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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl Meteor Review
Cons: Less durable than hard plastic helmets, magnetic buckle
The Petzl Meteor is our favorite climbing helmet and replaces the previous version, the Petzl Meteor III+ as our Editors' Choice Award winner. The III+ was already an awesome helmet, and this new version scores the same in our tests and improves on the old model slightly while retailing for the same price.
Petzl decided to simplify the name of this version and just go with Meteor as the name, doing away with the roman numerals and plus symbol. We see the latest Meteor as a 4.0 version because it has a significantly changed vent pattern from the III and III + versions, as well as some other small improvements.
For many of you, the most exciting change in the new Meteor is that it is now available in two sizes rather than the one-size-fits-all size of the previous model, which in reality fit medium and large heads best. We felt that one of the only flaws with the previous versions of the Meteor was that its single size sized out smaller-headed crushers. Petzl fixed this by releasing the current Meteor in two sizes. Similar to other Petzl climbing helmets like the Sirocco and Elios, the Meteor now is available in Size 1 and Size 2. Size 2 fits just like the old Meteor III+ and Meteor III. Held side by side, the older Meteor III + and current Meteor in size 2 have an identical size and shape, though the new version has a new vent pattern which gives it a new look. Size 1 is for smaller-headed folks.
Aside from the additional smaller size, the next biggest change to the latest iteration of Petzl's iconic helmet is the magnetic buckle used to fasten the chin strap. This buckle debuted on Petzl's Sirocco helmet. This buckle allows the chin strap to be quickly fastened with one hand, though we found that it has a few minor flaws. More on that below.
Along with the redesigned vent pattern, the new Meteor is available in four new colorways, however not all colors are available in all sizes. The smaller Size 1 is available in turquoise and raspberry, as it is likely aimed more at women. The larger size 2 is available in blue and coral.
The new version still carries the CE EN 12492 and UIAA certification for climbing and mountaineering as the Meteor III +, but no longer has the CE EN 1078 or EN 1385 certification for cycling or whitewater. As much as we like this helmet for climbing, it wouldn't be a great helmet for either cycling or whitewater, so we don't miss the lack of certification.
The new Meteor continues to be compatible with the VIZION eye shield for ice climbing, if you are into that sort of thing. The Meteor also carries the same three year warranty as all of the Petzl climbing helmets.
RELATED: Our complete review of climbing helmets - men's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Petzl Meteor is a lightweight polystyrene and polycarbonate climbing helmet which is suitable for all types of climbing, from mountaineering to sport climbing. It is now available in two sizes, which makes it an excellent option for nearly everyone, no matter your head size.
The Meteor is the most comfortable climbing helmet in our test and was awarded a rare perfect ten by our testers. Much of the comfort is achieved through the helmet's super light weight which makes it quickly disappear from your perception while on the head. Forgetting you are wearing it is the best feature a helmet can have, in our opinion. If your excuse for not wearing a helmet every time you rope up is that helmets are uncomfortable, the Meteor is the helmet for you.
The inside is lined with thin but adequate open cell foam padding that is covered in a slightly velvety material. This lining can be easily removed for washing if it gets really funky. Our test helmet came with an extra set of pads, which we quickly misplaced and forgot about. If you do the same, you will be sure to find them when you someday get a new helmet.
One of our testers pointed out that the webbing used on the new Meteor feels a bit silkier than the old webbing. Though it's a subtle change, the silkier webbing is even more comfortable against the face. Bonus move.
Ease of Adjusting
As we mentioned above, one of the most noticeable changes to this new version of the Meteor is the magnetic buckle. We first used this buckle on the uber light Petzl Sirocco, which won our Top Pick Award for super light and fast missions or competition climbing. The magnet does not actually hold the buckle tight, rather it helps draw the two pieces of the buckle together once they are in close proximity. The buckle is actually held in place by plastic tabs similar to the old style buckle Petzl used on the previous couple of Meteors. What the magnet does do is allow the user to more easily fasten the chin strap with one hand. The magnet helps the wearer to "find" the other half of the buckle when fastening with one hand. We can't really say we had much trouble with the old style buckle, and we can't really imagine too many situations where you would only have one free hand to fasten your helmet, so we aren't really sure what Petzl had in mind when they came up with this selling point. No matter what buckle you have, make sure your helmet is properly fastened and adjusted before you start up the pitch.
What we found in our tests of both the Meteor and the Sirocco was that the magnet did not always have enough oomph to click both small arms of the buckle completely closed. About one in four times, only one of the plastic arms would fasten and the buckle would need an extra squeeze to click the other arm in. Another thing our testers noticed was that the magnet would pick up tiny pebbles which would prevent the buckle from fully closing. The pebbles can be easily cleaned by brushing off the exposed part of the magnet, but it adds an extra step to applying the helmet. The bottom line is, we prefer the simplicity of the old plastic buckle. We think that the magnet is a gimmick which potentially makes a less safe helmet. We still love the new Meteor, but we wouldn't have minded if Petzl just left the buckle alone.
This version of the Meteor also received a redesigned rear band than the one found on the Meteor III and Meteor III +. This is an area where we feel that Petzl improved slightly on the older design. The new retention band still uses small buttons rather than a click wheel to adjust the size of the band. Only because our testers' fingers were used to the old style band did it take a little getting used to the function of the new band. If you owned a previous version of the Meteor, it might take you a couple outings for the new buttons to feel familiar, but once they do you will have no problem adjusting the tension of the band. The new band is a bit more comfortable because it is constructed from a slightly softer durometer plastic than the older once. It does just as good of a job at holding the helmet in place wether you are wearing it over a beanie, Buff, or straight-up. The new band still folds into the helmet once collapsed for easy packing.
