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Climbing Helmet Buyers Guide

So, you're looking for the best climbing helmets out there. However, before you get there, you face the question of what type of helmet should you choose? Can you use just any other helmet for climbing purposes?

No, you can't use any other helmet. Climbing helmets are built for a specific purpose, to protect you from the dangers of climbing. Whether you're a mountain climber, rock climber, or in a profession that requires climbing, you need a proper helmet.

Hence, we are bringing you a complete guide that will shed light on different types of helmets. You will learn about the benefits of getting a helmet. More importantly, you will get the answers to 'if you should buy a climbing helmet' among other similar questions.

So brace yourself and read ahead because this is the ultimate climbing helmets buyers guide!

How are climbing helmets useful?

There are countless gears and tools out there that are great for a specific purpose. Just like how you use tools for climbing, it is vital to use a helmet. A climbing helmet protects you from the dangers that come with the activity. Let's take a good look at the functioning of a helmet to understand it better:

A standard helmet would have an external shell that acts as the first line of defense. Generally, it is a hard shell of ABS plastic or some other similar material. Thus, it can protect from most of the impact without letting you feel anything.

To reinforce this protection, there is internal padding that has two functions. First, it is a softer material like foam or other impact-absorbing addition. While the external shell can ward off most of the obstacle if the impact is too deep to reach your head, internal foam works as a cushion. It is indispensable in case you fall.

The second function of the internal padding is to ensure proper fitting for the helmet. Some come with adjustable designs to help the helmet firmly fit your head. There's often a headband type padding for extra protection to protect the head and reinforce the side head protection for maximum safety.

However, a padded headband is an optional feature. The headlamp is the final most important feature of a climbing helmet. It is especially important for night time climbing or ice-breaking. Both of these require you to have a good vision, and a headlamp provides that.

A perfect climbing helmet will have a combination of all of these features to provide well-versed protection. However, these are not the only things to consider when purchasing climbing helmets. This is just an explanation of what a climbing helmet is.

Reasons to buy a climbing helmet

Are you wondering why you should buy a climbing helmet? If you are confused and don't know how to decide, then let us simplify it for you. You should definitely wear a helmet when you're climbing. However, to help you understand the importance, we are giving out the following reasons:

A safety precaution

In many climbing areas, it is becoming an indispensable requirement to wear a helmet. Many of these places won't allow you if you don't have a helmet. However, as a safety precaution, it is critical to get a helmet.

Think about it like this. If you're riding a bike, you will wear a proper helmet, knee, and elbow protection, right? Now, climbing is a comparatively more risky sport that requires proper protective gear. How will you survive if you end up falling from the height? Just like ropes and other equipment, a helmet is essential.

Let's say that you're a very skilled climber who won't fall. However, can you confirm 100% that no obstacle will befall you? The chances of random objects falling on your head are amplified in mountain climbing activity. If you're a professional that has to climb heights, you are in an unpredictable zone.

While you might not need protection from obstacles in the rock climbing area, other fields definitely require you to have a helmet. You wouldn't want to get a rock or something hitting your head.

Avoid critical situations

A climbing helmet is the most reliable companion you can find to protect you from the critical impacts. If any rock hits you, it will shield you. Did you fall? Don't worry! The helmet won't let anything happy to your head. That's the importance of climbing helmets.

Wearing climbing helmets eliminates the potential risk of receiving a critical injury. The head is the most delicate part of our body. Any impact to the head can damage our skull and worsen with brain damage. As the brain is the vital organ of our system, it can lead to any complication.

However, a climbing helmet will work to the best of its capacity and fight against the dangers. Whether it is a powerful impact or damaging hit, you will be well-protected.

Convenience of technology

The latest innovation in climbing helmets is making it more comfortable to wear with optimum protection. Different types of materials are available in the markets. Thus, you can find a balance between the right weight and strength for most of the time.

There used to be two types of climbing helmets. Now, modern innovations bring you hybrid helmets and other similar additions to the list. It's true that you might get perplexed about what kind of climbing helmet you should choose. However, the additional features and convenience is certainly appealing.

Stylish addition

Gone are the days when using helmets would be a geeky or nerdy thing. Everyone is valuing protection over style and appeal. However, climbing helmets manufacturers still made it their priority to bring you sleek and stylish helmets.

You can find them in a range of colors and more suitable designs that won't look funny. Therefore, you can even tweak up your style with these helmets to look like a professional or a proper climbing enthusiast.

Reassuring your performance

If you are constantly worried about your head's damage, you will inevitably feel a little afraid at the least. Therefore, you won't be able to perform to the best of your capabilities. This is where climbing helmets can make a drastic difference.

