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The 5 Best Climbing Helmets of 2024

We tested climbing helmets from Black Diamond, Petzl, CAMP, Smith, and others to find the most comfortable and protective lids for your dome
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Best Climbing Helmet Review (The crop of climbing helmets tested in 2023.)
The crop of climbing helmets tested in 2023.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi
By Andy Wellman, Cam McKenzie Ring, and Jeff Dobronyi  ⋅  May 7, 2024

The Best Climbing Helmets for 2024


Searching for the best climbing helmet? We bought 13 of the most popular options to test side-by-side as we build on our extensive experience with upwards of 40 different climbing helmets over more than a decade of testing. With the possibility of being struck in the head from falling rock or ice or slamming your head into the wall after an out-of-control fall, wearing a helmet while climbing is simply a good idea. Our team of experts takes these helmets cragging on single-pitch routes, up long adventurous trad climbs, and on multi-day alpine objectives. We carefully evaluate each helmet across six performance metrics: comfort, adjustability, weight, ventilation, features and durability. No matter your preferred climbing style, there are solid helmets available at every price point.

From the best climbing ropes to the latest and best climbing harnesses, all of our gear has been tested by a team of experienced, dedicated climbers, both amateur and professional. We use our in-depth testing to outline all our favorite climbing gear to make your purchase decisions easier.

Editor's Note: We updated our climbing helmet review on May 7, 2024, to adjust the scores in our weight metric and to include more recommendations in our award section. We also added a section outlining how we test.

Top 13 Climbing Helmets - Test Results

Displaying 6 - 10 of 13
 
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award    
Price $115.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 4 sellers
$57.88 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$99.95 at Amazon$44.96 at Backcountry$119.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Super comfortable, durable, good features, dual-ratedAffordable, extremely durable, easy to adjustLight, side and rear impact rated, easy headlamp and goggle attachmentDurable, very protective, versatile for many different types of climbing, affordableProtective, durable, lots of size adjustment
Cons Heavy, limited size adjustment, expensiveHeavy, not very comfortable, poor ventilationPricey, adjustment harness is limited in range, v-yoke doesn’t fit some earsHeavy, not as adjustable as othersHeavy, limited mobility and comfort, lacks ventilation
Bottom Line This dual-rated climbing and skiing helmet has a perfect fit and plenty of mobility for users who do both activitiesA durable and adjustable option that excels as an entry-level helmet or for users on a budgetA viable lightweight option that has a different mold shape than other foam helmetsA great value that can take some serious abuseThis heavy and highly protective helmet is great for those expecting lots of falling objects and overhead hazard, but it isn't the best while climbing
Rating Categories Smith Summit MIPS H... Black Diamond Half... Edelrid Salathe Petzl Boreo Black Diamond Capit...
Comfort (30%)
10.0
4.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Adjustability (20%)
5.0
10.0
4.0
6.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
3.5
4.7
8.3
6.0
5.2
Ventilation (10%)
6.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Features (10%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Smith Summit MIPS H... Black Diamond Half... Edelrid Salathe Petzl Boreo Black Diamond Capit...
Measured Weight (Size Medium or M/L) 14.4 oz 12.7 oz 7.7 oz 11.0 oz 12.0 oz
Shell Style In mold, Koroyd EPS Foam with ABS Shell Foam-Injected EPP Core, Partial ABS Hard Shell ABS Shell with EPP and EPS Foam 2-Piece ABS Shell - EPP Foam/EPS Foam Puck
Certifications EN 1077, EN 12492 EN12492 EN12492 EN12492 EN12492
Number of Sizes 4 2 2 2 2
Number of Colorways 5 4 1 4 1
Warranty 3 year limited 1 year 1 year 3 year 1 year


Best Overall Climbing Helmet


Black Diamond Vision MIPS


83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Adjustability 8.0
  • Weight 6.9
  • Ventilation 9.0
  • Features 10.0
  • Durability 7.0
Weight: 9.7 oz. | Shell Style: EPP and EPS, ABS Shell with MIPS
REASONS TO BUY
Includes MIPS technology
Very comfortable and highly adjustable
Side impact protection from EPP foam
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Not the lightest

We consider the Black Diamond Vision MIPS the best climbing helmet on the market today. The addition of the MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) harness – technology that is now standard in both bike and ski helmets – reportedly reduces the chances of concussion by deflecting certain impacts and reducing impact forces. We see no reason this technology should not become standard in climbing helmets. The Vision MIPS is also really comfortable, highly adjustable, and well-ventilated. We reach for this helmet the most often for our personal climbing and guiding, which just goes to show how versatile and comfortable this helmet is.

