I was in the market for a new helmet. Mine was old, and purchased before any of these wonderful articles on helmet certification had come out. I spent several weeks comparing skate helmets… but hockey helmets were also under consideration. A girl on my league had recently gotten a concussion during practice, and another has had to quit derby after her doctor could not guarantee what would happen after her next concussion.
I finally made the decision after a vendor tried to talk me into buying a non-certified, slightly loose skate helmet. NOPE.
I ended up buying a Bauer 9900 helmet. This review is based on that helmet, though I also got good information on other models when I asked around my league.
* PRICE– It can range from $45 to around $200. Many of the cheapos will still be certified, but they may lack some useful features—it all depends on what you want. Many skaters here are completely satisfied with the cheaper Bauer 4500, 5100 and 7500.
* “THEY LOOK FUNNY”- This actually wasn’t a con for me, but it’s generally the first thing that comes up when one mentions a hockey helmet. I understand that this may be a concern for some, and who the hell am I to judge their priorities? Either way, know that hockey helmets are showing up more frequently and (at least for me) look as normal on a skater as knee pads. At ECDX many skaters, including just about everyone on Tampa, were wearing hockey helmets. I didn’t even notice most of them on my own league until we did an awareness drill and one command was “find someone with a hockey helmet.” They’re standing out less and less, and anyway safety first.
* SAFETY– Even a lot of the cheaper helmets are CSA, HECC, and CE certified. Always double check before shelling out the money. While no helmet carries a 100% guarantee against injury, these things have gone through some pretty intense testing to ensure that your noggin will be reasonably safe.
* FIT/ ADJUSTABILITY- A big reason for my switch was my goofy head shape. I must’ve tried on dozens of skate helmets from every manufacturer that smashed my temples while still being too big in the front and back. Even my old helmet was probably a tad too big to accommodate my weird head. On the other hand, the Bauer 9900 (and many other models) are completely adjustable. I was able to shorten the total length of the helmet and make the pads in the back wider, so now it fits like a glove (some are self-adjustable, others might require some tools). Some places will even do custom fitting.
* VENTILATION– I’m not too worried about my head overheating anymore. I haven’t had to pull my helmet off during water breaks since making the switch. I can catch a nice breeze while skating. Even outdoor practices in the summer heat feel cooler than our regular space did with a skate helmet.
You can’t take out the pads and liners to wash them, but a lot of them are made with antimicrobial foam and you can always take a cleaning wipe to the inside of it.
There are plastic face masks available, if you like some extra face protection. I also saw a few of those during ECDX, though I’m not sure if they require special legal considerations.