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 bring in legislation to ban Onewheels if they are deemed unsafe. These are the top 8 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. Many competitive riders however use a dirt bike style helmet which is better in warmer climates. The built in visor helps a ton for visibility.
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 trail riding.
The best Onewheel helmet is one that is comfortable and protects your head. The winter is extremely cold. The summer has tons of gnats and mosquitos out. Getting a stick or a 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.
The best helmet for Onewheel riding is one you’ll wear. The Thousand brand helmets are probably the most popular within the Onewheel community (even probably more popular than the Triple 8 helmets). They have a more retro / vintage look that covers the cranium.
If you go with any traditional helmets like these, you should always ride with some sun glasses to protect your eyes. Not from the sun but from dirt, debris, bugs, etc.
A mountain bike helmet can provide adequate coverage as typical bicycle helmets have the proper helmet technology to keeping you properly covered. The outer shell is the shield for your head. This is primarily however why I recommend skateboard helmets over bicycle helmets. The outer shell extends lower around the ear on skater style helmets providing more coverage for side impact.
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 about 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.
Please see our post on Onewheel Protective Jackets. Honestly these are a fashion statement while also saving your shoulder, back or elbows from potential damage
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.
Basic leather gloves also go a long way. Always remember to buy ones that operate with smartphones to make it easier to engage with the Onewheel on your ride. Any glove will avoid skin peeling on the pavement!
Elbow & Knee Pads
Depending if I am trail riding and if I’m wearing shorts or pants, I don’t always wear knee pads. It will depend if the trail is known to me or not or if I want to push harder than usual. 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.
These can be worn right over pants and will actually save your pantaloons if you take a spill. No ripped jeans with these on. If you position the strap over the calf muscle, they stay in place and give great protection.
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.
Full face helmets are do not seem as acceptable to many riders but let me tell you that they are great for days that dip below 50° F (10°C). Its important to be comfortable on a ride. A full face helmet protects the eyes and keeps the face warm.
Crashpads for Onewheel
Crash pads can save your butt from a serious brusing. The perfect Onewheel crashpad is one that fits under the clothes, is hardly noticeable and saves your upper leg and rear end from being smashed on the concrete. Triple Eight Bumsaver‘s are low key and fit under your clothes.
These can be worn standalone like biker shorts, but I never have done that. These Crash pads lessen the pain on falls and fit under your clothes. Triple Eight Bumsavers are the way to go. Please see our review on these Onewheel crashpads.
Ankle Protection For Onewheel Riding
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 give fuel to any federal or local governments to start banning their use. Stay protected and be a good citizen and ride ambassador for Onewheels on the trails and on the streets. If we can as a community demonstrate safety, Onewheel riding will be around for a very long time.