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Bern H2O with Brock Foam

Promising, but a disappointment

Mon, 15 Oct 2018
Pros Cons
Probably decent protection Takes on water
Doesn't stay on

Recommendation: If you do try it, I would only do so while paddleboarding small to very small waves.

Order directly from Bern or Check the price on Amazon.


Man, this helmet was promising! When I first discovered it, I thought, “amazing, this helmet has a soft, innovative foam layer that can absorb low-speed linear and rotational impacts, and an outer shell, to prevent abrasion and the consequences of your head coming into contact with your board, fin, or a reef.”

That excitement continued when it came in the mail. Although it seemed on the heavy side when I first held it in my hands — but not too heavy to tarnish my excitement — it fit tightly front to back, and snugly on the sides. Perfect, I thought. It will stay on when duck diving, and shouldn’t be annoyingly heavy while paddling around.

What happened?

Well, after trying it, none of this proved to be true apart from it probably offering some of the better protection out there from low speed impacts (as that’s what the Brock foam is specifically designed for).

This helmet just would not stay on my head. Duck diving even rudimentary waves, I would experience the bucket effect and the helmet would partially come off. On one such occasion, it essentially completely came off and was on the back of my head coming into contact with my neck. Something I didn’t think was possible as I had the strap fastened tightly, and the helmet fitting snugly. Extremely frustrating!

If the bucket effect wouldn’t cause you to never want to use the helmet again, just wait until you start recognizing that that Bern H2O on your head is starting to get heavier! Yeah you heard that right: heavier. And it didn’t start out light either. 460g in an extra large. Why? It seems that the Brock foam takes on water. And if it doesn’t absorb it, it must be getting into the cracks and crevices, and not escaping until it dries fully hours after a surfing session. When I got out of the water, the helmet weighed damn-near a couple pounds.

The fact that the helmet gets heavier as it takes on water is a problem because in all the little falls you take surfing, the weight will contribute to the whiplash effect. Luckily, I avoided the whiplash. I didn’t surf it for long.

The outer ABS shell of the helmet also doesn’t have enough holes to really drain water effectively, considering it is essentially the same classic Bern hard hat design as almost all of the company’s helmets, further contributing to the bucket effect while duck diving.

Unfortunately, the Bern H2O helmet, even though rated for water use, just doesn’t work for surfing as-is. All in all, it’s promising, but a disappointment.

What could be improved if Bern became interested in creating a surf helmet

Bern could seal the Brock foam, provide a fit dial to fasten the helmet effectively, and provide more holes for drainage at a minimum. If it did that, I could see this being a decent small wave helmet. If Bern wanted to pursue the idea of a surf helmet further, it could replace the outer ABS shell with a thin layer of in-mold EPP or EPS to provide a little more protection from high level impacts like you would experience getting slammed into a reef. A thin, outer layer of EPP or EPS combined with some sealed, water-tight Brock foam closest to the head with lots of holes for drainage would probably make for a decent all around surf helmet.

Order directly from Bern or Check the price on Amazon.

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