The job of a helmet is obvious, the full range of tasks it needs to perform less so. A helmet must protect the wearer from objects falling onto it and the wearer bashing into things. It must be light, comfortable, unrestrictive and stable. It must stay in place in the event of an impact and not get dragged off in the event of a slide. How this is all accomplished is firstly by using a shell that spreads an impact across the helmet and absorbs shock and a cradle that adjusts well to the head and holds the shell comfortably in place. The climbing helmets we stock fall into two distinct categories: those using a moulded plastic shell and those constructed from a composite polystyrene shell.
Moulded plastic helmets make up the majority of our range and most have a polystyrene insert which helps absorb shock and maintain helmet integrity after each impact, and those without.
The strongest shells are used in the Edelrid Ultralight, which will withstand 10 impacts of greater than 10kN, which is a huge force. Their construction is simple and reliable, and we recommend it for high-risk users and for outdoor centres and groups as a climbing and caving helmet. It's tougher than the toughest of old boots. Wild Country's 360 Helmet is another excellent choice for those wanting the highest levels of protection, this time with a low profile designed to fit under a hood in poor weather.
For kids, who should always be wearing a helmet when climbing, abseiling, caving or playing under crags, we recommend the bombproof Edelrid Ultralight Junior or lighter Petzl Picchu.
For most climbers, weight is also a consideration. You want something light and comfortable, that won't get in your way. We use and recommend the ever-popular Black Diamond Half Dome and the Petzl Boreo, or Petzl Elia for women. These helmets dot the country's crags at regular intervals and have proved to be popular allrounders as well. They are the first choice for almost everyone who wants a climbing helmet.
Lighter (very light indeed!) and less durable are the helmets made out of a composite polystyrene shell, but reinforced in the high wear areas. These include the Mammut Wall Rider, the Petzl Sirocco and the Edelrid Salathe. These are designed for sports climbing and cragging, and are slightly less reassuring in a mountain environment, although they have immense value from a weight saving perspective.
You'll find industrial helmets in the Vertical Rope, Access and Rescue section of the website. The Edelrid Ultralight is a great caving helmet, but if you'd like one with a lamp already attached, have a look at the Petzl Spelios on the caving page.