Which Rock Climbing Helmet to Buy? – The 5 Best Rock Climbing Helmets

Want to know which rock climbing helmet to buy? Let me first start you off with a quick story about the importance of helmets.

My first rock climbing adventure was an experience to be remembered. I went dressed just as I would go jogging – casual clothes and my cap. It was just me and 2 of my friends, we aimed to climb as high as we could and reach the sky (not really, it was a pretty small rock – more like bouldering).

Anyway, naïve and unexperienced me had almost no proper equipment. But thankfully, my buddies came prepared with helmets, harnesses, descenders and ascenders. They had some extras for me to use, but not an extra helmet.

We started climbing and both of them got on top of the rock before I did. Just a couple of feet before I got up there too, I slipped. After that, I don’t remember anything.

I woke up in the hospital. I had hit my head badly and I had a concussion. Thank goodness it was a short fall. Yet if I had worn a helmet, I would’ve certainly avoided a concussion. Thankfully I had no permanent damage from the impact, just a scar or two. But others who’ve fallen from taller heights or hit the ground head first without a helmet aren’t so fortunate. Helmets are extremely important for your safety.

So let’s look at your options regarding which rock climbing helmet to buy.

ImageHelmet NameScorePrice
PETZL - Meteor4.5 / 5See Price On Amazon
PETZL - Sirroco5 / 5See Price On Amazon
PETZL - ELIA4.5 / 5See Price On Amazon
Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet4.7 / 5See Price On Amazon
Tontron Adult Climbing Helmet4.2 / 5See Price On Amazon

PETZL – Meteor: Best Overall Rock Climbing Helmet

Designed for mountaineering, climbing, and ski touring, this helmet is the best combination of an affordable price and high value. It features a combination of EPS foam wholly covered with a thin polycarbonate shell. The shell improves day-to-day durability.

It is easily adjustable with a slider bar and has excellent ventilation, due to which it is both comfortable for summer and winter use. The bar is both simple and convenient. It provides a broader range of adjustment than the super minimalistic web adjustments found on most of the pricier and lighter helmets.

What about when the sun goes down? This helmet has one of the best headlamp attachments available. It features two flexible low-profile clips with small teeth, underneath which, it is easy to slide a headlamp strap. With a design for optimal protection against side, front and rear impacts, this is a great helmet.

The PETZL Meteor is one of the top helmets because it offers good value while still cutting down on weight as much as possible. It’s also more affordable than some I deem to be of lower quality.

Pros:

  • Well ventilated
  • Lightweight
  • Easy adjustable
  • Good price for value

Cons:

  • Magnetic buckle collects dirt
  • Not as cheap as some other helmets

If you need a new helmet, want something light, but don’t want to buy the most expensive one out there, you should check out this helmet.

>>> See the price on Amazon <<<

PETZL – Sirocco: Most Lightweight Rock Climbing Helmet

According to the opinions of many people who have used Sirocco, this is one of the best helmets for rock climbing. This helmet is the most lightweight and comfortable helmet featured on the list. And this helmet, in particular, has been found to be more “head-shaped” than other helmets. Due to its design, comfort is one of the top features of this helmet.

Comfort – as we said, absolutely top level. Mostly due to being lightweight, climbers do not notice any bulkiness while using this product. Some even forget that they still have a helmet on their heads.

It has 24 vents scattered around the front, sides, and back. This provides ventilation as good as the best helmets on the market.

Just like the Meteor, the headlamp attachment is easy to use. The system is a combination of two clips at the front connected to one elastic bungee held by a hook in the back of the helmet.

Even though the adjustability works well, it’s not the easiest to use. The webbing on the back of the headgear is only adjustable via one plastic buckle on one side of the head. Meanwhile, other helmets have two of the same sort of buckles, which allow you to better center the helmet on the head if you need to tighten it up. But I wouldn’t let this worry you.

The Petzl Sirocco is the most lightweight and comfortable helmet out there. This alone makes it one of the best choices for climbing. With such comfortable equipment, climbing becomes more enjoyable than ever.

Pros:

  • Super lightweight
  • Protection from all sides
  • Comfortable
  • Well-ventilated

Cons:

  • Not that durable
  • Not easily adjustable

If you don’t mind spending a little bit more for a helmet, I don’t think there is any reason to look further.

>>> See the price on Amazon <<<

PETZL – Elia: Best Rock Climbing Helmet for Women

This is one of the helmets that has been designed specifically for women. While many other ones which claim to be “designed” for women are just a smaller version of the men’s version with a different color, this is actually designed for women. On the back of the helmet, there is even a cutout for ponytails, which is a struggle most of the time with rock climbing helmets.

