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Hands-on Gear Review
Mammut Wall Rider Review
Cons: Adjustment takes an extra minute, not the best headlamp clips.
Bottom line: Great all-around helmet for all climbing styles.
The future of climbing helmets is here, and it looks like the Mammut Wall Rider. This helmet combines a little bit of everything, with an open and well-vented EPP foam in the back and a plastic shell in the front. It keeps the traditional helmet look and feel up top, but sheds ounces off the more traditional hard-shell helmets. Depending on your own skull shape and size, you might prefer the fit of the Petzl Sirocco more than this one (it's a hair smaller in the larger size and about 2 ounces lighter), but the two are very similar in many ways. The Wall Rider is lightweight, comfortable, while offering a lot of protection and durability. This is our favorite all-around helmet, and it's suitable for just about every climbing application we can think of, from big walls to ice climbs, alpine routes or sport.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Mammut Wall Rider is made with an expanded polypropylene (EPP) shell with a re-inforced hardshell plastic coating on the front. It comes in two sizes, Size 1 (52-57 cm) and Size 2 (56-61 cm), and weighs 7.9 ounces in the Size 2 that we tested. Note that our 56 cm tester tried the Size 1 on and could not even get it on her head, but had good adjustability in the larger Size 2.
The Mammut Wall Rider received one of the highest scores for comfort of all of the helmets that we tested. Our testers were actually stuck in a three-way tie between this helmet, the Petzl Sirocco, and the Black Diamond Vapor.
How comfortable a helmet feels to you depends a lot on the fit, the weight, and the tensioning system. The Sirocco and the Wall Rider have very different fits, but otherwise feel similar and have the same webbing harness system. There's no knobs, bands, or long plastic pieces digging into your head with these models, and we appreciated the difference. We also liked the feel of the EPP foam on our heads. It's softer than EPS foam and has a little give to it, which feels more comfortable throughout the course of a long day. When cragging with some helmets, particularly the hardshell ones, we couldn't wait to take it off at the end of each pitch, but with the Wall Rider we didn't even notice it was still on and could wear it all day. This is key, as you are just as likely, if not more so, to get hit by falling rock while belaying as while climbing.
We gauged this metric both on how adjustable the helmet was and the ease of getting it in the right configuration for your head. This helmet is highly adjustable, but it does take a bit of finagling to get it just right.
The textile harness can adjust in three ways: the V-yoke around the ears can be shortened, the back strap can be adjusted to fit your head circumference, and then the chin strap can also be shortened. The first thing you want to dial in is the V-yoke, so that the buckles sit just below your ears (for better lateral stability) and so the chin strap buckles to side and not under your chin (for greater comfort). In order to do that you have to work the webbing through various buckles and the back of the helmet, and that can take a minute or two. Other helmets, like the CAMPUSA Storm, have sliding buckles that make that adjustment much faster. If you plan on passing your helmet around during the day to other climbers, this is not the one for that.
Once it is dialed into your head though, then you merely need to cinch the two strands in the rear that tighten the circumference, and then snap and tighten the chin strap. We weren't sure if we were going to like the all-textile harness, but it turns out to be sturdy enough to keep this light helmet in place, without giving us a tension headache or a pressure point from an adjustment knob.
This helmet weighs in a 7.9 ounces in the size 2 that we tested. That makes it about the same weight as the Petzl Meteor, but heavier than the Petzl Sirocco and the Black Diamond Vapor.
The EPP that the Wall Rider and Petzl Sirocco is made of is lighter but thicker than the EPS foam found on the Petzl Meteor and the BD Vapor. That's how the Sirocco can be only 6 ounces but still pass all of the safety tests. The Wall Rider has two ounces on the Sirocco because of the added plastic shell on the front and top, which more than anything offers a little piece of mind. Manufacturers are making an effort to make helmets lighter (and hopefully more wearable), and while they can still pass the impact safety certifications, some dent if you put them down the wrong way, can't be packed in your backpack, or even better, are recommended not for wearing on chossy rock. We think the Wall Rider strikes a great balance between offering impact protection up front, with lightweight and ventilating protection on the sides.
This helmet scored high for ventilation as well.
This helmet is almost as breathable the Black Diamond Vapor. The back EPP shell is more of a lattice work than a solid piece, allowing for maximum ventilation. There's also two small vents right at the front for a little extra airflow. In fact, if you often climb in poor weather or ice climb in the winter, this helmet might be too open. Consider instead the Petzl Elios, which has sealable vents to keep the elements out.
This helmet has two standard clips on the front, and a plastic bungee cord in the back. While it holds a headlamp reasonably well, it wasn't our favorite headlamp attachment system.
As with many models, the headlamp clips are connected to the harness system. Pull too hard on the clips, and they might pop out of the helmet. We had this happen when we tried to put a headlamp on without taking the helmet off and couldn't really see what we were doing. While it's always better to put your headlamp on with your helmet in your hands so as to see what you are doing, we don't always follow our own advice! Once we got the clips on the headlamp stayed in place securely, and the bungee cord in the back can accommodate a range of strap sizes, but it won't work with headlamps that have a battery pack in the back and a strap that comes across the top.
The small lip on the front of the helmet helps to keep a headlamp from falling down in the front, and even with a front heavy headlamp the helmet stayed in place, unlike when using the Petzl Sirocco. The whole helmet shifted down over our eyes when using a heavier headlamp on it.
We didn't experience any durability concerns during our testing period with this helmet. We can extrapolate a few things to it from our use of other helmets, but since it is a relatively new model we didn't have any years-old and well-used versions in our gear closets that we could use to compare. We do think it is a solidly built helmet though and gave it a high score for this category.
The hardshell plastic top piece seems similar to other ABS plastic hardshells, meaning it can take a small hit or two and keep on working. The sun visor is smaller on the Wall Rider than on the Mammut El Cap, which seemed to be a point of weakness, so we had less concern there. The EPP sides are a bit flexible, meaning they can take a little squeeze without cracking, so go ahead and put it in your pack, but perhaps don't sit on it! There is a lot of exposed foam though, so keep it away from your crampons or nut tool. We also liked that there are less things to break on the adjustment system. Besides the webbing getting slice (see above about crampons), there's not much that could fall apart.
This helmet can be used for just about any climbing application you can think off. Hot weather climbing? It's light and well-ventilated. Ice climbing? The hard shell with protect you from ice chunks. All day missions? It's lightweight and won't weigh you down. The Mammut Wall Rider is a great all-around helmet.
This helmet retails for $100, which is on par with most of the other EPS foam helmets on the market, but significantly less that the other EPP foam helmet, the Petzl Sirocco ($130). If you're not sure that you care about the extra ventilation or weight, then the hardshell Black Diamond Half Dome, our Best Buy winner, retails for only $60
We've been looking at the (old) Petzl Sirocco for years now and wondering when someone would make it better. Well, Petzl did update it with some good improvements, but Mammut took it one step further, and we really liked the result. It's lightweight but with good protection, durable and comfortable. There's basically no reason not to wear this helmet every time you go out climbing.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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