Rock climbing is well-known as a dangerous sport. Choosing to practice rock climbing either indoors or outdoors comes with its hazards. Understanding how to control the hazards you can and protect yourself from the hazards that you can’t control is essential to keeping yourself and your partners safe when climbing.
Wearing a rock climbing helmet is a great way to help keep yourself safe while climbing. In this article, we’ll be discussing why you should wear a helmet while climbing. We’ll talk about some of the reasons people tend not to wear helmets, as well as why you should wear a helmet. We’ll even give you a list of our favorite rock climbing helmets, so you have a starting point when you go to look for your own rock climbing helmet.
The Importance of Safety in Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous activity, whether indoors or outdoors, so it is important to keep yourself safe. Understanding the most trusted safety recommendations from gear manufacturers and the industry standard practice for activities like belaying is essential to ensuring that you and your partners are safe while climbing.
Understanding the risks you take when you go rock climbing can help you mitigate them. There are some risks that are unavoidable, like rock fall, but other risks you can avoid by using the proper gear and using it in the proper way. Make sure you take care when rock climbing since protecting your life should always be at the top of your priority list when doing a potentially dangerous activity such as rock climbing.
One of the simplest ways to help provide more safety for your body while climbing is wearing a helmet. A helmet will reduce your risks for concussions when used properly and is a great way to help make your climbing practice a little bit safer. Of course, if a microwave-sized rock falls on your head, a helmet won’t do much good, but for most climbers, that’s not the type of hazard they are dealing with.
How to Protect Yourself When Climbing
Protecting yourself while climbing is essential to staying safe. Climbers do things like tie knots at the end of their ropes, wear correctly fitting harnesses and helmets, and use clear and consistent communication to help minimize the risks associated with climbing.
Make sure that all the gear you use for rock climbing is in good condition and is not too old. Most soft goods, such as ropes and harnesses, have an expected lifespan based on the use that the manufacturer publishes. If your gear is older than the recommended lifespan, you should help keep yourself and your climbing partners safe by investing in new gear. Gear failures are a pretty avoidable accident in climbing.
Just like with any other dangerous sport, wearing the proper protective equipment can lower your risk of sustaining a significant injury. Wearing a rock climbing helmet is the best way to help minimize your risk of injury. Make sure you wear a climbing helmet as opposed to a bike or ski helmet since each style of helmet is designed to protect the wearer from the most common forces present in those activities, and it won’t work as effectively for other sports.
Why Climbers Should Wear Helmets
Wearing a rock climbing helmet can help minimize the risks associated with climbing. While wearing a helmet does not guarantee that you will not be injured, it does help to prevent many minor injuries, such as minor concussions, cuts, and bruises.
Although there are plenty of published rock climbing accident statistics, it is much harder to judge how bad any given accident would have been if the climber had been wearing a helmet. The general consensus amongst climbers, guides, and gear manufacturers is that you have to accept a certain amount of risk when you go rock climbing, even indoors. That being said, wearing a helmet can make some of the risks become negligible.
Climbing is not worth more than your life, and even if you don’t die from a climbing-related accident, any injury involving your head is likely to leave you with lasting impacts that could have the potential to change your quality of life. In order to be as safe as possible when climbing, we recommend that you follow all safety guidelines from guides and gear manufacturers and utilize all necessary safety gear, such as helmets, when rock climbing.
Why Do Many Climbers Not Wear Helmets?
There are a lot of reasons why many climbers don’t wear helmets, but none of the common reasons sound great when compared to the potential risks you can incur from not wearing a rock climbing helmet. Here are some of the most common reasons why climbers don’t wear helmets:
1. Not comfortable
Complaints about climbing helmets being too heavy or not comfortable were common when helmets were just entering the climbing scene, but as helmet technology has advanced, these complaints have decreased in prevalence. That doesn’t mean that people don’t complain at all about helmets being bulky or uncomfortable, just that they complain less about this issue.
2. Not fashionable
One of the most common complaints that people have about rock climbing helmets is that they are not fashionable. This complaint is often hard to fight since helmets are not made to be fashionable, so it makes sense that they are not the most stylish thing you can wear.
