There’s a lot of preparation that goes into a good climb. But before you get excited about accessories like shoes or harnesses, be sure to pick out a quality helmet. Climbing helmets can be the difference between life or death in an accident, so you’ll want to pick out a helmet that matches your climbing style to ensure maximum safety and comfort.
To complete your climbing gear kit, make sure to also check out our articles on the best climbing harnesses, ropes, quickdraws, and shoes.
Comparison Table of the Best Climbing Helmets
Below is a list of the best rock climbing helmets. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
What to Look for in a Good Climbing Helmet
With several things to consider before purchasing your perfect climbing helmet, we’ve listed the most important below…
1. Foam Types – EPS vs. EPP
This is the barrier which is going to be the most important when it comes to protecting your head from impacts.
a. EPP (Expanded polypropylene)
This foam is designed to absorb impacts without shattering. It’s more durable than EPS and the material is found in things like car bumpers. These helmets are more expensive because they’re not only lighter but also more protective and durable.
b. EPS (Expanded polystyrene)
For a long time EPS has been the most popular shock-absorbing foam in climbing helmets. It’s very hard and it can protect your head from a serious impact. However, it will only protect your head from one impact. After that, its integrity is compromised and you’ll have to get a new helmet.
2. Shell Types – Polycarbonate vs. ABS
While the foam type determines what’s inside the helmet, the shell material determines what’s on the outside.
Polycarbonate helmets are light, making them the best helmets for long climbing days. While that’s appealing to some, keep in mind that it also means the helmet is less durable, so it’s important that you treat it with care both when climbing and when storing it.
ABS helmets can absorb pretty major impacts and protect against falling debris. This also means they’re heavier, thicker, and more durable. In addition, they tend to be cheaper.
Depending on the climbing you’re doing, you may cross a lot of different types of terrain in a variety of different climates, and the last thing you’ll want is a helmet that doesn’t fit properly. A good helmet should be snug but still comfortable. If you nod your head and the helmet moves then it’s too loose. Climbing helmets have two points of adjustability the head strap and the chin strap. If you’re going to be moving around a lot, it’s important to have a helmet which is easy to adjust when on the go.
4. Weight and Comfort
It’s important to consider what type of climbing you’ll be doing before purchasing a climbing helmet. Some helmets are heavy and thick while others are light and thin. The one which works best will depend on what you’re doing. If you tend to have long cragging days or prefer multi-pitch climbs, a lighter helmet is likely to suite you better. If you’re climbing a well-traveled route and falling rocks aren’t very likely, a thin, light helmet may be fine for you. However, if you plan on blazing trails in new climbing areas then you may want a heavier helmet which offers more protection. Another thing to consider is how long you’ll be wearing the helmet, because the extra weight on your head can quickly become unpleasant.
The number of vents you’ll want will be based on what climates you typically climb in. For summer climbers, more ventilation is often better because you won’t want your head to be burning up while you’re climbing. On the other hand, if you prefer things like ice climbing you’ll want a helmet with less vents to keep your head as warm as possible. Also keep in mind that the more vents there are, the less your head is protected. So even if you’re climbing in a warmer climate, if falling rocks are likely then you may not want a helmet with too many vents.
Best Climbing Helmet Reviews
No matter your climbing style or frequency, below is a list of helmets to fit your needs.
Mammut Wall Rider
Whether you’re doing alpine, trad, or sport climbing, the Mammut Wall Rider is among the best lightweight climbing helmet options on the market. Thanks to its expanded polypropylene (EPP), the helmet weighs less than seven ounces, but it’s partial hard shell reinforcement provides maximum impact absorbing properties. It has 16 large vents for optimal breathability, and the chin and rear straps are fully adjustable to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. The Mammut Wall Rider has two front clips with a rear bungee strap to keep your headlamp securely in place for evening climbs. This lightweight, low-profile, well-ventilated helmet is one you’ll surely love to wear when climbing.
Black Diamond Half Dome
This updated model still has the tried-and-true construction of its predecessor with new features which make it even more popular. The helmet’s co-molded EPS foam is covered by a low-profile polycarbonate shell for impact protection. It also has a low-profile suspension system with a one-handed adjustment dial. The chin strap was made to be easily adjustable to ensure the helmet is both comfortable and secure. The helmet boasts streamlined and lightweight clips so you can attach a headlamp. The helmet comes in two different sizes (small/medium and medium/large) with the smaller size weighing 11.6 ounces and the larger size weighing only 12.3 ounces. The Black Diamond Half Dome is a favorite among all types of climbers.
