/ Why do you wear the helmet that you do?
Anyway, before doing the research for article I had never thought much about what helmet I use beyond it's weight and ventilation. I had only considered what kind of impacts that helmet takes best in terms of not often wearing my foam helmet ice climbing. I definitely hadn't thought about the lack of side impact protection from cradle and hybrid style helmets in swinging falls. And I'm not sure that many other climbers do.
So; a survey: if you wear a lid, why that one? If you have two helmets why do you choose one over the other on certain days?
I bought the one that looked old fashioned and fitted my head. I don't care about technical details - the same goes with ropes etc, ignorance is bliss.
"look cool, be cool, safety third"
I used to have one helmet, BD Half Dome, I bought it in about 2004 because I decided that a helmet was a good idea for general cragging and it seemed to be a popular model that looked durable.
After a few years I realised that on hot days I was tending to leave it at the bottom of the crag when climbing as my head got too hot in it, so I decided to get a lightweight vented one, and thought maybe a "multi sport" one would be nice as it could back up as a cycle helmet for time to time.
I got a Salewa Krypton or Helium (can't remember which) because the Windermere Canoe company were selling them off at £35.
I use the Salewa most of the time, but the Half Dome is used when it is cold enough (I am a bit precious about the Salewa so if anything is going to take a knock I'd rather it were the Half Dome!). Half Dome on winter routes too.
I tried on what climbing rated helmets were available in the local shops then out of the two that were most comfortable on my head (petzl elios and metoer III) I then picked the one that was more robust because I am not gentle with things.
I wear a lid because I'd look and feel much more daft sustaining a preventable injury than I do when wearing it climbing. (Though I also wear it for cycling round town and do look pretty damn daft then, but again same principle)
I use the Petzl Meteor III - for climbing and cycling. I like the dual purpose (it's certified for kayaking too, but I don't do that). Also, I figure with the kind of climbing I do (i.e. not much alpine) I'm more likely to get a head injury from a leader fall than from rockfall. Better side and back impact protection is therefore quite important to me.
It matches my eyes
Because when I went to buy it, it was the one in the shop that fit me properly (I have quite a big head).
That's the only reason :)
I wear a petzl meteor I (or is it II ? the one with the 3 screw in foam bits) in summer and
an WC alpine shield in winter.
the former cos i like the fit and weight and comfort hence ill wear it (a good and v important
consideration) more often/nearly always. ive tried others but its the most comfy.
in winter i expect to get hit by ice from above (well not expect but ..) so want something a bit sturdier.
I like foam ones as they are warmer (well im guessing they are as they are great insulators)
It's still light and it fits ok and bit more protection than the meteor
for winter Iv also a simond bumper which i nearly really like due to construction (foam and robust hard shell)
but the straps are a bit sh1te really so not really very good, perhaps i should invest some time in tweaking the fit
Elios for summer, as it fits well.
Salamander for winter, as it fits well when wearing a balaclava.
I didn't read it, as the post was in the Gear forum and labelled Gear Review. Since I'm not looking for a new helmet, I ignored it.
Mammut Skywalker, the only one in the shop that a) fitted, b) didn't have CAMP plastered across the forehead.
I chose expanded foam because my previous helmet (also foam - the Petzl Meteor III) did an amazing job a protecting my bonce when I boshed it.
This time though, I opted for the Edelrid Shield because it was a smidge lower around the back and sides of my head, and since I bashed my noggin pretty low down on the back of the head I figured that quite important.
More geekily I liked the way you can make it fit snug way more easily than you can with the Petzl, if it doesn't move about I'll basically forget it's there.
Good colours and general grooviness and lightness were not overlooked though.
I can't say I ever noticed having a hot head with the petzl so I can't see the smaller vents being an issue. But I'll be well miffed now if they are............
'Cos I won my Mammut one free in a competition. It is fairly comfortable and does offer pretty good side impact protection. That said it makes me look (more of a ) tit in it.
