Climbing helmets are an important accessory when rock climbing. It can be a dangerous adventure, with falling rocks and slippery slopes and inclement weather as just some of the dangers you may face. What better way to protect yourself than having the best rock climbing helmet? Even the most expensive rock climbing helmet pales in comparison to the alternative outcome of not wearing one!
Before you start looking for a new helmet, you definitely want to be aware of exactly what you are buying. Take a look at the following factors for some ideas on things to look for before making a purchase.
Helmet foam types – Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
The two major types of foams available in helmets are the expanded polypropylene (EPP foams) and the expanded polystyrene (EPS foams). While most rock climbers favor the EPS foam helmets because this type of foam is built sturdy and is very useful in absorbing deadly impacts, this type of foam works only for a single impact or collision. These helmets are not built to take on several impacts, so if you notice a crack inside of your EPS model of helmet, it’s best to discard it and get another as they are already worn out and pose a danger.
The expanded polypropylene (EPP) model helmets are a better alternative if you want a long-lasting helmet. These EPP foams are made of same materials used for bumpers of cars and because of this, they are built to take on impacts without shattering. These EPP foam are very durable although harder to find. The EPP model helmets, unlike the EPS model helmets, have no use for ABS shell or polycarbonate due to their heightened quality and assured durability.
Weight of the Helmet
As little detail as this may seem, it is quite important. Not all helmets are lightweight, and not all are big and bulky. A good climbing helmet shouldn’t be super light so it can withstand rocks falling from a distance with maximum impact. However, it shouldn’t be so heavy that you aren’t able to move your neck freely and without strain. Helmets can weigh anywhere from 3oz to over 15oz. Climbing gear which is extremely lightweight will probably not last you as long as you’d like it to. The rule when buying climbing gear is the more lightweight it is, the less durable it will be. Helmets are no different. The one thing that is an exception to that rule is the type of foam in the helmet. If the helmet uses expanded polypropylene foam (EPP) then no matter how lightweight it is, it is far more likely to last for several climbing adventures. If it uses expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), then you should refer to the rule and get something heavier.
Most helmets that you buy will have two different ways to adjust it, one being around your chin, and the other around your head itself. It’s really important to be able to get the right fit for your helmet. You want your helmet to be able to sit firmly on your head while still being comfortable, and not choking yourself with the chin strap. The strap that tightens the helmet around the head itself is typically what plays the most crucial role in being able to get the right adjustment. The way these bands are adjusted does vary from brand to brand, with the higher end helmets having the ability to be adjusted with just one hand. Pretty much every helmet on the market is still utilizing the strap and buckle system for the chin portion of the adjustment system. Most people find helmets that have an all-webbing band for your head take an extra bit of adjustment, so if you’re into ease of use, you may want to steer clear of those styles of helmet.
Before you purchase the helmet, is it always best to try out the helmet in person to see if it fits you and how easy to use it is.
How breathable your helmet is, is definitely an important thing to consider, especially when you think about your specific body type. Some rock climbers have complained about helmets not coming with breathable spacing thus making their heads sweaty and making them uncomfortable while climbing. Manufacturers have taken this into consideration and applied useful technology to add more space for ventilation in recent helmet models. While this is great progress, there are several disadvantages that come with having a very breathable helmet.
For a helmet to be breathable with a massive inflow of air, there would need to be several empty spaces in the helmet, which ultimately means the helmet is clad with less protective material for your head. Also, helmets with better ventilation tend to degrade more quickly over time. Depending on your season of climbing, you might want to consider getting a less ventilated helmet if you plan climbing during winter when the cold is chilling.
When you are going rock climbing, you need a helmet that can sit on your head for several hours a day. You won’t want to be caught needing to adjust your helmet after every climb you take or even worse, mid-climb, so it’s best to consider your comfort before you select the gear. There’s the notion that if you feel you are not comfortable in something, you won’t wear it. That notion is true with climbing helmets. If you are not comfortable with your climbing helmet, you won’t want to wear it and when you do, it will be more of a nuisance than a help. A climbing helmet kept at home or worse, in a garbage bag, won’t protect you. Again, comfort is subjective and what works one rock climber in a specific region may not work for another. As with most things that you need to wear for extended periods of time, it may be best to try on the model you are interested in before purchasing. Some people tend to go with lighter models for comfort, but keep in mind that light equals less damage absorption.
