The 5 Best Climbing Helmets of 2021 – Tested & Reviewed
The 5 Best Climbing Helmets of 2021 – Tested & Reviewed
The backcountry is calling you. The urge to explore nature by traversing mountains, canyons, boulders, and caves brings out the adventurer in all of us. We want to conquer each mountain, each rock, each challenge. But not so fast. Before you start on an exciting exploration, you need to ensure your safety with the right climbing gear. Nature, though beautiful and inviting, can be relentlessly unforgiving. Being high off the ground necessitates a solid climbing helmet that will protect you from any unexpected fall, or objects falling on you.
Amazon offers a plethora of various climbing helmets for the modern adventurer. We have picked out the best climbing helmets, all tailored to a specific kind of climber. Choose the helmet that most suits your needs. Some are perfect for beginners, and some lightweight models are ideal for the seasoned climber. Let’s explore and get you climbing!
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
5 Best Climbing Helmets - Overview
1. Petzl Boreo
- ABS Shell - Protects the liner and stops sharp objects
The absolute best budget helmet for climbing is the Petzl Boreo. And don’t let the price fool you, this is still one of the best all-around helmets. Not only is the price easy on the wallet, but this is a lightweight and durable helmet. These qualities, as well as its versatility, make it a great choice for first-timers for rock climbing, ice climbing, bouldering, canyoning, or caving.
The hard shell is constructed of heavy-duty acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) with expanded polystyrene (EPS) and expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam liner. The foam layers are encased in the hard ABS shell, which allows it to disperse a load of impact, enabling the foam to absorb it. These materials protect against the maximum impact on the top and sides, making the Boreo durable and reliable. Over the years, your Boreo helmet can be thrown around, used, and abused and will still hold strong.
These durable materials also make for a lightweight product. It is relatively light for a beginner helmet at 10.1 ounces. This is 1.5 ounces lighter than the Half Dome model. It is, however, not the lightest model out there. There are newer, state of the art foam helmets now available that surpass the Boreo in this category.
Eight built-in vents will make you extra comfortable on those hot days when the sun is especially relentless. This unit comes with four clips for a headlamp attachment for those nighttime climbs. There is also an option to add the Vizion eye shield, which can offer protection from ice chips and spindrift.
This is a fairly comfortable helmet. However, the suspension system, though it fits well, is operated by a two-handed adjustment and fixed strap under the ears. This isn’t as easy to use as the Half Dome, which utilizes a conveniently adjustable chin strap. This unisex helmet comes in a variety of colors and two sizes. Those sizes are S/M and M/L. Some users complain that the M/L size is a bit smaller compared to other models, which can be a concern with someone with a larger head. On the other hand, this might be a benefit for someone with a smaller sized head. Regardless, the Boreo is still a great value for climbers on a budget. Don’t miss out on this durable, reliable helmet if you are going on your first climb!
2. Mammut Wall Rider
Another of our favorites is the Mammut Wall Rider. It is lightweight with a hardtop design. We like the sleek style as well as its durability. We like the small bill which gives a little extra protection.
The Wall Rider works with whatever type of climbing you’re doing, making it a versatile helmet. This model has been used on Everest expeditions as well as Yosemite climbs. It is designed to be used with ski goggles, allowing you to easily take it along on a mountaineering trip. These users appreciate the extraordinary lightweight design. The S/M size weighs in only at 6.9 ounces!
Durably constructed with its EPP foam and half-hard polycarbonate shell, this helmet allows full coverage of your noggin. In turn, this means all-around impact protection. There are 16 vents to allow for breathability, making it ideal for warm climates. You should also have no problem wearing a beanie underneath on those cold mountain climbs.
We find this helmet to have a comfortable fit and has a minimal harness system that makes it easy to use. However, some users may find the helmet to be a bit shallower on the top of the head. Headband sizes are 52 to 57cm, and 56 to 61cm. This may not work as well for those with less circular-shaped heads. Having this sort of head shape causes more pressure points on the top and back of the head. Additionally, some users reported the Wall Rider’s webbing adjustment was difficult to use. There are 2 front clips with a rear bungee strap so you can secure a headlamp to guide you on a nighttime expedition. And, this helmet allows you to adjust the chin and rear straps to ensure proper fit.
