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Petzl Sirocco Review
Cons: Expensive, textile rear adjustment band is difficult to adjust.
Bottom line: If you're looking for the lightest option, this is it.
The Petzl Sirocco saw some significant updates in 2017, and we're happy with all of them. It kept it's rather unique look and shape, but added slightly more coverage in the rear and sides, along with an expanded polystyrene liner (which is designed to shatter like a bike helmet on impact), and a polycarbonate crown on top. It's a hair heavier than the older version, but offers more protection and is still the lightest helmet in our review. If you're intruiged by this helmet but want slightly more protection on top, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Mammut Wall Rider, which is very similar. If you don't feel like spending $130 on a helmet, our Best Buy winner, the Black Diamond Half Dome, is less than half the price.
RELATED REVIEW: The 12 Best Climbing Helmets
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Petzl Sirocco is a highly engineered piece of climbing equipment. It's made with almost every type of material used in helmets these days, except for heavy ABS plastic, of course. There's an expanded polypropylene (EPP) shell, an expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner, and a polycarbonate crown. It weighs a scant 6.1 ounces and is available in 2 sizes: S/M (48-58 cm) and M/L (53-61 cm). The larger size of this helmet still didn't offer quite as much coverage as the Mammut Wall Rider in the rear, particularly on those with big noggins, so if the M/L size in this helmet still feels a little small on you, check out the larger size of the Wall Rider instead. It's currently only available in Black with an orange top shell, though we have seen photos of a white version online.
This was easily one of the most comfortable models that we tested solely because it was so light. It's hard to get annoyed by a helmet if you barely feel it there. After using helmets with plastic tightening systems for years, it's a revelation to switch to a webbing harness instead. No knob pressing into the back of your skull, no plastic chaffing your temples or squeezing your brain, just a gentle squeeze from some thin webbing.
Part of what makes a helmet comfortable (or un-comfortable) is getting a good fit, so this metric is a bit subjective, but our group of testers was evenly split — some found this helmet to be the most comfortable, and others the Mammut Wall Rider. The Mammut has a slightly larger range in the Size 2, and provided more coverage for those with a protruding occipital bone.
This helmet uses an all-textile harness to secure it to your head. While this harness saves weight and collapses easily into the helmet for packing, it's not quite as easy to adjust as a plastic tightening system with a click-wheel, like on the Edelrid Shield II or the Black Diamond Half Dome.
It takes a bit of time to work the webbing through the various adjusters to get the fit of the chin strap and V-yoke just right for you. Once that's dialed in, the back of the harness has a single piece of webbing to pull on that cinches it down in the rear. So, while this helmet does offer a lot of adjustability, it's just not easy to get it all dialed in, nor is this the helmet that can easily be passed from person to person throughout the day without a lot of finagling.
We did like the feel of the textile harness, as we mentioned above, and because the helmet is so light it was functional enough to keep it in place without it moving around much on your head. This is essentially the same harness that is used on the Mammut Wall Rider as well, and it still works on that 8 ounce helmet, but we're not sure it would be functional on a 12 ounce model. One advantage of the lack of a rigid adjustment band is when packing. Once you take the helmet off, the entire harness collapses into the helmet without any adjustment, and there's no sharp plastic edges that might dig into the exposed foam and damage it. Another is for those with long hair in the back and ponytails. The flexible webbing has room for your ponytail to fit between it and the helmet.
This helmet uses the same magnetic closure buckle that is on the Petzl Meteor, which we're not really a fan of. There's a small magnet within the buckle that draws the two halves together so that you can clip it with one hand. The buckle actually secures with plastic clips rather than the force of magnetism, and the magnets don't always make the clips engage securely, so you still need to squeeze the two ends together a bit to ensure they are engaged. The magnet also tends to pick up small bits of dirt when climbing in granite areas like Yosemite. This can prevent the buckle from clipping completely, and it's challenging to remove the dirt. You'll want to keep this helmet off the ground as much as possible to avoid this issue. The photos below show a new buckle (left) vs one that has collected dirt and doesn't close properly (right).
This is the lightest climbing helmet currently available, and an easy choice for our Top Pick for Lightweight award. These awards are given to unique products which serve a specific purpose, and the Sirocco is the ultimate lightweight weapon for super hard sends or competitions which require helmets. Its lack of weight is its most distinguishing feature. It is impressively light in hand and barely noticeable on the head. Our testers agreed that they've worn heavier beanies.
The newly updated version of this helmet is a fraction heavier than before, but still almost a full ounce lighter than the next lightest helmet, the Black Diamond Vapor (6.1 ounces vs 7 ounces). While 9/10ths of an ounce might not seem like much, that's still almost a 15% decrease in weight over the next lightest helmet on the market, and it's half the weight of many of the hardshell ABS models available. While you might not be able to tell the difference between one or two ounces on your head, you can definitely notice 5 or 6.
This helmet has some of the best ventilation of any model in this review.
The overall shape of this helmet is very similar to the Petzl Meteor, but it uses a different and more open vent pattern, which provides an even greater amount of ventilation. The Black Diamond Vapor is just a fraction more open, but both of these helmet earn top scores in terms of ventilation, as opposed to some of the less expensive helmets which have less vents and a noticeable heat build-up.
This was one of the features that we liked the least about this helmet, and its headlamp attachment received the lowest rating of all of the helmets in this review.
There are two "typical" headlamp clips in the front that function effectively, and the back had an elastic V band for securing the strap. Note that this has been turned around from the previous version; it used to clip upwards, which is the same direction as your headlamp wants to pop off. Now the V closes downwards, which is an improvement. However, the helmet is so light that when we used a larger headlamp it pulled the whole helmet down over our eyes.
As with most ultra-light gear, a drop in weight means a drop in durability. While we scored this helmet higher than some of the all EPS foam helmets that we tested, it still doesn't hold up to the durability provided by an ABS hardshell helmet.
The updated version of this helmet offers more durability than the previous all EPP model, thanks to the polycarbonate shell on top and more rigid EPS liner. The outer expanded polypropylene shell is still soft and slightly flexible, which we think actually helps prevent cracking as there is a little give in the material. You should still be very careful when packing this helmet in your pack though, and try to remember not to throw it down or sit on it if you're carrying your helmet inside. Note that the foam can easily be scratched, dented, and chipped away by sharp objects, so pack it away from your rack or crampons. If long term durability is your number one concern, we think you should consider a hard plastic helmet such as the Petzl Elios or the Black Diamond Half Dome.
This helmet excels in area where ounces count, such as sport climbing, competition climbing, super light and fast alpine ascents, or any time you would elect to not wear a helmet due to its weight and bulk.
The Petzl Sirocco is an ultra-light tool for specialized situations where minimizing weight makes a difference. It retails for $130, which, along with the Black Diamond Vapor ($140) is the most expensive helmet that we tested. If you are simply looking to protect your head from falling debris then there are definitely less expensive and longer lasting options. Our favorite bargain helmet is the Black Diamond Half Dome, which retails for just $60 and won our Best Buy Award. We also really liked the Petzl Elios, which costs only $65 and is much more durable than the Sirocco.
The Petzl Sirocco is an ultra-light helmet which should be reserved for the hardest sends where every gram counts. However, most people only own one helmet, and might rarely use it if they only sport climb. If you need some incentive to wear a helmet every time you climb, then this might be the perfect option for you, as you'll barely notice it on your head.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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