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Rock Climbing Helmet Buyers Guide

It is always a good idea to get a helmet for your climbing regardless of your climbing skill or ability level. A helmet will protect you from damaging the most important part of your body in a fall (your head in case you were wondering…) and will also protect you from potentially fatal falling rock or ice on a climb.

Tip: If you only have one helmet between the pair of you, let your belay partner wear the helmet – You don’t want to have your partner knocked unconscious whilst you are clinging to the rock 30ft off the ground… 

Why you should wear a helmet when climbing

This is just one reason why you should wear a helmet when climbing.
Be safe on the Rock folks. Read the article here

Choosing a helmet for Rock climbing can be a task as there aren’t huge differences between manufacturers as there are with some shoes and harnesses. We have put together a guide to help you decide which features to look out for on a helmet to (hopefully) make the buying decision easier for you!


Obviously, as with any gear or clothing that you intend to wear for any extended period of time, comfort is key.

The best fit for a helmet is a tight, but comfortable fit that will prevent the helmet from moving around on your head and so it won’t fall back or forward when you look up or down.

If you are potentially using your helmet for ice climbing, or in other extreme cold weather conditions, then you may want to consider a fit that allows room for a balaclava

Sizing & Ease of adjustment

Of course, everyone’s head is a different shape, so trying a helmet on in-store is a good idea if you have that option. Alternatively, if you are buying online try and measure your head as accurately as possible to get an accurate fit, but even then you may end up with irritation from the straps, etc.

Helmets generally come in two sizing styles and if you are having trouble finding a sized helmet for your head, go for a ‘one size fits all’ helmet that has a good, adjustable lining.

Some helmets will come with a wheel at the rear to help you easily adjust the tightness of the helmet, this is a nice feature and helmets that don’t have this are a little trickier to adjust, especially on the rock, so bear this in mind.

Helmets can tend to differ somewhat in the style of chinstrap that they use too – some helmets will be quicker and smoother to adjust, some will be a little trickier.

The key to getting a right fit is trying on in-store. Find a helmet that suits you nicely then shop around for the best price!

Outer Shell Material

The outer material of a helmet is a very important factor as this is the part of the helmet that is going to protect your head from any impact.

Helmets generally are constructed from one of these to materials:

– Polycarbonate Meteor III Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate helmets are designed for the experienced climber and if you are a beginner or are on a budget, we recommend you stay clear of them.

They are designed to be lightweight and well ventilated but this comes at the cost of durability. They require much more care and manufacturers recommend that you retire them after any minor impacts – Obviously useless for the beginner who is going to take a few knocks in the process of learning!

Polycarbonate helmets are more expensive and usually come in at around the $90-100 price range.

– Plastic Shell Petzl Elios helmet

Plastic shell helmets are the perfect helmets for those who don’t want to worry about durability or cost when choosing a helmet. Perfect for entry-level climbers who want the extra protection on the rock for learning. They are usually a lot heavier than the polycarbonate helmets but are much more durable and can take tons more punishment. You also don’t have to worry about them rolling around in the back of your car.

Plastic helmets are a lot less expensive than the polycarbonate helmets and usually cost around $60-70 which also makes them perfect for the budget-conscious climber.

Helmet Lining

Helmet lining can differ in the level of padding and ventilation that is provided in the helmet. Cheaper helmets generally provide more basic padding and ventilation whereas more expensive helmets provide more complex lining systems.

If you have a lot of thick hair, then you are less likely to notice too much difference, but if you are losing hair or have short hair, then you are more likely to need more padding to provide comfort and prevent any part of the helmet digging into your head.


If you are a style conscious climber (we all are a little bit, don’t deny it) then you will obviously avoid those hard hats that are less stylish.

If you think that a better looking helmet will make you more likely to wear it, then you may want to take this into consideration when looking at helmets. This is especially true if you think you will leave it in the car when you go to the crag with your buddies, you may get self conscious, but safety is everything, trust us!

Helmet Features (Headlamp, Camera, etc)

You may also want to think about extra features of a helmet. Some helmets will allow for headlamp to be mounted on the front. (All the helmets in our review do allow for this).

You may also want to mount a camera on the front if you want to record some of your climbing so think about this too. Most cameras such as the Go-Pro will come with mounts so just think about space for this.

Check out our Review Guide on the top 5 best helmets for Rock Climbing

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