Best Rock Climbing Helmets

When climbing, wearing a helmet to protect your head is a no-brainer.

All helmets for rock climbing are designed to take impact from above – in other words, to protect from rock fall. Officially, they aren't designed for sideways impact – that is, if you swing sideways into the rock, or knock the back of your head. But, in these scenarios, some protection is better than none.

Many climbers – both beginner and experienced – wear helmets, because accidents can happy to anyone. And, a situation like potentially fatal rock fall is almost totally out of your control. So, here are some tips to help you select the right climbing helmet for your needs.

What Are the Components of a Climbing Helmet?

Before you buy a climbing helmet, you should know about the components that make up a quality rock climbing helmet.

The outer layer of a climbing helmet is known as the helmet shell. This shell is designed to protect the climber’s head against impact, sharp objects and abrasion. Helmet shells are generally made from Polypropylene, polycarbonate or ABS plastic, in order to provide protection while also being lightweight.

Helmets also include an inner moulding, which is designed to protect against impact. This moulding is available in both in-mould and injection-moulded options. Some helmet brands also provide additional removable padding for comfort and fine-tuning fit.

Lastly, helmets feature airflow systems, which provide air vents to ensure that there is always a constant supply of fresh air available to keep your head cool.

What Are the Types of Climbing Helmets?

Now that you're familiar with the various components of most climbing helmets, you should learn about the different types of climbing helmets.

Hardshell Helmets

Edelrid Ultralight Helmet

We recommend: Edelrid Ultralight Helmet

Hardshell helmets are made with a hard plastic outer shell and an internal suspended cradle. Made of webbing in the Edelrid Ultralight Helmet, the flexibility in this cradle conforms to lots of different head shapes.

A classic, robust helmet, the Edelrid Ultralight is durable. It is particularly good at taking incidental knocks and bumps that occur when you're carrying your helmet into the crag inside your bag, or rolling around in the car.

This, plus the good price point, makes the Edelrid Ultralight a popular choice for groups and institutions. But, there's no reason why an independent climber couldn't wear it. It is the most robust helmet for rock climbing that we stock.

Even though the Ultralight can take incidental knocks without damage, like all helmets, hardshell helmets should be inspected periodically for flaws according to manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure your safety and be replaced if necessary.

Also consider: Edelrid Ultralight Junior Helmet

Softshell Helmets

Edelrid Shield II Helmet

We recommend: Edelrid Shield II Helmet

Softshell helmets like the Edelrid Shield II are designed specifically for climbing, despite the fact that they look like bike helmets. They are light and well-ventilated.

Foam helmets like the Shield II are designed with rigid foam that includes a thin polycarbonate shell. Upon impact, the foam is designed to buckle progressively, absorbing the impact.

The advantages of softshell helmets are that they're lighter and more comfortable than hardshell helmets. They also offer some sideways impact protection.

The disadvantage is that they're not as durable. Due to the way the shell absorbs impact during a trauma event, the helmet is almost always destroyed and will require replacing.

Also consider: Grivel Stealth Helmet

Hybrid Helmets

Edelrid Zodiac Helmet

We recommend: Edelrid Zodiac Helmet

Hybrid helmets like the Edelrid Zodiac offer the advantages of both a hardshell helmet and a softshell helmet.

The Zodiac features a plastic shell with a rigid foam interior. As a result, it provides the protection of hardshell helmets, while the inner portion of the helmet works to ensure that the helmet is comfortable to wear.

Hybrid helmets like the Edelrid Zodiac are not as fragile as softshell helmets, due to the fact that they can take more knocks and bumps.

Like a lot of hybrid climbing helmets, the Edelrid Zodiac is rated for impact from above – i.e., falling rocks. (Unique helmets like the Petzl Boreo are designed for both top and side protection.)

Also consider: Grivel Salamander 2.0, Petzl Elia Women's Helmet, Petzl Boreo

How Can I Ensure That My Helmet Offers a Good Fit?

All the helmets recommended on this page have adjustability features so that you can find the right fit for your head.

A helmet should cover your forehead, almost to your brow line. It should have a snug fit around your head with a secure buckle under your chin.

To test whether your helmet fits properly, you can simply shake your head up and down and side to side. If the helmet stays in place, you have a good fit. You should also make sure that the helmet isn't uncomfortable when you look up.

To help with sizing, each helmet has a size range (based on the circumference of your head).

Looking for a climbing helmet? Bogong is Melbourne's best climbing gear store. Visit our Melbourne store or shop our extensive online selection.

Remember that for safety reasons, you can't return climbing equipment to our store once it is purchased. (This doesn’t affect your right to exchange or refund for faulty goods).

See our range of climbing helmets.

Questions? Visit us, email us or call us (03 9600 0599).

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