REVIEW: Petzl BOREO Helmet

Wrapping an EPS and EPP foam inner inside a hard ABS shell, the BOREO is Petzl's latest take on the plastic-and-polystyrene hybrid helmet. With a lining that covers the whole interior, it provides more side and rear impact protection than models that feature EPS only in the crown. Combined with a low cut at the rear for maximum coverage at the back of the head, it is a protective design that arguably offers the best of both worlds, shell and polystyrene together.

Built to take hard knocks, an advantage it has over polystyrene-only helmets, the BOREO is well suited to the rough and tumble of winter climbing and general mountaineering. The helmet came out mid January; I've had one on review since the autumn, so it's now done a bit of everything. While it's not particularly light by modern standards, I've been happily using it for trad and even sport cimbing. The BOREO (all Petzl models are annoyingly CAPITALISED) is an all-rounder, though I think it's still fair to say that winter is what it does best.

A good all-round crag helmet, 186 kb
A good all-round crag helmet
© Martin McKenna


The BOREO's hybrid construction is its major selling point. A tough ABS shell guards against falling ice and stones, and protects the softer inside. This inner, a combination of expanded polypropylene (EPP) liner with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) insert in the crown, provides the impact absorption, bike helmet style. Unlike many shell-and-liner helmets, which feature foamy stuff only towards the top of the head, the inner of the BOREO extends right down towards the rim to provide all-around impact protection. More so than with either a plain shell style helmet or a polystyrene-only model, you feel very safe and well covered wearing the BOREO; you can also shove it in your pack and generally abuse it without being unduly worried about damaging it. For mountain use, particularly in winter, that's a good thing.

Head coverage

How much of your head it actually covers is one of the most important considerations with any helmet. In this regard the BOREO does better than most I've used.

Sitting well down on the head rather than perching on top, as some helmets can, it offers a lot of front and side impact protection. The rim drops lower still at the rear, covering the back of the head very effectively. I wear a helmet for two reasons - to deflect falling objects, and to protect my head in the event of a messy fall; while I've not tested it in anger (reviewers have to draw the line somewhere) I'd say the BOREO is very confidence inspiring on both counts.

Cuts low at the back for max coverage
© Martin McKenna

Fit and cradle

Coming in two sizes, S/M (48-58cm) and M/L (53-61cm), the BOREO should fit a good range of heads. I'm a bighead, and my size M/L still has enough room inside to fit over a hat for winter use.

Full EPP/EPS inner for maximum side and rear impact protection, 241 kb
Full EPP/EPS inner for maximum side and rear impact protection
© Dan Bailey

The cradle system will be familiar to anyone who's used a METEOR, an effective plastic headband and slimline webbing combination. Fit, on me at least, is spot on. The flexible plastic cradle fits closely around the sides and rear of the head, and adjusts for size with a simple catch mechanism on either side of the back of the head. This system is very easy to operate and effective, holding the helmet comfortably in position on the head even before you've clipped the chinstrap. I only struggle to use it when wearing gloves. The height of the head band can be adjusted by sliding it up or down the webbing, and when you're in transit the whole lot folds up into the helmet to make it more packable and less liable to damage. Meanwhile, removable sweat-absorbent pads add cushioning at the forehead and crown.

The chin buckle is easily operated (it's a simple plastic clasp, not the gimmicky magnetic buckle Petzl sometimes use), while the webbing is slim to save weight and soft for comfort under the chin. Once everything's clipped and tightened the helmet sits firmly on my head without sliding about at all. I'd give full marks to Petzl for fit and comfort here, though of course all heads are different and you'll need to try it on yourself.

In terms of shape and overall size the BOREO is very similar to the current SIROCCO - medium/high volume, but not the enormous mushroom that some polystyrene helmets seem to be. I've had no trouble fitting it under the hoods of mountain shells and winter belay jackets.


