Climbing is one of those sports that requires you to have the skills and the confidence to tackle all kinds of challenges. It is not a sport for the weak or for those who fear heights. In fact, the risks involved in climbing requires you to be prepared adequately for anything that comes your way. You have to keep your head protected with the best climbing helmet.
QUICK ANSWER – The Best Climbing Helmets
So, which should you buy considering that there are so many options out there? Well, don’t worry about it because I have spent a lot of time testing the best brands. From the few brands I checked, I picked the best five that you can count on. Besides, I have come up with a guide that will help you filter out the ideal helmet for your rock climbing adventures.
COMPARISON TABLE – Best Helmets For Rock Climbing
- Mammut Wall Rider
Climb Gear Hub Rating
- Best For : Lightweight
- Weight : 6.9 oz
- Petzl Elia - Best For Women's Climbing
Climb Gear Hub Rating
- Best For : Women
- Weight : 10oz
Reviews Of The Best Climbing Helmets
After testing out more than 15 brands, I was able to review the top 5 that you can wear all day, comfortably when climbing. All our picks are definitely worth your investment and will protect your head at all costs. You can use the buying guide I provided to help you choose the ideal one.
The Mammut Wall Rider climbing helmet happens to be the best for all climbing styles. You can literally count on the Mammut Rider every time you are in the gym, crag or mountains. Honestly, this is one that comes with the perfect combination of all the factors I highlighted. You will absolutely love the comfort and traditional design of the Mammut Wall Rider. Below are some of the attributes that make Mammut Wall Rider the best.
If you are looking one that will offer you stellar performance, the Mammut Wall Rider is your go to. For starters, you will get to experience high levels of comfort even when climbing on a sunny or cold day. The only helmets that can come close to Mammut are Petzl Sirocco and Vapor. You can literally spend the whole day wearing this, and you won’t feel as if it is bothering you.
Other than comfort, the Mammut Wall Rider has been designed to offer maximum protection to your head. This can be explained by the fact that the helmet uses EPP foam shell. Besides, Mammut comes with an added ABS plastic shell on the top and front for added protection.
If you are looking for adequate ventilation, look no further than the Mammut Wall Rider. This has enough vents to keep your head cool without interfering with protection. According to my tests, the Vapor is the only one that is above the Mammut in terms of ventilation ratings.
Although the Mammut Rider is not as durable as the Half Dome or Petzl Boreo, it can still manage to scoop a rating of 8 which is pretty solid. Its ABS plastic hard shell ensures that the helmet keeps on working perfectly even when take a few hits. Moreover, the EPP foam does not fracture easily like its EPS foam counterparts.
A few years ago, the Petzl Sirocco climbing helmet could not make it to the top 10. Today, it’s the second best helment for climbing you can get in 2020. This can be attributed to the fact that Sirocco saw a few great updates in the year 2017. Let’s see what makes the Petzl Sirocco a great choice in 2020.
The sleek and lightweight nature of the Sirocco means that you will be rocking in one of the most comfortable helmets. You will barely notice that you are wearing it because of its negligible weight.
This comes with a nice webbing harness that won’t make you feel uncomfortable. Besides, you will rarely experience any kind of chafing or squeezing on your skin.
If you are the kind of climber that prefers lightweight gear, then you should definitely go with the Petzl Sirocco. This is ideal for hard sends and competitions that require you to have your head protected. At 6.1 ounces, the Sirocco is the best lightweight climbing helmet available in the market.
When it comes to ventilation, the Sirocco is definitely on the same level as the Mammut Wall Rider. The only minor difference is that this has a more open vent pattern that provides enough ventilation when climbing in hot weather.
3. Petzl Elia Helmet – Best Women’s Climbing Helmet
If you are looking for a women’s specific climbing helmet, the Petzl Elia should be your number one choice. It is the only one that has been designed to fit women perfectly. Women with long hair will find the Petzl Elia version to be the best in terms of comfort. Below are a few attributes that our lady testers were raving about.
