Your safety is paramount when out climbing and a helmet will help to protect your head should you suffer a fall. Climbing is a risky activity; loose rocks could fall from above so make sure you are protected.
The outer shell of a helmet is usually made from a thermo-plastic or ABS type material which is durable, strong and yet lightweight. The inner layer is made of foam or has an interior webbing system to offer shock absorption. Most helmets offer excellent ventilation through numerous slats to keep you cool. Some feature clips to enable you to attach a headlamp for night time climbing, or those early Alpine starts.
The difference in inner design indicates how the helmet absorbs an impact. Ones that are supported by a foam band are generally lightweight but less durable, such as the Petzl Elios, and the foam will take the blow. A helmet supported by an interior webbing system has a strong shell and is often heavier; the shell will absorb the blow.
Helmets are available in different sizes, but those used by Outdoor Centres tend to come in an adjustable single size. Many offer various methods allowing you to adjust the size easily to give you a perfect fit. Women specific helmets are smaller and offer a precise fit. Some are also hood friendly for when climbing in colder conditions.
When choosing a climbing helmet it is important to consider the weight as this can make a big difference to you, especially on longer climbs. Lighter helmets are usually more expensive owing to the more sophisticated materials and methods of construction used. Be sure to pick a helmet that is comfortable and durable. Choose wisely as picking one that doesn’t suit you will distract you from what you are there to enjoy.
Helmets should meet international standards so make sure that the one you intend to buy conforms to one of the following: UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization).
When purchasing a helmet, it should fit snugly. Once the chinstrap is fastened there should be very little movement. Try various brands and types to ensure you find the perfect helmet for you – after all it could save your life!