The MIPS harness and more durable ABS shell make this helmet heavier than most other foam options. That said, we don't really feel the weight difference over a long day of climbing, and the added durability and protection are well worth the weight increase. It still certainly feels lighter than any helmets that use a full hard-shell design. The technology incorporated in this helmet increases the price, but we don't consider the price outrageous compared to other high-end foam helmets. If you want the best protection from your climbing helmet, in the most comfortable and adjustable package available, then the Vision MIPS makes that decision easy. If you're looking for the lightest weight helmets on the market, check out the Black Diamond Vapor or the Petzl Sirocco — just know that these models are not as durable.

Read more: Black Diamond Vision MIPS review

MIPS works by allowing the helmet to rotate freely without pulling the user's head with it, absorbing the rotational force of side impacts and collisions.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Best Bang for the Buck


Black Diamond Half Dome


64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Adjustability 10.0
  • Weight 4.7
  • Ventilation 5.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Durability 9.0
Weight: 12.7 oz. | Shell style: Hard ABS Plastic with EPS Foam
REASONS TO BUY
Great value
Durable
Easy to adjust
Great headlamp clips
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Poor ventilation

The Black Diamond Half Dome is an affordable and very protective helmet that is one of the most popular climbing helmets in the world. It provides more protection and offers more durability than any other helmet at an unbeatably low price point. Our testers love the click-wheel adjustment system on the back because it's super easy to use with only one hand and offers a wide range of size adjustments to suit any dome.

One flaw seems to plague all hardshell helmets we've tested — weight. At 12.7 ounces, the Half Dome weighs more than twice as much as the lightweight Petzl Sirocco. Although it might only seem like a few ounces, this difference is very noticeable after a long day. The Half Dome also doesn't ventilate well and isn't the most comfortable helmet compared to other, better-padded options. We worry that the annoyance of the weight, limited ventilation, and lack of comfort might translate into some climbers wearing this helmet less often, thereby negating the purpose of a helmet altogether. That said, the Half Dome's attractive price likely outweighs these downsides for new climbers or those shopping on a tight budget. If you're willing to pay a bit more for added comfort, take a look at the Petzl Meteor below.

Read more: Black Diamond Half Dome review

climbing helmet - testing the ever-popular bd half dome, while belaying in smith rock...
Testing the ever-popular BD Half Dome, while belaying in Smith Rock State Park, Oregon, USA.

Best Value for a Lightweight Helmet


Petzl Meteor


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Adjustability 9.0
  • Weight 7.8
  • Ventilation 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Durability 8.0
Weight: 8.5 oz. | Shell style: EPS, Polycarbonate
REASONS TO BUY
Easily adjustable
Lots of ventilation
Affordable for a lightweight helmet
Versatility for ski mountaineering
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier than the lightest helmets
Magnetic chin clip attracts dirt

The Petzl Meteor balances low weight and durability with affordability. It features a hard-shell design, with a polycarbonate plastic shell covering the entire helmet. This shell adds significant durability compared to more expensive, exposed foam designs, but it isn't as heavy as shells that use ABS plastic. The result is a helmet that is light enough to feel minimalist and comfortable for all-day use, durable enough to withstand plenty of abuse, and affordable enough for climbers on a budget who also want a high-performance helmet.

The Meteor is easily adjustable via a plastic slider bar on the back of the head. Still, this system isn't as comfortable as the lightweight fabric straps that the most comfortable helmets use. It has tons of ventilation holes for climbing when the weather is hot or when you are sweating, making it a great choice for mountaineering and ski mountaineering. It isn't as cheap as the most inexpensive helmets like the Black Diamond Half Dome or as light as the lightest helmets like the Petzl Sirocco, but it presents an attractive balance between the two.

Read more: Petzl Meteor review

climbing helmet - we love the petzl meteor for any style of climbing, from big walls...
We love the Petzl Meteor for any style of climbing, from big walls to sport climbing on hot days. It's lightweight with good ventilation, great adjustability, and an affordable price tag to boot.

