Every responsible climber in the world wears a helmet in order to protect themselves in case something happens. All it takes is one accident to happen for people to realize just how important helmets are.
In an ideal world, most people don’t like wearing helmets because they can be cumbersome in general. That is why finding the most comfortable climbing helmet out there is essential for any person who climbs at least a little bit each year.
No matter what a person might be looking for, below is a list of some of the top climbing helmets in 2020. Whether a person is looking for a certain design, or just a certain amount of protection, chances are one of them at the least will be a great fit.
- 1. Fusion Meka Work Climbing Helmet
- 2. Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet Medium/Large Limestone
- 3. Petzl – ALVEO VENT Ventilated Helmet for Rescue Work
- 4. Black Diamond Vapor Helmet
- 5. PETZL – Vertex Vent – Ventilated Helmet for Work at Height
- 6. Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet
- 7. PETZL Picchu Climbing Helmet
- 8. Black Diamond Vector Helmet
- 9. EDELRID climbing helmet Madillo
- 10. Grivel Stealth Climbing Helmet
- Climbing Helmet Selection Tips
- Types of Climbing Helmets
- Top Climbing Helmet Brands
- Questions and Answers (Q&A)
1. Fusion Meka Work Climbing Helmet
This climbing helmet from Fusion shows that a person does not have to spend a lot of money to get something that is pretty high-quality. This is the cheapest helmet to make this list, and it is hard to argue with anything that is under $50 to protect the head.
Out of the box, the helmet looks a little bit heavy and bulky, but one of its main selling points is the great ventilation it has all over the helmet. There are a total of 10 ventilation areas, and it is very cool to wear even on very warm days.
The weight of the helmet is also a pretty nice selling factor, as it is just .7 pounds. Some might question the durability of a helmet that light, but it does a good job holding up after multiple uses.
The straps are not the best from a quality perspective, and they are not that comfortable either. With that said, they are good enough to overlook when it is priced the way it is.
- Most affordable helmet to make the list
- Great ventilation
- Straps aren't the best
- Not as durable as other options
2. Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet Medium/Large Limestone
Black Diamond is one of the most well-known companies in climbing circles, so it comes as no surprise that they have some solid options for helmets. With a hybrid design that is comfortable and very light weight, this half dome helmet can be used in a number of different ways.
Fitting is pretty easy with this helmet, as they have a custom wheel adjuster that allows for fine-tuning. This is good for those people who might sometimes wear a hat underneath their helmet, while going without a hat in other situations. Another thing that helps with the fitting process is that the straps are easy to adjust even with just one hand.
Those people who enjoy climbing in darker weather will be happy to know that it has a spot for a headlamp clip for an easy attachment. They can snap on or off in a matter of seconds depending on the situation.
For a good all-around helmet that can be worn for a long time, this is a great looking option to turn to. It does lack proper chain support, and side impact support is lacking a bit, but other than that it does a pretty good job for the price.
- Very comfortable
- Headlamp clips are easy to use
- Beautiful design
- No chin support
- Not much side impact support
3. Petzl – ALVEO VENT Ventilated Helmet for Rescue Work
Designed originally for rescue work, this ventilated helmet from Petzl can pretty much be used for protection in a number of situations. Thanks to it being very sturdy, comfortable and breathable, many use this to climb in.
Protection of the head is the first thing on anyone's mind with a helmet, and if it's good enough for rescue work, it's good enough for climbing. It really stays on well, thanks to the chin strap, and the two sizes of headband foam. No one has to worry about possibly losing their helmet when they are moving around.
For a helmet that feels very lightweight and can almost completely mold to a person's head, this is the option to go with.
- Extremely sturdy
- Can start to feel too tight after extended use
- Not built specifically for climbing
4. Black Diamond Vapor Helmet
The Black Diamond Vapor has a sporty, modern design that a lot of people love. It also is very lightweight with top of the line materials used to provide ultimate protection. As far as climbing helmets go, there might not be a better one on the market in this price range.
With a polycarbonate shell, the helmet has a low profile without compromising anything. That means a person still gets the same protection and the same durability, but it feels even lighter while moving around.
