Best Climbing Helmets
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Most helmets come with one of two foam types, either expanded polypropylene (EPP), or expanded polystyrene (EPS). Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a shock-absorbing type of foam that’s been a part of many climbing helmet designs for several years. EPS is a hard type of shock absorber and works well for very serious impacts.
EPS foam on helmets is designed to crush and fracture when impacted while still protecting your head on the inside. However, in some helmet models, like the Black Diamond Vapor and Meteor helmets, the EPS foam can be delicate and fracture all too easily, like when you drop the helmet on accident and the helmet is not even on your head.
Once the EPS foam in the helmet starts to fracture, the foam’s ability to protect your head from impacts decreases. So that means if you have an EPS foam helmet and you notice some cracks on the helmet’s inside, you probably want to replace it for better protection.
The other foam option offered on many helmets, expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam, is made to absorb impact without the side-effect of shattering or cracking. This type of foam is the same kind of material usually made in car bumpers, and it’s far more durable than EPS foam.
There aren’t many EPP foam options available yet on the market, but two of the products on our list here, the Petzl Sirocco and the Mammut Wall Rider both offer you EPP foam features in their helmet’s designs. EPP is so durable and works so well to absorb the impact that most helmets made with it don’t require a polycarbonate or ABS shell, which is always necessary for helmets made with EPS foam.
While EPP foam is currently not the go-to standard foam material for climbing helmets on the market today, it’s popularity is slowly growing since it is a better, higher-quality material option compared to EPS foam helmets. Helmets made with EPP foam tend to be lightweight, durable, offer ample head protection, and also last longer.
If you are on a budget when you purchase your helmet, know that EPS foam helmets are likely to cost you less, but also won’t last as long as helmets made with EPP foam. So, there is a trade-off here with the durability of the helmet, and how much money you really want to save.
You’ll also have less of a choice if you want a helmet with EPP foam since EPS foam is more of the standard nowadays. While the choice is really a matter of personal preference, EPP form does bring you better protection and a longer-lasting helmet.
Historically, climbing helmets haven’t always been made with the goal of great ventilation in mind. Nowadays, though, climbers want helmets that can breathe, so standards are starting to change, and many manufacturers now make helmets that do offer ventilation capabilities, although not all helmets are equal in the breathability range.
If a climbing helmet doesn’t have great ventilation, it won’t feel comfortable on hotter days, and your head will feel so hot you might not even want to wear the helmet—certainly a downside since you want that head protection when you climb. However, nowadays manufacturers are getting increasingly more innovative with ventilation in climbing helmets, and many of the helmets we’ve listed here come with vents and other breathable features.
While ventilation in a climbing helmet is important, a manufacturer that goes overboard with ventilation in a climbing helmet’s design won’t significantly help you, either. The more ventilation and open spaces in the helmet, the less material you have protecting your head in case of impact. So, while you want some ventilation with a helmet, you don’t want one that’s got too many vents and brings down the level of head protection you’ll want when you climb.
Also, helmets that come with more vents tend to be less long-lasting and durable the more you use them. And if you only plan to climb in the winter, you might not particularly want a well-ventilated helmet, but instead, want a warm head and better protection during the colder weather.
If you plan on climbing often during the warmer months, then you will want a helmet with decent ventilation. However, make sure you pick a design that doesn’t overdo the vents and still offers good head protection and comfort. Once you know how, when, and where you plan to climb, you can decide how much ventilation, if any, you really need in your climbing helmet.
Climbing helmets can vary widely in weight depending on the make and manufacturer. Typically, most helmets will weigh anywhere from 5.1 to 12.5 ounces, although there are some helmets out there that can tip the scales with even heavier weights.
Depending on how much weight you can handle on your head, and how comfortable the helmet feels overall, weight can really make a difference to many climbers over time. If you plan to be out on longer climbs, you might feel that heavier helmet’s weight far more than you planned, which can be both frustrating and irritating when you’re trying to enjoy your climb.
If you’re going to be doing any multi-pitch climbing, or know you’ll be wearing your helmet all day long, then you’ll want to opt for a more lightweight helmet so that you feel comfortable for many hours. Heavier helmets worn on all-day trips can feel terrible on your neck after some time, and make you prone to wanting to remove your helmet, taking off your head protection—something nobody really wants. Lightweight helmets also generally don’t move around on your head and are designed to promote a better, more comfortable fit—all benefits for those climbers who will be outdoors all day.
