“Cobbles fly at the Minimum Crag in Utah’s Maple Canyon,” reported one tester, “but most climbers don’t wear a helmet for fear of losing style points and because it gets hot. But the Vapor is so light and low-profile, I kept it on climbing and belaying.”
Climbing Helmet Reviews
Not only is it the lightest lid on the market at 5.82 ounces (that’s 1.8 ounces more than an iPhone 5), it is also unique in design—and look. The Sirocco utilizes expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam instead of the standard expanded polystyrene. EPP is the same foam used in car bumpers, and it is more spongy and flexible—instead of cracking like EPS, it is intended to absorb the impact without damage.
The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is madness this time of year—the reason is the summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, a massive gathering (over 20,000 people, I've been told) of outdoor gear and apparel companies, retailers, media, and athletes.
You wouldn’t consider biking down a busy road without a helmet, so why climb without one? Whether sport climbing at your local crag or venturing up a 15-pitch alpine route, helmets offer critical protection from falling rock or ice as well as from a blow to the head during a fall. Two basic designs of climbing helmets are available: Suspension models, or “hard hats,” have a hard shell supported by webbing. Foam models are similar to bike helmets, with a thin shell protecting a dome of foam padding.
Mammut El Cap - Love it or hate it, climbing is getting steezier. From neon clothing to reflective sunglasses, flash is back. So when climbing helmets needed a makeover, Mammut introduced the El Cap, which breaks away from the standard bucket helmet with a narrower design and a low-profile visor. At first glance, this helmet looks more apt for kayaking or snowboarding, but the El Cap more than holds its own on rock. With 12 ventilation openings, adjustable headband, and relatively light weight (12 oz.), this is a well-built helmet that looks good.
We take a look at three of the newest foam-lined helmets on the market, plus a sneak peak at the latest version of Black Diamond’s popular Half Dome suspension helmet. A team of climbers put these helmets to the test on ice and mixed routes in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. Not only did they climb, they also did their best to shake headlamps off their heads; wore the lids with a variety of hats; tested adjustability with and without gloves; and checked the brain buckets’ fit against climbing packs.
Observation 1: a lot of women rock climb. Observation 2: helmets are an essential piece of safety equipment for climbing. Observation 3: there are very few helmets designed specifically for women. Enter Petzl’s ELIA helmet, with a pony-tail friendly, easy-to-adjust headband, and three tasteful color combinations to complement your feminine mystique.
For 2009, the venerable UK manufacturer Wild Country (wildcountry.co.uk) brings multi-functionality to the cranium-care department with its new Alpine Shield. Only 9.2oz in pared-down rock mode, this vented, EPS-shell/EVA-foam helmet wears light and cool while cragging or multi-pitch climbing. But snap on the polycarbonate shield and you have an alpine player that screens out debris and ice shards, as well as imparts durability and impact resistance beyond that typical of the “one-strike-then-retire” comolded helmets.
A year and a half ago, I noted in our leashless tool review that the designs then available were only a precursor of shapes to come.
With the bevy of stylish and functional models on the market now, you’ll be able to find a rock climbing helmet that fits well and makes you look like a superstar.
The bike-style Simond Bumper is a good choice for the winter ice cragger. Those industrial-chic Frankenstein bolts on the exterior aren’t for show, they’re for the face shield.
One of the new-generation hybrid models, the Petzl Elios has one of the trimmest silhouettes of any helmet we tested, an asset in tight spaces.