Adjusting the helmet on the fly is very easy using the ratchet adjuster. The straps are also very comfortable and easy to use. There is even a spot on the helmet for headlamp use, which can also be modded for camera use as well.
- High quality materials
- Low profile
- Very lightweight
- Scuffs a little too easily
5. PETZL – Vertex Vent – Ventilated Helmet for Work at Height
Many people are going to compare this helmet to the Alveo Vent, since they are pretty much the same price and produced by the same company. Although they do share a lot of similarities, there are some differences that pretty much come down to personal preference and how a person plans to use the helmet.
So what is different? The ventilation on this helmet isn't quite as good, but the helmet does seem to be a bit more durable. This option has a few more color choices, which is nice for those trying to find a good match.
Overall, it's another great option to consider for a lot of different helmet uses, not just climbing.
- Great shock absorption
- Helmet stays put during any activity
- Customized fit with multiple sizes of headband foam
- Ventilation isn't as great as other options
- Some color choices are more expensive than others
6. Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet
Mammut isn't a company that is as well-known as some of the others on this list, but they make a quality helmet that many people have trusted for years. Not only is it specific for climbing, but it has a ton of features to make wearing the helmet as comfortable as possible.
The hard plastic shell outside is extremely durable, and it even holds up well with minor contact. Even after months of use, it can look pretty much brand new with just a simple cleaning. It also has excellent ventilation, which is sometimes a struggle for the most durable helmets out there.
An easy to use thumb wheel allows a person to adjust the size of the helmet with just one hand. The helmet is one size fits all, but the one complaint is that that might not be exactly the case. Those who have extremely large or smaller heads might need to go with a different option from another company.
- Very durable hard plastic outer shell
- Excellent ventilation
- One-hand fit adjustments
- Only comes in one size
- Only comes in one color
7. PETZL Picchu Climbing Helmet
There is no doubt PETZL is known as one of the best in the business for climbing helmets. They always seem to have the consumer in mind, which is exactly why this model is so popular with parents. It has a lot of bells and whistles usually found on helmets that are over $100. To be priced at $64.95 is one of the better deals out there.
This option for kids comes with a little bit more bulk than a usual climbing helmet, mostly because parents are going to be extremely cautious with their children climbing. It is designed to fit children between the ages of three and eight, but obviously that can vary a little bit depending on their overall size.
Stability is huge with younger children, and so is comfort. If the helmet is not comfortable, they are very likely to try to take it off whenever possible. This helmet just stays on, and for that reason, it is perhaps the best overall kit option out there today.
- Added durability/shock support for kids
- Stays in place
- Only covers kids 3-8 years old
- A little bulky
8. Black Diamond Vector Helmet
For a truly modern look as a climber, the black diamond vector is an excellent choice to go with. With a matted finish, a minimalist design and many colors to choose from, it is one of the most popular choices out there.
What makes this helmet a very solid option is the technology behind the shell. It has co-molded EPS foam with a polycarbonate shell to keep climbers as protected as possible. A person will quickly noticed the larger ventilation holes, but they are strategically placed in the bright areas so that protection is not sacrificed in anyways.
One cool feature about the helmet is that it is very easy to store when not in use. In fact, the suspension system can be tucked away in the helmet to provide more compact storage.
- Modern design
- Quality materials
- Strategically placed ventilation
- Initial sizing is difficult
- Back strap needs two hands for adjustment
9. EDELRID climbing helmet Madillo
The design of the Madillo helmet from Edelrid might seem a little out there at first, but it really provides a lot of the same protection people are used to out of any type of climbing helmet. It can easily fold up and be stored easily when trying to travel lately, which is always a plus.
The helmet provides a lot of protection despite looking like a rather low profile option to choose. There are people who feel like it does not work well with big heads, but everyone else should be able to have quite a bit of success using it on a consistent basis.
- Modern design
- Folds up easily
- Provides excellent protection
- Not designed for bigger heads
- Size adjustments are a little difficult
10. Grivel Stealth Climbing Helmet
Whether a person opts for the chrome or yellow, the Grivel Stealth is another helmet that is bound to grab the attention of people when climbing. More importantly, it lives up to its billing as one of the absolute best options on the market today.
