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Petzl Elios Review

   
Best Buy Award

Climbing Helmets - Men's

  • Currently 4.6/5
Overall avg rating 4.6 of 5 based on 6 reviews. Most recent review: November 27, 2011
Street Price:   Varies from $50 - $66 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros:  Sleek, tough, great value, easy to adjust
Cons:  None
Best Uses:  All around climbing, big walls, ice, alpine, free climbing
User Rating:     
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 (4.4 of 5) based on 5 reviews
Recommendations:  80% of reviewers (4/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Petzl
Review by: Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara ⋅ March 19, 2010  
Overview
The Petzl Elios is our second highest rated climbing helmet because it is comfortable, easy to adjust, durable and relatively lightweight. It is also a great value and gets the OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award because it is highly rated but is only $5 more expensive than the least expensive helmet. The Elios works great for mountaineering and big wall climbing, but is also great for free climbing. It is one of the most common helmets you'll see climber's wearing in Yosemite and is often paired with a Petzl headlamp.

This scores second highest yet costs $35 less than the top-scoring Petzl Meteor III. Get the Elios if you want a durable helmet that is relatively light weight and can do anything. That said, it has some stiff competition that you should also try on before purchasing: the Black Diamond Half Dome, CAMP Armour or Mammut Skywalker 2. Those helmets also scored high, are $5 cheaper, and might be more comfortable if you prefer a softer lining.

View our complete Climbing Helmet Review to see how this product compared to others.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The Elios stands out for its all-around package. It wasn't the absolute best in any category but was in the top two or three of every category. It has the best light weight-to-durability score. The only lighter helmets (Meteor III and Tracer) were made of foam that had to be carefully handled to keep from cracking. On the other hand, the Elios will take a standard beating well, such as being pushed to the bottom of your pack, crammed with gear, then sat on. And ice chunks will bounce off it (within reason). Because this Petzl helmet is lined with closed cell foam, it stayed "funk free" longer than most helmets. You don't have to remove the lining and wash it, you can just wipe it down.

This helmet has one of the slimmer profiles. That means the helmet will bump less in tight chimneys and roofs. The slim profile also meant it was judged by most testers as one of the best looking helmets. It comes in five fairly conservative colors that are all pretty good. We liked it that you had the option of a charcoal/black color that Petzl calls Grey or Anthracite. This is maybe not the best color for a hot climb, but we thought it looked cool.

It also scored very high for being easy to adjust. It had the same great adjustment wheel in the back that most helmets now have. In addition, like all Petzl helmets, you can adjust the chin-strap with one hand 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. This is also one of the easiest helmets on which to put a headlamp.

This helmet comes in two sizes: Size 1 (kids and small) and Size 2 (medium to large). This gives the helmet a wider variety of range. It also means you have to be careful to order the right size. For most adults, the decision is easy: get Size 2. However, if you are an adult with a small head and are in between sizes, this helmet will be tricky to order online. You will be better off buying it in a store after trying it on.

Dislikes
There are no major gripes with this helmet. A minor gripe is that the closed cell foam is not as cozy as a helmet such as the Meteor III or Armour. This of course means the helmet vents better and gets less funky over time. So there are pros and cons. If you want a helmet that just feels cozy, you might be a little turned off by the lining of this helmet.

Best Application
This is probably the best all-around helmet out there. It works great on everything from one pitch routes to scaling El Capitan. It also has a face shield option for ice climbing called the Vizion ($50 extra). This is a good choice as a first helmet because it is versatile, not that expensive, and will last for year. It comes in two sizes: one fore most adults and one for kids and adults with smaller heads.

Personal Stories
Chris Van Leuven's experience is that the Yosemite climbers he sees or has roped up with generally wore either the Petzl Elios or Black Diamond Half Dome. This goes for long free climbers, wall rats and craggers. It wasn't Chris McNamara's helmet of choice due to the stiff suspension lining personal preference. It is possible that it may not fit your head as well as others; alternatively, it may fit better.