3. Don’t feel they need it.
Many climbers start out wearing a helmet, but as they get better, they think they don’t need to wear a rock climbing helmet anymore. While you might feel safer climbing without a helmet once you get better, remember that you can not control many of the risk factors in climbing, and those risk factors don’t change just because you’re climbing more challenging climbs. Rocks can still fall, and gear can still fail. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re too good to worry about safety.
What Helmets are Ideal for Rock Climbing?
Rock climbing helmets are ideal for rock climbing. Rock climbing helmets can be used during outdoor sport climbing, trad climbing, and bouldering. Any rock climbing helmet can also be used as an indoor climbing helmet, and although helmets are even less common when climbing indoors, they can help minimize the risks and are still a good idea.
Climbing helmets protect your head from impacts coming from above you and are specifically tested for rock climbing. Climbing helmets are either hard-shelled helmets or soft-shelled helmets. Typically hard-shelled helmets are more durable but heavier, while soft-shelled helmets are lighter weight but are not nearly as durable.
Using a bike or ski helmet for rock climbing will not protect you as well as a rock climbing helmet would. Climbing with your bike helmet won’t protect you as much, and you are more likely to break your bike helmet in the process. Most climbing gyms or guide companies will have helmets you can rent, so if you don’t have the right helmet to go climbing, ask around and rent one.
5 Best Helmets for Rock Climbing
Every climber has a unique set of wants and needs that they use to find the best helmet for them, so make sure you keep in mind what features you value while you look through our favorite rock climbing helmets.
Pros: MIPS, adjustable, super comfortable
Cons: cost, black can absorb the heat
The Black Diamond Vision with MIPS technology is one of the best climbing helmets on the market today. The helmet is super comfortable and extremely adjustable, but it comes at a steep price point.
MIPS, or multi-directional impact protection system, is becoming the new standard for helmets across various sports. The technology allows the helmet to be securely attached to your head but still have some movement to help absorb more significant impacts, making it an excellent choice for rock climbers, bikers, and skiers.
Pros: lightweight, great ventilation
Cons: pricey, not as adjustable as other options
The Petzl Sirocco is the best option for someone who wants to go for the lightest options out there. Unfortunately, this comes at a pretty high price, but it is one of the lightest helmets out there. Because of how light it is, this helmet is not the most durable.
Pros: durable, good cost, very adjustable
Cons: pretty heavy, bulky
If you have ever rented a rock climbing helmet, there’s a pretty good shot you rented a Black Diamond Half Dome. This hard shell helmet is a great price and is super durable due to its hard plastic shell. Unfortunately, it’s not lightweight and can be pretty bulky, but it is an excellent place to start if you are just getting into climbing.
4. Petzl Boreo
Pros: durable, reasonable cost
Cons: bulky, heavier
Another great option for someone looking for a budget-friendly climbing helmet is the Petzl Boreo. This helmet is similar to the Black Diamond Half Dome and is a durable hard-shelled rock climbing helmet. The price makes it an excellent option for a lot of climbers.
5. Petzl Meteor
Pros: good value for weight
Cons: magnetic chin strap can attract dirt
Looking for a lightweight helmet that won’t break the bank? The Petzl Meteor is a good balance between lightweight but not too expensive. The major drawback of this helmet is the magnetic chinstrap, which can attract dirt, but overall this is a great option if you are looking for a lighter-weight helmet.
Wrapping Things Up: Should Rock Climbers Wear Helmets?
From falls while climbing to falling rocks, there are a lot of ways that you can get pretty seriously hurt while climbing. Knowing the proper tools and how to use them can really minimize the likelihood of you getting seriously injured. A helmet is a crucial tool for keeping yourself safe while climbing.
Regardless of whether you like cheap and durable or expensive and lightweight helmets, there is something out there for everyone. We hope that we have fully explained to you why the potentially poor fashion choice of wearing a helmet is worth it, given how much it can protect your life and its quality of it.