What Protection Levels Do Climbing Helmets Come In?

You might be surprised to learn that there are actually different levels of protection offered by climbing helmets. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the various protection levels and what they mean for climbers.

The Importance of Wearing a Climbing Helmet

Just like with any other outdoor activity, there is always a risk of injury when climbing, and a helmet can help protect you in case of a fall.

The helmet should sit level on your head and cover your temples. It should also be snug enough that it does not move around when you move your head. Once you have found a helmet that fits well, you need to choose the right level of protection for your needs.

The Main Types of Climbing Helmets

There are three main types of helmets that climbers use: half-shell, full-shell, and hybrid. Half-shell helmets offer the most ventilation and are the lightest weight, but they offer the least protection. Full-shell helmets offer the most protection but are the heaviest and least ventilated. Hybrid helmets offer a balance of ventilation and protection. When choosing a climbing helmet, it is important to find one that fits well.

The Different Protection Levels of Climbing Helmets

The different protection levels ratings for helmets are as followed:

Type A- For alpine climbing and mountaineering in glaciated terrain. These helmets have the highest level of front and side protection and are the most durable type of helmet.

Type B– For mountaineering, rock climbing, and ice climbing. Usually has a little less coverage on the sides and back than Type A helmets, making them a little cooler to wear in hot weather.

Type C– For multi-pitch rock climbing, gym climbing, big wall climbing, and some alpine activities. These helmets have the fewest number of vents to keep your head warm in cold weather conditions.

Alternatively, the three main protection levels for climbing helmets can be summarized as follows: single impact, multi-impact, and lightweight multi-impact. Single impact helmets are designed to protect against one fall. Multi-impact helmets are designed to protect against multiple falls and are often used by professional climbers who might fall more often.

Lightweight multi-impact helmets offer similar protection to multi-impact helmets but are lighter weight, making them a good choice for a beginner or intermediate climbers who want extra protection without sacrificing too much comfort or mobility.

Climbing helmet standards are currently set by two different organizations: The UIAA (International Union of Alpine Associations) and CE (Conformite Europeenne). CE is recognized by European countries, while the UIAA is recognized worldwide.

The Pros and Cons of Wearing a Climbing Helmet

Most people who climb recognize the importance of wearing a helmet, but there is often confusion about the different levels of protection that helmets offer. In general, climbing helmets are designed to protect against two main types of impact: falls from a headwall and falling debris. The level of protection that a helmet offers is usually determined by the type of materials used in its construction.

A climbing helmet should fit snugly and securely on your head, and it should not impede your vision or hearing. It is important to remember that helmets are not indestructible, and they will eventually need to be replaced. The most common type of helmet worn by climbers is the foam-lined helmet. These helmets are made from a thin layer of shock-absorbent foam sandwiched between an outer shell and an inner liner.

They provide good protection against falling debris and minor impacts, but they will not protect against more serious impacts, such as those sustained in a fall from a headwall. Hard-shell helmets are made from a harder material, such as plastic or carbon fiber. They provide good protection against falling debris and major impacts, but they can be more bulky and uncomfortable to wear than foam-lined helmets.

Full-face helmets offer the highest level of protection, as they cover the entire head and face. These helmets are typically used by mountaineers and ice climbers, as they protect against falling debris, major impacts, and exposure to cold weather. However, full-face helmets can be very bulky and uncomfortable to wear, which can make them impractical for some types of climbing.

How to Choose the Right Climbing Helmet for You

Depending on the type of climbing you do, you might need a helmet that offers different levels of protection. For instance, if you’re mostly climbing indoors on routes with good bolting, you might be OK with a lighter helmet that has less impact-resistant foam. On the other hand, if you’re climbing outdoors in areas where rockfall is more common or doing a lot of trad climbing, you’ll want a helmet with more coverage and better impact resistance.

Here are the three main types of helmets climbers use, from lightest to heaviest:

Sport Climbing Helmets: These helmets are designed for gym and sport climbing, where falls are often shorter and rockfall is less common. They’re typically made with ABS plastic shells and have less foam padding than other types of helmets.

They also often have large vents to help keep your head cool while you climb. Some examples of sports climbing helmets include the Black Diamond Vector and the Petzl Meteor.

All-Around Climbing Helmets: As the name suggests, these helmets are designed for all types of climbing, from sport to trad to ice.

They usually have thicker foam padding than sport climbing helmets and sometimes have MIPS technology (more on that below) to help protect against rotational forces in case of a fall. Some examples of all-around climbing helmets include the Black Diamond Half Dome and the Petzl Sirocco.

Ice Climbing Helmets: These heavy-duty helmets are designed for ice climbing and alpine mountaineering, where falls tend to be longer and rockfall is more common.

They typically have thicker foam padding as well as plastic or metal grids over the vents to prevent snow and ice from getting in. Some examples of ice climbing helmets include the Black Diamond Storm and the Petzl Altitude. In addition to different types of protection, most helmets also come in different sizes.