The Petzl Sirocco will armor your head without weighing it down. It weighs just 5.64 ounces thanks to the hybrid design which boasts an EPP foam shell and a rigid crown injected with EPS foam. It has 24 wide ventilation holes as well as an adjustable headband and a magnetic buckle on the chin strap to offer additional comfort. You can easily attach a headlamp and the helmet is also compatible with the Vizion eye shield. Along with the helmet you’ll receive spare foam and a protective storage bag. You’ll be protected from rear and lateral impact in an ultralight helmet package when you choose the Petzl Sirocco.
The Petzl Boreo is easily one of the best climbing helmets available. The hybrid construction makes for a compact helmet and is made up of a thick ABS crown with EPP and EPS foam liners. The outer shell resists abrasion and impact while offering reinforced protection against front, rear, and lateral impacts. The helmet has eight vents for breathability and four clips for a headlamp attachment. You can also add the Vizion eye shield if you’d like. It comes in two different sizes and they both weigh only about ten ounces. Whether you’re climbing, canyoning, caving, mountaineering, or via ferrata, the Petzl Boreo is an ideal option for your outdoor adventures.
Black Diamond Vapor
The Black Diamond Vapor was created with a focus on weight, breathability, and comfort. The in-mold helmet construction features co-molded EPS foam with a polycarbonate shell making it super low profile. The helmet has 12 vents and the open-air, geometric design allows for an impressive amount of airflow. The Black Diamond Vapor also has a ratchet adjuster with molded push buttons. It does have clips for your headlamp, but the clips are removable if you don’t want to use them. This lightweight helmet comes in two sizes, with the smallest size weighing 6.6 ounces and the larger size weighing only 7 ounces. With a highly adjustable padded suspension system, the Black Diamond Vapor gives you all the comfort you want without the added weight of typical climbing helmets.
Petzl Picchu – Kids
It’s never too early to introduce kids to the great outdoors. The Picchu helmet is designed for kids between the ages of three and eight, and it can be used for climbing or cycling. Its EPS liner absorbs impact while the injection molded ABS plastic shell is durable and lightweight. To ensure a comfortable and secure fit, the interior headband and chinstrap are easily adjustable. The interior foam padding is removable and washable to help keep the helmet clean. There are four clips for a headlamp and a rear mount for an LED light. To help make the helmet more fun for kids and to ease your nerves about safety, it comes with three pages of decorative stickers and one page of reflective stickers to improve nighttime visibility. If you’re looking to bring your kids along on your next climbing adventure, be sure to get them a Petzl’s Picchu helmet.
The Meteor is the best helmet for climbing and mountaineering. It provides reinforced protection against front, rear, and lateral impacts. The in-mold construction boasts an EPS foam liner inside of a lightweight polycarbonate shell. The smaller size weighs in at 7.9 ounces while the larger size weighs 8.5 ounces. Its low profile and large vents make it a comfortable option for summer and winter mountaineering. The integration points make it a solid option for ski touring and its rear elastic is compatible with the headbands of most ski goggles. If you want a helmet that can do double duty for summer and winter adventures, Petzl’s Meteor helmet is a great option.
Mammut El Cap
Mammut’s El Cap helmet will make sure you’re safe, comfortable, and climbing in style. Its rugged, hybrid design combines hard-shell and in-mold construction. Under the stable outer shell is two layers of styrofoam to absorb impacts. To maximize climate comfort and keep your head cool, this helmet offers 12 vents which promote air flow. It has a visor and narrow design, and the lightweight headband and chin strip are both easily adjustable to ensure you are climbing in comfort. There are also clips on the helmet in case you bring along a headlamp. To remain stylish and safe on the crag, go with Mammut’s El Cap.
Edelrid Shield II
This soft-shell helmet is ideal for long and demanding climbs. It has an EPS foam core and a tough polycarbonate shell while still remaining lightweight. The Shield II has an overhauled wing-fit system and rear adjustment dial to fit a wide range of head sizes while still guaranteeing comfort and safety. The ergonomically shaped interior even has removable padding that’s also washable. The 16 vents offer excellent ventilation to help keep your head cool during your warmer climbs. This helmet even has an innovative closure system positioned under the ears for comfort. The Shield II has everything you need to keep you safe and comfortable on your lengthy climbs.
Camp USA Armour
This wildly popular alpine helmet is not only the best rock climbing helmet, but it’s also an ideal option for ice climbing and mountaineering. It has a hybrid construction and the foam interior has soft padding to protect you from impacts. The molded ABS plastic shell has 10 vents to promote airflow and ventilation. You can ensure a comfortable fit very quickly thanks to the rear wheel adjustment system and the adjustable chinstrap. This helmet has a lot of features, yet it still only weighs around 12 ounces. You’ll be ready to take on any adventure when you choose Camp USA’s Armour helmet.
Climbing is a fun adventure and can be an amazing experience. But the last thing you want to happen is for a climb to be ruined due to a head injury. When you choose from the best climbing helmets you can guarantee a safe and comfortable climb while still having a great time.
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