Best Lightweight Climbing Helmet


Petzl Sirocco


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Adjustability 8.0
  • Weight 9.5
  • Ventilation 9.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Durability 5.0
Weight: 6.1 oz. | Shell style: EPP and EPS, Partial Polycarbonate Shell
REASONS TO BUY
Extremely lightweight
Protects head from both top and side impacts
Great ventilation
Comfortable
REASONS TO AVOID
Pricey
Less adjustable than many

The Petzl Sirocco is almost the perfect climbing helmet, being so lightweight and comfortable that we sometimes forget we are wearing it. It is protective enough for most common forms of climbing, like sport climbing and single-pitch trad climbing in well-traveled venues. It has a small hard-shell patch on the very top of the head to protect from falling objects, and high-quality foam around the sides to protect against lateral impacts. The fit is perfect, with a lightweight and comfortable fabric harness system for the head that offers plenty of adjustability. And, of course, plenty of vents increase airflow on hot days.

The Sirocco has some downsides, though, including price and durability. The exposed foam is susceptible to damage, and although this helmet lasts a decently long time, we notice that dings and dents tend to add up over time. It also costs a lot of money, and this significant investment will eventually be damaged and need replacement, even without sustaining a major impact. Qualms aside, this is the helmet you will see on many professionals for a good reason. No matter what kind of climbing you engage in, the Sirocco is optimal. The Black Diamond Vapor is similar in weight and we favor its ventilation slightly more, although we were bigger fans of the Sirocco's fit.

Read more: Petzl Sirocco review

climbing helmet - the petzl sirocco, high above the red rock, is a fan favorite for...
The Petzl Sirocco, high above the Red Rock, is a fan favorite for lightweight performance on well-travelled routes and cliffs where overhead hazard isn't too much of a concern.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Best Dual-Rated Climbing Helmet


Smith Summit MIPS Helmet


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 10.0
  • Adjustability 5.0
  • Weight 3.5
  • Ventilation 6.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Durability 9.0
Weight: 14.4 oz. | Shell style: ABS and Polycarbonate
REASONS TO BUY
Dual-certified for both climbing and skiing
Amazingly comfortable
Super durable
MIPS protection
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Very expensive

The Smith Summit MIPS is the best dual-certified climbing and skiing helmet currently on the market. It stands out from the competition for its pristine comfort and perfect fit. This helmet is more comfortable to wear than any other we have ever tested, thanks to a cocoon-like BOA adjustment mechanism and a shape that cradles your head. Thanks to the mostly ABS plastic shell, it can take a beating, ensuring your investment will last. The MIPS interior liner adds considerable protection against head injuries and also increases comfort by improving airflow. If you are a backcountry skier who climbs occasionally, this helmet is a great choice.

Unfortunately, this helmet is heavy compared to other climbing-specific helmets, making it a poor choice for high-performance climbing and big days on the rock. Due to the design of the BOA system, it lacks a wide range of sizing adjustments, so double-check those size measurements before ordering. It also carries an astronomical price tag. But purchasing this helmet instead of two separate climbing and skiing helmets might save you some money. If you don't need a helmet rated for skiing but like the idea of a MIPS helmet, check out the Black Diamond Vision MIPS, one of our overall favorites.

Read more: Smith Summit MIPS review

We hesitate to use most ski helmets for climbing, but the Smith Summit MIPS is equally capable at the crag or on the slopes.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
83
Black Diamond Vision MIPS
Best Overall Climbing Helmet
$150
Editors' Choice Award
80
Petzl Sirocco
Best Lightweight Climbing Helmet
$115
Top Pick Award
79
Petzl Meteor
Best Value for a Lightweight Helmet
$95
Best Buy Award
78
Black Diamond Vapor
$150
73
Mammut Wall Rider MIPS
$180
70
Smith Summit MIPS Helmet
Best Dual-Rated Climbing Helmet
$230
Top Pick Award
64
Black Diamond Half Dome
Best Bang for the Buck
$60
Best Buy Award
64
Edelrid Salathe
$130
63
Petzl Boreo
$70
61
Black Diamond Capitan MIPS
$120
59
Singing Rock Penta
$70
59
CAMP Storm
$90
56
Julbo The Peak LT
$180

climbing helmet - the kain ridge on bugaboo spire is an amazingly easy route for the...
The Kain Ridge on Bugaboo Spire is an amazingly easy route for the location, topping out at 5.6, allowing us to enchain it with Snowpatch Spire in the background on the same day. The lightweight Petzl Sirocco helped protect us from the potential of falling debris, while not costing us much in weight in the pack during the long approaches.

