The Sweet Protection ” Strutter” Whitewater Kayak Helmet

Shopping for the perfect whitewater kayak helmet can be a bit confusing. There are ones that fit the bill for all types of paddling. Do you want a full face, full cut or half cut helmet? Is composite better than ABS plastic? If you want to end the shopping process and get one of the best helmets that money can buy, look no further. Sweet helmets have all of the factors that one would want in a high end helmet. They are light, strong, comfortable and stylish. If you appreciate fine craftsmanship, this is the helmet for you.

One of the reasons that Sweet seems to have the helmet game figured out, is because they have the best snow and water based athletes in the world using their helmets and giving constant feedback. Guys like Terje Haakonsen, who is arguably the best and most influential snowboarder of all time wears a Sweet, beats the crap out of it, and then lets the company know what changes need to be made in terms of comfort and safety. Check out the video clip below of Terje rockin’ his Sweet Helmet on top of an insane Alaskan big mountain 1st descent of Peak 7601. He’s not wearing a Strutter, but you get the point.

Specs:

  • Shell made in TEPEX® Carbonfiber reinforced thermoplastic for maximum shock absorbency and energy distribution.
  • The occipital shell is made in high impact resistant ABS, and is designed to keep the lid in place even when exposed to the most severe beating.
  • The beak protects your face from the cockpit rim as well as from the river’s harder unforgiving features.
  • 7mm (M/L) expanded closed cell pz foam, developed for maximum protection on the water, it incorporates moisture draining velour.
  • Sweet specific fireball fitpads for optimum custom fit.
  • 4 point secured, fully adjustable strap system in 19mm nylon webbing for safe and comfortable wearing.


Sizing:

Measure the circumference of your head and pick the right size:

  • S/M: (53-56 cm)
  • M/L: (56-59 cm)
  • L/XL: (59-61 cm)

Pros:

  • The Strutter has a superb fit. Because the helmet comes in 3 sizes (as opposed to universal), you can dial in the sizing much better. It also comes with 4 fireball shaped fit pads. The fit pads are typical of Sweet products, besides helping to fit your head, they are molded to look like fireballs. Style points count when you’re spending over $200 MRSP on a kayak helmet. Note:not every one will fit into the Strutter. I have a relatively large head(not huge) and max out the largest size. Make sure to measure your head before you order one.

    Check out the fireball fit pads and comfortable foam liner. The Strutter fits like your favorite pair of jeans.

  • Carbon fiber is advantageous for quite a few reasons. Besides having a high tech, unique look, it is also very light and strong. It absorbs impact shock as well. The Carbon shell coupled with a polypropylene foam liner create a super strong helmet that can be worn all day long. Think of it as a bullet proof baseball cap on steroids.

    The carbon layup is a work of art. You can also see the foam liner. It's nice and thick to absorb shock.

  • The adjustment straps are supple and strong. This means that it is very easy to dial in this helmet to fit snugly on your noggin. Make sure to take the time to adjust the straps, and get the helmet tight. If not, there’s a chance that the Strutter can ride up on the back of your head, and expose some of your forehead. The instructional manual that it comes with has a detailed description of how to get a solid fit. Check it out. It’s worth it.
    • As of last year(2008,) Sweet added an extra support band on the back of the helmet to increase the overall fit (see photo below).
  • One other cool feature of the sweet is the piece of soft rubber that separates the buckles on the chin straps from your skin. Again, when you are paying a premium for helmet, it’s thoughtful things like this that help to justify the value.
  • The brim offers more than just style. It keeps the sun out of your eyes (great feature for raft guiding, or anyone logging in serious river hours) and protects your nose from the cockpit of your boat and river hazards. Although this is not a full cut /full face creeking helmet, it does offer great protection.
  • The overall workmanship of the Strutter (and all Sweet helmets for that matter) is outstanding. From the interior fit pads to the carbon layup and graphics on the back, every square inch of this lid has been built with care.

Cons:

  • Price. The Strutter costs twice as much as most other whitewater helmets. The Predator Lee for example, has a very similar look and retails for just under $100. The Lee is not a carbon helmet, but looks pretty similar.
  • There have been cases of the Strutter sliding back on people’s heads while paddling. Sweet remedied this last year by putting a band on the back of the helmet that provides more support. They also have a very complete instruction manual which provides great information on how to use the adjustment straps properly, and get a solid fit.

    The band on the back helps to keep the helmet on your head better. It provides additional neck protection as well.

  • The size run of the Strutter works for most people, but not everybody. For example, people that have very large heads may not fit into one. They do come with “fireball”shim pads to help maximize the fit within each size.
  • The Strutter is a great helmet for most types of paddling. The brim provides protection for your nose and forehead. It is not however a full cut helmet. There is no protection for you ears or lower part of the back of your head. If you’re paddling low volume steep creeks, you most likely will want something with more overall coverage. If money is burning a hole in your pocket, get a Rocker Full Face. It’s $400, but is a great helmet.

The Verdict:

The Strutter is functional, protective, comfortable (for most people), stylish and expensive. If cost is one of your main concerns when shopping for a whitewater helmet, you most likely will not want to buy a Strutter, or any helmet made by Sweet. Look at The Predator Lee instead. It’s plastic, but has the same look.

If you spend a lot of time in the water, and want one of the best helmets available, The Strutter is worth checking out. It’s a boutique item that is super comfortable, and at first glance visually justifies the price. The carbon weave is really well done, the graphics on the back are clean and stylish, and the safety/ impact resistance of the carbon layup is going to keep your head safe for most paddling applications. If you’ve got a WaveSport Project 54Cx on order, and don’t have a helmet picked out yet, the Sweet Strutter would be the perfect choice to compliment the carbon dream machine.

2009 Strutters are in stock and shipping. Click here to buy one now!

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