a bungee skirt over a rand. When I first started kayaking a few years ago I didn't know any better, and bought a Lucky Charm rand skirt. That was the BIGGEST mistake ever. It was so hard to put on every time i got in my boat I had to have a friend help me get the skirt on. Go with a bungee, and even though several people have said they leak, it won't be enough for you to even notice as long as your skirt size is correct with your boat's cockpit. I like snapdragon skirts the best for a bungee style. Go with a bungee over a rand skirt, and I promise you that you'll thank me in the end that you did! As far as helmets go, it really doesn't matter which brand you go with, but make sure you try several on before you buy. Something else I'll mention that I have found to be important is buying a helmet that has a bigger brim to help block the sun out of your eyes. Don't worry about buying a full face helmet yet as there's no nead to buy one until you're good enough to start creeking.