Singing Rock Penta Review
Cons: Minimal adjustment possible, comes in only one rather small size, headlamp clips seem fragile
Manufacturer: Singing Rock
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Singing Rock is climbing gear company based in the Czech Republic. The Penta is an EPS molded helmet with a light "eggshell" of Polycarbonate plastic covering it to offer protection for the foam. It comes in at least four different colors, but only one size, which they claim will work for head sizes ranging from 51-60cm. This is slightly smaller on the high end than most helmets, which also tend to be broken down into two different, overlapping, size ranges. It has a minimal and not very adjustable webbing harness system that helps to keep the helmet light. We found that this helmet needs to fit out of the box to be comfortable, and that you will need to have a smaller head for this to work. Think of it as a size "small," when comparing it to other models, and if you can't wear a size small, then don't consider this one. Our male head tester found that it sat on top of his head like a top hat, while his female partner thought it fit perfectly and was her favorite of all test models of climbing helmets.
The fit of this helmet is relatively small and tends toward a round shape rather than oblong. The shape compared to the shape of your head is critical to consider, because this is a molded foam helmet with very minimal possibilities of adjustment. Two different testers had drastically different opinions when it came to the comfort level: one felt it was way too small, creating a lot of pressure on the front and back of his head. A female tester felt it fit perfectly and was more comfortable than any other helmet she had worn. Like all helmets, this one has soft cushioned inserts on the inside that pad your head against the foam, although there is only one on the top and one along the forehead.
As we've already mentioned, this is among the least adjustable helmets you can buy, so the initial fit is critical. The harness system is made of lightweight webbing and is adjustable in the back by two buckles. This tensioning band can also be moved up or down to accommodate head shape or hair. The v-yoke straps that go around the ears and attach to the chin strap are sewn in place and cannot be adjusted at all. Likewise, the chin strap itself is sewn directly to the v-yoke, and so its position is also fixed.
We tested the only size that is available for this helmet and found that it weighed a mere 7.2 ounces on our independent scale. It is remarkably light, ranking up there with the very best and most expensive in this review, which also happen to cost a lot more. We have found that the lighter a helmet, the more enjoyable it is to wear over a long day, so the minimal weight is a big bonus for those interested in the Penta.
Like most EPS foam helmets, this one is fairly well ventilated. It features four very large vent holes on each side, with another three large vents on the back, for a total of 11. On the inside, the shaping of the foam is such that there is often a gap between the head and the foam, allowing for a bit of airflow. While not the single best ventilating helmet you can buy, it is never-the-less above average.
The Penta uses the same design as most helmets for attaching a headlamp, comprised of four plastic clips on each corner that hold the headlamp's band in place. These clips are recessed into the shell plastic so that a smooth outer surface is maintained. Because they are recessed, we found it necessary to take the helmet off to put our headlamp on, not that big of a deal. However, the clips themselves are a bit flimsy and don't hold much tension; it is easy to over bend them, and our testers thought they feel potentially prone to breaking off.
The Penta is coated on the outside with a thin polycarbonate shell that protects the fragile foam beneath. This shell even extends under the edges of the helmet, to further protect it while resting on the ground. It has proven to be quite durable over our test period, and is free of any dents or nicks, while we did nothing to baby it. It performs much the same as the PC shell covering Petzl helmets and is not prone to excessive denting like Black Diamond PC shell helmets. While one must always be sort of careful to protect a foam helmet, this one is fairly durable.
The Penta is among the least expensive helmets you can buy, even more affordable than our Best Bang for the Buck winner. We think it provides excellent value considering it is made of light EPS foam, yet comes as a bargain price. The giant caveat, of course, is that relatively few will find that it fits perfectly enough to be worth buying.
The Singing Rock Penta is a very affordable helmet made with lightweight foam. It only comes in one size, and is not very adjustable, so one must be sure that it fits comfortably before committing to a purchase. If you are lucky, then the Penta can be a fantastic value purchase, while the majority are likely to find that the fit is too small, eliminating it as a choice for consideration.
— Andy Wellman