The Petzl Elia is one of the most comfortable of the ABS style helmets. The first reason is, of course, the ponytail system. This keeps women (or men) with long hair comfortable while wearing it all day long.

It is only available in one size, which makes the adjustability factor not the most adaptable one out there. Also, every time you put it on you need to adjust it a little bit, which is annoying at first but easy to get used to.

This helmet has better ventilation than most other hard plastic models. Having seven different vents at different levels on each side provides necessary airflow on a hot day.

The durability of the helmet is on a different level. Not only does the ABS plastic last for years, but also the chin strap using a durable standard buckle makes the helmet stand out from many others.

The durability, ventilation and ponytail cutout make this helmet an excellent choice for women that struggle with their hair.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Easy to adjust chin strap
  • Ponytail cutout

Cons:

  • Only one size available
  • Having to adjust it with each use

So if you’re struggling with your hair and want to achieve a greater comfort level, this is the helmet for you.

>>> See the price on Amazon <<<

Tontron Adult Hiking Climbing Caving Work Helmet: Best Budget Rock Climbing Helmet

rock climbing helmet

The Tontron climbing helmet is an excellent choice for literally everything. Hiking, climbing, caving, working, you name it, this helmet’s good for it. It features a unique design and offers quality comfort for the price. It is designed to offer the best head protection possible without sacrificing comfort.

A high-impact ABS shell combined with the high-density liner can take a really hard hit without a doubt. The size is adjustable to a wide range providing you with necessary comfort as well.

It has a low-profile, which is perfect for tight spaces. The helmet lets you enjoy the fresh air and makes you feel free. Combined with the 6 vents from the front and sides, you’ll never feel a lack of ventilation. The visibility is also perfect, and due to the low-profile, is lighter than most other helmets.

The headlamp retaining brackets are suitable for universal headlamp assembly. They work great, and without a doubt are easy to use.

The Tontron adult hiking, climbing, caving, and work helmet is the best one for the price. It combines comfort, durability, and ventilation without escalating the price tag.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Well ventilated
  • Easy to adjust
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • The interior is not well padded

If you’re not keen on spending too much money on a helmet but still want quality, then this is the helmet for you.

>>> See the price on Amazon <<<

Black Diamond Half Dome: Most Durable Rock Climbing Helmet

Constructed of a thick, hard polycarbonate shell with EPS foam on the inside, the Half Dome is easily one of the most durable helmets you can buy. It is also one of the most easily adjustable. It uses a wheel on the back of the head that tightens or loosens a plastic band by spinning it. The helmet is a great choice for beginners who are just getting into climbing.

The Black Diamond Half Dome might not be the most comfortable helmet compared to others, but it’s still considered decently comfortable overall. It shapes nicely to the head, with the interior made of foam lining cushions from above and in the front. It also has an adjustable harness system in the back that holds the helmet firmly in place while climbing.

The adjustability, as stated, is top-notch. This helmet had the widest range of adjustment and is the easiest to use. Anyone who climbs, no matter their head size, can use this helmet and find a good fit without a problem.

Along with the easy to use adjustability and user-friendly design comes the headlamp attachment. It has four plastic clips that easily hold a headlamp. The clips are straightforward to slide a headlamp band underneath.

And of course, we can’t downplay the durability. This helmet has a heavy-duty, hard plastic shell with foam on the inside. It might not be lightweight, but it is way more durable than the other lightweight helmets. Compared to others, this helmet is like Hercules.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Easily adjustable
  • Wide range of use

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Not the most comfortable

If you are into climbing, want a high level of protection, and don’t want to spend a fortune, check this one out for sure.

>>> See the price on Amazon <<<

Choosing Which Rock Climbing Helmet to Buy – The Ultimate Buying Guide

With all these choices you are probably wondering which rock climbing helmet to buy that’s right for you. A helmet should cover your forehead and fit snugly around the circumference of your head. It should also buckle tightly but comfortably underneath your chin. You can perform a simple test to determine if a helmet is a good fit or not by simply shaking your head. If the helmet stays put, even before fastening the chin strap, it’s a good fit.

Most climbing helmets offer either a wide range of adjustability or multiple sizes to fit different people. Also, most of them have straps that come with rotating dials that let you fine-tune your helmet to the exact size of your head. This is especially useful if you are climbing in cold weather and wear a hat underneath your helmet.

man hanging from cliff

There are 3 types of helmets:

  • Hard shell helmets – These helmets are heavy and very durable. Also, they are offered in a greater range of sizes or are very adjustable. The downside is that they are not well ventilated.
  • Foam helmets – They are really similar to bicycle helmets. They’re made mostly using foam. This type of helmet tends to be the lightest helmet option and the most comfortable one. But with comfort comes a higher price as well, along with less protection.
  • Hybrid helmets – These are exactly what they sound like – a hard shell and foam design. That way the helmet is both light and has good durability.