A good all rounder for trad and sport as well as winter climbs, 237 kb
A good all rounder for trad and sport as well as winter climbs
© Martin McKenna

At 314g, my size M/L sample weighs more than Petzl's quoted 295g - enough of a difference for me to comment, but not enough to be annoying perhaps. Compared to the 4th generation METEOR I've been mostly using for the past few years (220g) you could hardly call it lightweight, and less so still when set beside the SIROCCO (c.170g). But this would be pitting apples against pairs. The BOREO is a very different helmet, more robust and arguably more protective than its lighter stablemates. In any case I've found it such a comfy helmet that I've not minded the weight.

A bit sticky in hot weather but perfect for winter, 132 kb
A bit sticky in hot weather but perfect for winter
© Dan Bailey

Mountaineering is arguably its real forte , 122 kb
Mountaineering is arguably its real forte
© Phil Nelson


For a shell-style helmet I think the BOREO does pretty well on ventilation, but you will certainly find cooler headwear. In Petzl's helmet range, the SIROCCO and the METEOR both offer a fair bit more air space for instance. I've used it in warm autumn weather without boiling my brains, but have had a slightly sweaty forehead on occasion, and in hotter conditions one of those other models would be my preference. The flipside to this is of course that the BOREO helps keep your noggin warmer in winter weather, something I've appreciated several times so far this season.

Torch clips and VIZION compatibility

Fitting a torch - in this case a Petzl BINDI, 182 kb
Fitting a torch - in this case a Petzl BINDI
© Dan Bailey

The four robust plastic clips are easy to use even with chilly fingers, and hold a headtorch firmly. I sometimes wonder how secure this sort of arrangement is, but the BOREO's works well.

In addition it's worth pointing out that the hemlet can be fitted with Petzl's VIZION. This tough, flexible transparent plastic visor offers protection to the eyes and indeed much of the face when ice climbing. Having been bombarded with debris one too many times I've got over the habit of climbing ice routes below other parties, but admittedly I do lapse occasionally, and of course there's always the chance your partner will send something down. If you're ice climbing regularly the eye shield is a worthwhile thing to consider, and since the BOREO is well suited to winter it makes sense that it's compatible with the VIZION. In the past I'd heard this was a fiddle to fit, but having done it a few times on a METEOR over the years I'd say it's just an easy ten minute job.


Tough, protective, comfy and well fitting, the BOREO is great value at £55. With head coverage that comes low at the sides and rear, and an impact absorbing lining right down to the rim, the amount of protection on offer inspires confidence. It's neither the lightest nor the coolest of Petzl's helmets, but while it's not the best choice for hotter weather, or fast-and-light purists, it makes up for this with durability. If you're dishing out abuse, the BOREO can take it. For me this makes it particularly good for winter use. If you're just buying one helmet for a bit of everything, from cragging to winter mountains, this would be a great choice.

Petzl say:

Durable and very versatile, the BOREO helmet is suitable for climbing, mountaineering, caving, via ferrata, canyoning. Thanks to its hybrid construction, the helmet is both compact and head-covering. Protection against lateral, front and rear impact is reinforced. Optimized volume on the head and wide ventilation holes make it a comfortable helmet for all activities.

  • Price: £55
  • Weight: 314g size M/L (our weight: Petzl say 295g)
  • Sizes: S/M (48-58cm) M/L (53-61cm)
  • ABS shell, expanded polypropylene (EPP) liner, expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner
  • Hard outer shell is impact and scratch resistant for optimal durability
  • Soft headband conforms perfectly to the shape of the head and folds into the shell for storage and transportation
  • Head-covering design for optimal protection against lateral, front and rear impact: carries Petzl's TOP AND SIDE PROTECTION product label
  • Suitable for climbing, mountaineering, caving, via ferrata, canyoning...
  • Four clips for headlamp attachment
  • Compatible with the VIZION eye shield

BOREO prod shot, 137 kb

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