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What is the safest climbing helmet?
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By jim.dangle
Oct 27, 2013
I've been looking into getting some helmets for kids recently and was wondering what the "safest" one is.

I am curious for adults though too. Like a lot of climbers I wear a helmet sometimes (mostly on multipitch climbs). I chose my helmet more for comfort. But if you are going to wear a helmet, shouldn't you wear the safest one?

Jim

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Oct 27, 2013
At the BRC
jim.dangle wrote:
I've been looking into getting some helmets for kids recently and was wondering what the "safest" one is.


The safest one is the one you will actually wear...

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By Andy P.
From Wisconsin
Oct 27, 2013
Rainier
Well, like everything, the answer is "it depends." Do consider that if you are looking for a helmet that is purely for impact absorption (i.e. falling debris, lightweight, compact are NOT a consideration) you might be better off with a helmet designed for another activity, like cycling, especially if it fits the kids better - it may be difficult to find a well fitting kids climbing helmet, I don't know what is available.

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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Oct 27, 2013
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!
What age? My kids now 4 and 6 wear their bern helmets. They are rated for cycling and skiing and seem to have a hard shell that might stand a chance at penetration protection. Its the best I could do.

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By NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Oct 27, 2013
Mark E Dixon wrote:
The safest one is the one you will actually wear...


This statement actually holds a lot of truth to it.

When I working at bike shops I encouraged people to not just get the cheapest thing but something they actually like in both helmets and bikes.

Get something that fits really well (ie comfy) and something that you actually like the design of it. If you think it's lame you will be a lot less likely to wear it.

Petzl makes a children's helmet that is cert-ed for BOTH climbing and biking

Each sport has a different certs for their helmets, but snowsports and biking have much closer certs (in terms of impact and coverage) and really helmets from one can be used for both.

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By ARowland
Oct 27, 2013
I've long thought that it would be nice if the UIAA hemet standard were a graduated scale, like car crash ratings are. Unfortunately, it's a pass/fail system, which means there's not really a way to compare two helmets that both meet the standard. There are a few helmets that meet the UIAA standard as well as the more stringent ANSI hard-hat standard (petzl vertex), but none of those that I'm aware of come in kids sizes.

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By Woodchuck ATC
Oct 27, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
Mark E Dixon wrote:
The safest one is the one you will actually wear...


Exactly...a comfy helmet that comes down past the temples of your head, and covers the back of the head well. Not always the lightest most op-art modern looking thing, but a solid brain bucket that will do the job in comfort.

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By vincent L.
From Redwood City
Oct 27, 2013
First day of school
very safe
very safe

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By Thomas T.
From Indianapolis
Oct 27, 2013
vincent L. wrote:


mmm I don't know if you hit the glass and it broke it could be dangerous I think something like this is safer:

pm me I have youth sizes as well

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By MikeS
From Boulder, CO
Oct 27, 2013
Sorry, this is too easy.  <br />
Sorry, this is too easy.

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By ChefMattThaner
From Lakewood, co
Oct 27, 2013
ducking ropes at Copper
The problem with climbing helmets today is that not a single one will do a good job of saving your melon in the two scenarios our heads are confronted with.

Helmet A, is your typical hard hat style climbing helmet that is designed to protect you from falling rocks. These are only certified by the UIAA by a top drop test and are not tested for side or back of the head impacts.

Helmet B, is your typical high density foam helmet with or without the plastic shell. These are usually lightweight especially the non shell coated ones. They are also usually certified for multiple sports such as bicycling and climbing but are only good against falls where the climber hits their head on the side back or top. Such as could happen when one takes a lead fall. These helmets do not protect you against rockfall nearly as well as the hard hat style of helmet A.

There has yet to be a helmet that can be certified under both categories and that is something we as climbers need to be asking of from our manufacturers.

I personally wear a Bern helmet that is not certified against rockfall. I figure out of the two scenarios whippers with concussion potential seem far more likely/frequent. Not to mention my helmet at least helps against the small rocks... I guess maybe if you climb somewhere super chossy you might want the rockfall protection more.


Either way any helmet is better then no helmet

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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Oct 27, 2013
These photos are great. Literally, laughed out loud. Especially the Rick Moranis one (wasn't that Spaceballs?). Where can I get one?

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By Bob Dobalina
Oct 27, 2013
Should one that is concerned with which is the "safest helmet" even participate in a sport such as rock climbing? Hmmm?

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By ChefMattThaner
From Lakewood, co
Oct 27, 2013
ducking ropes at Copper
Bob Dobalina wrote:
Should one that is concerned with which is the "safest helmet" even participate in a sport such as rock climbing? Hmmm?



Yes because wanting to be "safer" makes you a gumby noob. You are ignorant. You stick clip Bob, sorry but your argument against safety seems awfully hypocritical. I wear a helmet but never stick clip, does that make me as bad ass as you are Bob??

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Oct 27, 2013
At the BRC
Bob Dobalina wrote:
Should one that is concerned with which is the "safest helmet" even participate in a sport such as rock climbing? Hmmm?


No, you certainly shouldn't climb if you are concerned about the best helmet or the strongest knot or the best cam placement or safest belay device, etc.

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By Woodchuck ATC
Oct 27, 2013
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008
Thomas T wrote:
mmm I don't know if you hit the glass and it broke it could be dangerous I think something like this is safer: pm me I have youth sizes as well


Sorry. Wrong. sharp edges on it could cut the rope. Danger, danger.