If you do opt for a more lightweight helmet, know that there is often a trade-off between weight and durability on some helmets. The one exception on our list is the Petzl Sirocco, which is very lightweight and still very durable, because of its EPP foam. However, that’s more the exception than the rule when it comes to durability.
If you are a more casual climber and know you’ll only be out for a few hours a couple of times a month, you might be able to save a bit of money by buying a heavier helmet. Really, how light you need your helmet to be will depend a lot on your own comfort and climbing plans, so adjust your options as you see fit.
Helmet comfort is a very important feature for many climbers since a helmet you know to be uncomfortable means you are far less likely to wear it when you need it. If you aren’t wearing the helmet because you don’t like how it feels, you’re not getting any head protection—so make sure you pick something that feels very comfortable to you when it is on your head.
Comfort is mostly a subjective feature, and how well you feel a helmet fits you will depend on your head shape. Some helmets fit more comfortably on larger heads, while others feel better on smaller heads. What you should do before purchasing a helmet is go to a store and try on the helmets you are interested in to actually feel out their comfort level as it applies to you.
Trying the helmets on is probably your best bet to assess how comfortable you feel in a helmet. So, after figuring out a few helmet models you think sound great, take them for a test run to see how they feel. You’ll know once you’ve found the perfect helmet for you.
Top Ten Climbing Helmets
1. Black Diamond Half Dome
Black Diamond redesigned their most popular climbing helmet, introducing the new and improved Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet to make it fit more comfortably. Black Diamond’s Half Dome Climbing Helmet is made to feel great and also includes new weight-saving features, making the new version of the helmet 40 grams less than the older model.Read more
The Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet includes a stainless steel pick with a canard wing which gives you a built-in dual-density touring grip when you use the helmet. Plus, this lightweight helmet can compact down to 68cm, making it very portable.
Most of the padding in this helmet sits high on the head. This allows for more breathability through the windows on the sides. However, reviewers say that over time, they did still get a bit sweaty.
The Small/Medium helmet weighs 11.6-ounces and the Medium/Large helmet weighs 12.3-ounces.
The Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet is made for versatility and can handle just about any type of climb, whether you are trag cragging or going on alpine expeditions. The new version of the helmet features a custom-designed wheel adjustment, allowing you to more easily adjust your helmet for comfort while you are on-the-go.
The Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet also comes in a variety of colors and is made in two different sizes. With its adjustable features and durability, it’s an efficient and safe helmet that offers excellent head protection during any type of climb.
2. Singing Rock Penta
The Singing Rock Penta Climbing Helmet offers an affordable, well-made helmet choice that offers high-quality durability and comfort. While Singing Rock isn’t one of the most popular brand makers as far as climbing gear is concerned, you really shouldn’t overlook this helmet because of that, since it’s got several great features and benefits that come with an inexpensive price tag.Read more
Singing Rock’s Penta Climbing Helmet is so comfortable and feels so light when you wear it, it’s hard to notice it’s even on your head until it works as a shield to protect you from falling rocks. Made with a hard PC shell, this helmet will keep sharp objects out, and the PS foam on the inside of the helmet will absorb any impacts from falls.
Also made with eleven large vents for good ventilation, this helmet is made to offer comfort and protection. This helmet is also designed with a flexible rear retention system that includes adjustable straps both on the chin and at the back of the helmet.
This helmet is exceptionally lightweight! It weighs only 7.2-ounces.
The Singing Rock Penta Climbing Helmet comes designed with the same types of EPS materials used in some pricier helmets described above, and it’s still fairly lightweight. This helmet doesn’t come with a plastic suspension system, which makes it comfortable but a bit more difficult to adjust; however, if you can live with that, this helmet is well worth the price.
3. Black Diamond Vapor
The Black Diamond Vapor Climbing Helmet is one of the lightest climbing helmets you can find on the market today, and it’s made to give you great ventilation and comfort for all styles of climbing. With several vents on the rear and sides of the helmet, the Black Diamond Vapor Climbing Helmet offers excellent breathability features.Read more
The Black Diamond Vapor Climbing Helmet is not only lightweight and offers great ventilation, but it’s also made to provide excellent strength and durability to protect your head. In this helmet, there are Kevlar and carbon rods molded into the foam, which makes the foam strong and also allows it to be thinner, decreasing the overall weight of the helmet.
The Black Diamond Vapor Climbing Helmet is made to be breathable and lightweight while offering a low-profile helmet option. It’s designed with a ratchet adjuster with molded push buttons and includes a geometric, open-air design for great breathability.
