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Bikepacking The Bikebacking forum is for discussion that relates directly to bikepacking (also known as bicycle camping). Subject matter should involve the backpacking/camping/bike gear and trip planning as it relates to mountain biking and bicycle touring.

View Poll Results: Do you wear a helmet (law required or not) when bikepacking (touring)?
Yes, always 37 71.15%
No, never 8 15.38%
Occasionally 7 13.46%
Voters: 52. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-29-2010, 06:40 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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Originally Posted by WildlifeNate
That's a pretty poor substitute, IMO. The kinds of impacts you'll see in a kayaking environment will not be the same as the ones you see in a bicycling environment. I would not trust my head to a helmet made for another purpose. You can find cheap bike helmets that work just as well as the expensive ones for their intended use. There's the typical cyclist style, there's the BMX style, and there's the downhill full face style. I would rather go broke buying helmets than going broke paying for treatment of head injuries.

i'll throw in with this opinion. a bike helmet won't protect you from the little pointy rocks that can come in from the side. it's not designed for it. their padding isn't built to take more than one hit without failing. subsequent hits degrade the protection to nothing.

by comparison the kayaking helmet offers flotation(which a bike helmet only partially does), will take an impact without sliding forward off your head, which most cycling helmets won't do. what it won't do is protect you from a 40-MPH impact. it also won't keep your face away from the road should you go down face-first. there's just not that much helmet there.

rock climbing helmets offer a whole different sort of protection, mostly from impacts coming from above. in regards to falls, it's mostly there to make cleanup easier/keep the squishy bits in one place.

it'd be great to have an all-in-one helmet that did some of everything, but it wouldn't be able to do any of those things well. the sorts of impacts you can have in the different sports are all pretty different. kayaking impacts are going to be tough but much slower, and repeated. bicycling impacts are going to be huge single impacts happening at breakneck speed by comparison, and probably involve a bit of dragging over some pretty abrasive surfaces. mountain climbing protection is aimed in the most likely source of impact, which is upward. the ways each of those helmets achieves those protections are entirely different, and the engineering to get a helmet that did all of that and did it well is pretty staggering. padding that can cushion multiple blows that aren't so hard isn't going to do much for a huge impact.

now, you could have a helmet that did most of those sports well, but it'd be so huge and uncomfortable that it'd be impractical.

one way to avoid going to the poorhouse is to stagger your purchases of helmets. another way, if you're just an occasional partaker of certain sports(like how i kayak at most once a year), is rentals. sure they're spendy, but if you almost never do them...

helmets have their place(that's on the head of the participant). i've been guilty of not wearing a helmet from time to time(either hating the fit or the weather, or using the 'it's just a short trip' excuse. one of the times i did that, i wound up in a lower-speed impact with another rider, head on. thank god he was wearing his brain bucket or we'd have been in pretty bad shape. it wasn't more than 5-7 miles an hour, but we were both weighty guys and we got launched headfirst into each other. he took it on the helmet, i took it on the forehead(if you're gonna get knocked and have no protection there's no better place... it's like armor in there). if that had been forehead to forehead we'd both have been pretty damn sore.

i wore my helmet a hell of a lot more after that.
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:04 PM
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fripphead fripphead is offline
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Helmet Wearing...

I, too am a helmet wearer. I've had two auto/bike accidents, one fall (due to a slick manhole cover, hit while in a fast turn) and I'm darn glad I had one. I've been wearing helmets since the start of my cycling 'career', so I feel very exposed without. When one is out in the wilds, it just seems to be a reasonable idea to have some protection. It can be a long walk back to get help.
Yet I see the argument of not making them required. A helmet isn't going to do a lick of help against a 4,000 lb automobile.
One guy's opinion....
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:12 AM
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Bushwalker Bushwalker is offline
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In general, down here in Oz many motorists' contempt, abuse and disregard shown towards 'cyclists is nearly as bad as it's reputed to be over there...

In addition, over here medical/ER statistics show that over 80% of the more "severe" injuries to bicyclists from accidents come from them landing on their head after a spill or collision ~ therefore, helmets DO save lives, irrespective of what the "personal freedoms" brigade may think..

So, personally, I reckon anyone choosing to ride without a helmet down here these days is an idiot.

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Old 08-21-2011, 04:54 PM
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Ralph Ralph is offline
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I haven't ridden a bike since boyhood and at this stage in my life am unlikely to take it up so this topic is academic. I have been eyewitness to three bike accidents and in all and every case the cause was the biker doing something really stupid - speeding, weaving in and out of slow moving cars, ignoring traffic controls and generally behaving like an idiot.

It's probably a good idea to wear something on your head but it's an even better idea to have something in your head - like common sense.

My boyhood was before bike helmets were invented and the rule for bikes was the same as walking - facing oncoming traffic. Somewhere along the line the notion that the bike is a vehicle and should follow vehicle rules emerged and along with it a general ignorance of something my father reminded us of frequently - there is a 2,000 lb and a 40 MPH difference between bikes and cars. The result was that neither I nor any of my friends needed a helmet because by being careful we never fell off our bikes.
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:56 AM
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bmafg bmafg is offline
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Since I started riding about 10 years ago - not counting as a kid MANY years ago, I chose to wear a helmet. In April 2009 I was very glad I had made it a habit. I was riding alone in a light rain about 5 miles north of New Braunfels, Texas when I went down hard. It was a half second of inattention and a slick spot. It all happened incredibly quickly except for the part where my helmet smacked the pavement. Even now that replays in my mind in slow mo.

