Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $80-90
Pros: comfortable, easy to adjust, multipurpose, breathable
Cons: sits too high on head
Best Uses: ice, bigwall nail ups, all around
Petzl packs more features into the Altios than into any other helmet we tested. It has a similar construction to their popular Elios but comes with an additional hybrid suspension system, Climate Control System and an ADAPT headlamp quick attach point. You actually have to scroll down the page on Petzls website to cover all the features. The Altios has a different feel than other helmets because of a removable mesh layer that makes the helmet float above your head. This makes the helmet comfortable and breathable, but it also means that it rides very high, which affects both its look and feel.
This feature led almost all testers to find the Altios less desirable than the Petzl Elios. The real question is whether all the extra features are worth a price $24 more than the Elios and $30 more than most other hard-shelled helmets. Try it on. If you don't mind the fact that it sits so high, this might be the helmet for you. Otherwise, we would either spend a little more money to get the Petzl Meteor III or look at one of the many highly rated helmets for $60 to $65.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
With a truly long list of features, the Altios is definitely the most tricked out helmet on the market. For ice climbing you can attach the VISION face shield. If you're nailing up El Cap in August, you can move around the padding to open up or close vent holes. The mesh layer is removable to make the helmet fit better with a hat or increase ventilation. You can also use the ADAPT clip for a single-point attachment of a Petzl Tikka or Zipka headlamp.
Beyond the long list of features, most people found the helmet very comfortable. This was the only helmet with a mesh layer on top to disperse the pressure across the entire top of your head. This is in contrast to most helmets where you feel "pressure points" if you push down on the top of the helmet. Like all Petzl helmets, you can adjust the chin-strap while wearing it. This is very nice at belays or on big hikes because it allows you to quickly and safely get more ventilation. Few other helmets manufacturers have chin straps that can easily be adjusted while you are wearing the helmet.
We prefer low-profile helmets, ones like the Elios, Petzls streamlined plastic helmet. The Altios floated just too high, which made the helmet top heavy and more likely to roll back when looking up while belaying or searching the path ahead. You can remove this mesh layer to make the helmet sit closer to your head. But if you are going to mostly wear the helmet minus its mesh, we would rather have the Elios, which costs $24 less.
While we do not rate helmets on looks in our comparison table, most people felt the fact that the helmet sat so high was not a flattering look.
This is an all-around helmet. It is great for winter and summer climbing, hard nail-ups and alpine. Petzl uses a 1,2 size system on the Altios. Size 1 is small to medium. 2 is medium to large (this applies to its harnesses, too), which means it is not as adjustable as the Ecrin Roc if you are looking for a helmet to teach with.
Size 1 is $80 and size 2 is $90 (Size 2 fits most adults). This makes it one of the most expensive helmets we tested. It is durable, so over time you will get your money's worth. And it isnt a bad price tag if you really value all the features that Petzl packs into this workhorse of a helmet. But if you don't want all the features, there are four other highly rated helmets for $60 to $65.
— Chris McNamara, Chris Van Leuven
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Most recent review: May 21, 2012
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