The Best Surf Helmets Today: Guide

Updated: Oct 16

When surfing shallow reefs or a beach break, one of the biggest dangers is lurking just beneath the surface. If you fall headfirst, the result can be head trauma — or worse.


That's where surf helmets come in.


But do surf helmets actually work?


How much do surf helmets cost?


Do they make you look like a kook?


What are the best surf helmets today?


We'll answer all these questions, and more, in this surf helmet guide.


What is a Surf Helmet?

A surf helmet is a piece of protective headgear gear that can protect you from head trauma in the event of a wipeout.


Advantages of a Surf Helmet


The advantages of wearing a surf helmet are simple: protection


You can't completely prevent a wipeout. And accidents are never planned.



Disadvantages of a Surf Helmet


Depending on the type of surf helmet you buy, there can be some factors that act as disadvantages.


These include:

  • water dripping water in your eyes,

  • the surf helmet can feel heavy on your head

  • it can look, well, odd in the lineup


Soft Shell Surf Helmet vs Hard Shell Surf Helmet: What's the Difference?


There are two variations of surf helmets on the market today: soft shell and hard shell.


Soft shell is exactly as it sounds: a softer material that, while it can still absorb impact, doesn't offer the kind of protection that a hard shell surf helmet does.


But, a soft shell can be more comfortable to wear and more lightweight.


What to Look For When Buying a Surf Helmet

With so many surf helmet options on the market today, how can you be sure you're buying not just any surf helmet, but the best surf helmet?


Keep an eye out for the following features.


Made Specifically for Surfing

Some helmets are passed off as surf helmets, but it's obvious they're more so designed for wakeboarding, SUP, or other watersports. Ensure that the surf helmet you purchase is made specifically for surfing.


Lightweight

The last thing you want to feel is weighed down by your surf helmet. Make sure the surf helmet you choose is lightweight.


Adjustable

Be sure that the surf helmet you choose is adjustable to help create a more comfortable fit on your head.




The Best Surf Helmets Today

Next, we'll take a look at a few of the best surf helmets on the market today.


Gath Hat NEO


If you're looking for the company that has been making surf helmets the longest, it's Gath.


They've been in the business of protecting brains since 1989.

The Gath Hat Neo is the world’s first surfing helmet. At only 355-390 grams, it's lightweight and provides a smart layer of defense against common surfing head injuries.


This is why it's one of the best surf helmets on the market today.


Even better, the Gath Hat’s unique helmet shape and expandable neoprene headband automatically adjusts to your head for a comfortable snug fit, with total peripheral vision.


Plus, it helps provide a comfortable seal to the wearer’s forehead minimizing water flow over the eyes.

Photo: Gath

Backed by a 3-year warranty, Gath's helmets are made of materials that are durable, rustproof and will withstand harsh climate conditions and temperature extremes.


At the price of $169, it's an affordable and smart option.


Learn more about this surf helmet option here.

Sentinel Simba Surf Helmet


Another surf helmet option, the Sentinel Simba is specifically built for surfers.

"A unique silhouette protects parts of the head specific to most water sport injuries – including the lower forehead, ears, upper jaw, and cheeks – offering riders safer ocean experiences, and heightened confidence."

Because of this, it offers the maximum high-level impact protection while being lightweight.


This surf helmet's features include:

  • Impact resistant shell

  • Low profile chinstrap

  • Innovative layer tech paddling

  • Interior padding design

  • Advanced ear protection

  • Removal Halofit pads

These features are why it's regarded as one of the best surf helmets on the market today.

The Sentinel Simba helmet is $199.


Learn more about this surf helmet option here.

Olaian Soft Surf Helmet


What makes the Olaian Surf Helmet different?


Instead of a hard shell, it's soft shell.

Compared to most surf helmets, this option feels more like a surf hat.


It offers unparalleled flexibility and lightweight, and the visor deflects the streams of water after a duck dive.




The cheapest surf helmet option on our list, this costs $34. Learn more about it here.


Gecko Surf Helmet


Stylish, lightweight, and customizable: the Gecko Surf Helmet.


Besides these features, it also:

  • Fiberglass construction and grooved design for incredible protection and an excellent strength-to-weight ratio

  • Inflatable liner to create a perfect, comfortable fit every time and to keep your head warm and positively buoyant

  • Comfort tube to protect against chin strap chafe

  • Removable vented ear inserts

Learn more about this surf helmet here.


Gamebreaker Pro Surf Helmet


Another soft-shell surf helmet option is made by Gamebreaker.


Powered by D30, a "Smart Molecule Technology", this surf helmet absorbs and reduces impact, keeping you safe in the event of a fall on sand or reef.


It does all this while achieving maximum comfort. The surf helmet has a smart ventilation design that creates superior airflow and reduces bad odor. Even better, it's not made with any uncomfortable metal or plastic components.


If that's not enough, this surf helmet option comes in 10 vibrant colors and sizes ranging from XS to 2XL.


Learn more about this surf helmet here.


Surf Helmet Frequently Asked Questions

Next, we'll provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions associated with the best surf helmets today.


Q. How Much Does A Surf Helmet Cost?

The cost of a surf helmet can vary, depending on brand and model, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $30-$200.


Q. How Much Protection Does a Surf Helmet Offer?

A surf helmet can be the difference between a serious injury and a forgettable wipeout when surfing. Both a soft shell surf helmet and a hard shell surf helmet can protect your head in the event of a fall or collision with other surfers.


Q. Should You Wear a Helmet When Surfing?

If you want to protect your head in shallow waters or protect your head from a collision with other surfers, it's best to wear a surf helmet.


The Bottom Line: Surf Helmets


Surf helmets may look odd in the lineup, and they may get water in your eyes, but their advantages far outweigh their disadvantages: protecting yourself in the event of a headfirst fall to the reef or sand.


We recommend you use a surf helmet to protect what matters most — your head — now and in future surf sessions.