If you are worried about getting hurt, then you should certainly wear a climbing helmet. It will reassure you of protection, and your focus will be better on climbing. Thus, you will perform better and find a new boost in your confidence and skills. Hence, you will have a reassuring performance.

Factors to consider when buying a climbing helmet

There are many different types of climbing helmets available in the market. You will have to consider countless factors as there are too many companies out there. However, this guide will help you break down the factors and simplify it to ensure that you get the best climbing helmet under your budget.

Types of climbing helmets

The very first decision you'd have to make is regarding the type of climbing helmet. As mentioned before, there are different types of climbing helmets. They are suitable for a particular use, or according to your preference.

There are primarily two types of helmets: Mountain and shelled foam. However, we are going to talk about a hybrid variety to help you get a clear distinction. Furthermore, you will get some explanation of industrial helmets, as well.

Mountain helmet (Hardshell helmets)

These are the conventional climbing helmets available in the market. If you are looking for cost-effective options, then these helmets have countless variations in the quality. These are heavy-duty and provide proper protection.

These are the helmets that have a traditional hard shell as the outer layer. Primarily, this layer is ABS or other similar plastic for hardhead protection. Next, there is a cushioning foam between you and the head to help absorb the impact.

Optional features include a headlamp holder for your convenience. You will also find an adjustable size variation in this helmet. Often, the forehead padding is readily available in these helmets for additional protection.

For conventional climbing requirements and mountain climbers, these are the best types.

Shelled foam helmets (Lighter helmets)

These helmets utilize polystyrene and fiberglass as materials for their production, or EPS foam. It means that the durability of these helmets is out of the question. The helmet will protect you from any hit. However, it will become useless as it is more prone to sustaining damage.

Think of these as one-time helmets if you hit them anywhere. Another common name for these helmets is a single impact helmet. Due to their nature, they are suitable for sports and practice routines, such as rock climbing.

These are not suitable for professional applications, and you should avoid them. More importantly, these can turn into a costly investment. However, these are very lightweight, so it feels almost seamless to wear them.

The crucial factor to consider when you purchase shelled foam helmets is to check the suspension system. These helmets have a suspension system inside them for a better fit. Furthermore, this suspension system makes it easier for you to survive any impact. That's what makes these a great choice.

Often, shelled foam helmets have better air circulation and don't cause any discomfort when wearing.

Hybrid helmets

These helmets combine the mountain helmet aspects with a single impact helmet to deliver more well-versed protection. You get the lightweight models with optimum safety of more rigid ABS plastic and EPS foam and foam-shelled qualities.

Overall, these helmets are a little more costly as they are built to be a jack of all trades. There isn't much for you to consider here. Except that these have a mountain helmet's strength. A hybrid helmet works better than single impact helmets.

Price would be the primary factor with these helmets to determine. These are often costly and may not sustain damage very well, burning a hole in your pocket.

Industrial helmets

You might be tempted to use industrial or service helmets for climbing. Truth be told, mountain helmets have design borrowed from industrial helmets. Thus, they are very identical in appearance.

However, industrial helmets are often oversized or bulky. More importantly, they are heavier to provide more protection. Thus, it could make head movement restricted. Furthermore, industrial helmets may cause discomfort, and they don't have proper ventilation and circulation.

In any case, if you want to wear climbing helmets for strictly professional purposes, you may still use an industrial-grade helmet. However, it's better to use a mountain climbing helmet because they have a similar protection level. A mountain helmet provides a better balance between weight and strength.

Purpose of the helmet

So, now you know about different types of helmets. So, how do you pick the one that fits your requirement? It breaks down to the purpose of the helmet. Yes, the second most crucial factor to consider is the purpose or use of the helmet.

For mountain climbing

If the intended use of the helmet is for mountain climbing, then you need a mountain helmet. The primary factors to consider would be ventilation and lower weight. You might have to carry heavy gear with you, but you can't neglect your safety.

Remember, mountain climbing is an exhaustive task that can last for hours or days. You don't know the obstacles you will come across or what could hit your head. Thus, a mountain helmet is pivotal.

For sport climbing

If your aim is rock climbing or sport climbing, you can consider a single impact or hybrid helmets. These are great for use. Sporting events generally remove any unwanted obstacle and object. For the worst-case scenario, all you have to worry about is a fall.

Thereby, a single impact helmet is a brilliant and lightweight choice. You need to be fast and performance-oriented without anything slowing you down. Thus, a lightened climbing helmet would be an optimum fit for this task.

For gym application

A gym is a safe place for most of the time. Thus, you don't have to consider the durability of the shell too much. You might even have a padded floor for fall impact. However, standard gym regulations still require you to use a helmet.