How We Test Climbing Helmets


After researching the market, we purchased 13 of the top climbing helmets available today. Our helmet testing takes place in real-world situations — that is, on the rock. We wear these helmets daily while climbing long routes and while single-pitch cragging, often bringing multiple helmets along so that we can compare them one after the other. We also lend them to friends and climbing partners to get opinions from many different people with different head sizes/shapes. Ultimately, we combined these experiences with measurable data to assess performance characteristics and formulate our overall ratings. Thanks to our intensive analysis and hands-on testing, you can be sure we recommend the very best climbing helmets.

Our climbing helmet testing is divided into six rating metrics:
  • Comfort (30% of total score weighting)
  • Adjustability (20% weighting)
  • Weight (20% weighting)
  • Ventilation (10% weighting)
  • Features (10% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)

For more information on our testing process and criteria, see our full How We Test article.

Why Trust GearLab


Our expert panel includes Andy Wellman, Jeff Dobronyi, and Cam McKenzie Ring.

Andy is a well-seasoned climber with decades of experience under his belt. A former guidebook author and publisher, he has spent most of his life climbing small and tall rocks worldwide. He lives in the mountains of southern Colorado.

Jeff is an IFMGA Mountain Guide based in Boulder, Colorado. He climbs and skis around the world for fun and work, always with a trusty helmet in tow.

Cam is a well-traveled rock warrior that has been climbing for over 20 years. Currently based in Las Vegas, she frequents the big colorful walls of never-ending multi-pitch heaven in Red Rocks. Before this, she spent many years climbing Yosemite's granite walls and working on Yosemite Search and Rescue.

In addition to testing by our lead reviewers, helmets were given out to friends, both professional and amateur climbers, to use on all sorts of climbs, from long multi-pitch to overhung bolted routes.

Testing the Edelrid Salathe in the Lower Gorge at Smith Rock, a...
Testing the Edelrid Salathe in the Lower Gorge at Smith Rock, a great trad climbing venue. While it isn't super cheap, this helmet presents good value if it fits your head properly, as lightweight EPP foam helmets tend to be worth the extra money.
Headlamp attachments are a non-negotiable for climbing helmets. We...
Headlamp attachments are a non-negotiable for climbing helmets. We examined the features of each helmet to test their viability in the field.
Climbing a route on the welded tuff of Smith Rock while wearing the...
Climbing a route on the welded tuff of Smith Rock while wearing the lightweight Petzl Meteor. The hard polycarbonate outer shell is mostly just a light covering to protect the single impact EPS foam beneath.

Analysis and Test Results


Wearing a climbing helmet is never a bad idea. Regardless of which model you decide to buy, it won't do you any good if you don't wear it. This reason is why we feel it's important to get one that matches your needs. We reviewed plenty of great options, so you'll surely find the right helmet for your style. To determine the best models, we assessed these helmets across six important characteristics: comfort, adjustability, weight, ventilation, features, and durability.


Value


Climbing helmets range from affordable to downright expensive. In general, you get what you pay for. The best helmets incorporate features like EPP foam, MIPS technology, and lightweight shell components. All of these additional features contribute to a helmet's price tag. Unfortunately, the best climbing helmets shave weight by limiting the hard shell component to just the top of the head, which leaves foam exposed around the sides. This foam will get dented and punctured over time during normal use, like packing the helmet into a backpack and banging your head against the sides of a chimney while climbing. The more durable options tend to be less expensive but aren't as pleasant to use, especially if you get out often.

climbing helmet - the petzl meteor is a light, durable, and comfortable helmet, and...
The Petzl Meteor is a light, durable, and comfortable helmet, and costs a lot less than its nearest competitors.
Credit: Andy Wellman

That said, many opportunities exist to score a great helmet without paying too much. The Black Diamond Half Dome is a protective and durable helmet at a very low price point, making it the best value on the market. The Petzl Boreo is very similar to the Half Dome in performance and price. We also like the durability, affordability, and relative comfort of the Petzl Meteor. This helmet costs a bit more than the most basic models but delivers performance near the top of the market.

climbing helmet - the petzl boreo helping protect us from the dangers of falling on...
The Petzl Boreo helping protect us from the dangers of falling on this exciting vertical slab.

