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By DaveC
From Louisville, CO
Aug 10, 2013
Back lit maple leaf turning from green to red
No-Brainer? Why Do So Many Climbers Not Wear Helmets?

I've seen the results of a lot of climbing accidents. Macdonald is spot on in my experience with frequency and severity of head injuries. Climbers are way more likely to suffer leg injuries than head injuries, but head injuries are potentially serious or fatal. Some climbing accidents just aren't survivable. I wear a helmet when I use a rope outdoors. I don't climb in gyms much, and I don't wear a helmet bouldering. I use the Climb High 360 helmet because of its claimed increased safety.

What could climbers do to encourage development of practical, more protective helmets?

Any experts out there on head injuries or helmet design?

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Aug 10, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
My problem is that I have a smallish head, and want a helmet that I can wear on sport that will give more side/back impact protection in addition to the rock/pro fall protection of my current helmet (BD Half Dome size sm, currently only used for trad). I've tried on the Meteor III and other one-size-fits-all helmets that tote a good rep for protecting the sides and back, but they don't cut it. Too loose and clunky.

Anyone have any ideas for a low profile, fitted helmet that would protect all sides?

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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Aug 10, 2013
OTL
Jon Zucco wrote:
Anyone have any ideas for a low profile, fitted helmet that would protect all sides?


Not sure how well it protects the sides, but its supposed to be the lowest profile helmet out so far blackdiamondequipment.com/en/c...

also ultralight and expensive

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Aug 10, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
Matt N wrote:
Not sure how well it protects the sides, but its supposed to be the lowest profile helmet out so far blackdiamondequipment.com/en/c... also ultralight and expensive


Thanks! Yeah, I've had my eye on this one, but they must be super popular because I've yet to find a size s/m to try on in a shop since I found out about them. I might just end up ordering online and returning if it doesn't work out.

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By Em Cos
From Boulder, CO
Aug 10, 2013
As far as encouraging development, I think part of the problem might be that climbers who value head protection are already buying helmets. The as-yet-uncaptured market is the group of climbers who don't currently buy helmets - because they are too heavy, hot, ugly, etc. - and so I'm guessing we'll continue to see new helmet designs aiming at being lighter, more comfy, and minimalistic.

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By DaveC
From Louisville, CO
Aug 10, 2013
Back lit maple leaf turning from green to red
Bump / encourage all to read the whole article, including the comments on climbing.com. Em Cos is on to something in terms of the potential market & the social aspects of the climbing scene. There are some documented studies in other fields where preventative measures appear to encourage such a large increase in risky behavior that those taking the preventative measure as a group suffer the adverse outcome more often than those who don't.

Its certainly possible that there isn't much more safety to be had in marketable helmets for the near future. Its also certain that helmets have improved survivability of head trauma at least in the military. Hoping to develop the idea with the post.

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By Dylan B.
Aug 11, 2013
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008
Has anyone tried this product:

unequal.com/dome

It looks too sweaty, and perhaps too bulky to fit under a helmet.

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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Aug 11, 2013
I'm kind of tired of articles waxing poetically about wearing helmets to prevent fall related head injuries when the market does not provide adequate solutions. Not to pick on the OP, but take a look at your profile photo: see how high the helmet sits? and how little of it covers the side & back of your head? You really think that's going to do a lot of good?

I recently bought a Petzl Meteor 3+, one of the new gen foam helmet supposedly good for that purpose. Although it's rated for biking as well, I wouldn't feel very comfortable using it biking, neither would I have a lot of confidence in it in the event of a fall: the helmet just doesn't fit that well & it still doesn't cover the sides & back enough. As far as the fit goes, bike helmets come in all different shapes and typically 4 sizes. How do we suppose we can make climbing helmets in a few models and at most 2 sizes that'll cover most climbers?? Look thru climbing photos of people wearing helmets, see how many of them have the helmet flopping on one side?

On the other hand, because the necessary top impact protection, the helmet has to be thick on the top, which got in the way so much on HD that I contemplated just chucking it down the wall & be done with it. Let's be honest here, wearing helmets climbing really do kind of suck.

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By Jon Zucco
From Denver, CO
Aug 11, 2013
yaak crack Red Rock Canyon, NV
reboot wrote:
I recently bought a Petzl Meteor 3+, one of the new gen foam helmet supposedly good for that purpose. Although it's rated for biking as well, I wouldn't feel very comfortable using it biking, neither would I have a lot of confidence in it in the event of a fall: the helmet just doesn't fit that well & it still doesn't cover the sides & back enough. As far as the fit goes, bike helmets come in all different shapes and typically 4 sizes. How do we suppose we can make climbing helmets in a few models and at most 2 sizes that'll cover most climbers?? .


This is exactly the problem I've encountered whilst searching for a sport helmet. My BD Half Dome is adequate for multi pitch trad situations where rock fall is a concern, but I leave it at home otherwise. I read the article, and I realize that rock fall is a potential at the crags as well. But really, I need something that actually fits, is comfortable, and will protect in a fall and against falling objects.

