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What is the safest climbing helmet?
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By Tom-onator
From This Galaxy
Oct 30, 2013
Tom-onator

The safest helmets out there are ones that do not have a GoPro attached to them.

Once you mount a video camera to your head all bets are off.


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By Scott Cooper
Nov 6, 2013

I have started wearing my kayaking helmet for climbing. As with others, I believe the most likely scenario is a side or back of head impact. It also has a very small visor which is nice to have. Many kayak helmets also have easily adjustable retention systems.


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By Nick Grant
From Natick, MA & Tamworth, NH
Nov 6, 2013
A photo of me on Across the Universe taken by the Strandman back in '83.

Jim, yours are valid questions. I have two things to say about those who replied along the lines of, "Dude, if you're asking that, you shouldn't be climbing—the sport's too radical for you, man."

1. They don't have children.

2. They've never had a major concussion.

As for the best helmet, I recommend the Petzl Meteor III.


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By jim.dangle
Nov 7, 2013

Thanks for the replies.

Interesting that there is no real consensus on "safest" helmet (which I understand is a vague designation). I suspect that most people (like myself) are buying helmets based on comfort rather than safety and the market follows this logic.

My problem with some of the lighter weight climbing specific helmets is that sit pretty high on the head and don't seem to protect the forehead from impact. This is particularly worrying with children, who often lack coordination with their heads.

A couple other points:

I think concussions during falls are mostly caused by the impact of the brain on the inside of the skull. Helmets-- as the NFL has shown-- cannot protect the brain from forces encountered during hits (and falls). However in climbing, helmets can certainly be constructed to better protect the skull from injury and therefore protect the brain from any trauma that might occur via injury to the skull (skull fractures, etc).

I know its not cool or extreme to wear a helmet. I'm not a helmet nazi and don't always wear one myself. However, I would point out that 20 years ago no one ever wore a helmet skiing or snowboarding (at least not recreationally) and you definitely would not have been considered cool if you did. There was a cultural change though and now a lot of people wear helmets. They have become accepted part of ski/snowboard culture. Kids, who are the most susceptible to peer pressure and the least able to make their own, informed decisions have probably benefited most from this change.

JIm


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By Dave Kos
Nov 7, 2013

I climb often with my kids and require them to wear a helmet outdoors, even though they only toprope/follow.

I think it's important that they wear a helmet because they like to swing around on the rope and otherwise tend to find ways to bump their heads more than adults typically would. We also occasionally climb routes where minor rockfall could be a possibility.

With kids, fit is important. All too often the kids fuss with the helmet and it ends up cocked one way or the other, exposing the forehead.

I've found that modern bike helmets tend to fit my kids really well. Not the multisport kind, but the kind that has an adjustment device that goes under the back of the skull (whatever that part of the head is called....) A good fitting helmet will stay in place even without a snug chinstrap, which is also important for kids, because they find ways to loosen the chinstrap...

I don't have a definitive answer, but my take is that a good quality mountain bike helmet is probably what's best for kids climbing. They can use it on their bike also, they tend to fit better than anything else, and have more coverage on the back of the head than climbing helmets do. Of course, because a bike helmet has a soft shell, they may not be as effective against rockfall, but I think they are probably still pretty good. After all, they are designed to hit something hard.


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By WDW4
Nov 7, 2013
Global Village, Red River Gorge KY

Bob Dobalina wrote:
"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...


I'll address the idea that "because climbing helmets only protect impact from above and most climbing impacts happen from the side, I will not wear one". (Not saying you said that, Bob, but I have heard people say it before):

Rock climbing is a dynamic venture, where any number of things could collaborate to cause red stuff to leak out of any number of my body parts. I like my head most of all, though, for obvious reasons, and am willing to leave certain (less beloved) body parts unprotected. If my helmet only protects the top of my head, well that is just fine and dandy with me, as I think the topography of the top of my dome is just swell as-is. Helmets protecting top and sides too would be better, but I'd rather protect part of my body than none of my body.

The main thing is, always wear a diaper if you are near your limit.


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By Tyler Ryan
Dec 3, 2013

Bob Dobalina wrote:
Plus a recent published article has shed light on the fact that rock climbing helmets are flawed in their design to begin with.


You ought to link to that article. It seems like it would be a valuable contribution to the discussion.


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By sonvclimbing
From bolder city
Dec 3, 2013
cowboy over tower

This is the helmet or very much like the helmet I wear. I like the visor for the sun and the (I think) better front, side and rear protection it offers. I wear it climbing and snowboarding. You may say it has too much insulation and is too hot. I live in southern nevada, I climb with it on summer days and it's not that bad. The fabric inside wicks the sweat away and keeps the helmet from slicking around. The headlamp or I mean goggle clips suck though. Also the padded chin strap doesn't pull my beard hairs out. It is an excellent winter helmet as well.

www.the-house.com/k28ra02bk12zz-k2-ski-helmets.html


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