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Petzl Sirocco Review

The lightest, most comfortable, and most enjoyable climbing helmet to wear.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $140 List | $110.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Super light, very comfortable, great ventilation, versatile for use while ski mountaineering, protects all sides of head
Cons:  Not as durable as ABS options, expensive, less easily adjustable
Manufacturer:   Petzl
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 17, 2019
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Comfort - 30% 9
  • Adjustability - 20% 5
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Ventilation - 10% 9
  • Headlamp Attachment - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

According to all of our testing and the opinions of multiple people who climbed in it, the Petzl Sirocco is the best climbing helmet that you can buy. It is far and away the lightest climbing helmet in our review, a trait that has quite a bit of carry-over into other attributes as well, such as comfort. Lighter helmets are more comfortable, but we also found this helmet to be deeper and slightly more "head-shaped" than some other shallower and rounder versions, increasing the comfort level. We applaud the mix of lightweight, resilient EPP foam, augmented with a more impact resistant EPS plate over the top of the head where one might be hit by falling rocks or ice, combined with the hard plastic exterior plate for greater durability. In short, this helmet perfectly blends the competing desires of safety and lightweight to be the most comfortable, and therefore most likely model that we would wear for every pitch.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sirocco is Petzl's top of the line helmet, made with a combination of many different materials. The entire helmet is EPP foam, which is a bit softer and more resilient than EPS foam, and can take multiple blows without cracking. However, it doesn't provide quite as substantial impact protection as EPS foam, so an EPS plate is inserted on the inside on the crown of the head to give extra security against impacts from falling objects. The same area of the head, the crown, is protected on the outside by a hard polycarbonate shell that increases the durability, so there is less concern about needing to retire the helmet after "smaller" impacts, preserving its foam for the more significant ones. It uses a very lightweight webbing harness system to hold itself firmly in place on the head. The inside of the helmet includes a couple of foam pads covered in soft felt to cushion the head against the foam, and your purchase comes with an extra set of these pads, attachable via Velcro, to swap out if the first pair flatten out or get too funky from sweat. It also comes with a soft felt sack for storage, not a terrible thing to carry it around in to protect the exposed EPP external foam. Lastly, attachment holes for Petzl's VIZION eye-shield, a flip down visor for use while ice climbing, are pre-drilled on the sides. In addition to being a fantastic climbing helmet, it is CE certified as a ski mountaineering helmet (different than the certification for downhill skiing helmets) and is a great lightweight option for all types of mountain pursuits.

Performance Comparison


If you're the type of person that hates helmets because they are too heavy or uncomfortable  check out the Sirocco!
If you're the type of person that hates helmets because they are too heavy or uncomfortable, check out the Sirocco!

Comfort


Our testers unanimously agreed that the Sirocco is the most comfortable climbing helmet among those we tested. This consensus is in large part due to how light it is, which we also grade for down below, but can't help but notice when assessing for comfort. Simply put, less weight means less discomfort, especially over a long day. One tester who repeatedly asked to wear only the Sirocco summed it up best, "I love this helmet because I never even notice that I have it on. With all of the others, I know I am wearing a helmet."


Much like the other lightweight EPP foam options, such as the Mammut Wall Rider, the Sirocco pads the head on the inside with tiny cushion inserts, providing a replacement pair as well. While we thought these could be thicker, the reality is they are all that is needed to cushion the head. Other helmets, such as the Black Diamond Vector, are also very comfortable, but in the end, can't claim to be as "unnoticeable" as the Sirocco.

This helmet is light and comfortable enough to convince even the most reluctant helmet users to wear it.
This helmet is light and comfortable enough to convince even the most reluctant helmet users to wear it.

Adjustability


This helmet uses a minimalist and lightweight webbing harness system to hold it on the head, and while we found it worked well enough, it wasn't the easiest to adjust, nor did it allow the widest range of adjustment. For instance, the webbing on the back of the head is only adjustable via one plastic buckle on one side of the head, versus two of the same sort of buckles on the Mammut Wall Rider MIPS, which allows for better centering of the helmet on the head if you tighten it up considerably. It comes for sale in two different sizes, with some overlap between the two, but if your head doesn't fit the sizing perfectly, it may not feel quite as comfortable.


The textile harness is comfortable and adjustable  but it takes a bit of time to adjust it to each individual head.
The textile harness is comfortable and adjustable, but it takes a bit of time to adjust it to each individual head.

The other adjustable parts of the helmet are the location on the v-yoke of the chin strap, which is nice to fine-tune. This adjustment is easy to manipulate and is much appreciated compared to the Black Diamond Vapor, which lacks this feature. The chin strap itself is also adjustable, as you would expect. In the end, we feel this helmet is adjustable enough, but if this is a primary consideration, far more adjustable models like the Black Diamond Half Dome or even Petzl Meteor are probably worth checking out first.

