/ NEW REVIEW: Helmets

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Rico Randall climbing at Nuuksio, Finland, in the Mammut El Cap, 3 kbA reflection on designs, standards and purpose, and a review of a mixed bag of four helmets: two models new to the market this year, the Edelrid Shield II and the Mammut El Cap, alongside two well established models, the Grivel Air Tech and the Wild Country Rock Lite.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=4905
Skyfall - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to UKC Gear:

I'm in the Market for a new helmet (currently a Salamander wearer but it's seen some action) and, tho I've yet to make a final decision, have tried all of these on. I seem to have a narrow (oval) head shape and, like you, the Edelrid fitted the best. The Mammut El Cap the next best. My issue with the Edelrid, which you don't seem to mention (sorry if I missed it), is that it sits very high on your head which a) looks a little odd despite it's generally good looks and b) suggests it might be more prone to causing the old bashing your head on any projecting rock syndrome.
In reply to JonC:
> My issue with the Edelrid, which you don't seem to mention (sorry if I missed it), is that it sits very high on your head which a) looks a little odd despite it's generally good looks and b) suggests it might be more prone to causing the old bashing your head on any projecting rock syndrome.

It does definitely sit higher than some, but then the Meteor III definitely sits a lot higher on the head than the original Meteor for example, but I can't say it bothers me in either case. I think the Shield looks no more, or less silly than any other helmet http://www.ukhillwalking.com/images/dbpage.html?id=204423 but perhaps I'm getting too old and turning into a typical "embarrassing dad" to worry about such things now! :)

It did make me think that the Shield must have twice as much foam over the top of your head as the Grivel Airtech does. I can't imagine that the Grivel have some amazingly different type of special foam that is twice as good as Edelrid uses, so even if both past the test, does the Shield pass it by a lot more?!

I'm a pretty rubbish climber, but one thing I rarely do is bump my head, I just seem to have quite a good sense of where it (and my helmet) is in relation to the rock. Perhaps from having almost always worn helmets when climbing, but anyway, what helmet I use doesn't seem to make a difference. I rarely snag my crampons on my trousers legs either! These are the extent of my special innate skills when it comes to climbing. :)
Jim Brooke - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to UKC Gear:

Shame that none of these helmets are going to fit my 63cm bonce :-
kevin stephens - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to Jim Brooke:

That's because the rather limited review excluded what in my opinion is the best of the bunch; Black Diamlond Tracer - it comes in three shell sizes with the largest going to 63 cm
In reply to kevin stephens: If I understand correctly the Tracer isn't going to be made anymore. The new Vector is lighter and then they have the new even lighter one on the way. I wanted to review the Vector, but BD was having some issues and none were available back when we started out.
In reply to Jim Brooke: If you see one in a shop, at least try on the El Cap because it feels huge compared to all the others. I'll measure my head tomorrow and see what size I am, because I normally need the large size in helmets, hats etc. but the El Cap is nearly too big on me.
kevin stephens - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Cheers Toby. I chose the Tracer after looking carefully at all the available options because of the three shell sizes giving best fit, and to me best back of head protecton. This was important tome (and the reason for renewing my helemt) following a potentialy serious head injury after inverting and banging back of my head (a danger I believe many sports climbers under estimate)

Also I didn't mean to criticise the depth of the review which was excellent, just that it would have been nice to see more helmets reviewed

Kevin
In reply to kevin stephens: Yeah, really wanted to try the Vector - if nothing else they look really cool, and that's not a bad thing at all if it encourages people to try one, particularly for sport climbing.

So, was it on bolts you had your injury? If you don't mind me asking: were you wearing a helmet (guess so, as you said you needed a replacement) and if so, what type and do you think it did it's job?

I hope and expect that side and rear protection will start becoming a bigger design/selling point in future helmet designs. I think the BD Vapor goes down that route, looks low at the back http://www.vimeo.com/45903745
kevin stephens - on 03 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
I wasn't wearing a helmet as it is the norm not too on sport. However I got the rope behind my leg when I fell so inverted, knocked out for a while. We all know not to get rope behind leg and do our best to avoid it, but sometmes things go wrong. Now I always wear a helmet on sport (always have on trad) I use a beefier helmet (Salamander) for winter having destroyed my Ecrin Roc when a icefall collapse landed on it. I don't agree with the approack to save money by having a single compromised helemt for differet sports - after all how many different shoes do you have for differet sports? and heads are more delicate/important then feet
Skyfall - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I found your response to my post a little dismissive given I was genuinely trying to get a little bit of debate going on you article (which you had complained about being ignored).

