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Best surf helmets

The top 3 and runner-ups in 2024

Gamebreaker-PRO with D3O: The best all around

Light, minimalWater drips in eyes
Stays on your headTakes on a tad bit of water
5-star protection according to Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab
Recommendation: Good performance and protection. My top recommendation currently on the market. A recent study shows it outperforms other soft-shell helmets. Full review

Olaian Surf Helmet: The best small wave helmet

Surfer lookSlides back due to bucket effect
PU FoamNo sun protection
Light, minimal, comfortable
Deflects water from eyes
Recommendation: While the new Olaian Surf Helmet by Decathlon looks good and provides adequate protection, Decathlon has made a couple of design choices that prevent it from performing exceptionally. However, despite its faults, it is still a great option. Full review.

Gath Surf Convertible: What was the best surf helmet is now just a contender

Made for surfingThin layer of EVA = minimal protection
Stays on your head with ear coversEven less protection in multiple impacts
Low friction, ABS shellExperienced bucket effect without ear covers
Recommendation: Wouldn't recommend it due to it's thin layer of EVA (although I would recommend the Gath Gedi). If you can't achieve a better fit with anything else though, it does perform well. Therefore, it's usable - just replace it often. To read why I wouldn't trust such a thin layer of EVA foam to protect your brain read the full review. For a little bit better protection try the Gath Gedi.

1st Runner-up

Simba Surf Sentinel 1

Well-designed for surfingWater drips in eyes
Excellent coverageDifficult to achieve ideal fit
LightUltra-thin EVA liner
Recommendation: 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. Check out my full review.

2nd Runner-up

Ride Engine Barrier Soft Helmet

Fits like a gloveThin layers of EVA
Very lightNo ear protection
Sun protection
Recommendation: A kitesurfing impact hat that also works very well for surfing, the Ride Engine Barrier Soft Helmet is super comfortable, and protects you from the sun. Unfortunately, for impact protection, all it offers is two thin layers of dual-density EVA. The lack of good protection though can easily be remedied by adding your own liner (check my discreet page for ideas - I used the Gamebreaker Stealth Helmet Liner, and cut it to shape). However, after much use, the stretchy, strap mechanism gets worn out, and it no longer stays on while getting pounded. Perhaps try replacing it with a buckle based strap.

3rd Runner-up

DMC Soft Surf Helmet (&V2)

Designed for surfingWater drips in eyes
Extremely lightLoose fitting
Neck sun protectionAwkward, lace-up back
Recommendation: No different from the new V2 version, the DMC Soft Surf Helmet offers low to moderate protection for any size wave. Decent coverage, despite the gaps, and neck sun protection too. Insanely light, but it's so light it's hard to achieve a decent fit. Because of this it's impossible to avoid water dripping in your eyes. However, it works well over wetsuit hoods. The low levels of protection can of course also be easily remedied by adding your own liner (check my discreet page for ideas). Full review

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