If a lightweight helmet is not necessarily what you are on the market for, the Wall Rider may be a bit pricier than what you can get to suit your needs. With this model, you can choose from two colors, and two sizes. Some users may find themselves between sizes. We recommend this helmet for those climbers who value a lightweight, durable, and sleek construction.
3. Petzl Sirocco
- ULTRA-LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN: The SIROCCO only weighs 170 grams.
Even lighter than the Wall Rider is the Petzl Sirocco. We find the Sirocco to be the best ultralight climbing helmet. The quality is reflected in the price, but we think it is worth the money. At 5.6 ounces in the S/M size, this helmet will make your rock climbing a breeze, practically like you’re wearing nothing at all. This adds to overall comfort.
The first Petzl Sirocco model took the rock climbing world by storm due to its lightweight and durability. It was endorsed by well-seasoned climbers, giving it a name in the industry. This model is the second version, which has built off the original’s great qualities. It has a lot of the same features, but with a more traditional shape and more appealing style.
The Sirocco uses EPP foam on the sides; this is a soft, more malleable foam that easily absorbs impact, allowing resiliency. Injected EPS foam is combined with polycarbonate material to comprise the hard outer shell. There is less of the polycarbonate material than other models, due to its low-profile design. This contributes to its lighter weight. These materials will protect the top of your head from things like dangerous rockfall, as well as from the sides if you fall. Since it isn’t completely covered with polycarbonate, you have to be a little more careful in handling it to avoid damage.
Alpine climbers especially value the lightweight quality of this helmet since they often count every ounce of weight they drag with them to the top. Use this helmet on a grueling multi-pitch climb when you keep it on from sun-up to sunset. Your body will thank you. Additionally, this model is certified for ski touring, which not all of the helmets in this list can boast. Easy-to-use headlamp clips will enable you to climb under the cover of darkness, plus can be used with ski goggles.
The vents of the helmet allow for great air circulation, by extending even further down the back of the head. This allows for all-around breathability.
Due to its lightweight, this model comes with a minimalist adjustment system. However, we are not happy with the magnetic buckle for the chin and rear adjustment because they can loosen or even come undone in the middle of your climb. This system is not nearly as easy to use as a slider bar or click wheel.
It is not hard to imagine why professional and seasoned climbers pick this model. Buy the Petzl Sirocco if you want a helmet that is ultralight, comfortable, and has good ventilation. However, if you are on a budget, you might want to choose another model.
4. Black Diamond Vapor
- Co-molded EPS foam with polycarbonate shell is lower profile than the vector
Another lightweight model is the Black Diamond Vapor. Weighing in at 6.6 ounces for an S/M, it feels like a feather on your head and is almost as light as the Petzl Sirocco. Additionally, it has easier adjustments than the Wall Rider. This model has been around for a while, and it continues to be a big seller due to its sleek unconventional design and low weight. People love the 12 vents, which are made into an interesting open-air geometric design. The innovative air circulation system will make you feel as if you aren’t even wearing a helmet. Not only that, it fits big heads as well!
The Vapor contains an in-mold construction of co-molded EPS foam and polycarbonate shell. This is what makes it so light. You can easily wear it comfortably for long periods of extensive rock climbing. It doesn’t restrict your vision either, so you may forget it is on your head! However, one thing to keep in mind is that EPS material tends to shatter, rather than absorb. That means that this is a more fragile helmet than most.
We find this helmet to be very comfortable. The model is available in two sizes and comes with a padded suspension system and ratchet adjuster. This will fit like a glove on even those with big heads. Unfortunately, the Black Diamond Vapor is not certified for ski touring. You'll have to stick with just climbing for this one. The headlamp clips are removable, which means you can easily take them off if you are a daytime climber.
Our least favorite attribute of this helmet is the price. There are a lot of great helmets under $100, so it can be difficult justifying shelling out $140 for the Vapor. Some users would argue that other models are more durable and protect better and cost much less.