Our testers with long hair liked the way they were able to fit their ponytail through the webbing harness.
Our testers with long hair liked the way they were able to fit their ponytail through the webbing harness.

Weight


The large version of this helmet weighs 6.1 ounces, as verified by our independent scale. This figure is about an ounce lighter than the second lightest helmet, the Black Diamond Vapor.


While some people may consider all of these helmets to be light, our experience is that the heavier ABS shell helmets add a considerable amount of fatigue to a long day, and are thus less comfortable. Also, the lighter a helmet is, the more likely you are to wear it all the time, and this is the only way that it can truly protect you as a climber.

We like the updated look of this helmet more than the older model. It doesn't stick out quite as much as the all-orange foam from before  but it's still just as light.
We like the updated look of this helmet more than the older model. It doesn't stick out quite as much as the all-orange foam from before, but it's still just as light.

Ventilation


This helmet offers incredible ventilation, and by our count has 24 vents scattered throughout the front, sides, and back, providing ventilation coverage almost as complete as the Black Diamond Vapor, which almost seems to be more air than helmet.


We particularly like the two large vent holes on the front of the helmet, which seem to cool our forehead a bit in a breeze, and help provide an "airy-er" feel than the helmets that didn't include these front vents. Although the layout of vents and actual ventilated space is slightly different, we think this helmet is right in line with the Petzl Meteor and Mammut Wall Rider as some of the best ventilated you can choose.

It doesn't get much more ventilated than this! With large vents around the entire helmet  you're not likely to get overheated in this helmet.
It doesn't get much more ventilated than this! With large vents around the entire helmet, you're not likely to get overheated in this helmet.

Headlamp Attachment


The headlamp attachment system is a combination of two clips on the front of the helmet, and one elastic bungee held in place by a hook on the back of the helmet. While the front clips are slightly recessed, we found it very easy and quick to add our headlamps to the top, and the bungee in the back is faster and easier than two additional clips. The bungee helps hold headlamps with a large rear battery pack more firmly in place than the four clip model and is designed to be versatile for holding ski goggle straps in place as well, an ideal and necessary feature for ski mountaineers.


One of our testers found that with a massive front battery style headlamp, the light weight of the helmet allowed it to be pulled down over the forehead while walking, so that may not be the best design for use with this helmet. While we found the four-clip systems on the Petzl Boreo and the Black Diamond Half Dome to be perhaps even more straightforward and more natural, there's no arguing they aren't as versatile for skiing or mountaineering.

The Sirocco is so light that the weight of our headlamp dragged it down over our eyes.
The Sirocco is so light that the weight of our headlamp dragged it down over our eyes.

Durability


There is no question that this helmet is more durable than the original Sirocco, the all-foam light orange colored one. Even though plenty of softer EPP foam is left exposed on the outside, we noticed no dings, scrapes, or dents from our test period, and we weren't all that careful to protect it while carrying it around and didn't use the provided felt sack either. The hard polycarbonate shell top is much harder and less prone to deformation than the very soft shell found on the Black Diamond Vapor.


Worth pointing out is that our assessment of the durability is only for the cosmetic durability and everyday wear and tear over the course of a few years of climbing. We are saying nothing about the ability to protect from impacts or falls. However, this helmet does meet CE and UIAA standards for those instances.

Best Applications


The Sirocco is an ideal helmet for any mountain activity, whether that is rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, or ski mountaineering. Because of its exceptionally light weight, we found climbers were more likely to wear it in situations where they normally wouldn't, such as sport climbing or single pitch cragging.

This helmet offers more durability than the previous model thanks to the polycarbonate crown  but you'll still need to be careful how you treat it.
This helmet offers more durability than the previous model thanks to the polycarbonate crown, but you'll still need to be careful how you treat it.

Value


This helmet retails for $140, which is a fair bit of change. It ties as the second most expensive helmet in this review, due in large part to the EPP foam used to construct such a lightweight helmet. In this case, you are certainly getting what you pay for, and while it is more than double the cost of the Black Diamond Half Dome, it is also more than doubly enjoyable to wear. We think it presents fantastic value, especially if it inspires you to wear it more often, as it did for some of our testers.

Conclusion


The Petzl Sirocco is the lightest and most comfortable climbing helmet you can buy. These reasons alone make it worthy of our Editors' Choice award as the best overall, and it is also our top scorer. If you can afford the slightly elevated price tag, we don't think there is any reason to look further.

Sure  most people don't wear helmets when sport climbing - but if you are looking to protect your head no matter what style of climbing  do it with the Sirocco.
Sure, most people don't wear helmets when sport climbing - but if you are looking to protect your head no matter what style of climbing, do it with the Sirocco.


Andy Wellman