October 13, 2021

How to Choose a Climbing Helmet

In any form of climbing, a helmet is vital in preventing your head from being struck by falling objects. It still protects you from swings, ground fall, and when you suddenly stand in small spaces.

Climbing helmet styles have evolved considerably in the last ten years. For now, some helmets are more stylish, safe, and lightweight. 

As such, climbers have lots of options to consider. Needless to say, how to choose a climbing helmet could be a puzzle. 

Below we will look at how helmets should fit, choosing a helmet based on the type of climbing, the material used in helmets, and the features of a good climbing helmet

How Do You Match a Helmet with Your Type of Climbing?

Rock Climbing Helmet Styles

1) Mountain climbing and multi-pitched traditional climbing 

Lightweight and adequate airflow is essential when hauling a lot of gear and wearing helmets for longer durations, all of which you go through when mountaineering. 

In this scenario, think of a helmet with a shelled design. Mountaineering helmets should also have a bright color. This way, if there are whiteout conditions, your teammates will easily see you.

2) Ice climbing 

During ice climbing, you are likely to be exposed to a lot of debris falling from the rock’s surface, so choose a complex shell helmet with small air spaces. 

Remember, you don’t need any cooling. As such, the holes in your helmet should be reduced as they may let in debris that falls in your direction. 

3) Warm weather sport climbing 

Shelled foam climbing helmets with the most ventilation are recommended for warm-weather sport climbing.

4) Cold weather or non-multi pitch climbing

With single-pitched climbing, you may exchange the pleasure of a shell foam design for the sturdiness and pricing of a hardshell helmet.

Climbing Helmet Styles

5) Belaying

Wearing a helmet while belaying is crucial, as you are exposed to falling rocks and dropped gear. 

But in this case, you need not have a specialized helmet: Just put on any climbing headgear you have. 

6) Indoor climbing

In indoor climbing, whether a helmet is required depends on the rules of the gym and the liability release. 

If you have to wear a helmet, a cool, lightweight shelled foam is a good choice because rockfall is not an issue.

Why Should You Consider Safety when Buying Climbing Helmets? 

When purchasing a helmet, keep your safety in mind above everything else. Avoid buying a secondhand helmet since even a single strong impact in its prior life might compromise the product’s capacity to disperse impact. This means that the rock’s impact will be more significant the next time you get stuck.

Helmets usually feature safety ratings that also indicate their lifespan. Besides, it shows the maximum impact pressures it can withstand and other essential information, so make sure to go through them before you order. 

Most helmets may remain functional after minor accidents. However, it is strongly advised that you replace them, should they be subjected to a significant impact.

How Do You Match a Helmet with Your Type of Climbing

Other Features to Look for 

When purchasing a helmet, there are more alternatives to explore. For starters, if you want to stay up late or want to explore the recesses of a cave, flashlight-clipped helmets are ideal. 

If you’re performing any high-output climbing or mountaineering in higher temps, you should also contemplate ventilation. Certain helmets still let you install a visor; consider this when you are doing ice climbing.

Climbing Helmet Styles

Climbing helmets are classified into three categories: hard shell helmets, foam helmets, and hybrid helmets. Like most products, these categories also have their pros and drawbacks:

1) Hard shell helmets

A hard shell helmet is similar to the hard helmets worn by construction crews. To disperse the impact through your head, it uses a rigid shell with a web shock absorber. 

A hardshell helmet is exceptionally robust and gives the most comprehensive variety in sizing for one helmet. 

It’s, therefore, ideal when more than one person wears a single helmet. Somewhat on the drawback, hard shell helmets are typically hefty, clumsy, and poorly ventilated.

Why Should You Consider Safety when Buying Climbing Helmets

2) Foam helmets 

A foam helmet is not much different from a bike helmet. It’s typically made of foam, expanded polystyrene, which absorbs the force of an impact. 

At the top, it has a light coating of polycarbonate to guard against minor bumps and bruises. Foam helmets are considerably lightweight, but they are fragile yet more expensive than other helmets.

Hybrid helmets 

On the other hand, a hybrid helmet is precisely what the name implies. It’s a combination of a hard shell and foam features. 

They combine thicker ABS thermoplastic shells with some EPS padding. This combination results in a rounded light helmet that’s durable and reasonably priced. They are sometimes called low-profile climbing helmets.

How Should a Helmet Fit Your Head? 

The size of climbing helmets is not fixed. Variations are hinging on the flexibility of different styles. Usually, they have straps that allow you to modify the fit while you’re on the road. It’s also helpful when temperature fluctuations cause expansions. 

Helmets for adults are typically calibrated in centimeters, ranging from 48 centimeters to 61 centimeters. Fasten the helmet on your head, tie the straps and move your head. 

The helmet should remain tightly rooted when you move your head. Alternatively, you can use a tape measure to get the correct measurement. You should also see if it allows room for adjustment. 

Helmets for Small Heads

Further, make sure the outer shell is sturdy, and the foam casing is soft. Your helmet must be comfy, well-fitting, and sturdy. Several mountaineering helmets are available in sizes S-XL depending on the cm measurement system, and they may vary depending on the manufacturer.

Climbing helmets are meant to be adjustable since, unlike a pair of trousers with a specific inch waistline, these are quite a generic item. So you have to ensure it has side tightening dials and toggles to allow for form modification. 

Ideally, the fit ought to be centrally placed! An appropriate helmet must not obstruct your eyesight. However, to provide enough protection, it should somehow overlap your forehead. Your forehead needs to be protected as well as the posterior part of your head. 

Finally, the proper fit of a climbing helmet should eliminate additional stress at the ears while remaining noticeably flexible. However, there are some climbing helmets for big heads and some climbing helmets are designed for small heads.

Every mountaineering helmet includes a built-in mechanism that keeps the canopy of the helmet elevated above your head. This minimizes heat accumulation, and this is wherein the helmet’s competence resides.

Final Thoughts on How to Choose a Climbing Helmet

While it is certainly pleasant to feel the wind blow through your hair on the rock face, the enjoyment of such a sensation should not outweigh the possibility that falling rocks could seriously injure you. 

It is far too dangerous not to wear a helmet, and you should not prioritize aesthetics over Safety. A helmet is an absolute must!

If you are bamboozled with the varieties of helmets in today’s market, go through the above to stay on track or read further one of our dedicated articles for the climbing helmet with face shield, climbing helmet with ear protection, or women’s climbing helmets.

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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