The first thing to check is if the helmet you want to buy is CE certified. And it should be tested by the European Committee for Standardization. Even though this is not a requirement in the US, it is still good practice to buy only CE certified helmets and those tested by CEN for proven reliability. They are checked and tested rigorously for shock and energy absorption.

The second thing to know when searching which rock climbing helmet to buy is to decide on the type of helmet you are searching for – hard shell or foam. The hard shell ones have a longer lifespan and are cheaper. The disadvantage is the weight and discomfort needed to be dealt with while wearing these types of helmets. The foam shelled helmets are lightweight and have excellent ventilation. They are more comfortable and used more by frequent climbers.

Safety

Safety is the most important feature of a helmet – as rock climbing can be dangerous. While most helmets offer safety, some are much better at protecting your dome than others. This type of helmet is called hard shell. They are what they sound like – a hard plastic shell helmet. In this kind of design, there is no foam. The shell itself provides all the protection.

Facing small impacts, hard shell helmets will return to their original shape and remain undamaged. Because of this, they can be used even after taking several hits. But that doesn’t mean you can just use the helmet as long as you want. A helmet should be always inspected after every use, checking for any cracks or damage.

They are heavier than lightweight foam helmets and are not as well ventilated. But to compensate they are more durable than helmets with a lightweight design and are less expensive as well. In these helmets, the plastic itself is a part of the resisting strength, while most of the lightweight foam helmets use a shell of some nature.

Climbing helmets nowadays use polycarbonate for their plastic shells regardless of whether they are hard shell or lightweight design. It is more flexible, durable and stronger than the ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) used mostly in the past. So, when you’re wondering which rock climbing helmet to buy and you want to maximize safety, this is the type of helmet you should be looking for.

Winner: Black Diamond Half Dome

Comfort

Comfort is another very important aspect of a helmet. And what’s better than forgetting that you’re even wearing a helmet? The lighter the helmet, the more comfortable it is to wear. It puts less pressure on your head and neck. This type of helmet is made either from EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) or EPP (Expanded Polypropylene).

The first type is the most common type of foam found in climbing helmets. But the negative is that it can only absorb one hard impact before it needs to be replaced. But the EPS can be tuned to absorb hard impacts, such as falling rocks, while being cheaper to produce than EPP. It is also more lightweight than EPP.

The second type, EPP helmets, use very similar material. The difference is that the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly. In contrast to EPS, it is not instantly crushable and can absorb more hits before having to retire. It is most often used on the sides of a helmet, providing protection against hitting your head on the wall when falling.

There are some helmets that are made using both EPS and EPP foam. Most of them have the hard EPS foam on the top, protecting from potential blunt impact while using the EPP around the sides and back of the head, providing multiple impact protection zones for your head.

If you like being comfortable and still have the question of which rock climbing helmet to buy, look no further. This is your type of helmet. A kind of helmet that uses both foams is our definitive winner here.

Winner: PETZL – Sirocco

Female-Friendly

If you are a woman, you’re most likely looking for a model designed specifically for women. This is due to the differences in shape between men’s and women’s skulls. Women tend to have a smaller circumference than men, making it difficult to find a snug helmet.

The women’s design comes with a ponytail system, making it more comfortable for women with long hair to use this type of helmet. Wearing a helmet all day and having problems with your hair really makes you consider which rock climbing helmet you should really be buying.

Even though some unisex models can also be compatible with ponytails, those designed specifically for women still tend to be more comfortable to wear. There are very few designs made specifically for women. Many of them are just a smaller version of the male ones with the only difference being in color.

For long hair, you probably need good ventilation and fresh air coming in. That way you don’t sweat as much when climbing. And you won’t have issues with your hair along the way. This is the case with our winner.

Winner: PETZL – Elia

woman rock climbing in helmet

Affordability

Wondering which rock climbing helmet to buy on a low budget? Helmets do vary in price, and the most expensive ones cost almost four times more than the cheapest ones. Setting a clear budget can help you make the choice that suits you best.  

If you are just a beginner, you might not want to spend much money before you’re even sure the sport is for you. You may still be wondering if this is your thing.

Even though most of the budget helmets come with downsides like weight and lack of comfort, as a beginner you don’t have to splurge money on the most expensive helmet out there to stay protected. Also, some budget helmets also offer high value for a lower price. Until you get the hang of climbing, it’s pretty normal to use a budget helmet.

While learning, you will be climbing pretty close to the ground and virtually never climbing multi-pitch. This type of climbing does not require a lightweight nor an expensive helmet. Budget helmets are really useful, especially for infrequent climbers.

