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Face Guards – Standard Equipment?

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    I was on Beqaver Creek this weekend when a kayaker ran the last drop of Triple (Double?) Drop in his boat upside down. When he rolled up his face was severly munched. A face shield would probably have made a difference.

    (Incidently – NONE of the flocks of kayakers on the river that day had so much as a bandaid on them. No room. ?? !!!)

    I wear / take other safety equipment that I don’t normally use (life jacket, helmet, air bags, throw rope, spare paddle, (and now a first aid kit)). Is a face guard something that should be part of our standard equipment? Or does it make us look too …. something? How about elbow guards?

    Opinions? Comments?


    Most serious creekers I know have full guard helmets – somewhat like a motorcycle helmet. Others wear a face guard. I don’t think Matt Hamilton, Tyler Curtis or Ghyslaine Rioux have an image issue.

    From talking to Gail, one hour and a half to patch this guy up. I won’t list the damage. ANd very frustrating to know NO ONE had a FAid kit, not even a Nalgene Bottle filled with essentials.

    I don’t have a face guard yet – time to get one!!



    Hi Jon,

    Wow, it took an hour even with Emerg Dr. J? Hope he’s on the mend. I was talking to a couple open boaters two weeks ago on the Black about cages; they got theirs at MEC, said instalation was easy. The better half has been meaning to get one. Steep creeks can be ugly. You can always pick up a second hemet to put it on…..not like our paddling gear bags don’t already have loads of extras anyway. I think they fit WRSI helmets?

    Stew has elbow pads as well. try before you buy…..the MEC one’s he has were a gift and don’t quite fit, but they do the job.
    Alot of our friends have gone to plastic boats and finding they require different gear like break down paddles and compact first aid kits. Finally got around to pulling the ingredients of the Nalgene fist aid kit together and after the Beaver story, glad I did. I’ve always got room in my OC but I’m not along on his trips.


    I just wanted to answer part of Jon’s statement. I was in a kayak, and I had a first aid kit. A very comprehensive one as a matter of fact, which we used. We used so much gauze that we did have to use some supplies from another kit which was provided by an open boater. I stash my kit in a dry bag in the back of my boat. That, extraction gear (wrap kit) and a throw rope are always with me. I suggerst all kayakers bring these things or delegate throughout their party.
    As for the injured gent. We walked back to the car in 15 minutes. I drove with him and his partner to Peterborough emerg where he received stitches for his forhead.
    Please don’t make assumptions without talking with the folks involved.
    And yes…. face cages are a good idea.


    The Great Gonzo

    I have 2 different helmets, a FNA WW2 style helmet for the easier runs (it still provides better temple, ear and neck coverage than 90%of the helmets out there, and a Galasport G-extreme full coverage helmet with a Cascade face cage for anything where a flip could do some serious damage to my face. Before buying my helmet I did a fair bit of research and this was the combo I personally liked best, but there are others out there that are great.
    For face cage attachment you pretty much need a full coverage helmet, i.e. one that covers the ears. The Casacade cage works on Cascade, Galasport G-Extreme, Predator Fullcut, and similar helmets, on anything that does not extend below the ears it will be hard to install the lower cage attachment points. This is true for the Cascade cage as well as for the Predator Hardnose guard.
    The Predator guard and helmets are available from Boatwerks.
    Cascade cages as well as helmets wit the cage installed can be ordered on-line from Hardheadedsports:

    Galasport helmets can also be ordered on-line: … 107&ct=cad

    I always carry a first aid kit in my boat (it even fits the squirt boat!), everything fits a 1.5 L nalgene bottle. Definitely a good idea, it will fit in any boat.
    If I go creeking, I also carry my full rescue kit with long rope, pulleys, prussiks and all that, you simply never know what happens.

    And I wear elbow pads on anything shallow, too.

    Just my 2 cents.



    here’s some info in french


    Sorry Dave,

    No harm intended. I only got half a story I guess. Glad you were there with all the kit!

    I’m also glad to hear I’m not the only one weighed down with a FA kit and rescue kit.

    Good on ya!



    Sorry Dave. I had heard that there was a second kit but I didn’t realize that it came from a kayaker in his group.


    Just curious, what helmet was he wearing?


    I’ll ask him about his helmet but can’t guarantee a reply. Will let you know when I know.



    I’m quite sure he was wearing a Galasport helmet.


    Face guards may be a good idea: in 15 years of boating, I have seen so few face injuries that I am not convinced yet. What I have seen is about 50% (or more) of the boaters on the river wearing a poorly fitted, poorly adjusted helmet.

    For a helmet to work, it has to fit well, and be on TIGHT!.

    If you can tilt your helmet backwards or forwards on your head enough to expose parts of your head that need protecting, then it is not fitted or adjusted properly. Face guards, plastic, composite, colour, sparkles, brims…..all are secondary to fit and adjustment.


    Hey folks,
    He was wearing a Gala Sport Extreme. He says it fit properly and there is a big gash on the top so it saved his head.

    Movin on….


    One point I didnt see mentioned here that I see alot with beginners these days, is when people are learning their rolls they learn sea kayak/poor technique back deck style rolls .While these are great in flat water/ playboating they totally leave your face exposed when in tight shallow stuff. i always learned to tuck forward when upside down to keep your face protected.
    I know this does not take the place of a face mask but I think Its a bad habit that contributes to face exposier.
    I have a full face NFA stormtrooper , which I dont wear alot but if i feel its warented…


    Despite that I am currently inversion impaired I have a couple examples of rolling technique that I think saved me from serious hurt.

    Years ago on High Falls on the Cheat River I flipped on a badly executed brace and ended up falling onto my back deck and upside down. I could see and almost feel the river bottom go by. I had one lonely thought; if I pull into my tuck and set up for my roll my head is going to be removed. It was one of very few occasions, for me where a back deck roll was the thing to do and it worked.

    More recently I flipped at the top of Whitehorse Falls on the Gull. I was headed for the right side instead of the more common left line. Fortunately for me I landed in that little recirculation that forms just over the brink on the right hand side. I was pretty much in roll set up before going over and hung in that position until I was at the bottom, my first attemp failed as I was in that small area of recirc on the right and probably attempted to roll the wrong side. I washed into the central outflow and rolled to find I had just scratched my forearm.

    In neither case was it skill that put me in the right position, just fate. In niether case would switching the technique have been a good idea.

    Did I make a couple good decisions? Probably not, I think I reacted with instinct and got a little lucky.

    Any roll that gets you back up is a good one. Any choice that makes things work out safe and sound is a good one.

    I wouldn’t be to quick to judge peoples choices when accidents like this occur. There are lots of minor details that factor into these mishaps.

    I personally don’t teach back deck technique to beginners. Hell I can barely pull them off myself most of the time.

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