I know it's facile to worry about how a helmet looks, but you have to wear the thing for it to work, and we're all more likely to wear something that doesn't make you look a total plonker – if you will excuse the allusion. The two-tone design of the Armour has met with a number of approving comments from climbing partners already. But I guess we should discuss more serious issues. The Armour is hybrid design – a hard plastic shell with a lump of foam inside. It is very similar to the Petzl Elios, a well proven and liked helmet. This style of helmet isn't as light as the lightest all-foam helmets, but is lighter than the older shell-and-cradle designs – making it a jack of all trades if master of none. The Armour has better ventilation than the Elios, making it more pleasant on hot summer days, although it is still not as good as my normal summer helmet – a Petzl Meteor III. But then the Armour is stronger than foam helmets like the Meteor so better designed for winter or alpine climbing.
Inside the helmet is, both against the top of your head and on the headband, lined with a soft, absorbent, open-cell foam. This is cosy feeling, but my preference is actually for closed cell foam like in the Elios because I sweat so much, the absorbent foam just becomes soaked and will release sweat like a sponge if pushed – yuck! If you're not so sweaty or climb on bleak, cold moors and mountains all the time this is unlikely to be an issue. The helmet adjusts very well in seconds, just fiddle a wee bit with the chin strap and turn the wheel at the back. All very user friendly. I've used the helmet on my big head, my wife has used it on her middle sized head, and my four year-old son has worn it on his little head (incidentally declaring it to look “really cool, a bit like a teenage mutant ninja turtle, only red”) and all of us got it to fit securely and comfortably with no problems. My head is quite large and the helmet only just fits if I put it over one of my beanies – as I would for ice climbing. If know you have a particularly large hat size, and want the helmet for winter use, it might be best to check first that it will accommodate both your head and a hat.
So over all, a great all-rounder. Not the lightest but far from the heaviest; not the best ventilated but far from the worse; strong enough for the big mountains but still light enough for weekend cragging; and last but not least – it looks pretty cool and sells at a really good price. And of course, if you buy one in green, you'll look like a ninja turtle, and be a hit with four year olds everywhere.
What CAMP Say:
"The new Armour delivers a precise fit, superior protection and a striking look all at great value. It has a new lightweight moulded thermoplastic shell with side ventilation. A fast and secure adjustment system with a ratcheted wheel system that makes the helmet ready to use. Available in five lively colours to suit all tastes. Headlamp compatible."
Colours: Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Grey
A smaller version of the Armour with great patterns and colours designed specifically for women.
A collection of lids for little climbers. Designed to fit and protect small heads with comfort and care.
CAMP products are distributed in the UK by Allcord Ltd, download a PDF of the UK consumer price list at www.allcord.co.uk
Toby Archer, based in Finland, works as a researcher specialising in terrorism and political Islam for an international affairs think-tank. "Climbing keeps me from getting too depressed by these sort of things." He blogs about both at Light from the North. He is part of the UKClimbing.com Gear Review Team.