Nothing I've seen/tried so far seems to cut it for me. If there were something out there that did those things, I wouldn't mind forking out $150-$200 at all, and I would wear it habitually. But that product doesn't seem to exist for my head type/size.

I imagine that the reason why cycling helmets come in such a wide variety of quality, fits, and sizes is that there are vastly more cyclists out there buying helmets, thus driving the cycling helment market.

I fear we are destined for the One/Two Size(s) Fit All garbage for a while longer until wearing helmets while climbing becomes more popular and people actually start demanding better products.

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By bearbreeder
Aug 11, 2013
while fit is a problem ... its more of an habituation problem IMO ... you have to get used to wearing a helmet like anything else

i also got a meteor III ... it felt slightly funny at first, but now its my preferred helmet since its so light and well ventilated ...

as the article mentioned for a helmet to do protect everything, be "comfortable" and be very light is just might not be possible ... the trend is towards more "minimalist" helmets to convince non helmet wearers

while a helmet wont ALWAYS guarantee that youll survive a fall ... it may well help you from being brain dead

heres a parks canada rescue vid of a climber that fell 60 ft and bashed his head ... you can see his destroyed helmet, without which he would likely be dead



i personally wear a helmet most of the time on multi or lead ... on TR or belaying on the crag i may if its a chosspile like the canadian rockies ...

whether you wear a helmet or not is between you can your partner ...

what i find interesting is the many climbers online and at the crag who loudly proclaim that if you dont wear one you are UNSAFE UNSAFE UNSAFE ... IME these people are often the most unsafe of all, usually being newbs or people who dont climb very much/hard ...

a helmet doesnt make you safe .. there are tons of people i would crag with who dont wear helmets over the helmet screamer who think that they are "safe" simply because they wear one

ive seen these people time and time again wrapping their legs around the rope on lead, through inexperience thinking they can get away with it because they wear a helmet ...

the most important thing that will keep you "safe" is your judgement and your technique ... gear is simply a tool ... most good sport climbers are VERY aware of where their feet are because they whip all the time, and know first hand the consequences of poor fall position ... many of the helmet screamers are too new or afraid to whip on clean falls, and thus dont develop that sense of foot placement

i personally encourage everyone to wear a helmet ... but it is NO SUBSTITUTE for other things ...

and it is between you and your partner ... and none of the business of someone who handogging 5.7s on TR, or on MP for that matter

;)

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By Leo Paik
Administrator
From Westminster, Colorado
Aug 12, 2013
On helmets and safety, judgment is probably your number one protection. Cutting teeth climbing in the old days where it was only "cool" to maybe wear a helmet on ice climbs and doing big routes, it felt weird to don one most of the time. However, if you log enough mileage, you'll figure out that it only takes a moment of inattention to a slippery hold, rope around the leg the wrong way, gravity winning on some block of rock, or someone else doing something inadvertent, that you realize the odds may/will catch up to you. Having seen enough head injured folks in a medical setting, I'd recommend climbing with a helmet as your default and needing to find reasons not as your choice.

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By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Aug 14, 2013
At the anchors.
This is the equestrian world's answer to the ill-fitting, don't cover enough, too-hot, too-high-profile helmets that we all couldn't stand. I imagine it's not made for the length of fall that a climber has the potential to take, but it's made for a sport in which the rider is sometimes launched pretty violently through the air, may hit any number of fixed objects on the way down, and may even have to contend with steel-shod hooves making impact.

phoenixperformance.com/tippera...

I'd love it if an expert would tell me that I could wear this helmet climbing.

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By chuffnugget
From Bolder, CO
Aug 14, 2013
Helmets aren't necessary in every situation.

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By nicelegs
From Denver
Aug 14, 2013
Go to the park. Count how many kids on tricycles are wearing helmets. It'll be almost all of them. These kids are lower to the ground than when walking and going slower, yet they "need" helmets.

No judgement, just rules. You ride, you wear helmet!

I'll be damned if the same thing happens to climbing. I certainly wear mine alot but I'm not about to be bound by some arbitrary rule telling me that I must.

Someone upthread mentioned risk taking. It's pretty well documented that cars pass helmeted cyclists closer than their more exposed peers. I've anecdotally seen myself willing to take far more risks climbing when I have a helmet on too. 75ft of runout 5.8? My solution is to put on a helmet. How stupid am I to think that would even help?

If you want a rule, wear it on ice. If you want more rules, stop climbing.

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By Greg D
From Here
Aug 14, 2013
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />
Since I can precisely predict the exact moment:

that rock fall will occur and

dropped gear is about to occur and

I'm gonna get flipped upside down and

A random hold on an otherwise clean sport wall will break and

My foot is gonna pop off,

I put my helmet on just before the incident. Climbing is so predictable.

