The Mammut El Cap is a hardshell climbing helmet with some good features, most notably the sun visor. It is adjustable, but heavy and not as comfortable as the lightweight foam models for all day wear. While this type of helmet still serves a purpose, when compared to the lightweight EPS and EPP foam helmets, including Mammut's own Wall Rider, our Editors' Choice winner, it falls a little behind. We also preferred the Black Diamond Half Dome over this helmet, and gave it our Best Buy award for great value and durability.
Mammut El Cap Review
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mammut El Cap is made with a hard plastic shell with an EPS liner. It currently comes in three color choices and two sizes: Size 1 (52-57 cm) and Size 2 (56-61). Note that a lot of user reviews complain that they bought a Size 1 and found it too small. We only tested a Size 2, but it fit both our 56 cm female tester (closed to as small as possible) and our 61 cm male tester with a bit of play still. So, if you are in the 56 or 57 cm range, we'd recommend the Size 2 over the Size 1.
The Mammut El Cap ranked similarly to most of the other hardshell helmets that we tested. It's comfortable enough for all-day wear, and has some nice padding around the forehead. However, so much of a helmet's comfort is associated with its weight, and this one is on the heavy side. We did like that it has a slider bar instead of a click-wheel to tighten it, which tends to create a pressure point on the back of your head. And we gave this helmet an extra comfort point for giving our face some shade on sunny days.
There's a lot of adjustability to this helmet, and it scored high in this category. The V-yoke for the chin strap is adjustable, and the buckle is small and sits on the side of your chin, not directly underneath it like on the CAMP USA Armour. The rear slider bar can also move up and down on the webbing to help it fit better around your own occipital bone shape. However, there is only 5 cm of play in the circumference of the helmet, and we got more range out of the Black Diamond Half Dome. If you are looking for something that can fit a range of people, say for a group or program, check out that helmet instead.
This helmet was one of the heaviest in this review, weighing 11.8 ounces. While it felt similar to the 12.1 ounce BD Half Dome and the 11.4 ounce Petzl Boreo, it was a revelation to put the 6.1 ounce Petzl Sirocco on after wearing this helmet. That helmet got our Top Pick for Lightweight award for being the lightest and most comfortable helmet that we tested.
We actually liked the ventilation that we got in this helmet, and gave it a slightly higher score than the Petzl Boreo for this category. The El Cap has two ventilation slots on the forehead, which helped to vent some of our heat and let a breeze in. The slots on the side are large in the shell but small in the EPS liner, and don't offer much in the way of ventilation. The Petzl Boreo's vents can be shuttered though, which is a nice touch if you climb in very cold conditions or poor weather.
Our thoughts on the headlamp attachment clips for the El Cap are mixed. The rear tabs are standard clips with a notch at the bottom to secure your headlamp strap. The front ones are more positioning tabs than anything else; there's no notch, not a lot of pressure exerted on the strap, and they don't cover a strap completetly either. We wore this helmet on an evening Search and Rescue operation and had no issues with the headlamp slipping, but knowing how finicky headlamps and helmets can be, we wished this one attached a little more securely. Also, if you are using a smaller headlamp that lies close to the helmet, you might end up with a dark spot due to the sun visor.
While this helmet is more durable than most of the lightweight foam helmets on the market, but when examining older and well-used versions of the hardshell helmets that we tested, this was the one we saw the most wear in. We have a ten-year old Elios that is still hanging in there, and an older Black Diamond Half Dome that still looks great as well, but our old El Cap has a crack in the visor. Also, from a purely cosmetic standpoint, the graphics are nice but easily scratched up, so we'd recommend the plain helmet over this one.
The Mammut El Cap is a great choice for those looking for the maximum protection that a hardshell helmet offers but who want a little more ventilation. As small as the sun visor is, it does offer a bit more face coverage so if you climb in the sun a lot this is a great feature for you.
This helmet retails for $70, which is a bit more than the $65 Petzl Boreo and the $60 Black Diamond Half Dome, our Best Buy winner. Considering that we preferred the other two helmets over this one, you can save a few dollars and go with one of those models instead.
The Mammut El Cap is a sturdy helmet that's a good option for those who prefer a hardshell helmet over a foam "bicycle" helmet style one. With the addition of a sun-visor, this helmet is a great choice for those who climb in sunny locales.
— Cam McKenzie Ring