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Top climbing helmets for fall 2023

Find protection for your epic climbs without all the headache

In the past, climbing helmets tended to be only worn by alpinists, big wall climbers, and ice climbers. The reasons for this relatively narrow user base stemmed from three facts. First, these user groups were at a higher risk of rock fall (or ice fall) when compared to the average cragging climber. Second, climbing helmets were rather heavy and lacked appropriate ventilation, making them less suitable for difficult rock climbing. Finally, old-school climbing helmets were rather ugly, resulting in anyone wearing one becoming the butt of a never-ending stream of jokes from their partners.

Thankfully, modern climbing helmets have shed their old-school baggage and are now significantly lighter, offer much better ventilation, provide increased impact protection, and, finally, look sleek and stylish. With these advancements, it’s not surprising that more climbers are using helmets in all aspects of their climbing. After all, why would you not want to protect your most important climbing asset?

So, with that out of the way, here are our top 10 climbing helmets for fall 2023.

Best for climbers wanting a no-compromise helmet for rock and ice.
Petzl Sirocco Helmet

Petzl Sirocco Helmet

A lightweight helmet with exceptional impact protection for challenging climbs.

Petzl was the first company to employ expanded polypropylene (EPP) in its helmet line, and the Scirocco represents the current pinnacle in its program. Unlike expanded polystyrene (the traditional impact-absorbing foam used in helmets), EPP is significantly more resistant to cracking and chipping. The result is a helmet that provides exceptional protection from various impacts without the need for an extensive and heavy plastic shell. The structural qualities of EPP also allow Petzl to include multiple oversized vents for airflow without compromising the helmet’s integrity. A small polycarbonate crown combined with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) insert offers additional top-of-the-head protection, while the lightweight magnetic buckle harness system provides adjustability and exceptional ease of use.

Best for climbers seeking low weight without compromising protection.
Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

An innovative helmet that combines low weight, excellent protection and ventilation.

The new iteration of Black Diamond’s Vapor helmet continues the tradition of offering exceptional impact protection while remaining at the forefront of ultralight design. Black Diamond starts with a polycarbonate crown and adds an ALUULA composite insert. This insert is constructed of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) that offers a 44% higher strength-to-weight ratio than the previously used Kevlar insert. The result is a 40% reduction in the weight of this component without compromising protection for the climber. The rest of the helmet is constructed with moulded Expanded Polypropylene (EPP), providing excellent impact absorption and significantly greater durability than traditionally used EPS. The Vapor’s unique lattice-like aesthetic not only offers a sleek look, but also ensures exceptional ventilation. A minimalist cord adjustment system easily accommodates a variety of head shapes, and the replaceable headlamp clips provide a secure headlamp attachment point for early morning starts or if you get benighted.

Best for climbers seeking low-weight and additional coverage.
Edelrid Salathe Helmet

Edelrid Salathe Helmet

A lightweight EPP helmet with additional hard-shell protection.

Like many other climbing helmet manufacturers, Edelrid employs EPP in the construction of its Salathe helmet. The results are what you would expect – a lightweight helmet with solid impact protection from both rock-fall and side impacts. A generously sized hard shell does a great job of keeping the weight to a minimum while offering more protection than some bleeding-edge helmets. This same approach is used with the vents; they offer plenty of airflow without the massive holes frequently seen on some helmets. A minimalist strap system provides a secure fit, while two clips and an elasticized cord allow for the easy attachment of a headlamp.

Best for climbers wanting excellent coverage and ventilation without a premium price.
Petzl Meteor Helmet

Petzl Meteor Helmet

A lightweight and versatile helmet at a more accessible price.

With its massive vents and full-coverage shape, the Meteor is an excellent choice for climbers seeking side impact protection during warm weather. Petzl delivers these benefits at a very reasonable price by employing more conventional EPS and polycarbonate construction. It’s worth noting that this construction was just a few years ago considered cutting-edge, so you’re, in essence, buying what would have been a premium helmet but at an average-joe price. Other features include an easy-to-adjust strap system, headlamp clips and a fumble-free magnetic strap closure.

Best for climbers wanting much of the BD Vapor's performance at a more affordable price.
Black Diamond Vision Helmet

Black Diamond Vision Helmet

An innovative helmet with similar features found in top-end models.

With its EPP and EPS impact-absorbing foam, the Vision helmet provides excellent side-impact and rock-fall protection. Black Diamond adds a substantial piece of ABS plastic on the top for additional safety. So, what are the real differences between the two helmets? Well, the Vision is slightly heavier, lacks some ventilation comparatively, and has a somewhat heavier, although easier-to-adjust, strap system. If you don’t need the bleeding-edge tech and performance of the Vapor, consider the Vision. You won’t be disappointed.

Best for big-wall climbers or those seeking maximum durability.
Black Diamond Capitan Helmet

Black Diamond Capitan Helmet

A durable helmet for extended climbing adventures.

