Kids who balk at the idea of wearing head protection for outdoor activities might find it harder these days to argue that helmets arent cool.
From dry-erase helmets to ones shaped like animals and bugs to others in bright colors, many of todays helmets are designed to make kids want to wear them long after the bike is parked or the snowboard stowed.
Well lay out 10 different character helmets at a skate park and let 20 kids try them on and play with them. Were able to see immediately which designs resonate with them, says Brad Blankinship, a spokesman at Los Angeles-based C-Preme, which makes helmets and other skate and bike gear.
Some of whats new:
C-Premes helmet line Raskullz has a wide range of styles shaped or painted like dinos, sharks, ladybugs and pussycats complete with appendages such as fins, antennae and ears. There are lightning bolts, zebra stripes and a Mohawk trim. A new toddler Miniz version of the lineup was added this spring, and in May the Raskullz line added additional 3-D animal attachments such as raccoon tails and feathers. Go to www.raskullz.com.
Helmet Zoo makes colorful, elasticized fleece helmet covers in themes such as sea, farm and woodland creatures, and fantasy characters. Pandas, tigers, skunks, snakes, pink poodles, devils and a generic version of those popular ill-tempered birds are all available, as are multi-legged spiders and a pink fairy princess with tiara and veil. The covers will fit any style of helmet, and are cleanable. Go to www.helmetzoo.com.
Low-key-cool Burton has the Red helmet line that includes kids Avid Grom, a cross-sport helmet for snow and pavement. No wild graphics, but hip colors such as green, white, red, black and orange branded with a logo. Go to www.altrec.com.
Smith Optics makes the Gage snow helmet in matte black or white, or more vivid hues such as cyan, bright green and violet. Theyre embellished with an understated, stylized graphic on one side. Also from Smith, a combo of Cosmos Jr. helmet with Galaxy goggles; a magnet and slide-release buckle keep the two pieces together. The Zoom Jr. has a soft, fuzzy lining, and all have lots of head vents, because kids heads get sweaty quickly. Go to www.smithoptics.com.
Swedish company POC makes a helmet named Pocito Light. In-mold technology means the outer hard shell is thinner, and theres expanded polystyrene foam all through the inner layer to disperse impact. A fluorescent orange would stand out on a snowy hill, and there are options for different weather conditions, too: Neck and ear pads may be removed for warmer-weather skiing and snowboarding. Go to www.xsportsprotective.com.
Biking and scootering kids might like the imaginative range of helmets from Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Giro, with names like Rascal, Rodeo, Flume and Slingshot. Graphics such as red flames and silver skulls might appeal to older children, while cartoon airplanes, pigs, firefighters and bunnies could attract younger – or goofier – kids. Go to www.giro.com.
If your creative kid would just like to jazz up an existing helmet, check out the funky line of helmet accessories from Fauhaux, started by two former Toys R Us executives and moms, Jocelyn Fine and Kelly Dineen. The embellishments are made of lightweight foam and attach with Velcro. Dreadlox come in black, green, blue or multicolored; spiky Punkrox come in pink or red. Go to www.fohawx.com.
Also for the DIY crowd, Wipeout has helmet and dry-erase marker kits. White, black, pink and green helmets can be decorated with kids own designs or the stencils provided. Those include rockets, peace signs, clouds and stars. Go to www.iwipeout.com.