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Published: March 29, 2018
Check out any photo of skydivers and it's likely you'll see guys and girls with multi-coloured jumpsuits, big smiles on their faces and, more often than not, a skydiving helmet.
But why is it that, when they could be feeling the wind in their hair, many skydivers opt instead to cover their noggin with a big old helmet? Allow us to explain...
Rules around wearing helmets for skydiving
There are rules requiring skydivers just learning the sport to wear helmets. Head protection is arguably more important when you're learning - mostly because it's a time when you're most likely to fall down on landing, or have a bit of a stumble in the door.
With that said, more and more experienced and qualified jumpers are choosing to wear helmets today, too. It's kind of like skiing - while it's not obligatory, many people do wear a helmet because, well, why not?
The rules are slightly different for tandem skydivers. USPA regulations actually forbid tandem students from wearing any sort of hard sided skydiving helmet as they present the risk of hitting the instructor in the face during exit and free fall. A soft shell design is permitted, however, and your skydiving instructor will very likely wear his or her favorite helmet.
Types of skydiving helmet
Student skydivers are usually seen wearing what's called an open face helmet. These skydiving helmets are exactly that - they cover the head but not the face, allowing students to maintain good communication with their instructor in the airplane and feel the full sensation of the wind in their hair!
Open face skydiving helmets generally have a side pocket where the radio is stored. The radio allows the instructor to communicate with the student while they're flying their canopy (parachute) and as they come in to land.
Experienced skydivers tend to prefer full face helmets. These are, as the description suggests, helmets that cover the entire head and face, with a clear visor for jumpers to see through. Full face helmets provide additional protection which can come in handy when jumping with friends in the event of an accidental knock - plus, if it's cold out, a full face helmet protects us from the chilly wind!
Then, there are specialized skydiving helmets - for example those that can have cameras attached to them. While the majority of camera helmets are open face designs, there are full face helmets with camera attachments, too. If you're thinking of investing in a camera helmet, it's worth chatting with the camera flyers at your dropzone first, as they'll be able to advise you on safety considerations and the best choice for your cameras and experience level.
Best skydiving helmets for experienced jumpers
As you start to really engage with the sport of skydiving, you'll start picking up your own gear. A skydiving helmet is one of the first things you'll want to get.
There are loads of skydiving helmet manufacturers out there - many of them based here in the US. The choice of which helmet to use depends entirely on your preference; some of the designs fit slightly differently, some people prefer different ways of securing the helmet, some like one way of opening the visor over another. The best way to choose a skydiving helmet is to try on a variety and see which one is the most comfortable and functional to you.
Once you've chosen your manufacturer and style, it's time to get creative! Most helmets come in a range of colors and finishes (gloss or matt). Skydivers love expressing themselves through their design choices, so pick a helmet to suit your color preference. Then there are stickers, custom paint jobs, colored visors... There's a whole world of fun and opportunity out there!
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