Climbing shoes…check. Harness…check. Ropes…check. Nerves of steel…check! What about your climbing helmet?
For some reason, it’s often the most important piece of safety equipment that we forget when we’re about to start climbing. While you’re probably alright without a helmet at your usual crash mat padded bouldering centre, it’s essential to protect your cranium when you’re heading into the great outdoors and up rocky walls. Falling stones (or gear) from above, long drops below and low hanging cave roofs; even with a quality harness and rope, and a lot of muscle power, climbing is a dangerous sport. No responsible climber would head out…. or up…. without first clipping into a hard-shell hat.
- The best climbing helmets of 2021
- Things to consider when choosing the best climbing helmet
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|Product||Best use||Features||Headlamp compatible?||Cost|
|Black Diamond Vector||Alpine and rock climbing||Lightweight||Yes||$$|
|Black Diamond Half Dome||All climbing||Available in a woman specific fit||Yes||$|
|Mammut Wall Rider||All climbing||Lightweight||Yes||$$|
|Petzl Meteor Helmet||Ice and alpine climbing||Allows airflow||Yes||$$|
|Salewa Vega Helmet||Alpine and mixed climbing||Super strong||Yes||$|
|Grivel Salamander Helmet 2.0||All climbing||Suitable for big heads||Yes||$$|
|Petzl Sirocco Helmet||Alpine climbing, mountaineering, big walls||Super lightweight||Yes||$$$|
|Petzl Picchu Climbing Helmet||Climbing and cycling||Removable and washable padding||Yes||$|
The best climbing helmets of 2021
Unsure which climbing helmet is best for you? Well, don’t get your head in a spin. We’ve created this guide to the best climbing helmets of 2021 so that you can spend less time on the web and more time on the wall!
Best use: Alpine and rock climbingThe Black Diamond Vector is a mid-priced climbing helmet with excellent breathability and a lightweight, EPS and polycarbonate construction. These two features make it a very comfortable companion on longer climbs or mountain ascents when the weight of a standard plastic helmet would start to weigh you down. Our favourite feature is its quick release ratchet adjuster. It can be fitted to your head like a glove in just a second. This Black Diamond climbing helmet comes in two colours and a choice of S/M or M/L making it suitable for both male and female climbers.
- Good breathability
- Comfortable fit and easy to adjust
- Not as durable as a plastic helmet
Best use: All climbingThe Half Dome Black Diamond Climbing Helmet is a reasonably priced hybrid helmet constructed with a plastic outer-shell and EPS moulded foam. It’s not the most high-tech helmet on our list, nor the lightest, however it is one of the most durable climbing helmets from the Black Diamond range. It features large side vents which, although not as airy as the Black Diamond Vector, prevents your head from overheating. It also has a quick to adjust internal headband for keeping it in place whilst climbing.
- Durable construction
- Also available in a woman specific fit
- A little heavy
- Limited breathability
Best use: All climbingThe Mammut Wall Rider Helmet is one of the best all-around climbing helmets out there. Its combination of EPP foam and plastic hard outer shell makes it both extremely durable and lightweight. It’s worth noting, though, that the hard shell only covers the top and front section as this is where bumps and scrapes are most likely. The Mammut Wall Rider also features a total of 16 large air vents which allows a decent airflow and also gives the helmet a more stylish aesthetic.
- Durable outer shell
- Quality foam
- Stylish design
- Not quick to adjust
- Headlight fixtures can be a little tricky
Best use: Ice and alpine climbingThe Meteor climbing helmet from Petzl is another highly breathable and lightweight option which is suited to all types of climbing, but particularly useful on long ascents. Its EPS hard foam is impact absorbing while the polycarbonate outer shell has a well-ventilated design.
It also features an easily adjustable headband and chin strap which provides a super snug fit. The straps fold neatly away inside the helmet making it convenient to travel with. The magnetic chin buckle lets you secure and release the Petzl Meteor Climbing Helmet in a flash and with just one hand. It does, however, tend to pop open if climbing on stone with a high magnetic level!
- Easy to open and adjust
- Allows airflow
- Available in 3 colours and 2 sizes.
