Helmets are excellent things. You only have one brain, after all. I know many years ago the conventional wisdom was that you didn't need a helmet on "clean" routes, because it was rare for a falling climber to hit his or her head. But that was a dumb notion then, and is a dumb one now. I know that many sport climbers eschew helmets, even on very difficult routes, and that climbing magazines are full of climbers on insanely vertical pitches wearing nothing more than shorts, shoes, a harness, and a smile. But for the most part, wearing a helmet is exceedingly prudent.
Beyond that simple advice, make sure it's a helmet for climbing. Cycling helmets have too many holesa jagged rock could easily sneak through one and leave a nasty gash or worse.
But which helmet? Petzl's Ecrin Roc ($84; www.petzl.com) is a fine, classic helmetsturdy, easily adjustable, and reasonably well ventilated. Fully approved for climbing and tested against a number of impact and shock-absorption factors. Petzl's Elios ($60) is another nice simple, reliable option, with its sibling the Elios Vizion adding a clear face visor designed to keep snow and ice off your nose when ice climbing. But that's a lot more than you need for the types of climbing you mention. Edelrid's Ultralight ($50; www.edelrid.de) is very similar in design and fit, and is considered by many a tried-and-true brain bucket. Lastly, the Kong Scarab ($159; www.kong.it) is certified for many sportsclimbing, bicycling, even whitewater kayaking. But it compromises in all three areas, and for about the same money you can buy purpose-built helmets for each sport.
So there you go. Climb on!
For more great rock-rat duds, including a sweep of essential starter gear, check out Outside Online's all-new Climbing Gear Buying Guide.
Lead Photo: courtesy, REI
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside →