|Good protection||Mediocre surf performance|
|Lightweight for a hard hat helmet||Experienced bucket effect, whiplash|
|Water drips in eyes|
Recommendation: Would recommend it for small waves only. Especially for paddleboarding/longboarding. Just don’t use it in overhead surf.
The NP Surf helmet was my go-to surf helmet for small to medium waves before I did this ad-hoc deep investigation into all things surf helmet. Since then, it’s primarily been sitting in my garage.
The NP Surf helmet has a hard ABS outer shell and a plush interior layer of water-tight EVA foam, making it both comfortable and protective — probably one of the more protective surf helmets out there — but that’s not saying much. As I mentioned in the Gath Surf Convertible Analysis, EVA foam doesn’t absorb impact very well. The helmet has a little more than a half inch of it though, so it will absorb considerably more force than helmets using a quarter inch of EVA. Therefore, if the helmet was really tested in a lab, it probably would perform well against its peers. But while it beats some of the competition in safety, it doesn’t perform too well in the high-performance category.
As a hard-cap helmet, it sticks off your head a little more than you would like: about an inch. That’s more than the Gath, but less than the Ace Water and about equal to the Bern H2O.
That thickness is not great when you’re looking for a helmet that prevents the bucket effect experience. Ideally, you’ll want one that displaces less water on impact than conventional bike or skate helmets would.
Such a large helmet could result in unwanted whiplash, neck, or muscular injury, which is why I didn’t use this helmet in larger waves unless it was my only option. Unfortunately, one day, that’s exactly what it was. I had one — high-speed impact. A faceplant type-of crash, in this helmet. But only with the water. What would normally have been essentially nothing was heightened by the larger-than-probably-necessary, hard-cap style of this helmet. When it impacted the water, it displaced more water than my head otherwise would have, which meant I experienced more force on my neck, head, and surrounding muscular tissue than I would have with say the Gath Surf Convertible or Gamebreaker Pro with D3O.
It felt like a bad case of whiplash. And the weight of it didn’t help. While it’s not heavy, it’s not super light either. The bucket hitting the water and the weight, just shy of 400g for a large, didn’t feel very good. So before you consider this as your all around surf helmet, please take this fact into account. Although the helmet is going to protect your brain a considerable amount from this type of low-speed impact, your neck is going to feel it, as mine did.
Despite it’s not-perfect design for surfing, I would still recommend this helmet for small waves, wave pools, and surfing with large boards, especially paddle boards. It’s probably one of the most protective helmets out there for impacts with your board or someone else’s — the most common cause of surfing-related concussions. Therefore, it’s probably a good option if you plan on visiting a crowded line-up or wave pool. Just don’t use it in overhead surf. Your neck will thank you.