I know a lot of people who find that helmets do make you more likely to bump your noggin on rock protrusions as you actually get used to where your physical head is, not where your helmet is. The Edelrid was the best made/best fitting helmet I tried on (admittedly my head shape) but both my partner and I noted it did ride a lot higher than anything else I'd tried on. I think that's a valid point and it did make me think twice. I agree the looks are largely irrelevant and in many ways it's a great looking helmet. I suspect it's the one I will get next purely down to fit and comfort, which are the most important factors for me.
Skyfall - on 04 Nov 2012
ps: just spent a week in Antalya and my Salamander spent only about 50% of the time being used due to the heat (not that it was actually a very warm week). I don't know if I would have worn a lighter helmet more, but my climbing partner has a new meteor (which does ride a little high but not as much as the Edelrid I am convinced ;) ) and he wore his no more than I did.
cliff shasby - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA: Hi,i would like to add a few things here..

I have a grivel air tech which i bought mainly for protection on rock but also use it for winter,the headlamp attachments are crap and the plastic studs that hold the adjustment cradle both snapped and i replaced them with plastic number plate bolts,now one side of the adjuster slide has snapped half way through,this im sure is with repeated folding in the helmet when being packed,it still kinda works but im in the market for another.

I tried a few helmets on the other week and realised a few things to look out for..

Of course fit,how it sits on your head,does it wobble when fastened up and how high it sits on your head etc,not all helmets fit everyone.

As the review says helmet clips can work or be total crap.

Does the helmet adjuster at the rear fold into the helmet easily (the meteor is designed with this in mind)or is there resistance and maybe plastic parts that will fatigue and break eventually (like mine).

Does it restict your vision,i say this because apart from the meteor sitting on top of my head and just looking wrong i found the meteor to restrict my vision when looking straight up (like you would when climbing) quite badly,shame because im a fan of petzl in general.

Volume,something i never thought of before,my air tech and the meteor are quite bulky,not noticable at all until you put your hood over it,now all the manufacturers like to say there hoods are helmet compatible but in my experience a large volume helmet will fill a hood to the point where there is some restiction in movement.

Its funny how you say the el cap was big,did you mean inside ?,i tried the smaller sized el cap on but on more or less full adjustment and i was shocked how low volume it was.it was easily the most slimline helmet i tried on and wished that i had my jacket with me to try it with a hood,will def take my jacket with me next time.

Im quite keen on the el cap,but as you rightly point out i could also do with a new eps style helmet for rock if i buy an el cap, but at least that could prob wait till next spring.

cheers cliff....
Skyfall - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to cliff shasby:

> Its funny how you say the el cap was big,did you mean inside ?,i tried the smaller sized el cap on but on more or less full adjustment and i was shocked how low volume it was.it was easily the most slimline helmet i tried on

I agree with that completely. I was very impressed by it and I thought it was low volume as well. I was kind of keen on the looks but not 100%. But it wasn't as comfy as the Edelrid, quite, for me. Neat helmet :0 They were my fav two.
In reply to JonC: Sorry, wasn't meant to be dismissive in any way. Just my findings. I maybe wrote in meant-to-sound-lighthearted-way that didn't come across very well.

I actually think how a helmet looks is kind of important even if in scientific-ultra-rational-world we wouldn't worry about such matters. But clearly some people will figure "dorkyness" into it - I definitely stand accused of this when it comes to bike helmets - so if a bit of style persuades some people to wear one, then it's not a bad thing at all.
In reply to cliff shasby:

> Its funny how you say the el cap was big,did you mean inside ?,

Yep. I've got the bigger size. Just measured my head and I seem to be 60 cms, and with the El Cap if I'm not wearing a hat or anything under it has to be adjusted almost as small as it goes to sit snuggly on my head. So I can't promise the chap with 63 cm head that it will fit, but might be worth a try even if they only claim to 61. Head shapes do vary though, as I said the Wild Country helmet isn't a great fit on me because its seems too rounded, similar with the Grivel.