I have a couple of helmets. I use my old Ecrin Rock for winter stuff, and used to use it for everything (to be honest, I'll probably retire it now and just use one helmet for everything). I originally bought it when there was less choice and it was among the best helmets available. I think it has lived up to its reputation, having shed countless small rocks and lumps of ice.
My other helmet is a Meteor 2 (also about to be replaced) which I bought as the idea of a foam helmet for cragging-type accidents seemed to be a good one. Most danger seemed to be from back and side impacts in a fall. To be honest, I think that I would probably use this style of helmet for all my climbing now, as I think that this one has proven tough enough to take a few impacts before becoming completely useless (and I don't do multi-day ascents).
My reasons for wearing a helmet in the first place were that I originally made a promise to my parents that if they bought me a helmet I would wear it. This was at a time when helmet wearing was a definite minority activity. I soon got used to wearing it all the time, and never really had issues with heat, weight or awkwardness (except the social awkwardness of being the only nerd in a helmet!). The helmet became such a part of my routine that I actually once got totally freaked out on a lead when I had forgotten my helmet!
Because it glows
that is so cool!
I have an Ecrin Roc and wear it mostly when concerned I may tumble or hit stuff in a fall. It's not the best tool for the job but it's the one I have and better than nothing.
I bought it because it's robust (I don't look after stuff) and I used to be more concerned about stuff falling on me than I am these days.
If I get round to buying another helmet I'll be looking for something tough with more protection at the sides and low around the back of my head, maybe a climbing helmet, maybe not.
I bought a Petzl Elios because it was a hybrid, and it was the best of a bad bunch in terms of fit.
As I'm a beginner I'm more likely to be swinging around wildly on a top rope, so I wanted a helmet with foam in it for when I hit my head on something. I didn't fancy the all foam helmets as I also plan to use it for mountaineering and winter, and thought foam only would be a bit fragile, especially when stuffed in a bag with rack etc. I do admit it would be nice to have the foam on the Elios come down to the rim though. I may invest in an all foam one for rock at some point, and keep the Elios for winter/mountaineering. Weight wasn't a major concern as they all feel light compared to a full face MTB helmets.
Grivel Salamander. Because it fits my head. Most helmets including bike helmets seem to press on the top of my head towards the back and aren't very comfy.
I wanted a helmet that didn't interfere with my glasses.
I used to wear a Petzl Ecrin Roc. It fitted on my head and didn't move around. It make me look like a Swan Vesta. Then a buckle broke and it had to go.
Mindful of the gruesome impact it had on photos, I got a Grivel Salamander. It has a hard shell, which suits for ice. It also has a visor, which is brilliant for ice. It doesn't fit very well and is prone to tipping backwards off my head.
I decided that I ought to wear a helmet for rock climbing, and therefore went looking for a lightweight one, with a fabric band at the front, that didn't tip backwards off my head (most, bar the Ecrin Roc, do). I now have a Grivel foam thing, which is light and fits reasonably well. It isn't too bad in the 'damaging impact on photos' stakes either, (unlike the Salamander). It struggles with a headtorch - I use Petzl 'Croche' clips on it when necessary.
I really ought to go back to an Ecrin Roc because of the fit, but I like the foam and headband of the lightweight Grivel one and the visor of the Salamander.
A Petzl Ecrin rock that is out of date, and uncertain provinence because I found it and never found its rightful owner! I also have a meteor 1 that is well out of date, complete with cracks, that I have superglued shut -jobs a good-un..........well maybe not.
As to which I wear, well in winter its the Ecrin, in summer the meteor if I foget about the cracks!! Though I have thought that for winter scrambling and walking on days with bone hard neve that the meteor might be sensible.....
Perhaps time for a new brain-box, but I have a massive bonce and its a right pain to get one that fits.
Yeah I know it's not rated for cycling, it's not so much a choice as what happened as I didn't have a bike at the time I was helmet shopping. I cycle so infrequently now I figure any helmet is better than none. If I cycle more I'll get a cheap cycle helmet for cycling. The elios also keeps the rain out which I appreciate :)
Some will tell you know its not, at least not on societal level, but that's another thread! ;-)
To the chap with the (self described) big head:
Check out the El Cap in the big size (see the review). It seems pretty huge to me.
