Best Climbing Helmets to Keep You Protected

Picking the best climbing helmets is perhaps the first thing to start with when choosing mountaineering equipment. The time had long passed when experts argued about their necessity. Now it is absolutely evident to everyone: if your goal is to climb anywhere other than an indoor climbing wall, your head should be well protected. It is a well-known fact that most of the athletes who passed away while mountaineering died precisely from head injuries.

There is a huge variety of safety helmets on the market: for water sports, cycling, skiing, horse riding, and so on. Each activity requires its own accessory and has peculiar quality standards (EN and/or UIAA). Therefore, you should choose specialized equipment for rock climbing.

Mountaineering on natural terrain makes specific demands on helmet performance. It should protect an athlete against falling stones and possible impacts on ledges when lifting or falling.

A quality climbing and mountaineering product should be lightweight, shockproof, and resistant to sudden changes in temperature. It goes without saying that the quality of an item should be appropriate. In addition to that, it should also provide excellent visibility.

Mountain Climbing Helmet FAQs

Since mountaineering helmets are responsible for the safety of your head and, in fact, for your life, special care should be taken when looking for such a vital accessory. If you have any questions regarding deciding on a suitable model, do not hesitate to ask them in the comments section. In this block, I have picked answers to the most popular of them.

men in helmet climbs

What is the difference between climbing and a bike helmet?

When comparing a climbing helmet vs a bike helmet, the difference is not so significant at first glance. Each sport has specific design features. A climbing accessory should primarily protect your head from falling rocks from above or from the side and also be strong enough to withstand the penetration of sharp objects. A bike helmet protects you from injury from falls and head-on collisions with obstacles.

What materials are the best for climbing helmets?

As a rule, ABS plastic products are the most durable, but they turn out to be quite heavy. If you walk in such an accessory all day, your head and neck are likely to get tired from the load. A polycarbonate helmet is less resistant to damage but lightweight. That is why there are now hybrid models on the market: a hard plastic case combined with inner foam. These helmets are considered universal and are suitable for almost all types of rock climbing.

How do I pick the size of a climbing helmet?

Measure your head circumference at its widest point. Many companies produce helmets in several sizes, but some offer one universal size. The volume of an item can be adjusted using straps and back wheels. Put on a helmet and adjust its straps to fit securely on your head. It should not tilt forward or backward. If you feel comfortable wearing it, you’ve found the right size.

How to attach a headlamp to a climbing helmet?

All modern models have special mounts for a headlamp on their bodies. These can be regular rubber bands or plastic clips. It is better to choose the second option since a rubber quickly deteriorates. All you need to do is pull the strap from your headlamp through these clips and tighten it so it doesn’t slide over your eyes. If you wish, you can purchase a special flashlight mount glued to a helmet with adhesive tape, which saves you from using straps.

Top 8 Best Climbing Helmets

There are three main types of helmets currently on the market: hardshell shelled foam, and hybrid. You will find exclusively hybrid models on my list, as they combine the best qualities of the first two types. Choose an accessory based on terrain (mountain or glacier) and weather conditions, and follow local rock climbing guidelines. I also advise you to opt for bright models so that your companions do not lose sight of you.

1. My Top Pick: Mammut Wall Rider

The Swiss company Mammut has long established itself as a manufacturer of high-quality mountaineering equipment, so it is not surprising at all that its helmet got the first place on my list. In my opinion, Mammut Wall Rider is the best mountain climbing hat overall. It is a hybrid type as it combines a hard plastic top and EPP foam.

The rigid shell provides puncture resistance and durability, while the foam padding absorbs impact. Thanks to this combination, the product is lightweight: a larger size helmet weighs only 8.5 ounces. It does not put too much pressure on your head and is comfortable to wear all day long.

In this model, the head top and forehead are reliably protected since it is these parts, according to statistics, that account for the most injuries. On the back of it, there are rather large openings that provide sufficient ventilation for your head. It will be an excellent option for those who are mountaineering in regions with hot climates. On the helmet inside, there are soft pads on the crown and forehead. Thin straps fix the product securely under your chin and at the back of the head.

I like particularly that the manufacturer offers removable pads and a storage bag for the kit. You can choose from two sizes and two colors. Unfortunately, currently, only white and blue are available, while I generally recommend choosing brighter colors like red or orange.

Positives:
  • Protects the top of the head and forehead;
  • Provides excellent ventilation;
  • Lightweight;
  • A storage bag and extra paddings included.
Negatives:
  • No bright colors.