Comfort


Comfort is the most important consideration when choosing your new helmet. Most helmets, especially those made of foam, are molded into a specific shape, and even with adjustable harnesses that help you adapt the fit, you will never be able to change the shape of the helmet. Some helmets are deep and oblong, while others are shallower or rounder. Since we all have different head shapes, what fits one person perfectly may not work for someone else. This fact also makes grading for this metric rather subjective, so we were sure to talk to as many people as possible to nail down what folks liked and didn't like about each model.


The harness system inside the helmet is a critical component of comfort since it tightens against the back and sides of the user's head. If any plastic components stick out into the user's scalp, comfort will obviously suffer. We love the fabric patch on the BOA tightening knob of the Smith Summit MIPS. This patch is pulled snugly against the back of the head when tightening, cocooning the head in soft, velvety comfort.

climbing helmet - the smith summit mips features a super comfortable felt-lined fabric...
The Smith Summit MIPS features a super comfortable felt-lined fabric patch that tightens around the back of the head with a BOA click wheel.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

The Black Diamond Vision MIPS is also super comfortable, thanks to a low-profile plastic ratcheting adjustment band and a well-contoured shape that can rest comfortably on top of any head. It also has a MIPS slip liner, allowing the helmet to pivot without rubbing against the top of the head. This increases comfort and protection.

climbing helmet - the black diamond vision mips tightens comfortably with a sliding...
The Black Diamond Vision MIPS tightens comfortably with a sliding plastic bar. There are no sharp points or pieces that cut into the back of the head.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

The Petzl Sirocco is another all-star for comfort. It is deep, well-ventilated, and ever-so-slightly oblong, with a very minimalist harness system inside the helmet. It is also the lightest helmet we've ever tested, which is a major determinant of how comfortable it feels to wear all day. It features removable pads that cushion your head from the helmet's foam. These pads are designed to absorb sweat and can be removed to be washed. Many helmets, including the Sirocco, come with two sets of pads.

climbing helmet - the petzl sirocco adds comfort with removable and washable cushions...
The Petzl Sirocco adds comfort with removable and washable cushions on the inside of the brow and underneath the top of the helmet, and with supple fabric straps.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Another comfortable choice is the Mammut Wall Rider MIPS, which also features a lightweight harness and offers a similar amount of ventilation to the Petzl Sirocco. However, the shell is a bit more round and it fits more shallowly on the head. If your head isn't the ideal shape for the Sirocco, you may have better luck with the Wall Rider MIPS. Also popular among testers for comfort are the lightweight and very well-ventilated Black Diamond Vapor and Petzl Meteor.

climbing helmet - fabric straps are generally the most comfortable tightening devices...
Fabric straps are generally the most comfortable tightening devices, shown here on the Mammut Wall Rider.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring


Adjustability


Climbing helmets must be adjustable to fit each user's head properly. A secure fit increases security, comfort, and climbing ability. When considering adjustability, we looked for plenty of room for adjustment in the helmet's size and how well the size adjustment mechanisms work.


Manufacturers employ three methods for adjusting each helmet's circumference: a click-wheel, a plastic slider bar, or lightweight straps and buckles. Using only straps and buckles provides the lightest solution but usually the least adjustability. Plastic slider bars allow more length adjustment. But they can be difficult to figure out without looking, and also introduce plastic components that might stick out into the user's head, which would, of course, decrease comfort. Click wheels usually provide the largest adjustment range (but not always) and are the easiest to adjust. Additional adjustment features include the V-yoke that comes down on either side of your ears to join the chin strap.

climbing helmet - fabric straps, like those featured on the mammut wall rider mips...
Fabric straps, like those featured on the Mammut Wall Rider MIPS, are one type of length adjustment mechanism. They are the lightest and most comfortable, but often have the least length of adjustability.

The Black Diamond Half Dome is one of the most adjustable helmets in this review and is also one of the easiest to adjust. It uses a click wheel at the back that makes tightening or loosening the fit simple. It also has easily adjustable straps on the V-yoke and chin. We give it top honors in this department because even the tensioning band that the click wheel is attached to can be adjusted up or down along two pieces of webbing to accommodate hair better.

climbing helmet - the black diamond half dome is easy to adjust by a rubberized click...
The Black Diamond Half Dome is easy to adjust by a rubberized click wheel that tightens around the back of the head.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

The Petzl Meteor is the most adjustable and easiest to use among the lighter-weight helmets. It incorporates a plastic slider bar to adjust the sizing and a sliding V-yoke adjustment mechanism to adjust the chin strap. The Black Diamond Vision MIPS also uses a plastic slider bar with plenty of length adjustment but no V-yoke adjustment. The Petzl Sirocco also has good adjustment via a fabric strap and sliding V-yoke strap.

