Looking for a jet ski helmet? I’ve written an extensive buying guide showcasing some of the best helmets available plus great alternatives.
Is it worth it to get a jet ski helmet? I always recommend people, once they’ve moved past the beginner stage, to invest in a helmet when riding their personal watercraft. It’s certainly worth it!
The biggest issue in the marketplace is that very few helmets, if any, are made specifically for jet ski riding. The closest you’ll generally find are BMX and MX helmets which in my opinion are often too heavy, but we’re left with limited choices.
The best jet ski helmet features
When shopping around, there are a few things you should be looking for. These include:
- Avoid anything that’s too cheap. You’re riding at fast speeds and need something reliable and of high quality. If it feels cheap, leave it at the shop.
- Look for as lightweight as you can find. You’re going to be wearing a jet ski helmet for up to several hours in a day. Sometimes it’s a trade-off since the lower quality models are lighter.
- You must have a breathable helmet. Chances are, even if you don’t fall off, you will get some water spray at some point. Your helmet must have the ability to air out effectively.
- The best jet ski helmets have strong UV resistance. I often find the cheaper models aren’t living up to expectations.
- Avoid dark colours if possible. On hot days, your black jet ski helmet is going to turn your head into an oven! This is why MX helmets often aren’t black, since those riders are competing in hotter conditions.
I would also recommend a neck collar. The Leatt neck braces are well known around the world for preventing neck and spinal injuries.
Even on a jet ski and the soft water, you have the threat of your 1000 pound machine impacting you when you fall off.
A word on googles
Some people like to choose a helmet with a visor. On the other hand, some people like to choose a helmet with goggles.
The thing is, I wouldn’t recommend ordering a helmet of any type online at all. Further still, I certainly wouldn’t recommend a helmet that has goggles.
This is because the fitment between helmets and goggles needs to be precise, otherwise it’s very uncomfortable. I would recommend going into your local PWC store and trying on some models with helmet + goggle combinations. Find one that suits you best.
I find that goggles aren’t designed to get wet. Unfortunately on a jet ski it’s very likely you’ll get wet at some stage, so you’ll be left with a wet set of goggles until you return to the boat ramp.
On the flip side, there is more work to change the visor on a helmet. Some days you might want a tinted lens, whilst on cloudy days you might want a clear lens. With a set of goggles you can simply change them in seconds and start riding again.
List of jet ski helmets
Right! Let’s get into the list.
On the market we currently have:
- Shark X-Drak Terrence Jet Ski Helmet (My #1 recommendation)
- BMX / Downhill helmets for jet skis. These are very lightweight (less than 2 pounds) with a very wide viewing portal.
- Motorcycle cruising helmet which has an open design. You’ll want to wear sunglasses or goggles with these.
- SUPAir Pilot Helmet – it’s really for paragliding but some jet skiers love this design and padding.
- Full face cycling helmet. These are even lighter than mountain biking helmets but have limited protection.
Let’s have a look visually at what’s featured:
So while the X-Drak is my favorite, another popular one available in Australia is the Acerbis jet helmet. Its fluorescent design is popular with jet ski riders here. The best part is that it’s under $100 USD!
I hope this model will be available in the United States real soon.
There are very few exclusive jet ski helmet manufacturers. Let’s face it – most people riding personal watercraft don’t want to wear a helmet.
So some good alternatives for personal watercraft helmets are BMX, MX and motorcycling helmets. Even a bicycle helmet is better than nothing, but it would look really novice to be wearing one at the boat ramp. Trust me!
But what’s worse than wearing a helmet? A life-changing facial disfigurement and injury. Not only that, but simply knocking your head could render you unconscious in the water. If you’re riding but yourself (which is very common) then this is a recipe for disaster.
Pros vs Cons
Let’s look at some of the upsides and downsides of wearing a jet ski helmet for a day out on the water.
Remember that most people reading are recreational riders. Most people who race jet skis naturally will (or are forced to by racing regulations) to wear a helmet.
The upsides are:
- You’ll feel more confident in riding faster and testing your abilities
- Full sun protection for your head in most cases (no sunscreen needed)
- A massive reduction in the severity of head injuries if you do crash
- Allows you to be a bit more ‘stealth’ in your riding style on the water
- If wearing visor/goggles, stops salt water from entering your eyes
- Reasonably affordable to purchase from most jet ski dealerships
At the same down, the negatives are:
- Adds more bulk and a little extra weight to your head and neck
- Most models will corrode over time due to saltwater exposure
- Not really that many models to choose from exclusively for PWC use
It’s still important that you get a jet ski helmet. Trust me – it’s worth it! The pros outweigh the cons. Most people who do buy a PWC helmet soon wonder why they didn’t get one initially.
I’d like to see more manufacturers such as Yamaha and Seadoo become more willing to manufacture jet ski helmets that appeal to riders. I’m sure there is a high demand for these since we don’t want to wear ordinary motorcycle helmets at all.
This is why riders look for alternatives to jet ski helmets. There simply aren’t enough people doing their part to bring a great product to the marketplace!
It’s great to see the riding community more conscious of the need to protect themselves. At the same time, we’re now riding faster than ever before, so protecting the head and neck is vitally important.