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Black Diamond Half Dome Review

   

Climbing Helmets - Men's

  • Currently 3.6/5
Overall avg rating 3.6 of 5 based on 7 reviews. Most recent review: July 13, 2011
Street Price:   $60 | Compare prices at 10 resellers
Pros:  Sleek, light, great value.
Cons:  Chin strap tough to adjust, presses on top of head.
Best Uses:  Any climbing situation: big wall, ice, alpine, moderate free climbing.
User Rating:     
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 (3.3 of 5) based on 6 reviews
Recommendations:  67% of reviewers (4/6) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara ⋅ December 4, 2009  
Overview
The Black Diamond Half Dome is a sleek climbing helmet that balances being lightweight and durable. It's well-priced and most testers found it very comfortable.

Black Diamond updated the helmet in 2012. It now:
  • Comes in two sizes: S/M and M/L
  • Is 1.5 ounces lighter
  • Has a more precise adjuster wheel
  • Comes in new colors
  • Has more vent holes
  • Has new headlamp clips

They did not change the price ($60).

The Half Dome excels as one helmet for all occasions from moderate free climbing and ice to big wall nail-ups and alpine. The Half Dome is the same price as the CAMP Armour and Mammut Skywalker 2 and slightly less expensive than the Petzl Elios, which is a similar design and offers a slightly different fit. Try on all four. The competition is so stiff between them that is hard to recommend one over the other. If you want the ultimate lightweight helmet, go with the Petzl Meteor III Plus.

Read our complete Climbing Helmet Review to see how the Half Dome compared to others.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
We took the Half Dome up several Yosemite big wall free climbs and long free routes. We generally wear the lightest climbing helmet we can when free climbing, helmets such as the Petzl Meteor III and Black Diamond Tracer, but this one, though heavier than these competitors, got the job done and stayed relatively out of the way. It weighs about 0.5 oz less than most competitors in its price range.

The adjustment knob located in the rear of the Half Dome is easy to operate with one hand. The Half Dome is a happymedium helmet: not too bulky and on the lighter side of medium weight. This was the easiest helmet on which to put a headlamp. It also has no vent holes on top, which means that dirt, snow and small rocks won't get in your hair.

Dislikes
The chin strap is not the easiest to adjust nor the most comfortable. You have to take the helmet off to do it and we found the Half Dome took longer than most helmets to feel just right. We also felt that this helmet pushed on the crown of the head more than any other. Some people didn't mind this. But some testers, especially those losing a little hair at the crown, really noticed it. Unlike the CAMP Armour, where you can press down hard and still have the helmet be comfy, if you press down hard on this helmet you really feel it on the top of your head.

All helmets will move on your head at least a little bit but this seemed to move more than others. If it's a hot day your head will sweat, and unless you want to tighten the Half Dome so tight that it gives you a headache, a little bit of movement is to be expected.

One very minor detail: the white helmet we tested was actually more of a cream or eggshell color. We didn't mind and and in fact like the color. But if you want a truly white helmet, keep that in mind; this one isn't truly white.

Best Application
Use this helmet for any climbing situation from alpine and ice to big wall, cragging and long free routes. At its price, it is a great entry level helmet.

Value
This is a good value. It is tied for least expensive helmet with the CAMP Armour and Mammut Skywalker II. But because it is more widely carried than either of those two, you can often find a Half Dome at a sale price under $50.

Sizing
Sizing can be tricky. Both of the two sizes fit most testers. Most people will need the M/L if they want to wear the helmet under a hat.

Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 13, 2011
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.3)

67% of 6 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
7 Total Ratings
5 star: 14%  (1)
4 star: 43%  (3)
3 star: 14%  (1)
2 star: 29%  (2)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 6 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Jul 13, 2011 - 11:15pm
Hummerchine · Climber · East Wenatchee, WA
I've got a Petzl Meteor III, and still think it's the best helmet on the market! I won't wear one unless it's super comfortable and unobtrusive. I forgot mine a while back and borrowed a friend's Half Dome…that is, until I put it on. Maybe it's just my head size, but it just felt terrible! I ended up not wearing a helmet at all…

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 9, 2011 - 12:45am
WML · Climber · Biggest Little City, NV
This is a good helmet for:

trad climbin'
sport climbin'
ice climbin'
alpine climbin'
big wall climbin'
and climbin' outta bed.

Durable and can take some beatings, I have had mine for 2.5 years and only have one issue with the durability thus far. The Styrofoam piece at the absolute top of the helmet has come loose a little bit, nothing dangerous yet, I don't think. Safety fifth!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 19, 2010 - 01:49pm
Brokedownclimber · Climber · Douglas, WY
This helmet is responsible for saving my life in a recent fall in Eldorado Canyon. The helmet is in pieces, my head is intact. Nuff' said!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 17, 2010 - 09:59am
greasemonkey · Climber · Davis, Ca
I like my Halfdome helmet. It's light and comfortable. I forget that I have a helmet on until the end of the day of climbing. It gets the job done. The only complain I have is the dial on the back is hard to get as tight as I like, unlike the dials on the Petzl Erinroc. However, for the price, this helmet is a good buy.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 1, 2010 - 04:48pm
Srbphoto · Climber · Kennewick wa
Used a helmet for the first time. Borrowed a friends Half Dome. Forgot I had it on. Can't say much better than that. It was in the high 40's and sunny. I am actually going to buy a helmet (want to try the Petzl also). Bottom line: comfortable enough to make me go out and buy a helmet.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Dec 7, 2009 - 07:31pm
Kupandamingi · Climber · Nairobi, Kenya
Watch for the rivets connected nylon strap to the helmet rusting out over fairly short periods of time (a year or less). This was a problem in the first few generations of the half dome….I'd take it back to REI and get a free replacement 'new generation' thinking it was addressed. After 3 tries over 18 months it wasnt and I switched to the Petzl Elios. Both are fine helmets, but that rust out due to sweat and moderate use was pretty unacceptable from my point of view. Strongly recommend the Petzl over this (unless they have addressed it, then just a matter of preference)

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Black Diamond Half Dome climbing helmet
Credit: Black Diamond
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by Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara
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