Therefore, you can invest in a lightweight and easy to wear a helmet with minimum protection. Single impact helmets might do the job, especially if you look for the lower-end on the budget.

For professional tasks

Do you need a climbing helmet to reach tall heights? For example, cleaning windows of a building, or climbing a tree to cut its branches and such? Then you would have to choose a heavy-duty mountain helmet. Some people prefer the standard industrial helmet.

However, a mountain climbing helmet still provides you the ease of performance. It is very well-balanced, and you will have better performance. Often, the obstacles in these areas are not too harsh or heavy, so you wouldn't have to worry about hitting something too hard.

The internal foam and impact absorption will provide apt protection for your head.

Factors in the helmet

Now you have narrowed down your choice of helmets according to the purpose and type. It's time for you to consider some of the most common factors.

Fitting of the helmet

The helmet should fit properly and hold your head firmly. Remember that you can't have a helmet that is loose in fitting. The strap could be adjustable to adjust the tightness. Apart from that, the head should be held right inside the helmet.

Fitting of the helmet will make it easier for you to most of your head. If you are going for a colder climate, remember that you might have to wear a head-warming hat inside. For that, the helmet should have proper space.

You can substitute that with a climbing helmet that has an adjustable size. If you are a hoodie person and love to wear a hoodie over your head, then carry a hoodie with you to the store. Wear the helmet and then put the hoodie on to ensure it wouldn't be restricted.

Proper certification

Always check for the helmet to see if it has a proper certification or not. There are different certifications of quality and then protection level. So check both of them out. If your helmet lacks either of those, then look for another.

For side-protection, some helmets have separate certification. Alternatively, there might be a rating and a certificate. You will earn about that in the next point.

Proper protective integration

The shell should be hard or foam with on-point fitting, internal suspension or foam system should optimally function. It might have a webbed design to hold your head better. Correlatively, you can try knocking on your head or punching yourself on the head to feel the impact and test it.

As far as the protection rating goes, the helmet's top should have the highest rating to overall protect your head. Depending on your purpose, the sidehead rating can be lower or higher than the top head rating.

Most of the helmets have a lower rating for the side head protection. However, if you're mountain climbing, then certification for side head protection should be equal to or greater than top head protection.

Ventilation and comfort

Ventilation is vital if you are climbing in a warm climate or standard mountain temperature. Helmets tend to be packing for your head, which can lead to sweat buildup. Thus, ventilation could prevent that.

However, if you're ice-climbing or in a colder climate, you can eliminate the need for ventilation. Alternatively, you can opt for insulated helmets for better warmth. After all, you wouldn't want to get cold while climbing, right?

If you are in a snow-prone area, you need less ventilation. Otherwise, the snow might melt and fall through the ventilated holes, which would be very uncomfortable.

As far as comfort is concerned, temperature regulation and proper ventilation is an essential part. You may consider the weight of the helmet and its fitting as well. Remember, you can compromise some comfort if you are getting better protection.

Other features

There isn't much you can do for optional features except getting better buckles and adjusting your straps. But wait a minute, don't forget something important! Yes, that's right, you're almost there. It's the headlamp holder.

That's the best feature you can look for in a helmet. A headlamp holder would make your life significantly easier. Many people underestimate the importance of this simple yet brilliant addition. If you want a well-versed helmet, don't neglect the headlamp.

FAQs: Best Climbing Helmets

Q: How long does a climbing helmet last?

A: There's no time limit to climbing helmets. They can last lifelong or may require disposal after a single-use. It depends on the type of climbing helmet you chose. Furthermore, you should always inspect and check your helmet for any form of damage.

If there's even minor damage, the integrity of your helmet is compromised. Therefore, you should buy a new climbing helmet. The average life of a climbing helmet can be as much as ten years.

Q: How to maintain a climbing helmet?

A: You can clean climbing helmets in any way you deem fit. However, there are often some materials in the helmet that require particular consideration. Thus, you should check for any washing instructions. If there isn't any, you can use soapy water to wash your helmets and keep it intact. Rubbing alcohol may also work very well.

Q: How to measure your head for perfect fitting?

A: If you want to use tape, then check from the center of your forehead to above your ears and then to your head's back. That's the best way to measure your head and ensure the size. Make sure to check whether the measurement of the helmet is centimeter or inches.


A climbing helmet doesn't just protect you from falling rocks, debris, and other elements. It can save you from actual falls where you might hit your head. You might not have a proper idea of the height in some areas and stand up straight to hit your head. You can protect yourself from that.

This guide brings you the proper distinction between different climbing helmets, their purpose, and your budget consideration. As long as you follow this guide, you will always find the best option available for yourself. / - © Copyright 2020