Video: Black Diamond vs. Petzl Helmet Review


In today’s video, I review the Black Diamond Half Dome helmet and the Petzl Elios helmet.  You will see which one I like more and why.  I go over some aspects of both helmets such as ventilation, padding, and strap layout.  You will have to watch the video to see which one I prefer!

What is your favorite helmet?

Rant warning: It seems to me, that when climbers get better, they wear their helmet less and less.  Most of the time, the people climbing 5.12 don’t have a helmet, but the people climbing 5.6 do!  I don’t understand this at all.  Just because you have years of experience, doesn’t mean you’re immune to bad things happening or your head is harder than it used to be.

I have personally witnessed several events where a helmet would have changed the outcome.  For example, I saw a climber hit the ground (landing on her back and smacking her head off a rock) before she was able to clip the first bolt on a sport climb.  In this case, a stick clip or helmet would have prevented a very sore head.  In another case, I saw a climber take a safe fall on a sport climb, but his balance failed him.  He ended up falling inverted and smacked his back and head against the rock.  Both of these climbers were clearly not beginners and fortunately they only suffered from a headache and a bruised ego.

You may not look very cool with a helmet, keeping your flowing mane pent up in the plastic dome, but it only takes one instance for things to compeltely change.  So, wear your helmet!

Who out there wears their helmet?

  • Patty

    I always wear my helmet! Liked the review and will look into the Petzl with the ponytail accomodation…thanks for the tip! Does Petzl have more colors available than Black Diamond?

    • Gif

      Good to hear! The Elia does look like a cool helmet for those with long hair. I’ve never looked at one close up though. The Petzl Elios comes in gray, green, orange, blue, and white. The Black Diamond Half Dome comes in gray, orange, blue and white. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment!

  • Jeremy

    Not that there is any good excuse for not wearing a helmet, but often the reason that I believe most 5.12+ climbers are not wearing helmets is due to the fact that these routes are typically steep and often involve falling into free space. In general, most 5.10 and under routes have ledges and large protrusions that can easily flip the climber in the event of a fall. In general, harder routes offer safer falls.

    Still, no excuse….but that’s been my justification for ditching the helmet, which I used to wear 100% of the time when my focus was mainly 5.11 and under trad routes. I’ve always hated the helmet while climbing from a comfort standpoint and I’ve worn several of the helmets
    that are on the market. They are way too hot.

    • Gif

      I totally agree. It does seem that the harder routes are much safer to fall on. You don’t even need to have any real “falling form” per say. You just fall any way you want and hit nothing. It is actually a really fun feeling in my opinion. I look forward to getting better and climbing harder routes so I can have safer falls!

      The helmets are very hot, especially during summer. I don’t enjoy wearing them at all, but consider it just part of the sport, similar to wearing a harness. I can see ditching the helmet on hard, steep, sport routes, but I think I will still wear it every other time, even when I get better. To me, the risk of not wearing one is not worth the reward of a cool and comfortable head.

      Thanks so much for commenting man!

  • grigore

    Gif – solid review (as is becoming usual). Its good to see some features that are important and less than obvious, when considering a helmet.

    3 other things to think about are hats, weight, and durability. When not worried about sweating, make sure you can wear a hat underneath (you don’t want to compromise safety for warmth). The hardshell designs reviewed are heavier, though more durable than the foam (bike) style helmets like the BD Tracer. That is, a single hit can render a bike style helmet worthless while the hardshell could keep on ticking.

    Just my 2 cents. Keep it up!
    -g

    • Gif

      Excellent points Grigore! I didn’t mention wearing winter hats under the helmets because both of them have the dial rachet system to adjust. As you know, these helmets can open up quite a bit to allow room for a hat. If a different helmet didn’t have this system, wearing a hat could be an issue.

      I don’t have any hands on experience with the Tracer, but it doesn’t sound durable at all. In this case, the added ventilation and weight savings are not worth the reduction in durability. Even though they are less comfortable, I think a hardshell is the way to go.

      Thanks for a great comment man!

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