Derby Helmet Buying Guide
Helmets are the single most important piece of safety gear for any skater and should be worn regardless of skill level or type of skating. In roller derby, skaters most commonly use one of two helmet types - skate helmets or hockey helmets.
Sorting through the various acronyms of safety certification can be one of the more confusing elements of shopping for a new helmet. There are several prominent organizations across the globe that are responsible for the rigorous testing of consumer helmets and the subsequent awarding of safety certifications. Please check the "Specs" tab on each product page for specific certifications. For more information on these organizations and their specific certifications and testing protocols, we recommend visiting their websites.
More important than which organization certifies the helmet is the fact that it does receive a certification. It is recommended that all skaters seek out helmets with some certification, but helmets that lack certification are sometimes used for less rigorous skating. A helmet's certification will always be noted in the product description and can also be found on stickers inside or on the back of the helmet. Non-certified helmet sales are prohibited to those residing in the state of California.
These round, dome-shaped helmets are often referred to as multi-sport helmets or simply as skate helmets. They offer basic protection in the form of an outer shell comprised of high-impact ABS plastic. The real protection comes just under that shell in the form of EPP or EPS high-density foams. On impact, these foams will compress and absorb the brunt of the impact, protecting your noggin.
In most cases, you should replace your skate helmet after one significant impact because the foams do not expand back to form. Some helmets are marketed as multiple-impact helmets that can offer protection through several impacts. Even multi-impact helmets have their limitations though and may require replacement after several minor impacts or even a single severe one. If in doubt, always replace your helmet!
Designed for another violent sport that may lead to a head injury, hockey helmets are well suited for use in modern roller derby. Hockey helmets cover a significantly larger portion of the head around the sides and back and often have more advanced safety features and technologies designed to offer more protection than basic skate helmets.
The fit of a hockey helmet is often more snug and secure than can be achieved in a standard skate helmet, so proper sizing is especially important to ensure a proper fit. However, many allow for on-the-fly size customization by using integrated adjustment mechanisms that vary by manufacturer. As an additional benefit, hockey helmets support the growing trend of derby players employing some type of face protection by means of compatible visors and shields.
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