The outer shell is top of the line. The polystyrene foam used inside molds to a person's head very easily. It it easy to adjust and, it just looks cool. As the company says, why buy a helmet you have to wear when you can buy a helmet you want to wear?
- Very stylish
- Top of the line materials
- Foam molds to a person's head well
- Some might find the two colors too loud
- No flat surfaces on the helmet makes it difficult to mount a camera
Climbing Helmet Selection Tips
A helmet is one of the most important tools for protection during climbing. It is essential to protect the head from any possible impact for sports, such as mountaineering, climbing, caving (and even skiing).
When selecting a climbing helmet, it is vital to pick one that provides equal parts comfort, breathability and maximum protection. This form of climbing headgear must protect your head from possible (and unpredictable) falls or impacts against blunt instruments, objects or even against other people. In particular, it must protect you from possible falls of stones and scratches against the rocky walls during the climbs.
Regardless of the model and type of sport, you need to choose the right size and adjust the helmet correctly. This is the only way to guarantee protection and optimal comfort. Select the right size of the head circumference. The right fit may vary depending on the manufacturer.
Some helmets have an additional adjustment option for a customized fit. Shake your head and check that the helmet does not move. Adjust the strap on the chin and close. The closure should be on the side and not directly under the chin. Move the helmet manually forwards and backwards. Should it move or slip off the head, this means it is too big.
Beyond the physical and technical characteristics of a helmet, the most important factor is the comfort. It is necessary to check that the helmet is adjustable to ensure that it is not too tight but firmly attached to the head. Most helmets have a system on the back of the head, which allows you to tighten the straps. As for the chin closure, the front and back webbing should form a Y around your ears.
Another factor to consider is the ventilation of a helmet. In general, helmets with foam technology are the most ventilated. An excellent example is Petzl’s Meteor.
In the case of falls, the helmet must be replaced even if no obvious damage is observed, the helmet structure and its EPS layer may be affected by cracks and other damage. Modern climbing headgear is made with particular features that absorb the energy of impact, transferring to your head as little shock as possible. Technological research has led to the development of special materials that optimize the absorption of impact energy.
Today, the most used material in the construction of mountaineering helmets is the expanded polystyrene or high-density polystyrene (EPS). It is the best element that guarantees absorption or isolation and at the same time provides excellent lightness. Polystyrene is built with open cells that can close when an impact occurs, thus absorbing the released energy.
The polystyrene cells close in response to a strong blow or contact with external bodies, which allows the protective headgear to absorb the energy before it discharges on the head.
Even in cases involving a blow so violent that it completely closes the cells, the helmet performs its task by absorbing the energy. It achieves the objective by closing the cells until the last moment before the start of the breaking process. The most important aspect is that all this happens before the object hits the head. Clearly, following a strong impact with the following rupture, the helmet is no longer usable and must be changed (it is impossible to carry out repairs to the EPS layer after breaking the cells).
For mountaineering and climbing, always check that the helmet meets the CE EN 12492 homologation standard and or the UIAA 106 standard. Helmets bearing the EN397 standard are intended for commercial use and are not suitable for mountaineering or climbing and similar sports.
Types of Climbing Helmets
All the helmets basically fall into two categories, those with foam and those with rigid caps. Units with a rigid shell have an internal foam serves to keep the helmet in place on the head. It is generally very efficient and resistant, which is excellent when climbing.
In-mold helmet: The outer shell in polycarbonate is welded directly with an inner shell in expanded polystyrene (EPS) in a single piece. By keeping the outer shell thin, weight reduction is achieved. Large openings allow good ventilation, thus avoid getting too hot on the most demanding slopes. In-mold construction is typical of bike, climbing, ski and mountaineering helmets.
Hardshell helmets have a thicker outer shell made of particularly hard plastic or carbon and are attached to an inner shell made of EPS foam, making the helmets slightly sturdier and a little heavier. Externally resistant to impact and internally absorbing blows, they also thermally insulating. The hardshell structure absorbs shocks better.
