Up: Equipment Reviews

FNA Headgear X-Stream Helmet

by Joe Box

FNA X-Stream, click to
    enlarge! I bought the X-Stream two months ago and after a thorough testing believe it to be an excellent full-face helmet. During the first day of use my paddling buddy, Shayne, who fancies a hockey helmet with metal cage, discovered that the cage bends and distorts when slammed into rocks. His face was saved but his helmet needed a good bit of love following that impact. My decision to buy a full-face helmet was validated.

Before buying the X-Stream my prime concerns were full coverage with no loss of peripheral vision, and not looking like a dork. These factors have been fully satisfied. Faron Alstad, the designer of the helmets and owner of FNA Head Gear, was very good to deal with and I was very happy with his customer service.


While wearing the helmet the view is perfect. I can see absolutely unimpeded left to right, up to down. The brim of the helmet pokes out a little and I used this feature the very first day, without even thinking, to block the bright sun from my eyes. I believe one's vision is crucial to good paddling. This helmet gives a perfect, unhindered view.

This helmet is cool enough and Faron will do a custom job with a vast array of colour and sparkle combinations. He accepted my wish for an orange and blue lid, Jan's silly concept of a white to black fade, and even Matt's ludicrous idea of a Rasta, green to purple fade with orange flames. All of these actually look pretty sweet.

Joe in motion, click to
    enlarge! Fitting:
The X-Stream's shell is one size and included with the helmet is extra sticky foam padding for a custom fit. My X-Stream is very comfortable and secure and felt so from the very first day.

Customer Service:
My helmet arrived less than two weeks after ordering it and was exactly what I had requested. Buy directly from Faron if you can and skip the middleman to save a couple of dollars.

Permanent Chinguard:
The X-Stream's chinguard does not detach. This is a good thing because it means that your safety does not come down to a judgement call. Since it does not detach you will actually wear it!


The gelcote does scratch pretty easily so your helmet could look pretty well used pretty quick if you don't take care of it. Apparently you can polish out the scratches easily but who really cares.

Wearing glasses:
My paddling-partner, Jan's, glasses tend to fog up on cold days due to the deflection of his breath by the mouth-guard.

Yelling, Eating, and Spitting:
If I have to shout across some distance I tilt the chin piece downwards. The same goes for eating and spitting. No big deal.

Sticks sound loud:
Seriously. When you are hiking and little sticks whack into your helmet they sound really loud.

I wear earplugs so it has always been tough to hear. Adding a full coverage helmet on top of plugs I do lose a bit more volume but I believe full ear coverage is worth it. A few years ago I banged my brow and ear while wearing a high-cut Wildwasser helmet. The pain of the stitches was nothing compared to the deep pain of impacted ear cartilage. Cover your ears!

Final Opinion:

The FNA X-Stream is a fantastic helmet. It is far more comfortable and unobtrusive than other helmets I have worn and obviously provides far more protection. Banging your face on rocks sucks and I now feel far more comfortable about serious paddling wearing the X-Stream. The best aspects of the X-Stream are the fit and the unimpeded vision. The biggest setback is slightly decreased hearing and fogged up glasses in cold weather. Overall, the X-Stream gets the full Joe Box endorsement.

FNA X-Stream final update-Fantastic Full Face Helmet

After extensive use of the FNA X-Stream I remain firm that it is a fantastic helmet. I have noticed no limitations or deficiencies in its design after many lengthy paddles and portages. It does scratch if you treat it badly but this simple and correctable cosmetic factor is overwhelmingly offset by all the benefits: The helmet provides comfortable, light weight, full coverage with unimpeded vision in a cool looking package. I like good value for my money and because of this the X-Stream is one of my favourite pieces of gear. Along with my Waterstick paddle and my Kokatat drysuit, this helmet gets top marks for quality and durability.

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