Result was dislocated shoulder, severely sprained thumb, 1/2 an acre of road rash and a bruise on my forehead which was otherwise safely inside my broken helmet.

I shudder to think what my head would have looked like without the helmet.
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:29 AM
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Doss Doss is offline
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Having grown up not wearing a helmet and my dad informed us only wimps wore helmets I am glad that I have learned differently..

Case in point would be about 2 weeks ago my friend and I were doing a quick road bike shuttle run down a local canyon and he got a flat and went over the handlebars at 40 MPH... He is still in the hospital and they think he will be out on the 22nd of this month. Fracture at the base of the skull, 4 broken ribs, 2 crushed vert (fused from t7 to t12), crushed artery, and a ton of scrapes and bruises, Major concussion with memory loss still a issue... He crushed his helmet when he landed on it and the doctors are quite sure that without it he would be dead.

So I wear a helmet, and suggest others do as well as you never know when an accident will happen that is out of your control that a piece of foam on your head will save your life
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:18 AM
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tonto tonto is offline
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Death Takes A Holiday

I use to live in the town of Brewster on Cape Cod about 17 years ago.
Cape Cod is a major world class tourist destination.
At that time the Mid Cape Rail Trail was being developed and built as another leisure amenity for the tourist trade.
It passed about a mile from my home and during the off summer season my kids & I used it quite often.
Part of the "freedom of the road" was not wearing a helmet.
One day I read about the death of a lady tourist on the trail not far from my home.
While STOPPED at a road crossing astride her bike she fell over striking her head on the paved trail.
The only reckless thing she had done leading to her death was enjoying a bike ride without a helmet.
After that incident my kids and I always used a helmet when riding.
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:27 AM
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Ralph Ralph is offline
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Call me a wimp if you wish but maybe it would have been better not to be going 40MPH on a vehicle that offers no protection to the rider whatsoever. My comment above about the importance of having something in your head besides thrill-seeking mush applies here.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:33 AM
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Doss Doss is offline
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Originally Posted by Ralph
Call me a wimp if you wish but maybe it would have been better not to be going 40MPH on a vehicle that offers no protection to the rider whatsoever. My comment above about the importance of having something in your head besides thrill-seeking mush applies here.

I obviously disagree, then again statistically I am more likely to die on my commute to work in my overly engineered automobile with all of its safety features than riding my bike (do you really think your car will save you if you get in a head on collision doing 65mph?).

We all have a point that we consider out limit of personal safety and what we are willing to risk, I do many activities that people would consider "unsafe" but while I do them I choose to take certain action that increase my margin of safety (such as wearing a helmet, not drinking and driving, double-checking rappel and climbing gear, etc). I do not consider someone who does a 'thrill-seeking' action or sport someone with a head filled with mush and actually know many very intelligent people who would take offense to your backhanded way of calling people stupid.
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:35 PM
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Ralph Ralph is offline
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In the army, and sometimes in SAR operations I have done things that were not particularly safe or flat dangerous because it was necessary. I've done some rock climbing - despite what I consider to be a completely reasonable fear of heights- free-fall rappelling and whitewater canoeing also because those things were necessary. At 72, I don't do any of those things very often anymore because I am old enough to know my limits and I hope wise enough to "gracefully surrender the things of youth."

I've also been injured enough (3 broken ribs, compound fracture of the patella, several small wrist fractures and the odd abrasion, avulsion, cuts, nicks and scrapes) to know it isn't much fun. More than that though is that I don't want to end my days crumpled up at the bottom of some cliff or cause several hundred people serious inconvenience looking for me - having been, from time to time, one of those several hundred people.

I'm a careful driver, some friends say I'm a slow driver because I drive at the speed limit (or lower if the conditions warrant) and I really try to avoid head-on collisions at any speed preferring avoidance to testing the safety features of my vehicle. Nearly 60 years of driving without a violation pays off come insurance time.

I'm sorry that guy got so banged up but it sounds to me like he was going flat-out, downhill, probably weight-forward so when he got the flat there was absolutely no way he could control that bike. I have to wonder about the nature of the emergency that required getting to the bottom of the hill in record time. (I have had cars tailgate me, pass on the right shoulder, cut off other drivers getting back on the road and get to the next traffic light, when he had to stop, a whole 20-30 seconds before I did. Similar situation.)

My intention was to be polite and gentle, not backhanded, so let me be explicit - yes, it is stupid to get into situations that exceed your limits and the limits of your equipment. Anyone post-puberty should have better judgement.

If I have mis-evaluated the situation and drawn conclusions unwarranted by the posting, I apologize.

As for the Cape Cod lady, I have no idea how someone standing with a bike would fall over but it seems a similar event could happen at any time with or without a bike. Maybe it would be a good idea to wear a helmet when walking upon any hard surface.
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