5. Black Diamond Half Dome
- The tried-and-true construction of Black Diamond's classic Half Dome helmet, now with new low-profile suspension, updated outer shell and secure, streamlined headlamp clips.
Another popular beginner’s helmet to stand alongside the Petzl Boreo is this updated Black Diamond Half Dome. But at about the same price, this model is a little heavier, and a little less durable than the Boreo. The Half Dome weighs in at 11.6 ounces for a S/M size, which wouldn’t qualify as lightweight, but it is still solidly constructed, allowing for effective full head protection. The updated Half Dome model has even shaved off some weight of its predecessor and added some new features.
Constructed of EPS foam with an ABS hard shell, this helmet will get the job done. The heavy ABS plastic shell can absorb great impact, taking all the force while the soft EPS foam is left undamaged. Many other lighter and less durable polycarbonate shelled-models cannot stand up to this level of durability. This is essential for a beginner who is still learning the ropes. It may not have EPP foam for extra protection, as does the Boreo, but this good, sturdy helmet will do the trick.
This streamlined helmet also features lightweight headlamp clips if you are up for a nighttime climbing adventure.
Some things the Half Dome does have over the Boreo are the low-profile suspension system, the updated adjustment dial, and an easily adjustable chin strap. The click-wheel adjustment system on the back of the head makes it easy to use with one hand. These useful features make things just a little less complicated when you are learning a sport like climbing. Simplicity is the best.
We consider hardshell helmets like the Half Dome and the Boreo to be excellent choices for cragging. A lot of people leave their helmets at home on these single-pitch climbs. They regret it later when they get their leg caught in the rope while climbing a crag, and swing headfirst into a wall. Safety is essential in these types of situations. Since you’ll be taking your helmet off when you aren’t climbing, you can opt for one of these cheaper models.
We value the durability of this model and think that it could even last you a lifetime. This helmet provides safe, long-lasting protection, but because of its weight, it may not be as comfortable as some other models. You may not want to wear it for extended periods, which is usually ok with beginners. There are not as many ventilation holes as other models. However, the raised design still allows for airflow to cool a hothead.
There are two sizes available, and a few attractive colors to choose from. There is even an updated women’s version that features more vents, as well as space for a ponytail.
This quality-made Black Diamond Half Dome is affordable, reliable, and safe. With climbing becoming increasingly popular, there is a big market for entry-level helmets. This model can suit all of the beginner’s needs. Though it may not be the most innovative, comfortable, or lightest of our selections, the extra cash left in your pocket will make up for it.
Our top pick climbing helmet is the Mammut Wall Rider. Though it may be almost twice as much as the heavier, beginner helmets, we think the extra money is worth the extra features. For instance, a lightweight, comfortable design is what you need for long expeditions. These types of excursions expend your energy, and you will need every bit you can muster without having to worry about a clunky helmet. Additionally, the Wall Rider is highly breathable which even more adds to its comfortability. Easy to adjust and light as a feather, this model is sure to last you many glorious years of climbing. Take this helmet with you to conquer Enchanted Rock, and you will come home victorious, feeling like a champion.
Why Should I Wear a Climbing Helmet When Most People Don’t?
You may sometimes feel like the only one wearing a helmet. However, be aware that head-related injuries, as well as deaths, happen all the time during climbing, even to professionals. You can never be too careful.
Perhaps you are used to the climbing gym and are transitioning outdoors. In the gym, people don’t wear helmets. However, in outdoor climbing scenarios, bolt distances vary, holds can break, ropes can be hard to manage, and things may fall from above. There are just so many more possibilities of harm when you are climbing outdoors.
If you are a new climber, you may not know all the risks yet. Some common risks are falling and flipping from a rope behind your leg, flipping due to the wrong sized harness, falling and hitting the ground before your climbing gear, among other dangerous scenarios. Be careful, advance slowly, and you will gain more knowledge with each climb.
Bonus tip: Are you looking to graduate from your indoor rock gym to outdoor climbing? Check out these helpful tips for beginner outdoor climbers!