BTW, I went ice climbing with it last weekend in the dark and it took my alpkit gamma head torch very well. I was a bit suspicious that the clips were too small, but the torch seemed very secure once mounted. The little peak is slightly more noticeable when using a torch but doesn't stop you being able to shine the light down to see your front points for example.
In reply to kevin stephens:
> I don't agree with the approach to save money by having a single compromised helmet for different sports

Agreed, I have a house full of helmets. I have two bike helmets, my kids and wife have one each. My wife had her own climbing helmet that fitted her better than one of mine, I've traditionally had a winter and summer climbing helmet, I've got ski helmet etc! But in the article I just wanted to reflect that many people don't. I think when you start climbing you want your gear to do as much as possible; so my harness was my harness, summer rock, winter ice - same with my helmet, rucksack etc. As you climb for longer and perhaps get older and get a half-decent job you both appreciate and can afford some slightly more specialist stuff. I guess the important thing is that all helmets DO pass the tests, so even if your Meteor might not be the best choice for you 5 day holiday to Rjukan, it will do the job if that's all you have/can afford. But I very much take your point that many of us have different rock shoes for different types of climbing and they are a hell of lot more than most helmets. It's great that some helmets are relatively speaking so cheap these days. I reckon I paid the same in actual pounds for my first helmet 20 years ago as you can now find a basic hybrid for now, 20 years of inflation later.



Jim Brooke - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to kevin stephens:

Thanks for the tip - I will have to check that one out....
Jim Brooke - on 04 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Thanks, I'll try that one too :-)
3leggeddog on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to UKC Gear:

No good, not one of them is available in purple
ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to 3leggeddog: As the manufacturers tend to suggest not painting on them, how about getting something like a hair net, dipping it in purple paint, letting it dry, then putting it over your helmet? You could also then draw on that any extras you wish to make it look exactly like the purple helmet of your dreams...
winhill - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to kevin stephens)
> [> I don't agree with the approach to save money by having a single compromised helmet for different sports ]
>
> Agreed, I have a house full of helmets.

Actually, in the UK, we have a very good reason to encourage climbing helmet manufacturers to certify their helmets for cycling (EN1078)as well as climbing.

Cycling helmets in the UK are zero-rated for VAT (I'm not an accountant, thank god, but it is different from vat exempt but the retail cost effect is the same).

So in theory the cost of climbing helmets could be reduced by 16.67%, minus the cost of certification, which might become negligibly small, assuming economies of scale. It is possible to buy EN1078 helmets for 10, so if numbers were achieved there's no reason why the cost of climbing helmets couldn't also come right down.

Alternatively, perhaps the BMC could approach manufacturers of cycling helmets and persuade them to also certify to EN12492 (I'm sure many helmets could achieve this by shifting some vents, add light clips), as that is where the economies of scale already sit.

The only climbing helmets AFAIK that already do this are Petzl's Meteor III+ and Picchu, the picchu already zero rated due to being marketed as children's helmets.

I wonder if retailers are aware of the zero rating on meteors, as the price seems high compared to other countries. Some well known websites that offer international sales don't seem to add the relevant eurozone VAT, which makes me suspect they don't.

BTW The full price of a VAT'd Meteor should be 87.60.

*Caveat, Toby, I know you like precision so I would stress I have no experience of retailing helmets (but know a bit about input/output VAT and zero rating) and am just making shit up from stuff wot I did read on the interwebs but it would be interesting to hear from retailers in that position.
In reply to winhill: That's interesting and something I know nothing about. Would the Meteor have to be sold ONLY as a cycling helmet though to avoid tax? Or can something with dual use be excluded from VAT due to one of its uses?
winhill - on 05 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to winhill) That's interesting and something I know nothing about. Would the Meteor have to be sold ONLY as a cycling helmet though to avoid tax? Or can something with dual use be excluded from VAT due to one of its uses?

I don't think so, the relevant doc, I believe, is HMRC Reference:Notice 701/23 (May 2011)

http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabe...