Compatibility with Headlamps
While all climbing helmets claim to be compatible with headlamps, several of them are better at holding them than others. Before buying a helmet, be sure to confirm if the helmet would be a perfect combination with your headlamp. Helmets that feature attachment clips which are designed to save weight are the typically your best bet when looking for a helmet that you can wear your headlamp with.
Now that we’ve looked at some important factors to consider prior to buying a helmet, we now have a broad idea of what to look out for before we start to shop for the ideal helmet.
Here, we’ll be looking through a list of the 8 best climbing helmets available on the market today. These helmets are top-rated and certified to be worthy of being on our list by the reviews by users of the products. All the climbing helmets listed here are highly praised for their effectiveness in doing what they do best – protecting the head via their fit, performance, efficiency, and sturdiness, making them perfect considerations for your next addition to your climbing gear.
Petzl Vertex Vent 2 Helmets
Contains vent holes that come with sliding shutters to allow for ventilation when needed
Features a very tough chinstrap which helps to keep the helmet on and limits the possibility of losing the helmet in the case of a fall
The Petzl Vertex uses the highly functional expanded polypropylene (EPP) foams
It uses a center fit adjustment system that lets the user adjust the headband until the helmet is comfortably sitting on the head
It uses a six-point textile suspension that lets the helmet take on any head shape for a comfortable fit
The Petzl Vertex Vent 2 helmet is designed for rock climbers who are serious about their climbing. This helmet is one of the best climbing helmets available due to the materials used for its manufacture. Materials like ABS, high-strength polyester, nylon, polyethylene, and EPP foam are some of those. The helmet uses features like the center fit adjustment and the six-point textile suspension system to ensure it is well held on the head and comfortable, too. There are several attachment mechanisms for adding accessories such as protective shields or visors, hearing protection gear, headlamps, and etc. The Petzl Vertex would be able to withstand rock drops from a distance thanks to the shock absorption mechanism that’s provided by the EPP foam and deforming outer shell.
Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet
They feature several improved attachment points for adding new accessories such as headlamps, visors and so on. The headlamp clips are one of the best on the market.
The helmets contain gels/soft pads for the front area of the head
This model of helmets is unarguably one of the most durable helmets made by Black Diamond
Uses a hybrid design and equipped with expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam
It uses a very adjustable suspension system
When looking for an incredible climbing helmet, there are certain things you take into consideration like the foam type, adjustment protocols, the weight of the helmet, the attachment areas, etc. The Black Diamond half dome helmet has covered the most important areas users’ look out for in climbing helmets. These half dome helmets are built to be sturdy with several safety features, lightweight in nature, and features a sleek design. Weighing less than one pound, you are less likely to be bothered about your neck feeling too heavy. The helmet comes in various colors and in two sizes; small/medium and large.
Petzl Picchu Children’s Climbing & Cycling Helmet
Lightweight helmet with molded ABS shell
Highly adjustable chinstrap, headband, and nape height for a perfect and comfortable fit
Well ventilated on the sides
Several personalization options using retro-reflective stickers
The Petzl Picchu children’s climbing and cycling helmet is one of the most adjustable helmets available. This helmet can be adjusted to fit kids with smaller heads and is great for those under the age of 7. It’s also very lightweight, measures about a pound, and has several additions that come with it including a few stickers which kids can use to personalize the helmet. The helmet is well ventilated and is great for cycling, skating, skiing, or climbing. It comes in several colors and is priced averagely when compared to other known name brands. The Petzl Picchu children’s climbing helmet is the best you can snag up for your child if you are looking for a helmet to fit a young kid perfectly.
Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet
Features a very durable and hard plastic shell
The inside is lined with expanded polystyrene foam (EPS)
Contains ten openings for access to air for proper ventilation
Comes with a thumb wheel for a quick and effective adjustment
The headlamp clips are integrated into the helmet’s design
The Skywalker 2 climbing helmet is one toughened helmet built to take impact. This helmet has a very hard plastic shell that’s lined on the inside with expanded polystyrene foam (EPS). The helmet comes in a single size but fits heads that measure about 53 to 61 cm. The helmet weighs about 1.2 pounds and has a fully adjustable chin strap which is perfect to give wearers a great fit. In addition to the fit and comfort this helmet offers, safety is a big feature. If you plan on taking on a serious climbing or any outdoor activity which you feel is rather dangerous, then the Skywalker 2 is worthy of consideration. It’s able to take various degrees of impact without the wearer endangering their skull in the process. Sure, you might have some neck bruises, but you won’t need brain surgery. The Mammut Skywalker 2 climbing helmet offers quality at an affordable price.