- 3 Year warranty
- Possible safety issues with the buckle
Best use: Alpine and mixed climbingThe Salewa Vega is the best climbing helmet for large heads. It is available in S/M or L/XL and both models come with an easy-adjust dial for a super secure fit. The Salewa Vega Helmet is also lightweight, weighing in at just under 9oz. Despite this, it’s remarkably strong due to its Carbon Nano Tech Shell and EPP impact absorbing foam. The helmet features large angular vents which disperse heat and make the helmet suitable for summer use. When you do break a sweat there’s no need to worry about bad odours either because the internal padding is removable and washable. Considering all its practical features and the 2-year warranty, you might expect the Salewa Vega to come with a premium price tag, however, we’re pleased to find that it slots into the mid-range price bracket.
- Comes in two sizes
- Suitable for use in hot climates
- Strong and lightweight
- Reasonably priced
- 2-year warranty
- Hard shell doesn’t cover the edges
Best use: All climbing
Grivel offer a simple but effective budget climbing helmet with the Salamander 2.0. Its domed design, impact absorbing polystyrene foam and tough shell may make it a little heavier and bulkier than its lightweight competitors. But it also provides better protection from jagged rocks and excellent durability. Even if you do manage to break its ABS outer, shell the Grivel Salamander 2.0 comes with a lifetime warranty. We particularly recommend the Grivel Salamander 2.0 for climbers with extra-large noggins. This model will accommodate heads of 54 to 62 cm but Grivel also sells an XL version which fits heads of 58 to 66 cm.
- Breathable top vents
- Super durable
- Suitable for big heads
- Lifetime warranty
- Breathability could be better
Best use: Alpine climbing, mountaineering, big wallsThe Petzl Sirocco Helmet is our favourite for long climbs and mountaineering. Weighing in at only 5.64oz, it’s undoubtedly the lightest on the market, but that doesn’t mean you’re not protected. The hybrid EPP shell with an ESP foam crown is designed to balance weight with durability. It also features a total of 24 ventilation holes which allow you to keep a cool head on hot climbs. It secures using a quick release magnetic buckle and the headband and chin strap are fully adjustable. The Petzl Sirocco comes with extra foam and a storage bag for protection whilst travelling.
- Super lightweight
- Stylish design
- Well ventilated
- Higher price tag
- Air vents may allow snow and moisture to enter
Best use: Climbing and cycling
The Petzl Picchu Kids Climbing Helmet fit the heads of growing climbers between the ages of 3 and 8 (48 to 54 cm). It features a combination of an EPS foam liner and ABS hard outer shell which makes this Petzl climbing helmet both durable and hard-wearing without weighing down your child’s head. The adjustable headband fits the helmet securely on the head. Meanwhile, the chin strap can be adjusted, tightened, and repositioned for maximum comfort whilst wearing.
We know how much kids hate to wear helmets which is why we like that the Petzl Picchu climbing helmet comes in a choice of two bold colours and with three pages of stickers (including one page of reflective stickers)! This helmet is also suitable for cycling, with attachments for a headlight, making it both multifunctional and affordably priced.
- Fully adjustable and comfortable
- Removable and washable padding
- Very practical (two helmets in one)
- Well priced
- None! We love this helmet and the kids do too!
Things to consider when choosing the best climbing helmet
Of course, there’s no point buying a helmet which is too big, small, heavy, uncomfortable, hot, or simply, unsuited to your style of climbing. It’ll just end up in the back of the shed with the rest of your bad buys, instead of protecting your head. That’s why we considered the following aspects when selecting the best climbing helmets.
Sizing and comfort
A good fit and high levels of comfort are hugely important factors to consider. Before purchasing a helmet you’ll need to check the size measurements and compare it to your own head for the most comfortable fit. Also look for a padded headband. This part of the helmet sits directly on your head and should feel soft, lightly padded and not get too sweaty.
To ensure you get the perfect fit, the best climbing helmets will also feature fully adjustable straps and headbands. These should be quick to adjust with an easy-dial at the back of the helmet.
External attachments for headlamps or rear lamps are also useful, particularly for alpine ascents which begin before the sun hits the snow.
Consider where you tend to climb; good ventilation is crucial for climbing in hot climates. But it is also key if you know you sweat a lot, or if your climbs are very physically demanding.
All helmets for climbing are constructed to protect your noggin as best they can from being damaged or injured on impact. The type of material that climbing helmets are made out of will have an impact on the weight, durability, and also the price of the helmet.
The most durable helmets usually feature a plastic hard-shell with Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam which is designed to fracture on impact. Alternatively, expanded Polypropylene (EPP) is far lighter and arguably better for long climbs.
Wherever your climbing adventures may take you, we hope you stay safe and protected by nothing but best climbing helmet.
Climb on, happy climbers!