Another super lightweight helmet here! The Small/Medium size weighs only 6.6-ounces and the Medium/Large weighs 7-ounces.
The rear area of the Black Diamond Vapor Climbing Helmet includes a lightweight rigid plastic adjustment band with a minimal harness, making adding to its lightness while also providing decent adjustability. Plus, the headlamp clips on this helmet are removable, so you can use them as you see fit.
4. Petzl Elios
For climbers shopping around on a budget, the Petzl Elios Climbing Helmet offers many features and options that make it versatile and effective for most types of climbing. The new version of this helmet brings you two large buttons that do require two hands to adjust but make the helmet fully adjustable and very comfortable.Read more
The Petzl Elios Climbing Helmet was designed with comfort in mind, and its adjustable features along with an ABS shell over polystyrene foam make it a soft-feeling “hardshell” type helmet. This helmet is also made to be durable and provides ample protection against head impacts with its ABS shell and polystyrene foam liner, which will keep your head safe.
The versatility of the Petzl Elios Climbing Helmet makes it effective for just about any type of climb. It has excellent comfort, adjustability, and ventilation make it a good all-around, affordable helmet for those buying on a budget. The ventilation windows are almost perfectly placed to cool you down. You’ll always be protected no matter where you climb with this helmet.
This helmet weighs 10.8-pounds. It is not as lightweight as others on our list, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
The Petzl Elios Climbing Helmet is also totally adjustable and can fit any head shape. Designed with sliding ventilation slots, you can open and close the vents as you see fit, and depending on the weather conditions you encounter.
5. Edelrid Shield II
If you need an affordable, decent climbing helmet and are shopping on a budget, then the Edelrid Shield II Climbing Helmet is a bit less expensive than some of the other helmets on our list, while still providing a lot of protection and comfort. For its price, it’s got a very nice fit and feels great overall, offering the comfort and versatility you need for all styles of climbing.Read more
The shell of the helmet is made from polycarbonate and the foam is made from expanded polystyrene. The versatility of the Shield II is hard to beat, as it is made with ten vents for great ventilation, headlamp compatibility, and an efficient spin wheel adjustment system.
The Edelrid Shield II Climbing Helmet is not quite as lightweight as some other helmets we’ve listed here, but the feeling when it’s on your head makes it seem almost like it is lightweight, since it’s so comfortable.
About average in weight, this helmet weighs 8.75-ounces.
Plus, this helmet is made to stay in place so it won’t slide around or irritate your skin or create any type of frustration, it can take a lot of abuse, and its profile is both slim and breathable. The comfortable chin strap that comes with this helmet helps the fit and comfort.
For its price range, it’s great ability to fit on your head and feel comfortable makes it a real steal, since its strength and durability will also provide you with the impact resistance you need when you are climbing. Plus, the helmet is very versatile and since it’s adjustable and fits so well, it’ll feel great and give you the protection you want.
6. Petzl Meteor
The Petzl Meteor Climbing Helmet offers excellent head protection and is known on the market as a very reliable product. Petzl’s new version of their Meteor Climbing Helmet offers a few new and improved updates on the old version, and still, retails at a similar price.Read more
The shell is made from polycarbonate and the foam liner is made from expanded polystyrene. The new Petzl Meteor Climbing Helmet also features an excellent magnetic buckle that is used to fasten the chin strap, creating a faster, one-handed option for clipping the buckle and also creating a more adjustable fit. Made to be both durable and comfortable, the Petzl Meteor Climbing Helmet is a versatile product for climbers that enjoy a bevy of different climb styles and activities.
There are large vents on the sides, front, and back of this helmet for excellent breathability. You’ll feel the breeze whether you are ascending or descending.
This helmet weighs in fairly average, with 8.5-ounces.
The new version of the Petzl Meteor Climbing Helmet comes in two different sizes, instead of the original version’s one-size-fits-all take. The old style of this helmet fit medium to large head sizes only, but the new two-size option provides a better fit selection for those with smaller heads.
Another nice benefit of the new Petzl Meteor Climbing Helmet is that it’s now available in four different colors, although not all colors come in all sizes. Plus, this helmet also has the CE EN 12492 and UIAA certification for climbing and mountaineering, making it one solid, strong helmet choice.
