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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl Elios Review
Cons: Heavy, hot, vent shutters are difficult to use, headlamp clips are recessed too much.
Bottom line: One of the best ABS-style helmets available.
The Petzl Elios is an excellent, inexpensive helmet for nearly any type of climbing. This helmet was just edged out for our Best Buy award by the Black Diamond Half Dome, which scored the same overall in our tests but costs $5 less. That said, some of our testers preferred the Elios to the Half Dome, so it's really just a question of what fits your head better. The Elios does have the ability to block the vents, so if you climb in cold or blustery weather, or ice climb in the winter, this might be a better option for you.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Petzl Elios is a classic ABS hardshell climbing helmet. It comes in two sizes: 1 (48-56 cm) and 2 (53-61 cm), and several colors. This helmet is compatible with, and makes a sturdy platform for Petzl's Vizion eye shield for ice climbing.
The Petzl Elios was one of the most comfortable hardshell helmet we tested. We find it to be just slightly more comfortable than the Black Diamond Half Dome for two reasons. First, the brow padding is soft and fuzzy compared to the firm smooth padding of the Half Dome. Secondly, the way the rear adjustment band contacts the occipital area is more ergonomic and feels better when the helmet is tight. Though this helmet is comfortable, our testers think that lightweight foam helmets are the king of comfort. This is mostly due to the difference in weight. Lightweight foam helmets weigh 30-50% less than hardshell helmets, and the difference in weight is noticeable. The two most comfortable helmets we tested were our Editors' Choice winner, the Mammut Wall Rider, and the featherweight Petzl Sirocco, which is so light that it's barely perceptible.
Adjusting the Elios is quick and easy, and it has all the necessary points of adjustment. Petzl replaced the click wheel found on the previous version with two rather large buttons which size the rear adjustment band. You need to use two hands to tighten the band, but can get away with one if you just want to loosen it up a notch or two. The buttons are larger than the tabs found on the Petzl Meteor or the Black Diamond Vector, which makes them quicker and easier to operate, even with gloves on. If you really miss the click wheel you should consider the latest version of the Black Diamond Half Dome which has an improved wheel and is very similar in weight to the Elios. The chin strap can be positioned fore/aft with plastic buckles which lock in place. The chin strap is then closed with a buckle pinch release buckle as opposed to the magnetic buckles found on some of the other Petzl models.
This model weighs 11.4 ounces, making it on the heavier side of the helmets that we tested. The hardshell helmets that we tested all weighed 11 ounces and up (except for the Petzl Elia, which weighs only 10.1 ounces but is smaller than the other models that we weighed). While we couldn't really tell the difference between the 11.4 ounce Elios and the 11.8 ounce Mammut El Cap or the 12.1 ounce BD Half Dome, when we put the ultra-light helmets in this review on after the hard shell, the difference was significant. The Petzl Sirocco weighs only 6.1 ounces, about hald the weight of the ABS helmets, and over long days, that difference adds up.
This helmet has ten vents in the outer shell to keep the air flowing. While this is more than some of the other hardshell helmets, two of the vents are barely large enough to slip a quarter through. Number of vents aside, our testers found this helmet to have slightly better ventilation than the BD Half Dome, but not as good as any of the foam helmets, which have a much larger percentage of open area. If you need a helmet for hot weather climbing, check out the Black Diamond Vapor, which has the most open construction of any helmet in this review.
This helmet does have a unique feature, which is a sliding shutter which can be adjusted to cover the vents in wet or windy conditions. The shutters, which are made from the same ABS as the shell, are sandwiched between the outer shell and the polystyrene liner. At first we found the shutters hard to move, with a tiny tab located in the front, but after a while they slid more easily. We suspect that the shutters wore the polystyrene away slightly, allowing for them to move more freely. Overall there isn't a huge amount of perceivable difference with the shutters closed on windy days, but perhaps in heavy precipitation it might help keep your head drier.
This helmet uses four headlamp clips just like nearly every other helmet. These clips are small and sleek but somewhat hard to use. They are positioned in subtle dimples in the shell, which means that sliding a strap underneath is difficult. Since most climbers don't have much in the fingernail department, prying the clip up to slide the strap under is not an option. We found that the quickest way to get a headlamp strap underneath is to bend the outer shell slightly to open up a gap between the shell and the clip.
Durability is where hardshell helmets really shine. The Elios is no exception, and we gave it one of the highest scores for durability. Both this helmet, and the Black Diamond Half Dome, have a tough ABS plastic outer shell which won't dent under normal bumps from climbing or packing. These shells do a good job of protecting the more vulnerable polystyrene foam underneath. We did notice more cosmetic dings on the Elios however, and the plastic seems to scratch a little more easily than the Half Dome.
This helmet is a good choice for rough conditions where you need a durable lid to protect your noggin. We'd also recommend it for ice climbing, cold conditions, and those who don't like to spend a lot on their gear.
Hardshell helmets like the Petzl Elios are both more durable and considerably less expensive than foam helmets, so they are a much better value. This helmet retails for $65, and will last for years.
The Petzl Elios is an excellent choice for beginner climbers, climbers on a budget, or people who are rough on their gear.
— Cam McKenzie Ring & Luke Lydiard
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