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By Vaughne
Aug 14, 2013
The only valid reason not to a wear a helmet is that they can be hot and uncomfortable. I used to think it was only necessary when climbing multipitch trad. Then my buddy got whacked in the chest with a fist sized rock while sport climbing at a popular crag in Boulder Canyon. I was standing right next to him without a helmet. That rock would have definitely caused a serious concussion if not worse. You don't make a judgement call when to use a seat belt because an accident can occur at any time, helmets should be viewed the same.

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By nicelegs
From Denver
Aug 14, 2013
Vaughne wrote:
The only valid reason not to a wear a helmet is that they can be hot and uncomfortable. I used to think it was only necessary when climbing multipitch trad. Then my buddy got whacked in the chest with a fist sized rock while sport climbing at a popular crag in Boulder Canyon. I was standing right next to him without a helmet. That rock would have definitely caused a serious concussion if not worse. You don't make a judgement call when to use a seat belt because an accident can occur at any time, helmets should be viewed the same.


So where do we purchase chest protectors for climbing?

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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Aug 14, 2013
nicelegs wrote:
So where do we purchase chest protectors for climbing?

Are there UIAA certified jock straps? My balls feel very exposed when climbing.

FLAG
By nicelegs
From Denver
Aug 14, 2013
reboot wrote:
Are there UIAA certified jock straps? My balls feel very exposed when climbing.


I don't know how they could.

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By reboot
From Westminster, CO
Aug 14, 2013
Brigette wrote:
I imagine it's not made for the length of fall that a climber has the potential to take

Neither are climbing helmets. I'm beginning to think if I decide to wear a helmet for fall reasons, most of the alternatives from other sports would be superior.

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By Vaughne
Aug 14, 2013
nicelegs wrote:
So where do we purchase chest protectors for climbing?

If you have a helmet, you can use it like a shield and block any rockfall headed for your chest or balls. Duh.

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By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Aug 14, 2013
At the anchors.
Greg D wrote:
Since I can precisely predict the exact moment: that rock fall will occur and dropped gear is about to occur and I'm gonna get flipped upside down and A random hold on an otherwise clean sport wall will break and My foot is gonna pop off, I put my helmet on just before the incident. Climbing is so predictable.


Thank you, Greg. Well said. Anyone who doesn't want to be bound by some "assinine" "arbitrary" "rule", you are welcome to make your own choices. I don't mind a little thinning of the gene pool.

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By Greg D
From Here
Aug 14, 2013
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />
reboot wrote:
Neither are climbing Holmes.


Wrong

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By bearbreeder
Aug 14, 2013
Vaughne wrote:
You don't make a judgement call when to use a seat belt because an accident can occur at any time, helmets should be viewed the same.


so i assume you wear a helmet bouldering ... and leading indoors ...

and you use a gri gri or other assisted locking device all the time

;)

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By Dylan B.
Aug 14, 2013
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008
nicelegs wrote:
Go to the park. Count how many kids on tricycles are wearing helmets. It'll be almost all of them. These kids are lower to the ground than when walking and going slower, yet they "need" helmets. No judgement, just rules. You ride, you wear helmet! I'll be damned if the same thing happens to climbing. I certainly wear mine alot but I'm not about to be bound by some arbitrary rule telling me that I must. Someone upthread mentioned risk taking. It's pretty well documented that cars pass helmeted cyclists closer than their more exposed peers. I've anecdotally seen myself willing to take far more risks climbing when I have a helmet on too. 75ft of runout 5.8? My solution is to put on a helmet. How stupid am I to think that would even help? If you want a rule, wear it on ice. If you want more rules, stop climbing.


Apples and oranges. Kids are wearing helmets on trikes not for safety, but to teach them good habits and desensitize them to the idea so that when they get that first big-kid bike, they'll be willing to wear a helmet.

I'd like to see your "documentation" that cars pass helmeted cyclists closer than unhelmeted cyclists.

But as far as what you do at the crag? I couldn't give a shit.

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By Donald Kerabatsos
Aug 14, 2013
nicelegs wrote:
Go to the park. Count how many kids on tricycles are wearing helmets. It'll be almost all of them. These kids are lower to the ground than when walking and going slower, yet they "need" helmets.


D.Buffum wrote:
Kids are wearing helmets on trikes not for safety, but to teach them good habits and desensitize them to the idea so that when they get that first big-kid bike, they'll be willing to wear a helmet.


There are a lot of desensitizing aspects to it and every parent will have different reasons, but even for safety kids on trikes should wear helmets.

A kid on a trike can absolutely go much faster than if they were walking. On trikes and bikes with training wheels kids are hard to see for motorists and have an increased potential for an auto-ped scenario. Ask all the devastated parents that run over their own child in the drive way. Also, if a kid losses their balance backwards while on a trike, although closer to the ground, they fall head first 90% of the time. If they are walking or running, they fall on their hands and ass. Even a short fall for a child, landing head first, can cause issues. Also, research is showing pediatric traumatic brain injuries have a much higher potential for longterm effects over adult patients.

Not to mention if your kid had an accident and had to go to the ED, the first question would be, "Were they wearing a helmet?" You would feel like a huge doucher having to say no.

FLAG


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