Riding a Onewheel can be extremely dangerous with no protective gear. Mitigating the risk with proper protection ensures the safety of yourself and for the sport. If several fatal accidents occur, it could possibly arise legislation to ban Onewheels if they are deemed unsafe. This is the top 7 protective gear items that are recommended (some will vary for different climates):
- Helmet (Open or Full Face)
- Kelvar Flannel Armored Jacket
- Wrist Guards
- Elbow Pads
- Knee Pads
- Sunglasses or Goggles
- High-top Sneakers
Full Face Helmets For Trail Riding Onewheels
I use a Ruroc Snowboarding Helmet in the winter time for the primary reason of keeping my face warm. Even a basic full face helmet on Amazon or somewhere would is recommended for northern fall and winter riders. Nothing is worse than having a cold face while riding. Visibility in the Ruroc is good and the googles do not fog.
A full face helmet can be a little over the top and I honestly only wear them in the cold weather. Another thing I like about them however is the fact that goggles are built in. It doesn’t matter what season it is. You need to protect your eyes while riding. The winter is extremely cold. The summer has tons of gnats and mosquitos out. Getting a stick or bug in the eye is awful. If you are group riding, dirt from the leading riders can get in your eyes. Built in eye protection from a full faced helmet is a benefit.
Armored Jackets with Built-in Padding
The Float Life sells Kevlar armored jackets (TAC a.k.a. Tough As Chains) which is an excellent choice however they do cost anywhere from $140-$160. An excellent alternative is a Kelvlar lined flannel on Amazon or on eBay. I picked mine up for less than half the price on eBay.
The major benefit in wearing an armored jacket is that these things are tough and typically come equipped with elbow pads, shoulder pads and a back protection pad. Many motorcycle riders wear these so it definitely can handle wooded trails and street riding.
What I like mostly about these jackets is entirely unrelated to safety. I think they simply look really good when you have it on. They have a zipper and button up combo and (while they are not tailor-fitted to you, they have a good fit to them almost looking like it was made for you. Just make sure to order the right size! Spend the time to confirm your measurements and get one. Stay protected and looking good while riding.
Wrist Guards and Gloves For Hand Protection
Speaking from experience in falling from a nosedive, the impact zones when you hit the ground from a fall on a Onewheel generally are the shoulder and hands. While its always ideal to run-out a fall so that you minimize or avoid impact, sometimes its not possible. Instinctually we put out our hands and if its pavement, that skin is going to peel fast.
Some gloves have exposed tips which are good for using your smartphone however they do make full fingered gloves with smart phone touch ability. Regardless of preference, the wrist portion should be well protected. A simple wrist guard like the ones Triple-8 make does great as it takes a good portion of impact on a fall.
Elbow & Knee Pads
Depending if I am trail riding and if I’m wearing shorts or pants, I don’t always wear Knee pads. I bought a pair of Leatt dual axis knee pads which are great because they articulate around the knee. A huge advantage to these knee pads is that they have a quick release clip system. If you see a Onewheel rider wearing knee pads, likely you’ll see these as they generally are the most popular. they cover the shin which is great for pushing through branches that extend over the trail. An armored shin can push through with ease.
Goggles or Sunglasses – Protective Eyewear
This is really going to depend on what type of terrain you ride. I ride mostly in New England where trails are rarely so dry that dirt is kicked up everywhere. I can typically wear sunglasses and it keeps the bugs and sun out of my eyes. I personally never wear goggles unless I wear a full faced helmet. Again, I only wear that when its cold outside and I want to keep my face warm
This is coming from a rider that used to wear trail running sneakers or Vans ComfyCush however I swapped to Vans Hi-Sk8 shoes because of a nasty fall I had in a parking lot. Attempting to revert, The board slipped out and I hit my ankle on the pavement. After that moment, long gone are the days of riding low profile sneakers and ankle socks.
Had I worn a high-top sneaker, my ankle wouldn’t have peeled off when I hit the ground. The sneaker isn’t typically considered protective wear however when you think about ankle support and coverage, you realize that you should consider it especially if you ride street.
It’s not to sound like a broken record however at a minimum we all have to wear our helmets. Its simple to gear up with protective gear. Onewheel riding is statistically safer than many other sports (even skateboarding). Recently, the CPSC has become involved and the Onewheel community does not need to have fuel from any federal or local governments to start banning their use. Stay protected and be a good citizen on the trails and the street. If we can as a community demonstrate safety, Onewheel riding will be around for a very long time.