The Meteor tipped the OutdoorGearLab digital scale at 7.6 ounces, making it 0.3 ounces lighter than the old version, which weighed 7.9 ounces. We doubt anybody can feel the difference of 0.3 ounces on the head, but it does get the Meteor closer to the 7.2 ounces of the lighter Black Diamond Vapor, if you are trying to decide between the two. (Go with the Meteor!) Regardless, the Petzl Sirocco is still by far the lightest helmet in our test at 5.8 ounces. The Sirocco is an awesome helmet, but we feel that the Meteor is better suited to everyday use because it is more durable and will hold up to day-to-day abuse better. We'd only recommend the Sirocco over the Meteor for super high level sends or for competition climbing where a couple of ounces could make the difference. Better yet, just go with the Meteor and don't eat so much on your rest day.
The Meteor is one of the best ventilated climbing helmets we've ever worn, and we awarded it a perfect ten in our ventilation test. The Petzl website claims that the redesigned vent pattern on this version of the Meteor improves ventilation over the previous version, however our testers could not perceive any noticeable difference between the Meteor and it's very well ventilated predecessor.The old version scored a perfect ten in our ventilation test along with the wispy Black Diamond Vapor.
Our testers wore this helmet as much in the winter as the summer, and easily logged as many days with a thin hat or Buff underneath as they did with nothing at all. Obviously, ventilation is not as much a concern when it's windy or the temps are low. If you regularly climb in the alpine, we recommend adding layers beneath your helmet rather than looking for a warmer helmet. That way you will have the flexibility to shed the layer and cool off when things heat up. Our testers agreed that the Meteor fit just as well with a layer underneath as without.
The new Meteor also received slightly redesigned headlamp clips in the overhaul. The new clips are slightly smaller than the old design, but our testers found that they are just as easy to use and hold a headlamp very securely.
As with all climbing helmets, we recommend that you attach your headlamp with the helmet off of your head to make sure that you get the strap properly seated beneath all of the clips. Obviously, you should do this at a safe stance. We don't recommend waiting to attach your headlamp until weighting your fifth straight bodyweight-only placement on an A4 pitch. Also, try not to be that guy that climbs all day with the headlamp attached to your helmet.
Again, the Meteor scored very highly for durability, which is especially notable considering it is one of the lightest helmets in our test. One thing that makes the Meteor especially resilient to wear and tear is that the the lower edge of the helmet is fully wrapped with polycarbonate shell material. A full wrap shell like this is something we always look for in a cycling helmet because we've found that protecting the lower edge of the foam dramatically increases the life span of the helmet.
The Meteor, like all of its predecessors, is composed primarily of polystyrene foam covered in a thin polycarbonate shell, similar to almost every half-shell bike helmet on the market. The polystyrene foam gives the helmet it's structure and absorbs impacts. The purpose of the hard polycarbonate shell is to protect the foam from daily abuse and also to spread out the force of a sharp object impacting the helmet. We call this type of helmet "lightweight foam" construction. About half of the climbing helmets in our test are lightweight foam helmets, the other half, like the Black Diamond Half Dome, are hardshell plastic helmets that are composed of a much thicker outer shell covering a smaller amount of impact absorbing material. Of the lightweight foam helmets in our test, the Meteor scored the highest for durability.
One tip we have for prolonging the life of your Meteor is to collapse the rear retention band into the helmet before you cram it in your pack. This will both prevent the band being damaged and take up slightly less room in your pack. It also prevents the top edge of the band from digging into unprotected foam on the inside of the helmet. With the band collapsed fully, it sits safely inside the helmet and is not prone to dinging the polystyrene or getting mangled by your rack.
The Meteor is an excellent choice for the broad range of climbing. From hard sport clipping in Kalymnos to couloir climbing in Alaska, the Meteor is the perfect balance of light weight, comfort, durability, and ventilation. The Meteor is both light enough for competition mixed climbing and durable enough for nailing your way up an El Cap obscurity.
The Meteor retails for $100, which is the same as the last version. When this helmet was first released, we saw a few retailer listing it for $110, but the price seems to have dropped to $100 everywhere. It's likely that you can find the Meteor for even less than $100 using our price finder.
If you can spend $100 on a climbing helmet, we recommend the Meteor for all types of climbing. You can spend more on a climbing helmet, but we see little reason to do so.
If you are looking to spend as little as possible to protect your head from falling objects while climbing, we recommend either the Black Diamond Half Dome or Petzl Elios, both of which retail for considerably less than the Meteor. The Half Dome just barely beat out the Elios for our Best Buy Award, which is given to the product with the highest test score to retail price ratio.
The Meteor is the best climbing helmet on the market, and wins our Editors' Choice Award for climbing helmets. This is our testers' favorite helmet for all types of climbing from mountaineering to sport climbing. This helmet took top scores in all of our tests and we awarded it a rare perfect 10 in comfort and ventilation.
We recommend the Meteor to any climber from beginner to pro no matter what discipline of climbing you do. We tell all our friends "Just get a Meteor, you won't regret it."
— Luke Lydiard
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 6, 2015
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