The Elia model is the most comfortable in the women’s category. It is difficult to find an ABS style helmet that offers the kind of comfort that the Petzl Elia offers. One of the main features that allow this to happen is the OMEGA ponytail system.
This weighs 10.1 ounces, but its still fair to say that it is relatively light. Most ABS style helmets weigh up to 12.8 ounces.
Nice Ventilation System
If you’ve worn ABS style helmets, you probably know that they do not provide proper ventilation. Honestly, the Petzl Elia is the only one in this category that offers excellent ventilation. This has seven vents that keep air flowing in and out of the inside space.
Black Diamond has been one of the leading brands in the climbing industry. They have been producing great climbing gear, and their Half Dome helmet happens to be in our roundup. The Half Dome is considered to be the best budget climbing helmet. What’s more? It is an ABS style helmet that will serve you for a long time. Let’s see why this should be a great buy.
One of the things that will impress you about the Black Diamond Half Dome is how easy it is to adjust the harness system. The helmet uses a click-wheel system which is covered by soft rubber for easy adjusting. In fact, you can change the fit of your harness easily even without gloves on.
Great Headlamp Attachment
The other cool feature that makes the Black Diamond one of the best climbing helmet is its secure headlamp attachments. It has four strong plastic clips that are positioned in a way that the headlamp cannot slide down.
Even though the Black Diamond is the cheapest climbing helmet, it will give you the longest service. This has a very thick plastic shell that can absorb serious impacts without getting damaged.
The Petzl Boreo climbing helmet is my final pick, and it is pretty clear that the Petzl is on its own league when it comes to climbing helmets. Being an entry-level climbing helmet, it has been designed to offer maximum protection and durability. In case you feel that Black Diamond Half Dome is not your cup of tea, you can still choose the Petzl Boreo. Below are some of the key features you will like:
The Petzl Boreo is an excellent option if you are looking for a helmet that can stand some serious abuse. It comes with an ABS plastic shell that can withstand serious impacts. Besides, Boreo has one of the most protective foams you can find.
Compatible with Headlamps
Just like the Black Diamond Half Dome, the Boreo comes with four reliable clips that can hold a headlamp pretty well. Also, I found these clips easy to use as compared to those that come with upcoming brands.
Apart from the Mammut Wall Rider and the Sirocco, no other can beat the Petzl Boreo in terms of comfort. This comes with an adjustment system that ensures it fits snugly to the head. Besides, it is equipped with removable fuzzy pads that provide extra cushioning to the forehead area.
You can count on any of the above helmets to protect your head when climbing. I have no doubt that you will find a helmet that suits your needs and budget as well. It is my sincere hope that this buying guide will help you choose the right climbing helmet.
How To Choose The Best Climbing Helmet (Buying Guide)
|Image||Climbing Helmet||Best For||Price||Weight||Rating|
|Mammut Wall Rider||Lightweight||$$||6.9 oz||5|
|Petzl Sirocco||Lightweight||$$$||5.8 oz||4.0|
|Petzl Elia||Women||$$||10.1 oz||4.5|
|Black Diamond Half Dome||Value||$||11oz||4.5|
|Petzl Boreo||Value||$$||10 oz||4.4|
Features To Look For In Climbing Helmets
How do you get to know that a climbing helmet is worth the money? Well, the only way to determine is to check the options you have to meet the following requirements.
As much as you are buying to protect your head, it is imperative to purchase one that feels comfortable on your head. In fact, most climbers choose not to wear helmets simply because they are uncomfortable. I am pretty sure nobody wants to spend money on a helmet that you will end up not using.
When it comes to helmets, you have to take into account where the buckles are located as well as the comfort of the tensioning system. Based on my experience, I found that the webbing harness system is better than plastic bands. I am saying this because the webbing provides support and comfort at the same time. You also need to check how the helmet is lined in the interior. Make sure you are choosing the most comfortable climbing helmet even if it means throwing some extra dough.