Many of the more popular current helmets focus on low weight and ventilation (safety is a given), as these are the factors that most appeal to the average rock climber. Unfortunately, these helmets are not always the best choice for multi-day climbing adventures (such as big wall climbing), where frequent bumps and scrapes are part of the game. It seems that BD clearly understands this durability dilemma, which may explain their release of the Capitan helmet. Unlike ultralight helmets, the Capitan uses a full ABS shell that easily shrugs off the abrasion, bumps and minor rock fall often encountered on longer, more backcountry-oriented climbing trips. For impact absorption, the helmet wisely uses a combination of EPP and EPS foam. The back of the helmet also extends further than some helmets for additional protection. An easy-to-use strap system and headlamp clips round out the features of this durable workhorse helmet.

Best for climbers seeking a durable helmet for everyday use.
Edelrid Zodiac 3R

Edelrid Zodiac 3R

A durable helmet for cragging and big walls.

Built with a rugged ABS shell and EPS foam, the Zodiac 3R delivers the protection (top and side) and durability required for everyday cragging and big wall adventures. The helmet does an excellent job of remaining reasonably light without sacrificing the abrasion resistance, puncture resistance and bump protection required on big routes or during extensive daily cragging. Edelrid uses a dial-adjustable strap system for effortless fit tuning, and the unique chin strap buckle eliminates the fumbling frequently encountered with more traditional buckles. Finally, the Zodiac 3R shell is made from recycled ropes, and the EPS liner is also made with recycled materials, making it the first recycled helmet to receive certification.

Best for climbers seeking a robust helmet without excess weight.
Petzl Boreo Helmet

Petzl Boreo Helmet

A time-tested design with exceptional durability.

With all the new helmet technology, it’s sometimes easy to forget that traditional, time-tested designs are still a viable option for many climbers. The Boreo falls into this category. Constructed with a robust ABS shell and an EPS and EPP liner, the Boreo delivers excellent durability and side and top impact protection, all at a very reasonable weight. The helmet has a similarly well-proven headband adjustment and headlamp clips. If you’re looking for a helmet to use as your daily driver for cragging, multi-pitch, and ice, look no further than the Boreo.

Best for climbers with smaller heads and ponytails.
Petzl Meteora Helmet

Petzl Meteora Women's Helmet

A lightweight and versatile helmet with a unique headband system.

On the surface, the Meteora is identical to the Meteor reviewed above. It has the same massive vents, full-coverage shape, and proven construction (EPS with a polycarbonate shell). So it should not come as a surprise that it offers the same level of protection and ventilation at a similarly low weight. Where it differs, however, is in the sizing (it sits between the two Meteor sizes) and its unique Omega headband fit system that accommodates ponytails. While this may not be a big issue for follicly challenged climbers, gals (and guys) with flowing locks will appreciate the improved fit.

Best for climbers on a budget looking for a versatile helmet.
Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

An affordable, rugged helmet.

If you are just starting out and want a durable helmet at a reasonable price, consider the Half Dome. The helmet features a burly Polycarbonate shell for plenty of protection from rock-fall and bumps. Inside, BD adds a piece of impact-absorbing EPS foam for additional safety. Black Diamond uses an easy-to-adjust dial headband, and the women’s version features a cut-away to accommodate ponytails.

Products reviewed in this article:

Best for climbers wanting a no-compromise helmet for rock and ice.

Petzl Sirocco Helmet

Petzl Sirocco Helmet

Buy Now - $159.95

Buy Now - $114.95

Best for climbers seeking low weight without compromising protection.

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

Buy Now - $189.95

Buy Now - $149.95

Best for climbers seeking low-weight and additional coverage.

Edelrid Salathe Helmet

Edelrid Salathe Helmet

Buy Now - $149.95

Best for climbers wanting excellent coverage and ventilation without a premium price.

Petzl Meteor Helmet

Petzl Meteor Helmet

Buy Now - $124.95

Buy Now - $89.95

Best for climbers wanting much of the BD Vapor's performance at a more affordable price.

Black Diamond Vision Helmet

Black Diamond Vision Helmet

Buy Now - $129.95

Buy Now - $99.95

Best for big-wall climbers or those seeking maximum durability.

Black Diamond Capitan Helmet

Black Diamond Capitan Helmet

Buy Now - $84.95

Buy Now - $69.95

Best for climbers seeking a durable helmet for everyday use.

Edelrid Zodiac 3R

Edelrid Zodiac 3R

Buy Now - $109.95

Buy Now - $84.95

Best for climbers seeking a robust helmet without excess weight.

Petzl Boreo Helmet

Petzl Boreo Helmet

Buy Now - Unisex $39.93 (50% Off)

Buy Now - Men's $64.95

Buy Now - Women's $64.95

Best for climbers with smaller heads and ponytails.

Petzl Meteora Women's Helmet

Petzl Meteora Helmet

Buy Now - $124.95

Buy Now - $89.95

Best for climbers on a budget looking for a versatile helmet.

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Buy Now - Men's $74.95

Buy Now - Women's $74.95

Buy Now - Men's $59.95

Buy Now - Women's $59.95

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