Its a shame the petzl no longer make the meteor in two sizes. Maybe I'll take a look at the El Cap..
I have a Petzl Elia, because it was the only one in the shop that fitted well, plus I liked that it was a bit more robust.
I wish you'd written this article a year ago! Sounds like the Edelrid Sheild might have suited me, being possibly the right shape for my head (narrow, not round) and available in a small size.
I borrowed a Meteor to try, and it was lovely and comfortable and so light I barely knew it was there... but I kept banging my head cos it made it about 3 times bigger than I'm used to (I have a small head). I had to do the cradle up pretty much as small as it would go, so the helmet stuck out a long way behind my head which became a bit irritating.
I was also a bit concerned about how robust it would be: I don't abuse my gear, but I was concerned about squashing it by accident (e.g. by sitting on my bag).
I bought an Elios when they first came out as for the first time ever a helmet sat low on my pea sized head. I'm a bit of a reluctant helmet wearer but force myself to as it's the sensible thing to do.
After reading a big thread on here years back (you may even have started it) I realised that my Elios was pretty useless for most of the climbing I was doing ie cragging and bolt clipping so got a BD foam type one instead. Again fits my head and sits low enough that I'm not constantly clattering it off stuff. In fact with this one I actually don't mind wearing it and it's so light I sometimes forget it's on.
Now, I wear the Elios when there is a chance of being hit from above whereas wear the BD when there's more of a chance of hitting something (with my noggin).
I have heard the no-helmet cycling debate, but again, if I fell off and banged my head I don't think having statistics on my side would make me feel any better.
In fact I did fall off my bike a month or so ago (no traffic involved, I just slipped on a kerb) and strangely the exact thought that ran through my head as I fell in slow motion was "I'm glad I'm wearing a helmet!".
It's a bit like not taking a compass and waterproofs walking, you might have a perfectly good (or not) reason for not carrying them, but the MRT who have to rescue you in a freak incident probably won't see it the same way!
When I bought mine (Half Dome)the perceived wisdom was that a cradle helmet was the best all rounder and this one fitted me the best.
An erratum for you - the 'head torch clips' on the Grivel Airtech aren't - they're the means by which the harness is attached to the helmet. They are completly useless for attaching a head torch, for which you really need Petzl Croche hooks, which must be bent to shape and fitted with care, because if not they dig into your forehead.
WC RocLite because it was light (not lite, take note Wild Country) was a pretty blue colour, and was on special. If it wasn't for feeling the chinstrap on my beard I'd not know I was wearing it.
This strikes me as a bit of of myth that refuses to die. My first Meteor is now I think 15 yrs old. I used it this summer as I didn't have any other helmet at my parents' house. I'm sure Petzl would say "Non! seez iz not a tres bon idea!" and I'm sure they're right but needs must and all that... But anyways, it was heavily used for 8 or 9 years and never broke cracked or anything like that. My current one is 6 years old and still looks new.
OK, so don't sit on it - but who sits on a helmet anyway? Otherwise I treat mine just the same as any other helmet.
The new BD one has some sort of carbon fibre frame. Looks fantastic but might have a price to match!
Light, fitted well, and most importantly, was half-price at the time when I needed a new one (Edelrid Targa)
> An erratum for you - the 'head torch clips' on the Grivel Airtech aren't - they're the means by which the harness is attached to the helmet. They are completly useless for attaching a head torch, for which you really need Petzl Croche hooks, which must be bent to shape and fitted with care, because if not they dig into your forehead.
I'd assumed they were meant to serve both purposes, and just didn't work very well. If there aren't ANY proper heatorch clips, the design is bafflingly shyte.
Toby, I hope you were able to pass this point on to Grivel - a revised Air Tech with proper head torch clips (and a more stowable cradle) could be a winner.
50 replies to this one too, and still no argument. Is everyone ill?
I bought my Petzl Meteor because it was the only model adjustable enough in the shop to squeeze my dreadlocks into. If I had a less ridiculous hairstyle then I'd have a lot more choice, so that's entirely my fault.