The Petzl Meteor's adjustable slider bar offers a decent amount of...
The Petzl Meteor's adjustable slider bar offers a decent amount of adjustability.
The Black Diamond Vision MIPS has a slider bar that is easy to...
The Black Diamond Vision MIPS has a slider bar that is easy to manipulate to tighten and loosen the helmet.
Comparing the plastic sliding bars of the Petzl Meteor (left) and the Black Diamond Vision MIPS (right).

Weight


Climbing is a battle against gravity, so the weight of your equipment matters. Shaving a couple of ounces on each piece of gear can add up to pounds over your whole kit, which might mean the difference between sending your project and flailing at the crux – or worse, falling in dangerous terrain. Weight is also a key factor in comfort since we're often craning to look upwards while belaying, especially when cragging.


The Petzl Sirocco and Black Diamond Vapor are the lightest helmets on the market, weighing just over 6 ounces each. These helmets achieve such a low weight by minimizing the amount of hard shell material used and employing light fabric harnesses with relatively small ranges of adjustment. They are perfect for sport climbing and relatively safe – even difficult – trad and multi-pitch routes. They are also used by world-class alpinists who count every gram.

climbing helmet - the petzl sirocco is the lightest helmet on the market, making it a...
The Petzl Sirocco is the lightest helmet on the market, making it a great choice for weight-sensitive missions, like this single-day push on the South Howser Tower while climbing the Beckey-Chouinard route.

Other exposed foam designs, like the Edelrid Salathe, Black Diamond Vision MIPS, and Petzl Meteor, also weigh less than most helmets on the market. Among the hard shell helmets, the Singing Rock Penta stands out for its incredibly low weight of just 7.2 ounces, thanks to its thin polycarbonate shell.

climbing helmet - the petzl meteor weighs a lot less than other hard shell helmets...
The Petzl Meteor weighs a lot less than other hard shell helmets, while also providing more durability than exposed foam designs.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Ventilation


Even in cooler temperatures, it's easy to work up a sweat while climbing. Our heads get hot while climbing in helmets, insulated by our hair and the helmet's protective foam.


To combat this insulating effect, ventilation holes are needed to allow hot air to escape and cooler air to flow through the helmet, enhancing evaporative cooling. The helmets with more vent holes provide better airflow, and holes on the front of the head are key for moving air past the scalp.

climbing helmet - enjoying the ledge at the top of a multi-pitch route with alpinist...
Enjoying the ledge at the top of a multi-pitch route with Alpinist Editor Derek Franz, wearing the BD Vision MIPS. The high-quality airflow of this helmet is a welcomed reprieve on a hot day.
Credit: Andy Wellman

The standout in this category is the Black Diamond Vapor. Its design is the most open of any of the exposed foam models we tested and provides superb ventilation. The Petzl Sirocco, Petzl Meteor, and CAMP Storm also feature a lot of vents.

climbing helmet - the black diamond vapor has the best ventilation on the market. it's...
The Black Diamond Vapor has the best ventilation on the market. It's vents are huge, and the foam floats above the user's scalp, allowing plenty of airflow.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Among the ski-certified helmets, we were pleasantly surprised by the ventilation capabilities of the Smith Summit MIPS. Although it has small vents to pass the ski certification tests, the vents are well placed around the entire head to facilitate airflow.

climbing helmet - the smith summit mips has well-placed vents that allow more airflow...
The Smith Summit MIPS has well-placed vents that allow more airflow than they might seem to provide at first glance.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi


Features


Climbing helmets don't need too many bells and whistles, but they do need to accommodate a headlamp for pre-dawn starts and deep, dark chimneys. They also might need to accommodate goggles for wintertime objectives. Newer features like the MIPS slip liner are notable additions to many modern helmets. We examined all of the available features on each helmet and tested how well they work.