Hybrid helmets combine the best of both production methods. The upper part is made with the hardshell method (outer shell injected and inner shell EPS) while the lower part with the in-mold method. The end result leaves plenty of space for ventilation openings and ensures good breathability for the head.
The helmets are made with a hard plastic material (usually in ABS or Polypropylene) which is molded (with an industrial injection molding technique) to take the shape of a helmet. The internal polystyrene shell is applied, which is the fundamental part of the good functioning (energy absorption) of the headgear. The polystyrene layer is limited to the upper part of the inner shell.
These helmets have the advantage of having the outer shell made of hard material, which resists blows without deforming or denting. This is the main difference compared to the ‘in molding’ models (which are completely made of polystyrene).
Due to these features, injection helmets are generally less expensive than in-molding helmets, but they are heavier and do not have the same lateral protection guaranteed by polystyrene.
Top Climbing Helmet Brands
The market offers a wide selection of climbing headgear with specific characteristics and properties. In addition to the type of helmet, the design is also important in the choice of a particular model. Some of the top brands from which to choose include Salewa, Black Diamond, Petzl, Fusion Climb, and Tontron.
Pura is one of the well-designed headgear for climbing by the brand Salewa. It is a helmet with a sleek and elegant design in addition to the high protection offered and the strength of the materials. It absorbs shocks and bumps well, protecting the head from any danger that may occur during a climb.
The inner layer in expanded polystyrene and the ABS shell ensure effective coverage and conform to any precautionary need of the most attentive climber. Furthermore, the adjustable ring makes the Salewa helmet extremely practical and adaptable. The model incorporates four sturdy hooks for the headlamp. On the other hand, the Salewa Duro 2.0 is a safety device with excellent ventilation and breathability, thus maximizes comfort during your favorite sports activities.
The housing for the front lamp, which is compatible with any Salewa helmet makes the unit practical and functional even in low light situations. The Salewa Duro 2.0 model ensures a high degree of protection for both beginners and experts. The device is certified and guaranteed by the safety regulations for mountain sports.
Mizar helmets come with a sporty and dynamic design. They are extremely light and comfortable to wear. This Climbing Technology unit is a molding type, thus guaranteeing total protection of the head, both on the top and side. The Mizar mountaineering helmet has four strong frontal lamp hooks and several openings for maximum aeration. The internal padding, washable and absorbent, is comfortable and comfortable.
Vector by Black Diamond is a perfect example of expanded foam helmets. This kind of helmets have an incomparable lightness and they have a layer of foam (often polypropylene) covered by a thin shell. They are more comfortable to wear and are more ventilated. The units are capable of protecting the head in case of impacts against rocks. The extreme model of foam helmets is the Sirocco of Petzl, which features a monobloc of expanded polypropylene without any shell. It is so light that you may forget that you are wearing it.
Selecting a Climbing Helmet: Average Pricing
You can expect to find helmets for climbing priced between $20 and $200 depending on your specific protection requirements and budget.
Questions and Answers (Q&A)
Do you need a helmet for rock climbing?
Yes, you need to protect yourself against the impact of falling rocks and other hazards.
How much does a climbing helmet cost?
You can pay between $20 and $200.
What is the best climbing helmet for large heads?
Manufacturers offer different types of sizes and most helmets are adjustable using straps for comfort. The in-molding mountaineering or caving helmets are made with the fusion of an outer shell (usually in polycarbonate) and an internal one in EPS (polystyrene).
When selecting a climbing helmet, polystyrene is the protective barrier that directly absorbs energy and covers the entire surface of the helmet. These helmets, therefore, have the advantage of protecting even from strong side impacts and are very light. On the other hand, they are usually more expensive than ‘injection’ models and generally have a shorter life span.
Can you use a climbing helmet for skiing?
The lack of certification for a particular sporting activity (skiing) translates to reduced protection.
Can you use a climbing helmet for biking?
It is not advisable to use a climbing helmet for biking.
Elizabeth Sparks received a Masters Degree in geology from The University of Colorado. Elizabeth has been working as a full-time geologist for the past 5 years. In her spare time, Elizabeth participates in rock climbing competitions and frequently goes camping with friends.