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Edelrid Salathe Review

A viable lightweight option that has a different mold shape than other EPP options, so may be the best fit for you
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Price:  $120 List | $119.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Light, side and rear impact rated, easy headlamp and goggle attachment
Cons:  Pricey, adjustment harness is limited in range, v-yolk doesn’t clear ears
Manufacturer:   Edelrid
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 10, 2020
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Adjustability - 20% 4
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Ventilation - 10% 7
  • Headlamp Attachment - 10% 9
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Edelrid Salathe is a lightweight, EPP foam helmet with a partial hard plastic top piece. The EPP foam keeps it light, while also enabling it to offer side and rear impact resistance, a feature that is still not super common on helmets these days, and is a nice benefit if you were to slam your head against the rock while falling. It has an elastic strap on the back for use with ski goggles, adding to its versatility and fits deeply over the head. While it is a solid choice if the other similarly designed helmets we've reviewed don't fit your head well, we thought the harness system on this helmet was inferior, with greater difficulty adjusting the fit, and a more limited range of adjustment. While some will find this to be a great helmet for their needs, we wouldn't call it our top pick among the high end, lightweight, EPP foam choices.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

John Salathe (pronounced Sah-la-thay) was a Yosemite climbing pioneer who made the first big wall ascents in the valley, including the Lost Arrow Spire and the famous chimney route — the Steck/Salathe — on Sentinal Rock. The Salathe Wall on El Cap was named in his honor by the first ascensionists, and is now perhaps the most famous free climb in the world. The Edelrid Salathe helmet is the perfect choice for any of these iconic long routes, as its light weight will minimize fatigue over the course of long days, and its EPP foam construction will protect you from falling objects from above as well as from head trauma should you hit your head in a fall. Its shape is a bit different from the other similar lightweight helmets made by Petzl or Mammut, so if you are having trouble finding the perfect fit for your head, this one may be a good bet. That said, we found its minimalist webbing harness system to be the poorest adjusting of any in this review, and in particular, it was difficult for us to get the v-yolk to fit correctly around our ears.

Performance Comparison


The Salathe is a lightweight  EPP foam helmet with a large plastic shell on top  and offers side and rear impact protection as well as the normal top impact protection  making it a good choice for any style of climbing.
The Salathe is a lightweight, EPP foam helmet with a large plastic shell on top, and offers side and rear impact protection as well as the normal top impact protection, making it a good choice for any style of climbing.

Comfort


How comfortable this helmet is for you will depend on your head shape, as foam helmets such as this one are molded in a certain shape that cannot be adjusted if it doesn't fit you just right. The fit is rather deep and slightly oblong, closer to the fit of Petzl helmets than to that of Mammut foam options. We tested the larger of the two sizes, and while the fit will depend on the individual, we did not find the helmet large enough to wear a beanie or visor on beneath it.

As you can see in this photo  the v-yolk strap runs into the back of our ears  which gets pretty annoying on a long day. If we moved the chin strap back to try to ease the angle  then it would put too much pressure on our throat. We played with this many times and couldn't make it work  so for us this helmet wasn't as comfortable as comparable options.
As you can see in this photo, the v-yolk strap runs into the back of our ears, which gets pretty annoying on a long day. If we moved the chin strap back to try to ease the angle, then it would put too much pressure on our throat. We played with this many times and couldn't make it work, so for us this helmet wasn't as comfortable as comparable options.

Our main complaints with discomfort come from the fit of the v-yolk around the ears. Basically, it doesn't hang down from the helmet far enough, and the webbing is simply too short. While it is adjustable in some ways, no matter how we adjusted it we had to choose between having the yolk go over the ears, which is particularly annoying, having it bite in behind the ears, or having the chin strap apply far too much pressure against the throat. While you may not have the same problems we did, we simply point out that the very similar webbing harnesses in competing helmets fit us just fine with no discomfort.

Adjustability


In general, lightweight helmets with simple webbing harnesses offer the least adjustable fits, and are nowhere near as adjustable or as convenient as either slider bar or click wheel adjustment systems. Of all the similar designs that we've tested, we found this one to be particularly difficult, mostly because the webbing is a bit too short to give the widest range of options, and because there are bar tacks sewn into the v-yolk that block how far the chin strap can slide forward or back. As mentioned, the v-yolk was difficult for us to adjust to fit comfortably around the ears, but when we did manage a comfortable enough fit, then the chin strap was too tight against our throats, with the unnecessary bar tacking blocking a more comfortable adjustment.

Here you can see the two bar tacks sewn in place along the v-yolk strap  limiting the range that this plastic slider can move from side to side. For us  this meant that we were actually never able to adjust this harness in a way that was optimally comfortable  and we can't figure out why having this bar tacks in place would help with fit  it can only hinder.
Here you can see the two bar tacks sewn in place along the v-yolk strap, limiting the range that this plastic slider can move from side to side. For us, this meant that we were actually never able to adjust this harness in a way that was optimally comfortable, and we can't figure out why having this bar tacks in place would help with fit, it can only hinder.

