The equipment is essential in any physical activity, as it helps us do it, even sometimes it is essential to carry it out. But of all these elements, there is one that, in addition to being necessary and protecting us from possible injuries, can be considered our life insurance. We talk about the helmet.
In many sports, it is a mandatory tool. It is the helmet of climbing. We must protect our heads from any object that may fall on us, such as carabiners, safety devices, or only rocks or ice. It can also save us from severe consequences in a fall.
Most essential points about climbing helmets
- The use of a helmet is mandatory in any activity in which our head is exposed to receiving impacts.
- The helmet has to be resistant but also light and comfortable.
- As we will see in more detail in the purchase criteria, helmets must bear a label or inscription, EN 12492, certifying that they comply with current safety regulations.
The best climbing helmets
The market offers various climbing helmets, even some compatible with their use in other sports or physical activities. Big brands of sports equipment are behind these models that protect our heads from blows that, in the worst case, can be fatal. Let’s learn more about some of the best options.
The cheapest climbing helmet – Salewa
The Salewa brand offers this practical, functional climbing helmet at an unbeatable price. It is light, resistant, and made of ABS plastic. The interior is made of foam to resist possible impacts. It has a fully flexible adjustment wheel.
Besides, it has four large hooks for the headlamp, and the pad is removable. Available in 2 sizes and various colors. It has more than 60% 5-star ratings.
The highest quality climbing helmet – Mammut – Wall Rider MIPS Lightweight Climbing Helmet
The best high-end climbing helmet – PETZL Pro Vertex Vent Helmet
This Petzl climbing helmet is not suitable for all budgets, but you will not be disappointed with a high-end product like this if you are looking for quality. It has an adjustable strap system and additional reinforcement in the upper internal area.
Besides, it offers an ideal ventilation system for hot days. It is available in various colors and sizes. It has 86% 5-star ratings and is perfect according to multiple buyers.
The ideal climbing helmet for children – XJD Toddler Helmet Kids Bike Helmet Multi-Sport Cycling Helmet CPSC Certified Adjustable Child Helmet
If you want to start your little ones in climbing, don’t forget the helmet! XJD is a specialized brand that offers a safe and convenient climbing helmet with slots to fix the headlamp.
Available in various colors, it is suitable for cranial perimeters from 47 to 54 cm. It is ideal for sport climbing, but also mountaineering. It is a hard and very comfortable helmet, with an adjustable and padded chin strap. You’ll love it!
The perfect climbing helmet for women – Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet – Women’s
Whether you are a caver or you love mountaineering, this is the ideal climbing helmet for the female universe. The helmet is comfortable, lightweight, and with an innovative headband system. The housing is made of ABS plastic and the lining of polystyrene foam.
According to one of the comments, it is also ideal for girls with long hair for its comfortable accommodation. It has 65% 5-star ratings, which gives us an idea of its quality.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Climbing Helmets
The preliminary information we must obtain about a climbing helmet is its effectiveness in protecting the head. Therefore, the following answers show us the characteristics of the different models, the tests that they must pass to comply with the regulations or the most appropriate types according to their construction, or the use that we are going to give them.
What is a climbing helmet?
The climbing helmet is a safety element that protects the skull from the blows that may be received during a fall and from the impacts of rocks and ice. Therefore, this accessory should be used whenever climbing is practiced, at least outdoors, since this is where landslides can occur that damage our physical integrity.
What are the types of the climbing helmet that exist according to their construction?
The materials from which climbing helmets are made are mainly plastic. All are required to have a minimum of hardness and resistance to impacts, so they pass the necessary tests on complying with the regulations. But, among these materials, we find some lighter than others. Hence we distinguish three main types of helmet:
- Rigid helmets: They are the most robust and durable. Generally, you can use them in all adventure activities, so, typically, they are used in companies that offer multi-adventure services. They are usually made of ABS plastic with an inner pad of hybrid construction.
- Lightweight helmet: Its outer plastic layer is thinner, which reduces its durability, but favors the ability to absorb impacts. It has a molded expanded foam known as EPS. It can be considered a hybrid helmet, a mixture of the rigid ones we will quote below.
- Ultralight helmet: It is the one that the professionals or more experienced adventurers like the most due to its incredible lightness. They are designed as a monoblock with polypropylene or polystyrene (EPS), lacking the outer layer. It is necessary to consider the risk of its reduced protection and the economic cost of its shorter useful life.
What certification does a climbing helmet need?
The EN 12492 standard explains the minimum conditions that a climbing helmet must meet. The energy absorption capacity cannot exceed 10 kn (kilonewton) after being impacted by a mass of five kilograms, either vertically, laterally, front or rear, being the fall distance of two meters for the vertical test, of 50 centimeters, for the other three. Some consider this certification process, which performs more tests than those mentioned, not very demanding in some aspects. Still, it is the European Committee for Standardization who has the decision-making power. There are also multifunction helmets, certified for various disciplines, such as cycling, climbing, and skiing; although, if you are going to practice one, it does not make up for its high price.
How long is the life of a climbing helmet?
