Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $61 - $66 | Compare prices at 9 resellers
Pros: OMEGA ponytail system, durable, easy to adjust chin strap, removable and washable foam padding
Cons: Have to adjust every time you put it on
Best Uses: Multi-pitch climbing, big walls, ice climbing, climbing anywhere there is loose rock
The Petzl Elia helmet gets the Editor's choice award for the Women's climbing helmet category because besides just being smaller, it has a very beneficial ponytail accommodating feature for women. This feature added to the already inexpensive, lightweight and durable design of the Petzl Elios makes this a great all-around helmet for the price. It is not as comfy or as light as some of the light foam helmets like the Petzl Meteor III or the Black Diamond Tracer, and it's $5 more expensive than the Camp Armour - Women's, but it is the only helmet out there with a ponytail system for the ladies. This would be the only women's specific helmet that I would consider buying even if I already owned a unisex helmet, because the ponytail feature would be worth it.
Here is a Petzl Video on the Elia
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
There are a lot of Women Specific products out there that in reality have no altered functions, but just follow the shrink it and pink it marketing philosophy to appeal to more customers. (Women specific headlamps? Shovels and probes?) At first, I thought helmets could fall in this same category, but I was wrong. The Petzl Elia actually has some very different and highly functional features that I feel many women would benefit from. The most obvious is the OMEGA ponytail system. How many long haired women have been climbing with a helmet, only to have to uncomfortably squish their ponytail under the back? Its hard to wear it all day when it feels that awkward. My answer has always been pigtails, but sometimes those get in the way, and there is no way you can leave long hair flowing over your shoulders while climbing a long route. (Heaven forbid it gets snagged in your belay device!) The Elia solves this problem by taking the band that goes around the back of the head and molding it in an upward curve so that there is a perfect spot for a ponytail. This band adjusts in two ways: up and down so you can pick the appropriate height on your head, and it adjust width- wise so you can fit the circumference of your head. These adjustments make it so the helmet fits snugly and comfortably on your head, doesn't slide around, and still leaves room for the most common athletic female hairstyle.
Another great feature of this helmet is the easy to adjust chin strap. It can be done quickly with one hand, where the W's Camp Armour requires two hands to slide the webbing through the buckle.
Since it is made for women, who typically have smaller heads than men, it comes in only one size instead of two, like the Elios. This makes it slightly lighter than the size 2 version, which is a bonus. It is also a bit lighter than the Women's Camp Armour.
The only downside I can see to this helmet, is that it takes slightly longer than usual to adjust the helmet every time you put it on. With my old Elios and with the Women's Camp Armour, I adjusted it to fit my head, and then left it that way. It didn't require any fiddling when I put it on. This helmet needs some slight adjusting every time you put it on to make sure you get the ponytail system at the right height on your head every time, but this is something I would gladly put up with for benefit of the ponytail feature. It is difficult to use the slider adjustments on the top of the helmet while wearing gloves.
This is a fantastic all round helmet. It could be worn on all day trad climbs, ice climbs, or for single pitches. This is a durable hard plastic, so it will last for years.
The Elia costs the same amount as the Elios which is on the less-expensive end of helmets, so if you are in the market for a helmet, it does not cost you anything more to go for the women's specific version over the regular unisex version. It is slightly more expensive than the Women's Camp Armour, but has many more beneficial features which would be worth the extra six dollars.
— McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: July 1, 2011
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