And listed in schedule 8 of the VAT Act 1994

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/23/schedule/8

It also covers personal use PPE and I found some discussion from tree fellers about it, as they have more interest in how much stuff costs for work. They noticed some websites charged VAT and some didn't. Which may be a result of back office shit on the website design. In PPE if it is for your use then it is zero-rated, if a company buys it for their employees then it isn't (probably because tree guys may not be VAT registered, whereas a company will be).

It sounds trivial but there is a difference between zero rating and VAT exempt, principally about the manner input VAT is treated, so don't say they are Exempt, helmets are Zero-Rated.
Dan Middleton, BMC - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to winhill:

My reading of that is that climbing helmets aren't Zero-rated if they are purchased for climbing. They key phrase is "must be for industrial use". So, if you bought one to use, for say rope access or arboriculture, then it could be Zero-rated, but not if bought for climbing. I wonder what the argument for only Zero-rating certain categories of PPE is, and why some industries/work are ruled out?
Dan Middleton, BMC - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

Oh, and nice article Toby!
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC: Well, thanks for the help and advice Dan.
winhill - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to Dan Middleton, BMC:
> (In reply to winhill)
>
> My reading of that is that climbing helmets aren't Zero-rated if they are purchased for climbing. They key phrase is "must be for industrial use". So, if you bought one to use, for say rope access or arboriculture, then it could be Zero-rated, but not if bought for climbing. I wonder what the argument for only Zero-rating certain categories of PPE is, and why some industries/work are ruled out?
The industrial standards are different, tougher, than the climbing standard for helmets, I don't think you'd want to climb in an industrial helmet as they are much heavier. I just mentioned the PPE bit for VAT.

The Meteor III+ is zero rated though, by virtue of the cycling bit, whether purchased for climbing or cycling, a kind lady at Lyon confirmed.
martinph78 on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to UKC Gear: I only wear a helmet for protecting my head from rockfall etc. Bit like a hard hat at work. I'll sometimes climb without when I know there's noting loose above, but always wear one when belaying.

I may rethink this now though but...

I will stick with my Petzl Elios. It get's bounced about and generally abused without worry. If it doesn't offer the necessary protection for impacts when falling then am I just as well not wearing it (where I know nothing loose will get knocked on my head? Just sold a Meteor 2 as I just didn't like it to be honest. The fit is different and I know it wouldn't take to hanging on teh back of my pack and getting knocked about!

What I fail to understand is why manufacturers have just started making these for climbing? The technology has been around for decades...

Skyfall - on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin1978:

> What I fail to understand is why manufacturers have just started making these for climbing? The technology has been around for decades...

Well I'm not sure exactly when they appeared but I am sure I bought a Meteor (1st gen) well over 10 years ago, maybe as many as 15 years. So it isn't like they have just started making them at all.

In reply to Martin1978:
> If it doesn't offer the necessary protection for impacts when falling then am I just as well not wearing it?

That's missing the point rather. I didn't say that it DOESN'T offer protection in falls, I said that it probably doesn't offer AS MUCH protection as an EPS helmet in side/front/back impacts due to the design, with the WC 360 being an honourable exception amongst hybrid helmets it seems.

> Just sold a Meteor 2 as ... I know it wouldn't take to hanging on teh back of my pack and getting knocked about!

The idea that foam helmets fall apart if you give them a hard stare is silly but won't go away. Seriously, my first meteor lasted well over a decade with lots of use including plenty of international travel.

> What I fail to understand is why manufacturers have just started making these for climbing? The technology has been around for decades...

Petzl brought out the meteor in about 1994 I think. I had one from 97 or 98.

martinph78 on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA: Cool beans, I stand corrected :)

The article gave me a bit to think about, mostly why I wear a helmet (as I say, I never thougt of it as protecting me in a fall, more stuff falling on me). It's good to get people discussing it as said.

Cheers, Martin

martinph78 on 12 Nov 2012
In reply to JonC: I stand corrected :)
In reply to Martin1978: No worries, i just don't want anyone to get the idea that I'm suggesting that no helmet is better than a hybrid helmet - clearly all helmets give some protection - just in a swinging fall it seems EPS ones are like to give the most.

I'm chuffed that people are discussing it and hopefully more people have looked at the BMC's work too as a result! :)
Skyfall - on 16 Nov 2012
Toby, I really like this review and it's helpful to come back to as I try to decide which helment to go for when I replace my current helmet. Good work!

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.