2. Best Women’s Climbing Helmet: Black Diamond Vector

The Black Diamond Vector is one of the most comfortable female helmets. It is made of polycarbonate and EPS foam. Since it is specially designed for women, it is lighter in weight than the men’s version (only 8 ounces). It saves you from unnecessary stress on the neck and, as a result, headaches. Although the inner lining is slightly thinner than other products for women, it still sits very comfortably on the head.

You can adjust the helmet size using a back lock and a chin strap. To do this, you have to use both hands, which may not be very convenient. Compared to its competitors, this model has a deeper dome: it sits lower in the forehead and back. Although it has fairly large openings in the housing for ventilation, it protects the head evenly from all sides.

The total number of such holes is less than, for example, the previous model on my list. Considering that it has a large coverage area, ventilation (especially in the forehead area) may seem insufficient to some people.

This model’s stylish design deserves special mention: a combination of two shades and geometric ventilation holes. It is available in many colors, both muted and vibrant. So anyone can find a product to their liking.

Positives:
  • Comfortable;
  • Has a deep dome;
  • Stylish design.
Negatives:
  • Insufficient ventilation.

3. Best Kids Climbing Helmet: PETZL Picchu Helmet Youth

For those who love mountaineering with the whole family, I can recommend the PETZL Picchu Helmet Youth. It is a multifunctional kids’ climbers helmet that is suitable for any activity, from cycling to rock climbing. It belongs to the hybrid type and has a very solid construction. The upper is made of ABS plastic and is reinforced from the inside with a thick layer (about one inch) of expanded polystyrene. It covers the entire interior and does an excellent job of absorbing any impact.

The helmet has a rather massive construction and sits deeply on the back of the head and forehead. It was done specifically to protect a kid’s head from all sides. Because of this, the model is quite heavy, even for an adult product (10.9 ounces). But it is durable and will withstand any hits if a child does not handle it very carefully.

The product is designed for kids from 3 to 8 years old with a maximum head circumference of 21.25 inches. Like in adult products, the inner headband is made of plastic and is regulated by a split mechanism at the back of the head. There are seals in the frontal and crown parts to prevent the plastic from causing discomfort that you can remove if necessary (which I do not recommend).

There are not many ventilation holes here: three on each side and two on the back. Given most children’s high activity, this may not be enough if you exercise in warm climate conditions.

Positives:
  • Protects a kid’s head from all sides;
  • Has very thick walls;
  • Multifunctional.
Negatives:
  • Has few ventilation holes;
  • Heavy.

4. Best Men’s Climbing Helmet: Black Diamond Vapor

This men’s model, oddly enough, is one of the most lightweight on the market. It weighs only 7 ounces. Externally and in terms of functionality, it looks a lot like the first model on my list. However, there are a lot more vents here, which makes it so lightweight.

However, more is not better, and defense options can suffer as a result. The holes are located at the back and sides, which means that these parts are less protected from impacts than the crown and forehead. The product is securely fixed with a comfortable neck clip and a chin strap, which is, unfortunately, not adjustable.

This helmet also uses polycarbonate combined with EPS foam on the inside. Compared to other models, the foam layer is slightly thinner, but the manufacturer has strengthened it by adding carbon rod and kevlar. So, in general, I can say that it quite compensates for a large number of vents. While the top layer is resistant to scratches and minor dents, overall protection and functionality are not affected.

The model is available in two sizes and seven colors. If you choose white, keep in mind that it glows incredibly strong in the sun, downright blinding. Compared to competitors’ helmets, it is a rather expensive product. However, if you are looking for a lightweight climbing model for the summer months, go for the Black Diamond Vapor.

Positives:
  • Foam reinforced with kevlar and carbon;
  • Lightweight;
  • Excellent ventilation.
Negatives:
  • Quite pricey;
  • Has too many ventilation holes.

5. Best Climbing Helmet for Money: Fusion Meka Work

One of the most affordable models on my list is the Fusion Meka Work. It costs much less than the products of competitors, while practically are not inferior in functionality to them. The only disadvantage of this helmet is its weight. It is quite heavy (14.8 ounces) and can be uncomfortable for inexperienced users.

At first glance, it looks a bit bulky (it looks like a construction helmet in design) and may not be to everyone’s liking. Still, it provides superior reliability and head protection. The upper is made of durable polycarbonate, and the inner surface is lined with EVA lining. The body has ten small holes that guarantee good ventilation without compromising the level of head protection.

Since this helmet is multifunctional and intended not only for sports but also for construction work, there are special holes for headphones. The product is unisex in design and comes in one size only. If necessary, you can adjust its volume with one hand by turning a rotating fastener at the back of the head.

A chin strap can also be adjusted, but overall, I found the strap system, not the softest and most comfortable. For example, the side straps can dig a little into your head. However, it is an individual factor and largely depends on the shape of your head.

