Superlight Helmet Suits Sailors

Climbing helmet will appeal to high-speed watersport enthusiasts.


Primarily known for mountaineering and industrial climbing gear, sailors know Kong for the robust Tango tether clip used on most safety tethers (See Safety Tethers Under Scrutiny, PS March, 2018). In addition to climbing gear, Kong also makes anchor swivels, mooring hooks, and snap shackles. Here, in an update to our July 2019 report, we look at their new helmet.

At only 8 ounces, Kongs new helmet is 62 percent lighter than any competitor, and only 35 percent heavier than a ball cap with a bump insert. You barely know its there. The combination of efficient insulation, massive ventilation channels, and the reflective white color also made it the coolest of the helmets we tested.

Superlight Helmet Suits Sailors
The Kong Leaf is similar in appearance to the Pro-Tec, but is cooler and significantly lighter.

Fit system. The combination of pads and rear strap make it the most adjustable and comfortable helmet weve tested. The only reminder that youre wearing a helmet is the chin strap. It did not interfere with glasses or a balaclava.

Ratings. Designed as a mountaineering helmet (EN 12492), it meets impact requirements 2-4 times greater than those required of water sports helmets. Foam construction ensures it floats. Harness retention is good and snag resistance is best-in-class, because these are just as important to climbers as they are to sailors. The chin strap is designed to release under dangerous load. In other words, although it has not been specifically tested to meet the canoe and kayak standard (EN 1385), it complies with a more stringent standard (there is no sailing helmet standard).

Wind noise is reasonably low.

Because it is also a mountaineering helmet, requiring four times greater top impact protection, the Kong helmet sits about -inch higher on the head than water sports helmets. We didn't find this noticeable sailing, except when wearing it under a hood, where only the Zhik H1 outscored it.


Superlight Helmet Suits Sailors

Weve been wearing the Leaf sailing, kayaking, and climbing, barely aware that it is there. Yes, its a helmet, but its as cool to wear as a ball cap and barely heavier. We still like the Zhik H1 for its low profile and fit under foul weather gear. The Pro-Tec Ace is durable choice for sports where you get knocked around more often, like wakeboarding. The Forward Whip is also a great sailing helmet, but Kongs model is simply more comfortable. We have a new summer favorite.

Available in white, yellow, or optic green. One size fits most. Price is$129.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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