Winner: Tontron Adult Hiking Climbing Caving Work Helmet

Overall Quality

“I like climbing, and I do it regularly, but I am still learning. I am willing to spend a decent amount of money and I want to receive good quality in return.” Which rock climbing helmet should you choose?

There is a helmet for everyone! You are probably not a beginner anymore and want to take it up a notch. This is the time when you need a helmet that combines comfort, price, and durability all in one.

The comfort needed is almost like the one that professionals get used to, so you could wear a helmet all day and not even notice it. And you’ll remain protected while feeling comfortable as well. If you are willing to do this more frequently, or even becoming a professional climber, you need a better helmet already – a helmet that is easily adjustable and fits you better than any other you’ve worn.

This helmet should also be durable. That way it further protects you from getting hurt without having to buy a new one after every impact. It should be able to be tossed around with no problem and still protect your head just as well afterward.

Meanwhile, the price should be somewhat affordable. If you are not a professional yet, or this is just a hobby, no need to spend a fortune to enjoy climbing.

Winner: PETZL – Meteor

Taking Care of Your Helmet

Hopefully by this time you have an answer to the question, “which rock climbing helmet to buy?” After you have already bought the helmet you want, you should look after it. Store it in clean, dry conditions. Also, keep it away from direct sunlight and away from heat. Avoid keeping it dirty and don’t put stickers on it. The shell might weaken as adhesives degrade.

Always pack it properly and avoid tossing it left and right. Checking it out regularly is a good practice. If there are any signs of wear or damage consider changing it. Even dropping a helmet on the floor could crack it and compromise safety. Watch out for ripped straps and heavily worn signs. Every helmet has an expected lifespan, most of which is an estimated 2 years of regular use when not damaged.

Before using it be sure to always check the inside shell and crown as well. There should be no cracks on both the inside or the outside. Stickers, as stated, could hide potential cracks or dents.

All helmets will provide additional safety when climbing. You should be buying a helmet depending on your experience, budget, and desired qualities. The lowest-priced models are a good start for beginners, but should not be abused or worn too long. Meanwhile, it is not worth buying the most expensive one from the start.

You should combine both comfort and price, and buy the helmet that suits you.

man rock climbing

FAQ

Q: Why do I need a helmet for rock climbing?

A: Most climbers wear helmets. They are used for additional safety. It is highly recommended that every climber wears a helmet. Good head protection is essential, especially when there is a risk of falling rocks. So look into this when deciding which rock climbing helmet to buy.

Q: I’ve already chosen which rock climbing helmet to buy, how will I know if it fits me?

A: A climbing should fit around your head neither too tight, nor too loose. Most helmets have adjustable headbands and chin straps. Not every helmet will fit every head. It could be too big or too small. Before buying a helmet always check the sizing. Different brands have different sizing. Be sure to check it out before every purchase.

Q: Can I use the climbing helmet for Skiing?

A: That depends on the helmet in question. Some of them are certified for multiple outdoor activities. If your helmet is not certified for ski touring, you should not be wearing it while you ski. It also will not provide the best avalanche protection.

Q: How do I know whether my helmet is comfortable or not?

A: Weight affects comfort. Generally, the lighter a helmet is, the more comfortable is it to wear.

Q: Can I use a bicycle helmet for rock climbing?

A: You “could,” but it’s certainly not advisable to do so. Bicycle helmets do not absorb impact energy like climbing helmets can, although they do provide protection during an accident. But they are certainly not made for rock climbing.

Q: Are all climbing helmets standard size?

A: Many manufacturers use only one size, and focus on the adjustability of the helmet. While some models, on the other hand, have different sizes. The flexible models are easier to use most of the time. With flexible ones, you don’t need a “perfectly” fit helmet. You’ll be able to adjust it yourself.

Q: How do I use a climbing helmet?

A: Get familiar with all the features. Second, adjust the head circumference. Afterward, put your helmet on your head and wear it for certain activities. If everything has gone smoothly, clean it properly at the end.

Quick Recap

There are many types of rock climbing helmets out there. The 2 main types are hard shell and lightweight (foam). The hard shell variety are heavier and lack ventilation, but can take harder hits and have longer lifespans. Lightweight helmets are really comfortable. Some of them are so light that it’s hard to notice them on your head. Keep in mind, lightweight usually costs more than hard shell.

After you decide which rock climbing helmet to buy, check the sizes and the adjustability of the helmet. Some helmets use just 1 size and are very adjustable, while others have 2 or more sizes with limited adjustability. After ordering it, make sure once more that it does fit you.

If everything goes well so far, wear it while participating in various rock climbing activities while making sure it doesn’t come loose while climbing. After use, always keep it clean and in a dry place protected from sunlight.