Positives:
  • Affordable price;
  • Multifunctional;
  • Has cutouts for headphones;
  • Easy to adjust.
Negatives:
  • Heavy;
  • One size.

6. The Most Lightweight Climbing Helmet: PETZL Sirocco

The PETZL Sirocco is the most lightweight (6.1 ounces) and comfortable helmet on my list. It is due not only to the product’s weight but also to the overall fit and cushioning. Its shell has a solid EPS plate in the upper part and is combined with EPP foam, which absorbs impacts. The crown and forehead areas have a removable foam pad on the inside, covered with felt for maximum comfort. This item comes with a replacement pad set and storage case.

The model is available in three colors and two sizes. You can adjust the volume using the neck and chin straps. It is worth noting that there is only one buckle on the back of the head, instead of the usual two, making it difficult for you to center the helmet on your head. And the V-shaped strap uses a magnetic buckle, which makes fastening much easier, for example, if you wear gloves.

Ventilation deserves special attention since the helmet has as many as 24 holes throughout its body (they are not only at the very top of the head). This sets it apart from most other models, where there is no ventilation in the front, which makes an athlete’s forehead sweat. You can wear a helmet all day long without feeling tired.

Positives:
  • Excellent ventilation;
  • Has a magnetic buckle;
  • Extra lightweight.
Negatives:
  • Expensive;
  • Can be difficult to center.

7. The Most Durable Mountaineering Helmet: EDELRID Zodiac

This model is made of ABS plastic, which is considered one of the most durable materials. Such products are reliable but heavy. This helmet weighs 12.7 ounces. The impact-resistant body is reinforced with expanded polypropylene foam on the inside. For added comfort, there is padding inside that you can remove if necessary. The helmet sits quite high on the head, does not hang over your eyebrows, giving an excellent view.

The model is available only in one size, but you can change its volume easily with one hand. There is an adjusting wheel at the back and a buckle under the left ear that tightens the chin strap. There is a plastic cradle in the back of the head that provides additional fixation. When not wearing a helmet, it slips easily inside to save space. This element may not be very convenient for ponytail wearers. There is no hole for your locks.

There are three ventilation holes on the sides of the case. These are rather narrow slots, so it seems to me that the head ventilation will not be sufficient while mountaineering in a warm climate. The model is currently available in three colors. If you want a little more head cooling, choose a white one. It will reflect sunlight effectively, protecting you from overheating.

Positives:
  • Robust housing;
  • Removable lining;
  • One size fits all;
  • Reasonable price.
Negatives:
  • Insufficient ventilation;
  • No ponytail cutout.

8. Stylish Hiking Helmet for Kids: EDELRID Shield II

EDELRID Shield II is another model specially designed for the youngest mountain climbers. It has an excellent volume control system and, although it comes in one size, will suit a wide range of users with head volumes from 18.8 to 22 inches. There is a wheel on the rear cradle that allows one-handed resizing. Its chin strap is quite wide and soft, so it won’t dig into the delicate kids’ skin.

Like all hybrid helmets, this model has a fairly thick polycarbonate shell and EPS on the inside. To make the plastic headband less pressing, the manufacturer has added removable pads to it (on the crown and above the eyebrows) and also a spare kit to the set. Unlike the previous model for children on my list, this item is much lighter (only 8.82 ounces).

Ventilation slots are located throughout the case: there are holes in the front, sides, and back. Thanks to this arrangement, excellent head ventilation is achieved. Like most polycarbonate helmets, it can get scratches or dents due to inaccurate storage, but this does not affect the protective properties. Kids will love the design of this model. At the moment, it is only available in one color, orange/bright yellow, with a funny face on the front.

Positives:
  • Cute design;
  • Suitable for different head sizes and shapes;
  • Fairly lightweight;
  • Budget-friendly.
Negatives:
  • Not the most durable model.

Best Rock Climbing Helmet Can Save Your Life

I think you understand the necessity of hiking helmet use without extra words. Remember that your safety is in your own hands. When choosing, first of all, be guided by how a product sits on your head, how much it can be adjusted, and its design. Even if you really liked some model, but it does not sit well on your head, it will be of little use. Remember that the main purpose of any helmet is protective, not decorative.

I hope this climbing helmet review helps you find the right product. To ensure that your accessory will last you as long as possible, store and transport it properly, and inspect it after each use. Repair your helmet as needed, change fittings, or internal pads. If the accessory has been hit hard, it is best to replace it with a new one, even if there are no visible cracks. In general, it is recommended to purchase a new helmet after ten years, even if the old one looks good enough.

Which brand do you prefer? What model do you use now? Has a helmet ever saved your life? Share your climbing stories with other readers in the comments below!

Last update on 2021-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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