Before you decide on which you should purchase, check the adjustability aspect. Is the helmet adjustable enough to fit your head? Is the chin strap length adjustable enough to give you the right fit and comfort? A good system should allow you to adjust the fit in a few minutes. There is no need of purchasing a helmet that has a huge adjustability range, only to find out that it takes more than 10 minutes to adjust it.
From my experience with various climbing helmets, I noticed that the click-wheel and slide bar system adjusts easily as compared to the webbing system. The good thing about most climbing helmets is that they come with a chin strap that is adjustable. Besides, manufacturers are always looking for ways to improve helmets in terms of adjustment and comfort.
The inside section of the helmet is covered by foam which protects you against any head injuries. Foam is available in two types; the Expanded polystyrene (EPS) and the Expanded polypropylene (EPP). Let me expound a little bit about these foams so that you can make a better decision.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
The expanded polystyrene has been the most used shock absorbing foam ever since climbing helmet’s were invented. This material is well-known for its ability to absorb a serious Impact. The only problem with EPS is that it crushes and fractures after an impact. Nowadays, EPS is so delicate that it breaks even when it heats the ground. To be on the safe side, always replace your helmet when you spot cracks on the foam.
Expanded Polypropylene (EPP)
Expanded Polypropylene is the latest material that companies are using to make climbing helmets. Unlike EPS, the Expanded Polypropylene foam can absorb impacts without fracturing. Although it’s still hard to find a helmet that uses EPP, I think that this material will be the future of climbing helmets.
What I like about this material is that it’s very effective and durable. Be prepared to pay extra money for a helmet that uses EPP.
Now that you know the different materials you’ll find on the inside let’s see the various options you can find when it comes to shell types.
As you well know, the outside of any climbing helmet must be hard enough to absorb impacts. One of the most common materials used to make the outer shell is:
This material is excellent in terms of protecting your head from falling debris or rocks. ABS plastic shells are generally thick and heavy; you have to be prepared to carry the extra weight. On the other hand, its durability and protection are top-notch.
In case you do not like ABS shells, you can always try out:
They are great for people who don’t want to carry much weight. On the flip side, they must be treated with care because they tend to break easily.
Ventilation is one of the most key factors you should consider when looking for the best climbing helmets. For your information, helmets that don’t have ventilation will make your head sweat like crazy. A good helmet should keep your head cool, comfortable and protected at all times. Make sure the number of vents will not interfere with the protection levels of your helmet. Fewer spaces are good because they will keep you comfortable without compromising on protection.
For winter climbers, make sure you choose a helmet that will keep you warm. This means that you should avoid helmets with ventilation because they will be much of a liability.
Durability has always been an important factor when buying any climbing gear. Every climber out there prefers to have a helmet that will last for long without losing its protection levels. In most cases, the durability of a helmet is determined by the foam and outer shell. For instance, helmets that come with the EPP foam are the most durable as compared to their EPS foam counterparts.
When it comes to the outer shell, I mentioned that ABS plastic tends to offer a lot in terms of durability. ABS is able to resist wear much better than a polycarbonate shell.
Helmets will always weigh differently depending on the materials used and size. You will find some that weigh as little as 5.6 ounces while others weigh up to 14 ounces. As much as 13 ounces is not as heavy as one would think, it is still twice as heavy as the lightest models.
I find light helmets to be the best option when it comes to multi-pitch climbing and long climbs. Wearing a heavy helmet will interfere with your ability to climb especially during long cragging days. Besides, light helmets will always stay in place whenever you look up and down when climbing.
Do you like climbing at night? If yes, make sure you choose a helmet that is compatible with a headlamp. Pick one that can hold almost all kinds of headlamps securely. Check the system that will be used to secure the headlamp and ensure that its the best.