My opinion on all of this is that everything should be taken in context. The flatwater paddler in the middle of a lake is unlikely to hit his head on a rock so the need for a helmet is lessened. At the other end of the scale someone on the Flesk or the Glens would be mad to get on without a helmet or a buoyancy aid.
One of the problems with paddling is that it's so diverse, I've had flatwater sprinters tell me that there's no need for a b.a. and helmet when getting on the water, in their environment they're right but not in whitewater. Similiarily I've had whitewater paddlers insist on full river attire just because there' s a puddle on the ground.
During the recent Galway Bay seakayak race I didn't wear a helmet, was I wrong? Should the ICU suspend my membership? I don't think so.
I don't think that there is a need to always wear a helmet and the biggest reason for wearing a buoyancy aid the whole time is because it's the law.
Assess the risk dependent on the conditions and activities at all times.
Should rowers wear helmet and b.a. at all times?
P.s. sometimes I wear a helmet when it's really cold, just to keep my head warm
Irish Kayaking and Canoeing discussion forum.