Petzl Pro Vertex Best CSA Professional Helmet
Includes six-point webbing suspension to get the helmet fit the shape of the head with an apt fit and super comfortable wearing experience
Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) lining to absorb shock by deforming the shell outside
Makes use of a center fit adjustment system to ensure the helmet is centered and maintains a stable position when placed on the head
Chin strap which reduces the risk of losing your helmet in case of a fall. These chin straps have an over 50 daN strength
Added side slots for attaching external gears like hearing protection, mounting PIXA headlamp and attaching a VIZIR face shield
When it comes to selecting the best helmet for high altitude usage, you need to have helmets with very sturdy chin straps, and these are offered by the Petzl Pro Vertex helmets. The plastic shell of the helmet is unventilated thus ensuring utmost protection from such conditions as rock falls and other dangers. It makes use of a center fit adjustment system which ensures the headband is well placed and holds the helmet steady and centered. Also, the helmet comes with two well-cut out and thick foams to ensure each user has a perfect fit.
Black Diamond Vector Helmet
Spacious ventilation ports give excellent airflow to keep you cooler
Ratchet adjuster with push buttons molded into the frame
Headlamp clips molded into the helmet itself for the best attachment possible
The tuck-away suspension used allows for easy, compact storage
Reviewed to be one of the lightest of sturdy helmets available
Black Diamond Vector Helmet is lightweight and a perfect choice to fight off bumps and falls. It takes a unique route when it comes to design choices, making it a more fashionable option for climbers who are conscious of their appearance. The Styrofoam inside with the hard-plastic shell make it sturdy against defending debris without being too heavy. It can support different types of headlamps. If you don’t like feeling weighed down by a lot of additional weight on your neck and head, this helmet might be the right choice. The storage of this helmet is really compact because you can tuck the straps into the helmet, a great feature for those who camp or hike. It comes in two sizes and several different colors.
Petzl Elios Club Helmet
The injected ABS creates a lightweight, durable shell that’s easy on your neck and protective of your skull
Expanded polystyrene foam liner
Shutters on the side create an adaptable design for weather changes when it comes to ventilation
Absorbent comfort foam
The adjustment buckles are placed to the side away from the chin for quick adjustments
Four clips for a headlamp
Petzl creates another great choice for helmets! Many people use this one for cave exploration. It resists scratches, protects the head, and is a comfortable fit with the soft foam inside and the modernized chin strap. The adjustments are by the ears for a quick and easy experience. Petzl Elios Club Helmet is Lightweight helmets are a popular choice, and this one lives up to expectations with this customizable choice. Vents for air almost resemble gills and slide easily to allow circulation. When searching for helmets, this is a cost effective one that gets the job done well with its many safety features. Protection and style go together with this quality helmet, and it’s seven different color options to pick from.
Petzl Sirocco Ultralight Climbing Helmet
Magnetic buckle allows the chinstrap to be fastened with one hand (Petzl patent)
Excellent ventilation distributed around the shell. Entirely adjustable and adapts to all head shapes
Removable comfort foam is quilted and lined with absorbent fabric (washable). Two lateral holes for VIZION visor. Two hooks and rear elastic for attaching a headlamp
This super lightweight helmet is great for outdoor adventures when you don’t know when you’ll need head protection. The modern magnetic buckle is perfect for security that still allows for easy removal. The bright orange color used helps your visibility and prevents accidents from happening. Despite its lightweight material, it’s a surprisingly sturdy helmet that protects your head very well. Tests have been on this product and are said to withstand being stood on top of. If you’re looking for something simple and not overly complicated, focusing on comfort and lightweight design, you won’t find something as good as this helmet. It’s super cool with a good ventilation system set up inside. Your comfort comes first with this helmet!
In today’s world with the growing need for exploration and thrill seeking adventures, helmets are some of the most important gear to own. We did out best to take an in-depth look at the best climbing helmets which should help you remain safe and healthy during your rock climbing exploration. Climbing helmets don’t cost a fortune but takes on some of the deadliest impacts you’d ever be faced with, from falling rocks and debris to slipping and hitting your head on a piece of rock.
Having a helmet is one thing, but having a useful one is another. There are several helmets mountain and rock climbers can choose from, so it’s important to know what you should be looking for in your specific climbing helmet. If you are out for the best helmet you can find in terms of comfort, weight, ventilation, fitting, adjustability, or accessorize, then our guide is a good start. Happy climbing and buckle that helmet up!