This was quite a few years ago, mind. Should probably get a new one.
Although I like the fact that the Meteor one still has the scrapes on it from a gull attack at the top of the Penon d'Ifach. Makes me think it would withstand most things after that!
I was going to take issue with Toby's sloppy use of 'mandated' but didn't want to introduce any discord.
And I couldn't remember what sort of helmet I had. Or what colour it was.
Not sure - I'll have a look tonight. The hole on the front does make it quite nice on a bike though (it stood in for a while after my bike helmet was sacked - which is largely why I got involved in the headtorch business)
It was very very yellow, and I'd seen some cool ice climber wearing it!
Plus the petzl and wild country ones I tried one perched on my head and felt "woobly".
I stand by my old comments why can't there be as good a range of fitting as the bike helmets, could even "borrow" the internal straps and ratchets and then put a suitable climbing shell on top.
Not quite, as far as I can see. There's a depression in the central groove inside, about the size and depth of a penny, and one slightly forward and on the right (as wearing it) that seems to have the year of manufacture stamped in it.
You sure you don't just have a lump that size sticking out of your head that could have caused the hole?
Perhaps hybrid helmets give adequate protection for front/side/back impacts even if they don't give optimum amounts of protection there, to make this a non-issue. Or is that we have all been misinformed on this down the years? My thinking on EPS (foam) helmets has always been that their biggest plus point was that they were light, not that they actually give up optimum protection for many types of climbing - but actually it seems it should really be the latter issue that the adverts/shop assistants/etc. should be pushing does it not?
I have a meteorII as wasn't wearing a helemt cause I was too hot and then decked landing on side far too close to rock.
originally used edelrid ultra in winter but used meteor exlcusively for a while on weight/fit/comfort. It now has a couple of cracks so new one needed soon. Still 3.5 years of abuse so probably can't complain.
> This strikes me as a bit of of myth that refuses to die. My first Meteor is now I think 15 yrs old.
Mate of mine had his petzl foam lid snapped clean in half by baggage handlers when he flew somewhere in europe. It was in a well packed rucsac.
But only has an obsolescence date or lifespan of 3 years from date of first use.
I did buy my Meteor for cragging and specifically the side impact protection. Having had a look in the cupboard it (a size 2) goes up to 63cm in circumference, as does the Ecrin. I hardly have room for a thin thermal hat under either.
A quick web-surf shows nearly all bone-domes now-a-days stop at 61-62cm including the El cap, leaving me with a choice of just four; Ecrin, Armour, Vertex and Taga; none of them EPS.
So from my point of view for side impact protection, the possibilities have got worse in the last decade and a bit!
Really? That's interesting. Maybe they design them particularly for centres who churn through them quickly?
I think the Grivel Salamader XL goes up to a size 66cm?
Comfort, weight, primarily.
Has to have reasonable coverage, durability and not look shit.
As someone else mentioned, it's pretty easy to leave helmets behind. Being comfortable and light I wear it much more, even on the walk in.
I have a Petzl Meteor III for precisely the reasons you mention. I had a think about how they work and thought that the Meteor will still do a good enough job at saving me from rock/icefall whilst also being better in a fall. Used if for lots of scottish cragging, winter climbing, sports routes but might think twice about a multi-day alpine epic with it. Although to be honest if I'm in an accident bad enough to smash the meteor it's probably time to get off the hill and into the gear shop for a new helmet. Or the hospital.
I wear a Petzl Elios as it fits like a glove, is quite low-profile and weighs absolutely naff all - I can literally forget I'm wearing it (unless there's a chimney involved, in which case there'll be cursing whatever is on my head). I wear it more for things falling on me than me falling into things, so I'm not concerned about the relative lack of side protection. However until you said that I'd not considered it all that much, like you say. I knew that they offered less protection, but hadn't really considered why I might need side protection until you just pointed it out...
Having worn my work helmet cragging a few weeks ago (a Petzl Vertex - my Elios was at the wrong end of the country) I can safely say that I would hate a cradle-style helmet. It felt like a bloody police hat in comparison - far too 'tall' for my liking.
