|Well-designed for surfing
|Water drips in eyes
|Difficult to achieve ideal fit
|Thin EVA liner
Recommendation: Some protection with great coverage for big, heavy, fun waves, inspired by tortoises and the helmets of the ancient Greeks and Romans, insanely light for it’s thick shell, designed to help your head deflect and penetrate water… this is the first modern surf helmet that makes me wonder what the future could hold. It looks like Magneto’s helmet, but you’ll discover there’s a good reason for that on your first paddle out.
Although the Simba Surf Sentinel 1 helmet looks like it’s going to protect you well from head traumas like concucussions, unfortunately the protection it offers is questionable. Despite it’s fairly thick plastic shell, which would certainly transfer some impact force to kinetic energy through vibrations and heat, minimizing some head trauma, the helmet sports a super minimal, EVA liner. The liner is an even thinner layer of EVA than the Gath Surf Convertible, and therefore likely less protective than the Gath. To learn more about the protective qualities of EVA, and how those qualities are severely compromised as you lower the thickness, please see how a quarter inch (6.25mm) of EVA as measured by independent parties will absorb very little impact. Unfortunately, the Simba surf helmet liner measures at less than half of a quarter inch!
If you think a shell is going to protect you, did you know that EPS is actually a liner? Yet the skiing and biking industries moved away from helmets made up of both hard shells and EPS to in-mold EPS. This is because the protection you receive from a helmet comes from the liner - the thing that actually transfers impact force to other forms of energy (think of car crumble zones) and decelerates the acceleration your brain is experiencing in the event of a concussion - concussions are brain acceleration-deceleration and rotational injuries - effectively slowing down the time it takes from the impact to your brain hitting your skull. Therefore, the Simba is going to help you prevent a skull crack, but most likely do very little to mitigate the effects of a concussion. Ironically, I’ve had a friend experience a skull crack with a very minor concussion, and his recovery was relatively easy compared to mine.
That being said, if you’re looking for a helmet with the most coverage, this is your best option, and your only option that offers any coverage of the face. Furthermore, if you choose this helmet, make sure to add your own, more protective, layer underneath the helmet or check out my discreet page for ideas. And hopefully Simba updates the liner soon.
This is where the Simba Surf Sentinel 1 helmet really shines. It’s a well designed helmet for surfing, offering good peripheral vision, channels to drain water preventing the bucket effect, and a spine across the top to help your head penetrate the water; while, it also happens to be extremely light weight. I experienced no negative limitations duck diving, very little movement getting worked underwater, and actually would usually forget I was wearing it.
Just about my only complaint, in fact, is that the helmet only comes in three sizes, so if you’re in between sizes, it’s hard to achieve a decent fit. I don’t know if you saw Lakey Peterson fidgeting with her Simba at Pipe last year? That’s a good example of what will happen if it doesn’t quite fit you right. If you are near the top range of a size though, I bet you’ll be very happy with this helmet’s performance. If you are not, you’ll really have to finnagle the pads in between the contours of your head and liner or come up with your own creative solution for pads to get it to fit right (I would highly suggest constructing your own pads that also add some more impact protection).
The Simba Surf Sentinel 1 is a well-designed helmet made for surfing, but lacks the protective-liner necessary to make it on my top list. That being said, all Simba needs to do to make this an exceptional helmet, is update the liner and offer some in-between sizes. I should also mention it works great over wetsuit hoods.