Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Sleek, tough, great value, easy to adjust
Best Uses: All around climbing, big walls, ice, alpine, free climbing
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.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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