Before writing the piece I had read Jon Griffth's piece on climbing Peuterey-Integral http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/chamonix-conditions/6340572-peuterey-integral-single-push and getting hit on the head. He says it cracked his helmet (a meteor) and he clearly had a nasty concussion. I decided it's kind of impossible to draw conclusions from things like that - the helmet obviously saved him from very serious injury or worse, but could it have protected him from a second bit of rock? Would have an Elios have been any less damaged in such a case? Really really hard to know as each 'event' like that is so specific. But I guess if/when I get chance to climb in the alps again, I'll maybe take my 'winter' helmet.
Lightweight, comfortable, suitable for all use (not foam), looks cool.
Always got on well with Camp helmets.
I like the CAMP Armour*, but the above is the interesting point I think. Looks like most of your climbing is 'cragging' Si, so have you considered that a hybrid might be less "suitable" for that than an EPS helmet? I really hadn't before considering what the standards are, and hence how manufacturers design helmets to reach them.
*BTW, how old is yours? Mine is 4 years old now has some discolouration in the plastic. It's probably nothing in important but I wonder if other people with that helmet have noticed the same.
I should also add, that I can only afford the one helmet and the Slamander can do winter and summer fun. It may be jack of all trades but I can't justify having two very similar helmets.
It does also come a bit further down that the petzl/black diamond alternatives I could try on. Feels closest to my all mountain mtb helmet in coverage.
> Perhaps hybrid helmets give adequate protection for front/side/back impacts even if they don't give optimum amounts of protection there, to make this a non-issue. Or is that we have all been misinformed on this down the years? My thinking on EPS (foam) helmets has always been that their biggest plus point was that they were light, not that they actually give up optimum protection for many types of climbing - but actually it seems it should really be the latter issue that the adverts/shop assistants/etc. should be pushing does it not?
Might it have something to do with the fact that we like to think we'll not have an accident (very often)? So most of the time a helmet is a redundant piece of equipment - ie. comfort and weight are not that important from a safety point of view, but they are important most of the time when we're not having accidents.
Protecting your head on the other hand is very important, but most of the time it's not required - and certainly accidents are not a potential outcome we like to dwell on.
(I probably could have made this point more clearly but it'll take ages and I can't be arsed!)
I was doing a lot of mountain routes and winter stuff when I bought mine, so I went for a hard shell rather than side impact protection. Tempted to get a foam type for cragging, but I have an old generation 1 meteor in a cupboard somewhere that I could use for that.
> I think the Grivel Salamader XL goes up to a size 66cm?
I've already mentioned what I use somewhere higher on the thread, but reading this has reminded me of a couple of things. The first is an accident a friend of mine had while wearing a Petzl Ecrin Rock. He managed to fall off and rip some gear and took a groundfall. He hit the back of his head on a rock protruding from the ground. He was rescued and had a visit to hospital, but suffered no long term affects. The interesting part, is that although his helmet hit the ground first, it was pretty much completely undamaged and I think he still wears it today. The plastic simply deformed a bit, allowing his head to take pretty much the full force of the blow. I think that this incident reinforced my opinion on why I wear a foam helmet for cragging. On the other side of the coin, another friend once took a big inverted fall, and although his back took most of the impact, his helmet also took some of it - this was a Camp RockStar. Although it is a more traditional design, neither of us were in any doubt that it definitely prevented injury to a certain degree.
I've also been hit on the head by lots of things (particularly snow and ice) wearing a variety of helmets, and I can safely say that far and away the best design for this sort of impact (in terms of comfort at the moment of impact) is the old cradle style - they seem to dissipate the load much better than the helmets where there is no air gap between the cradle and the shell.
1. It protects my head.
I once saw a woman sat on the belay half way up Blowin' in the Wind, Mewsford. When someone kicked a rock off the top. it was about the size of a modern yellow pages. It fell clear and landed flat on her head and broke under the impact. She was wearing a helmet and led the top pitch. I have worn one ever since.
