Climbing helmets are an essential piece of gear for any rock climber, ice climber, or mountaineer. They protect your head from impacts and falling debris, and they can be the difference between a minor injury and a life-threatening one. However, with so many different types of climbing helmets available, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. In this article, we’ll explore the two main types of climbing helmets and their features.
Hard Shell Climbing Helmets
Hard shell climbing helmets are the traditional style of climbing helmet. They consist of a hard outer shell made of ABS plastic or polycarbonate, and an inner foam liner made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) or expanded polypropylene (EPP). The hard shell provides excellent protection against impacts, while the foam liner helps to absorb and dissipate the energy of an impact.
One of the key advantages of hard shell climbing helmets is their durability. They can withstand repeated impacts and are less likely to crack or break than their soft shell counterparts. They are also less likely to deform over time, so you can rely on them to provide consistent protection over the course of their lifespan.
However, hard shell climbing helmets do have some drawbacks. They tend to be heavier and bulkier than soft shell helmets, which can make them less comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They also don’t offer as much ventilation as soft shell helmets, which can make them hotter and sweatier in warm weather.
Soft Shell Climbing Helmets
Soft shell climbing helmets are a newer type of climbing helmet that has become increasingly popular in recent years. They consist of a soft outer shell made of foam and a carbonate cover, with no hard outer shell. The foam provides protection against impacts, while the carbonate cover helps to distribute the force of an impact over a wider area.
One of the main advantages of soft shell climbing helmets is their comfort. They are lighter and more flexible than hard shell helmets, which makes them more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They also offer better ventilation, which can be a major advantage in warm weather. And they typically weigh less than hard shells.
However, soft shell climbing helmets are less durable than hard shell helmets. They can deform or even tear in the event of a severe impact, which means they may need to be replaced more frequently. They also don’t provide as much protection against falling debris or sharp objects, since there is no hard outer shell to deflect or absorb the impact in the same way. They are also not typically as strong on the sides as the top.
Both hard shell and soft shell climbing helmets have their advantages and disadvantages. Hard shell helmets offer excellent protection and durability, while soft shell helmets are more comfortable, lighter, and offer better ventilation. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your personal preferences and the type of climbing you do. Regardless of which type of helmet you choose, be sure to always wear it when climbing to keep your head protected. Looking for additional advice on equipment, bags, clothing, or ropes? Use the links!