The useful life of a helmet depends on the quality of the material with which it is made. In any case, plastics end up becoming brittle, so it is not recommended to exceed five years of use, even one less if we use it a lot. Most manufacturers specify in the instructions the date until which we must use the helmet. Another possibility is that the helmet suffers some damage. If it happens, it’s best to replace it, even if it appears to be in perfect condition. The climbing helmets are to protect the head from the blows of rocks or blunt objects. It is positive that they break after a hard impact since the energy is better distributed.
How does the type of climbing influence when choosing the helmet?
The different modalities that we can practice in adventure sports or outdoor activities, with various surfaces, terrains, and climates, also need a helmet with the appropriate characteristics for each of them. Next, we will see the recommended benefits for the helmet in each type of climbing:
- Indoor climbing: Unless those responsible for the place tell you some particular rule, the usual thing is that you can use a very light helmet with little foam. After all, the rock on which you will carry out the activity is not real, and you will not be in danger of being impacted by landslides or falling objects.
- Mountain terrain: Normally, these are long-term activities in which we carry a lot of weight. The ideal is a lightweight helmet with wide openings for ventilation and bright colors to be located at long distances.
- Ice climbing: We will do without ventilation to protect ourselves from the cold. The hull’s resistance must prevail over the lightness since they are a terrain in which it is highly probable to receive impacts by falling pieces of ice or other materials.
- Climbing with belaying: In this modality, we risk receiving many types of blows to the head, from rocks or dirt to pieces of equipment of your companions. Let’s bet on a rigid helmet and even with a visor to avoid eye area damage.
- Climate: In this section, what prevails is ventilation. For hot temperatures, a helmet with many or extensive openings is necessary. You have to fight the heat and sweating. Against the cold, on the contrary, a fully closed helmet that does not allow air to flow through it is the best option.
What does the climbing helmet protect us from?
The debate over the effectiveness of helmets has yet to be resolved. Many believe that the regulations are not sufficiently demanding and are limited to impacting the impacts received by falling objects on the head. The reality is that most of the blows are from collisions that can affect lateral, rear, or frontal areas. It is true that some climbing helmets have passed tests in this regard and have additional certification, but most still do not resolve this critical issue. In any case, molded expanded foam (EPS) helmets are the ones that offer the most significant protection for those collision situations, which are more frequent than impacts by objects.
What are the most recognized brands of climbing helmets?
The manufacturers of climbing helmets are integrated into the sector of brands that produce equipment for adventure sports. The competition is excellent since many firms are dedicated to manufacturing this type of element; some with many decades of experience, even more than a century, as is the case with Mammut Sports Group:
- Petzl: It is a French firm specialized in the manufacture of adventure sports equipment, such as climbing, mountaineering, or speleology. Founded in 1975, it is based in Crolles (Rhône-Alpes region), near Grenoble.
- Black Diamond Equipment: American manufacturer of climbing, skiing, and mountain sports equipment. This brand makes use of wind and solar energy, in addition to using some recycled materials, in its production chain.
- Mammut Sports Group: A Swiss multinational with a lot of tradition, since it has its origin 160 years ago, although in 2017 it became part of the Conzzeta AG group. Manufacturer of equipment for adventure sports is a world leader in sales of some of its articles.
Climbing helmets buying criteria
When we buy a climbing helmet, we must be clear about what we are going to use it for. Once we know the terrain and the weather conditions from which it must protect us, we will focus on the most suitable product, analyze the material, weight, and fit, and make sure that it complies with the safety regulations.
The first thing we must assess before purchasing a helmet is the type of climbing or activity we will do. In ice or cold climates, a lot of ventilation is unnecessary, but a high level of resistance is necessary to the greater risk of impacts or falls. In less demanding terrain or with high temperatures, lightness and wide openings prevail for air to flow.
The regulations require that climbing helmets be made of plastic materials. The outer casing must be made of polycarbonate with high resistance to mechanical shock. It is the lightest option. Most of the models use ABS material. The interior is made with expanded polymer foams (polypropylene, polyurethane, or polystyrene).
The climbing helmet must be resistant since its function is to protect us from blows to the head. But it also has to be light, especially when we will do some activity that forces us to use it for a long time. However, most of the products on the market are made with materials that provide that lightness.
When we go to buy a climbing helmet, we must make sure that it complies with safety regulations, that is, that it has passed all the tests required by the European Committee for Standardization. If it is approved, a label will appear with the inscription EN 12492. We cannot risk our physical integrity with products that do not comply with safety regulations.
The adjustment system is essential and must be adequate, preventing any type of helmet movement. The chin strap is the strap that holds the helmet below the chin. They have to be padded and cause comfort because sometimes we will use them for several hours. The rear adjusting wheel or similar device completes the hold.
The size in which they are available determines whether they can be suitable for children, women, or men. Most of the models have a wide range of sizes; that is, they are unisex, but others only offer large sizes, and their use is reduced to the male gender. There are helmets with a hole in the back for females, which allows the hair to be collected in a ponytail.
The climbing helmet is a fundamental piece of our team. We would say that even mandatory, although, in individual activities by nature, nobody will demand its use. Let’s not forget that the head is one of the most sensitive parts of our body, in which any injury can produce serious consequences, even death.
To avoid these risks, we must always wear a helmet. The market offers many options and at desirable prices. It only remains to look for the most suitable model for the practices that we are going to carry out, always making sure of the product’s resistance, if possible, combined with lightness and comfort.