2. Its light, in comparison to my old compton.
3. It's easily adjustable, I can get a sun hat under it or a beany .
4. It keeps my head cool when the suns out.
5. I forget I've got it on it's that comfortable.
Aye. I reckon the ecrin roc has been the best of the traditional style lids for a few years now.
I wouldn't mind seeing an updated version of the old HB carbon fibre helmets though.
I guess it smooths out sharp edges on whatever you hit making penetration injuries less likely? But, yes, its not hard to see why having a cm of foam there is preferable!
No idea what make my helmet is. It is hybrid, I think. Its about 10 years old, was new out when I bought it , and I did so because a) it fitted my large head, and b) I was told in the shop it was designed withstand being hit by rocks 6 times, while all their other helmets were only certified to take one blow. It doesn't fit well, is difficult to adjust and so I tend only to wear when belaying at chossy venues, and when doing multi-pitch.
After reading your (excellent) review, I was left wondering: a) do helmets have lifetimes? b) Is it time I traded it in?
Any ideas what make my helmet is?
> No idea what make my helmet is. It is hybrid, I think. Its about 10 years old, was new out when I bought it , and I did so because a) it fitted my large head, and b) I was told in the shop it was designed withstand being hit by rocks 6 times, while all their other helmets were only certified to take one blow. It doesn't fit well, is difficult to adjust and so I tend only to wear when belaying at chossy venues, and when doing multi-pitch.
> After reading your (excellent) review, I was left wondering: a) do helmets have lifetimes? b) Is it time I traded it in?
> Any ideas what make my helmet is?
It looks like an HB carbon, so it's not a hybrid, it's a cradle.
Black Diamond half dome.
Because it seemed light and comfortable. (Orange looks good in photos too)
Seems to do the job, saved me from some serious head trauma last year and although it was unusable afterwards my head at least was still in one piece.
Replaced it with the same model. (The plastic had not deformed but there was a crazy paving pattern in the plastic emanating from the contact point.)
I'm on my second Ecrin rock. Retired the first one after I landed upside down and head first on some pointy rocks from about 10 feet. Saved my life and didn't break although my partner on the day describes seeing the helmet inverting on impact!
> I like the CAMP Armour*, but the above is the interesting point I think. Looks like most of your climbing is 'cragging' Si, so have you considered that a hybrid might be less "suitable" for that than an EPS helmet? I really hadn't before considering what the standards are, and hence how manufacturers design helmets to reach them.
> *BTW, how old is yours? Mine is 4 years old now has some discolouration in the plastic. It's probably nothing in important but I wonder if other people with that helmet have noticed the same.
Bit of a slow reply, sorry!
Ive had mine for about 3-3.5 years. Not noticed discolouration but will have a look. Difficult to know what it would imply too.
Your point about helmet type is a fair one, but I used to do more winter and alpine stuff, and still wouldnt want to buy something unsuitable for those activities. However, I will probably keep my options open and look at all reviews next time im looking to buy a new one.
I'll snap a photo later Si and try and show what I mean.
Yep, its a very fair point. I guess we shouldn't use the word "unsuitable" in either direction (loads of guides and totally hardcore ice climbers use Meteors or example, and the Armour is perfectly OK helmet for rock climbing), but perhaps just that some are more suited to minimise certain risks than others.
I was reading Jon Griffith's blog again recently look at the amazing pics of him and Will Simms climbing in the Karakorum, both with foam helmets. I guess its a very fair argument that the lighter you are, the faster you go, the safer you are and hence that's an acceptable trade off.
If nothing else I hope the article has given people some food for thought and just gives them some more info to make their own 'informed decision' from next time they think about buying a helmet.
The main action the lid sees is me standing up underneath roofs and hitting my head, and it's money well spent just for that. It did once deflect a falling stone about the size of a 20p coin that would've hurt a bit (and it made a huge noise when it hit). I was just standing around the bottom of the crag (that thing you shouldn't do!) which re-inforced the idea of wearing it all the time.
Since then I've also found the Camp Armour to be comfortable, too.
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