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By mattm
From TX
Oct 28, 2013
Grande Grotto
ChefMattThaner wrote:
The problem with climbing helmets today is that not a single one will do a good job of saving your melon in the two scenarios our heads are confronted with. Helmet A, is your typical hard hat style climbing helmet that is designed to protect you from falling rocks. These are only certified by the UIAA by a top drop test and are not tested for side or back of the head impacts. Helmet B, is your typical high density foam helmet with or without the plastic shell. These are usually lightweight especially the non shell coated ones. They are also usually certified for multiple sports such as bicycling and climbing but are only good against falls where the climber hits their head on the side back or top. Such as could happen when one takes a lead fall. These helmets do not protect you against rockfall nearly as well as the hard hat style of helmet A. There has yet to be a helmet that can be certified under both categories and that is something we as climbers need to be asking of from our manufacturers.


Don't believe that's true. To get UIAA helmet certification, helmets must pass both top, front and side impact tests along with a penetration test.

Granted, the hard shells do better at the top test and the foams do better at side/frontal but they both pass the tests. Arguably the standards are pretty low and any helmet out there provides less than ideal impact protection but it's a trade off of protection vs weight etc . I opt for the foams most of the time as my major concern is side impacts from lead falls.

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By ChefMattThaner
From Lakewood, co
Oct 28, 2013
ducking ropes at Copper
^^^ this is true they do side drop impact tests on all helmets. However most of the hard hat style helmets offer very poor side and back protection. The current UIAA test allows for the mold to be angled at whichever angle necessary in order for their straight drop test to impact the side of the helmet. Unfortunately there has yet to be a quantitative way to describe how much of your head is covered by the helmet. One can just look at pictures of helmets and see which ones offer more all around head protection.

That being said all helmets are good and will be better then no helmet.

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By amarius
Oct 28, 2013
climbing.com on UIAA and CE helmet certification

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By Bob Dobalina
Oct 29, 2013
ChefMattThaner wrote:
Yes because wanting to be "safer" makes you a gumby noob. You are ignorant. You stick clip Bob, sorry but your argument against safety seems awfully hypocritical. I wear a helmet but never stick clip, does that make me as bad ass as you are Bob??


"I'm canceling my plan to climb el cap because I'm really concerned that the safety rating of my helmet is too low"
- Said nobody in history, ever.

I wear a helmet all the time with each of the sports I do. I like safe gear but helmets for rock climbers are about as important as helmets for sky divers.
Plus a recent published article has shed light on the fact that rock climbing helmets are flawed in their design to begin with. They are designed take impacts mainly from above. Turns out, most head injuries incurred while rock climbing are caused from side impacts.

And btw, I only pull out the stick clip when I'm dead-ended while aid climbing on a big wall bolt ladder with missing fixed pro. You can call that cheating if you want...

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By Hmann2
Oct 29, 2013
the fridge leavenworth
^^^ Untrue. Both the foam and the hard plastic shells must transmit no more than 8kn of energy through the human body in order to recieve a UIAA rating.

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By Dylan B.
Oct 29, 2013
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008
amarius wrote:


Thanks for posting that. I have to say, it's not very reassuring that a 2 meter drop for an 11 pound rock transmits up to 1800 lbs of force into my neck. My skull may be intact, but what good is that with a major spinal injury?

Nonetheless, I'll wear the helmet.

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By Buff Johnson
Oct 29, 2013
smiley face
If it's any subjective consolation, I've seen some accidents with and without helmets. Probably the most remarkable was an 80+ footer with a single use lightweight BD helmet with multiple head blows; he didn't walk away, but didn't suffer severe tbi and did recover. Without a helmet isn't pretty, and it's almost worse after the fact that they survived, if they did.

That article Dix contributed to is pretty worthwhile, imho.

I use a grivel saly as it translates well between crag, alpine/mountaineering, & ice. No help with a kids helmet.

The running joke is that when we hear rock, we either look up right at it, or tuck in and expose the c-spine.

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By haleymay
From Salt Lake City
Oct 29, 2013
hand solo - selfish wall
I absolutely love the Petzl Picchu for my kids. It's rated for both cycling and climbing. It has the hard shell and the impact foam which is awesome. I know with the way my kids climb (swinging around til they find a good hold) I worry about them swinging back into the rock more than rockfall from above and that combo protects them from getting hurt if that happens.

As far as adult helmets go... I'm of no help :/ I hate my Petzl Elia helmet so I barely wear it.

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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 30, 2013
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.
I can't claim it's any safer than any other helmet but I wear the Petzl Meteor III and it's fantastic. Very comfortable and lightweight, I wear it whenever I'm climbing. I had a low end Mammut helmet before this and it was absolutely miserable, kept slipping and getting out of alignment. I stopped wearing it, making it kind of pointless.

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By Trevor.
Oct 30, 2013
Me on Pabst Smear. Chris took this pic from East Carbody.
I test drove a Petzl Sirrocco at a demo a while back and loved the helmet, except for the fact that it only comes in obnoxiously bright orange. It was super light, comfy, and felt surprisingly protective, but I couldn't help but feel a bit ridiculous wearing a giant hunk of neon orange foam on my head.

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