Chris Mac has used this helmet almost exclusively on the last 10 big walls and loved it. Now that he has used a lot of other helmets, he would lean toward the Skywalker II or Meteor III because of their softer linings. But if he could only own one helmet and that helmet had to be durable, this would be it.

Value
The Elios gets the Best Buy award because it scores so highly yet costs merely $5 more than the cheapest helmet.

Chris Van Leuven, Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 27, 2011
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.4)

80% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (4)
4 star: 17%  (1)
3 star: 17%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Nov 27, 2011 - 01:35pm
Elm · Climber · Boston Area
I have been wearing this helmet for just over two years now. Backgound on me: I am a newer climber but a avid cyclist for 25 years…I know helmets. I have not taken a hit on it rock climbing but it has absorbed a few whacks ice climbing and it has not transferred the energy to my head. This helmet is super comfortable and low profile. For me I put it on and forget it. I shave my head and it is super comfey..no hard edges and no pressure spots. The chin strap adjustment is really a great feature. When you have the option you adjust more than you think. In the winter it's a dream because you can adjust for differing hat thicknesss with ease. It vents as well as can be expected in teh summer. I really don't feel like it's making me hotter at all….but you do sweat. I love not having to worry if I pack this helmet away deep or if I put it on the outside of the pack and scrape it against a tree…hard-shell is awsome!!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 26, 2010 - 09:57am
OlympicMtnBoy · Climber · Seattle
I've had two of these over the last few years after I finally upgraded from a heavy but unbreakable Edelrid "Ultralight".

This helmet is comfy and easily adjustable for different headgear. It's pretty light and I generally forget I have it on after a while. It ventilates well in hot weather too.

My one gripe is durability. Both my helmets have had cracks develop along the rim in the plastic shell. I'm sure they are caused when I've stuffed the helmet in my pack and then leaned or sat on the pack and crushed them a bit sideways, but I don't feel that I'm terribly hard on helmets. I hate having them banging around on the outside of my pack so I try to stuff it with a jacket and pack inside, but still have had both of these crack when it hasn't been a problem with any of my past helmets. The cracks tend to start around the rivets on the edges that hold the suspension on.

I don't think these are any less durable than many of the other helmets out there (especially the light foam bicycle style), but they are not as durable as I would like and as some of the other options. Thus 4/5 stars.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 13, 2010 - 08:49am
Hoots · Climber · Toyota Tacoma
I recently retired my old Elios, which I loved and fit me like a glove. I got a new one, and they changed a bunch of things. The chin strap is now super skinny and cuts into my jaw more, the adjusting buckle on the back seems to be a pain to dial in, and I can't get it to stop slipping backwards no matter how I adjust the straps. I don't know why a few minor changes affected its performance so much, but I am going to get rid of it and try one of the others.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Dec 9, 2009 - 07:36am
bkalaska · Climber · San Francisco, CA
I love this helmet. It is a really comfortable hard top. It is no heavier than lightwieght foam models and is way more comfortable than other hard tops. It sits low enough that I am not constantly hitting my head on things. It is easy to get a headlamp on and it stays on securely. My only complaint was the adjustment knob (on my helmet), but the newer versions have a very easy to adjust knob. This is a great helmet for its comfort, durability, and price.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 2, 2011 - 09:48pm
Rick Picar · Climber · San Jose CA
Great fit, simple and easy to use chin strap. The Elios is an awesome bargain. Can't wait to outfit my helmet with the Vizion face shield for ice climbing and scary in-your face hooking. I'm not sure if this accessory is necessary but I would like to check it out. I had an older model and had an irritation from the thicker chin strap. The newest model's thinner strap mitigated this issue for me. I have used it in the rain and extreme heat. The foam and vent configuration decreased seepage and also provided enough ventilation on a bigwall in the middle of August on El Cap. I really like this helmet for it's function and price.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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The Grey color of the Petzl Elios was one of our favorite colors of any helmet. Won't keep you cool on a hot day, but looks cool. Petzl also sometimes refers to this color and Anthracite
Credit: Petzl.com
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