Headlamp attachments are usually composed of two lightweight plastic clips around the front of the helmet that keep the bulb component in place squarely on the forehead. Sometimes, helmets incorporate additional clips in the rear, or an elastic band doubling as a goggle clip. We love the combination of large plastic clips on the front and the elastic strap on the rear of the Black Diamond Vision MIPS that easily accommodates goggles. The MIPS liner completes the perfect set of features on this helmet. Other helmets incorporating two front clips and a rear elastic strap are the Petzl Sirocco and Petzl Meteor, the Black Diamond Vapor, Edelrid Salathe, and the dual-certified Julbo The Peak LT.

climbing helmet - the headlamp clips on the black diamond vision mips are easy to...
The headlamp clips on the Black Diamond Vision MIPS are easy to manipulate and secure.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

The clips on the Petzl Boreo, Black Diamond Half Dome, Black Diamond Capitan MIPS, and CAMP Storm are the simplest and most natural to use. Each of these helmets incorporates four plastic clips, one on each corner of the helmet. A headlamp effectively stays in place all day, and it's super easy to slide the strap up under the clips to secure it in place.

Headlamp clips on the Camp Storm.
Headlamp clips on the Camp Storm.
Headlamp clips on the Camp Storm.
Headlamp clips on the Camp Storm.
A front and back view of the four well-designed headlamp clips on the CAMP Storm.

Durability


Climbing helmets are designed to protect your head from falling objects, but their protective materials are generally designed to deform from a serious impact. Most climbing helmets can withstand a few small-sized rocks or a couple of good-sized chunks of ice but will need replacement after any big hit. We look for something that can hold up to the normal wear and tear of loose rocks, roofs you didn't see coming (bonk!), and a modest amount of ice shelling without needing replacement. We also want something we can pack in our backpacks or accidentally drop from a few feet without worrying about it shattering. While all of the climbing helmets in this review passed a series of standardized impact tests, their day-to-day durability varies substantially.


The Black Diamond Half Dome is the most durable helmet on the market, thanks to a thick ABS hard shell that is nearly impenetrable. This thing can take a beating for years without showing much sign of wear. We were also impressed with the durability of the very similar Petzl Boreo. However, the surface of its shell seems more prone to cosmetic scrapes than the Half Dome.

climbing helmet - the tried-and-true black diamond half dome is a workhorse. the abs...
The tried-and-true Black Diamond Half Dome is a workhorse. The ABS shell may scratch, but it won't break easily.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

The Smith Summit MIPS is also quite durable. It's a dual-certified climbing and skiing helmet with a thick ABS shell that stands up to rock and ice climbing and fast downhill skiing. We took it to the Alps for a 6-week climbing and skiing trip, and it didn't falter once despite being tossed around hotel rooms, crammed into train luggage compartments, and protecting our lead tester's head on mountain adventures.

climbing helmet - the smith summit mips has a robust abs shell around plenty of eps...
The Smith Summit MIPS has a robust ABS shell around plenty of EPS foam and a MIPS liner, making it one of the most durable climbing-rated helmets out there.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi


The polycarbonate shells of the Julbo The Peak LT and Petzl Meteor are thinner and slightly more fragile than ABS shells, but we found these two models to provide good durability.

The Julbo The Peak LT polycarbonate hard shell is durable enough for rough use in rock climbing.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Exposed foam helmets aren't as durable, which makes sense. Foam is a soft material that is highly susceptible to the firm and sharp surfaces found while rock climbing. You'll want to handle these with more care when throwing your pack around. Among these helmets, the Black Diamond Vision MIPS is the most durable, thanks to its high-coverage shell design. This helmet has the largest hard shell covering of any exposed foam design we tested, making it the most durable of the lot.

climbing helmet - the black diamond vision mips strikes the perfect balance between...
The Black Diamond Vision MIPS strikes the perfect balance between durability and weight, with a mostly-full coverage ABS shell and some exposed foam.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Conclusion


Climbing helmets have come a long way in recent years. Manufacturers are churning out ever lighter, more comfortable options for today's adventurers. Our comprehensive review has presented a wide range of options, and we hope you heed our advice to quickly sort through the market to find the best helmet for your needs and style. We'll see you at the crag!

climbing helmet - the lightweight and comfortable petzl sirocco, hard at work keeping...
The lightweight and comfortable Petzl Sirocco, hard at work keeping a climber safe on the cliffs of Red Rock.
Credit: Leici Hendrix

Andy Wellman, Cam McKenzie Ring, and Jeff Dobronyi