How to Choose and Fit a Climbing Helmet

climbing-helmet-by-darkskiezThere are a lot of important pieces of equipment in climbing but protecting your noggin should be a high priority. After all, broken arms heal but you only get one brain and it doesn’t bounce back well. Choosing the right helmet for rock climbing is important to being safe while climbing, so use this quick guide to test out helmets and choose the right one for your head.

Understanding Helmets

There are two basic types of helmets: suspension and foam.

Suspension helmets are the good old traditional standby and are built like construction hats with a webbing of supports that keep the helmet floating over your head. When these are hit, the hard outer shell takes the impact and your head stays safe. They’re also some of the heaviest climbing helmets around because of the heavy webbing, but they offer adjustability. If you plan on sharing a helmet with someone else, suspension is probably your best bet for easy of adjustment.

Foam, on the other hand, is much lighter but foam helmets don’t last as long because they’re made with a thinner shell. You really have to baby these types of helmets because they are much more prone to damage than the suspension style ones. When they protect your head from a blow, the outside shell takes the impact and the foam compresses so they have to be replaced more often for whacks and dings than suspension ones. That said, foam is usually the choice of advanced climbers because they’re lighter, fit better on more heads, and are more stylish and functional.

Sizing

Some helmets are adjustable and others are one size fits all. No matter what you decide is the right style for you, making sure it fits snugly is important to your safety. A helmet that wobbles around on your head is not only annoying but might shift when you need it to protect your head. The best way to choose a helmet is to try it on in the store and make sure it fits well, especially since heads vary in size and shape a lot. What might fit your friend might not work for you.

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