7. Mammut Wall Rider
Made to be both lightweight and durable, the Mammut Wall Rider Climbing Helmet is fashionable, stylish, and innovative. The helmet includes a combination of lightweight, durable EPP foam along with a hard shell style and appearance, making it attractive to look at while it still offers many features and benefits that will protect you while you climb.Read more
To keep the helmet lighter in weight, the hard shell area only covers the top and front areas of the head—but these are the areas where the impact is most likely to happen, so there is still ample head protection on this helmet’s design. It includes a reinforced helmet shell that also utilizes a robust hard shell, so your head will be protected well in case of an impact.
Also, this helmet is designed with several ventilation openings that can help breathability when the weather is warm outside.
Slightly lower than the average climbing helmet, this one weighs only 7.9-ounces.
The Mammut Wall Rider Climbing helmet is made to be comfortable and offers an easy adjustment system to make sure the helmet always sits well on your head. The adjustment system allows you to keep the helmet light, but the helmet is still adjustable enough to make it fit your needs when you are climbing. Plus, the helmet also comes with two clips and an elastic strap in case you want to attach a headlamp to the helmet.
8. Black Diamond Vector
The Black Diamond Vector Climbing Helmet brings you a lightweight, affordable, and versatile climbing helmet that’s made to work as you work. Affordable and versatile, you’ll get what you need from this helmet. While it might be as durable as some other models, it is lightweight and comfortable and will protect you wherever you find yourself climbing.Read more
Made to be lightweight, the Black Diamond Vector Climbing Helmet is made out of expanded polystyrene that is covered by a thin polycarbonate shell.
With large ventilation ports for excellent airflow, the Black Diamond Vector Helmet brings you comfort and protection for all of your climbs. It also comes with a tuck-away suspension, which helps make the helmet compact and portable when you need to store it away.
About average, this helmet weighs 8.1-ounces.
The Black Diamond Vector Climbing Helmet also has excellent ventilation and a good buckle for adjustability, making the helmet fit comfortably. This helmet is also durable, fully adjustable, and comes with a high-performing headlamp attachment so that you won’t miss anything when you climb.
The Black Diamond Vector Helmet includes a ratchet adjuster with molded push buttons, making the helmet easy-to-adjust with the use of just one hand while you are on the move. It also comes with in-mold headlamp clips, making the headlamp attachment very secure.
9. Petzl Sirocco
Petzl’s Sirocco Climbing Helmet is made to be a very light and comfortable-fitting helmet and offers a lot of protection as long as you can get past its interesting construction and look. The Petzl Sirocco Climbing Helmet includes an innovative magnetic buckle feature for easy adjustability while on-the-go, and is made with super light polypropylene foam.Read more
Not only is the Petzl Sirocco Climbing Helmet made to be lightweight and comfortable, but it’s also durable and safe. The helmet includes a polycarbonate crown that helps to shield you from falling rocks, and the expanded polypropylene foam on the inside decreases the level of impact you’ll feel if anything hits your head.
Petzl’s Sirocco Climbing Helmet is also made with good ventilation and includes wide holes. The helmet comes with CE EN 12492 and UIAA certifications, meaning it’s efficient, effective, and reliable for any climb you decide to embark on while outside.
This is currently the lightest helmet on our list. It weighs only 6-ounces! Many reviewers compliment the overall comfort and appreciate the fact that it doesn’t make a big impact on their equilibrium or how they feel when climbing.
The materials used in the Petzl Sirocco Climbing Helmet adds some flexibility to the helmet, creating better comfort and also helping to absorb impacts if you do incur one. Plus, it’s made to be one of the lightest helmets out on the market today—probably which also helps make it so comfortable.
10. Mammut Skywalker 2
Mammut’s new and improved Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet is made with an upgraded durable hard plastic shell and a tougher EPS interior for better head protection. The Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet is also designed to be well-ventilated as a climbing hardshell helmet with an ergonomic fit.Read more
The outside of the helmet is made from a durable plastic shell. Inside the Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet, the new and improved EPS inner material helps to absorb impact and provides you with better overall head protection.
The helmet also features eight vent openings for better breathability and headlamp clips that can be integrated into the helmet.
This Mammut helmet weighs in as one of the heaviest helmets on our list. It weighs 13.4-ounces. Some reviewers have mentioned that it does feel slightly heavy on their head as well.
The Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet also comes with a thumbwheel that provides you with quick, one-handed helmet adjustment so that you can adjust the fit while you are on-the-go. Plus, the improvements made to the new design of the Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet make the helmet stronger, more durable, and more long-lasting.
The Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet comes in one size and offers an all-around adjustable chin strap to help provide a better overall fit. It’s versatile and durable enough to protect your head no matter where you decide to climb, and it also comes at an affordable price.
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