The plastic slider buckles where the webbing can be adjusted have teeth on them to better hold the webbing in place, but we found this feature to be unnecessary, as the webbing doesn't tend to move on its own anyway, and the teeth make it difficult enough to slide the buckles that you must take the helmet off. On the rear of the head there is a single pull tab that tightens the fit.

Weight


The larger of the two versions of this helmet weighed in at 7.7 ounces on our independent scale, which is pretty darn light. There are still a few helmets in this review that came in lighter, however, but when wearing it for many hours on long multi-pitch routes we never felt as if our helmet was heavy and weighing down on our head.


We tested the larger of the two sizes  which only weighed 7.7 ounces. While this is about half the weight of the heaviest ABS hardshell options  its still over an ounce heavier than the lightest choices.
We tested the larger of the two sizes, which only weighed 7.7 ounces. While this is about half the weight of the heaviest ABS hardshell options, its still over an ounce heavier than the lightest choices.

Ventilation


One of the great advantages of lightweight foam construction is that it allows for a myriad of ventilation openings. This helmet has 17 total vents, including some rather large ones on the front over the forehead. While it doesn't have the most vent holes, it offers plenty of spaces for hot air to escape. However, we found that the fit doesn't afford much room for air to circulate within the helmet, and climbing on pleasant spring days, found that we could easily work up a sweat and soak the absorbent pads on the inside, suggesting that it still runs a bit hot.

The rear of this helmet is laced with a swiss cheese amount of ventilation holes  which allow hot air to escape. That said  for us  there was little space within the helmet to allow for added airflow  and we still usually got very sweaty while wearing it. You can also see the read elastic strap that serves to conveniently attach headlamps or ski goggles.
The rear of this helmet is laced with a swiss cheese amount of ventilation holes, which allow hot air to escape. That said, for us, there was little space within the helmet to allow for added airflow, and we still usually got very sweaty while wearing it. You can also see the read elastic strap that serves to conveniently attach headlamps or ski goggles.

Headlamp Attachment


To attach a headlamp, or ski goggles as Edelrid recommends, one simply needs to slide the band up underneath two plastic clips on the front, and then attach it in the back via the single elastic strap. We found the clips very easy to use, and after one or two practices, thought it was straightforward and easy to put a headlamp or goggles on this helmet without taking it off. In fact, this is the easiest of all of the similar designs with an elastic strap in back to use, mostly due to the perfect amount of tension and accessibility of the front clips, which are not overly tight or recessed to prevent easy access.

This helmet is very easy to attach a headlamp to  even while it is on the head! Two simple clips in the front are easy to slide the headlamp band under  and in the back it is held securely in place with a single elastic strap.
This helmet is very easy to attach a headlamp to, even while it is on the head! Two simple clips in the front are easy to slide the headlamp band under, and in the back it is held securely in place with a single elastic strap.

Durability


This helmet is made entirely of EPP foam, which is a bit more resilient than EPS foam, and so does not need to be completely covered with a polycarbonate shell. The foam has the ability to spring back after taking minor blows, but can become a bit nicked up if you treat it roughly, so be careful how you place it in your pack. It comes with a stuff sack cover to keep it looking nice and unscratched while transporting or storing it, but we used it for many months without this sack and cosmetically the foam is still in great shape.

The large plastic top piece aids in durability by protecting from top impacts as well as nicks and dings to the foam. In general  the EPP foam is able to bounce back and recover from small impacts  making it more durable than EPS alternatives  although it also comes with a stuff sack for carrying it in your pack.
The large plastic top piece aids in durability by protecting from top impacts as well as nicks and dings to the foam. In general, the EPP foam is able to bounce back and recover from small impacts, making it more durable than EPS alternatives, although it also comes with a stuff sack for carrying it in your pack.

Value


This helmet is not cheap, but is priced a bit lower than many of the other top end foam climbing helmets. Considering the performance, we think it provides pretty solid value as long as it fits you correctly and you don't experience the issues with the v-yolk fit that we did. While we like other EPP helmets a bit better, ultimately fit and comfort are the deciding factors for each individual, and if this one fits the best, there is no reason it won't serve you well for a long time.

Testing the Salathe in the Lower Gorge at Smith Rock  a great trad climbing venue. While it isn't super cheap  we think this helmet presents good value if it fits your head properly  as lightweight EPP foam helmets are worth the extra money in our opinion.
Testing the Salathe in the Lower Gorge at Smith Rock, a great trad climbing venue. While it isn't super cheap, we think this helmet presents good value if it fits your head properly, as lightweight EPP foam helmets are worth the extra money in our opinion.

Conclusion


The Edelrid Salathe is a viable lightweight helmet that offers impact protection from the top, sides, and rear, making it one of the best and most versatile options. While it is nearly double the price of the least expensive helmets, we think you are far more likely to wear your helmet, and enjoy wearing it, with a lightweight foam option such as this one.

Its light weight means it works well for sport climbing as well as long multi-pitch  and can protect from an unexpected upside down fall where you may hit the wall. Here testing at the Elona crag in Leonidio  Greece.
Its light weight means it works well for sport climbing as well as long multi-pitch, and can protect from an unexpected upside down fall where you may hit the wall. Here testing at the Elona crag in Leonidio, Greece.

Andy Wellman