable padding, have a play around with it to get a more customised fit.
Is Certification Important?
Most Paragliding and Paramotoring helmets found in Australia are designed to conform with European Standard EN966 specifically for Aviation Sport Helmets. Meeting this standard means that the helmet has past crucial testing for absorbing shock, resisting penetration, and also specifies levels of visibility and head mobility.
When should I replace my Helmet?
Its time to replace your helmet is you crash and hit your head. The inner shell is made from crushable foam, which is superior for its energy absorbing properties, but this also means it is easily damaged by only the smallest of bumps. If you find the inner shell looks deformed or dented, the helmet is not nearly as safe as it used to be, and you should consider replacing it.
Its recommended that you replace your paragliding helmet after 5 years of normal use. Everything has a shelf life