To find out what size helmet you need, measure the circumference of your head just above your eyebrows with a tape measure or ruler. Then consult the sizing chart for the specific helmet you’re interested in to find out what size corresponds to your head measurement.

How to Care for Your Climbing Helmet

Periodically check your helmet for any signs of wear and tear, and replace it if necessary. A good rule of thumb is to replace your helmet every five years, although this may vary depending on the manufacturer. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Before each climb, check that your helmet’s straps are secure and adjusted properly. The straps should form a “Y” shape just below your ears, and the buckles should be fastened so that you can only fit two fingers between the strap and your chin.

The front of the helmet should sit low on your forehead, and the back of the helmet should cover the back of your head. If you have any questions about how to care for your climbing helmet, or if you think it may need to be replaced, please consult a qualified climbing instructor or visit your local climbing shop.

6 of the Best Climbing Helmets on the Market

There are several different types of climbing helmets that are available on the market today, and each one offers a different level of protection. It is important to choose the right helmet for the type of climbing that you will be doing, as well as for your own personal preferences. Here is a list of 6 of the best climbing helmets on the market, along with a brief description of each one.

1. Black Diamond Vector: The Black Diamond Vector is a lightweight and comfortable helmet that is ideal for all types of climbing. It features an adjustable fit system and is available in four different sizes.

2. Petzl Elios: The Petzl Elios is a lightweight climbing helmet that is specifically designed for children. It features an adjustable headband and chin strap, as well as ventilation holes to keep your child cool while climbing.

3. Mammut Wall Rider: The Mammut Wall Rider is a comfortable and lightweight helmet that is perfect for alpine and ice climbing. It features integrated headlamp clips and ear pads and is available in three different sizes.

4. Edelrid Ohm: The Edelrid Ohm is a lightweight track-light helmet that is specifically designed for sport climbing and mountaineering. It features integrated headlamp clips, as well as ear pads for added comfort.

5. Camp USA Xen: The Camp USA Xen is a comfortable and lightweight helmet that is perfect for all types of rock climbing. It features an adjustable headband, as well as ventilation holes to keep you cool while climbing.

6. Petzl Meteor III: The Petzl Meteor III is a lightweight helmet that is specifically designed for mountaineering and ice climbing. It features integrated headlamp clips, as well as ear pads for added comfort in colder temperatures.

How to Avoid the Worst Climbing Helmets on the Market

There are three main types of protection that climbing helmets offer: impact protection, abrasion protection, and penetration protection. Each type of protection is important, and the best climbing helmets will offer all three. Impact Protection Impact protection is the most important type of protection offered by a climbing helmet.

It is important to choose a helmet that is certified to protect against both high and low impacts. The level of protection offered by a helmet is usually determined by its weight. Heavier helmets offer more protection, but they can also be more uncomfortable to wear.

Abrasion protection is important for preventing injuries to the head in case of a fall. A good climbing helmet will have a smooth outer surface that resists abrasion and does not snag on rocks or other objects. Penetration protection protects the head from sharp objects like rocks or ice axes. A good climbing helmet will have a tough outer shell that resists penetration.

Make sure you only purchase a climbing helmet that has adequate protection from each of these.

FAQs About Climbing Helmets

Q: What types of protection do climbing helmets offer?

A: Climbing helmets are designed to protect your head from falling debris and provide some insulation from the cold. Most helmets on the market today are made with a hard shell exterior and a soft, foam interior.

Q: Do I need to wear a climbing helmet?

A: While it is not required by law to wear a helmet while climbing, most experts agree that it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution and wear one whenever you are engaged in the sport.

In addition to providing protection from falls, helmets can also help to keep you warm in cold weather conditions.

Q: What factors should I consider when choosing a climbing helmet?

A: When selecting a climbing helmet, it is important to choose one that fits snugly but comfortably on your head. You should also make sure that the helmet you select offers adequate coverage for your head and face.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that the helmet you choose is appropriate for the type of climbing you will be doing. For instance, some helmets are designed specifically for rock climbing while others are better suited for ice climbing or mountaineering.

Q: How do I care for my climbing helmet?

A: Most helmets come with specific care instructions from the manufacturer. In general, however, you should avoid exposing your helmet to excessive heat or sunlight as this could damage the materials used in its construction. Additionally, it is important to regularly inspect your helmet for signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.

In Closing

Rock and mountain climbing present significant risks of injury to the body, particularly the head. Make sure to always wear the proper climbing helmet for the environment and level of climbing you engage in.

Did you find this useful? If yes please share!
Rebecca Ross
About Rebecca Ross

Rebecca Ross an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) consultant who runs her own occupational safety consultancy. She focuses on hazardous materials, warehouse safety, fire safety, lab safety, fall protection, head protection and other workplace safety topics. Learn more about Rebecca here or connect with her on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium

× How can we help you?