For a variety of vertical activities the helmet is an essential piece of safety equipment. They protect the head against falling debris (rocks) and on impact –e.g. if the climber’s head hits a rock wall during a fall.
Many climbers are resistant to wearing one they feel uncomfortable or unattractive, but they forget that their life is in danger. Climbers must raise awareness and encourage each other to use a helmet in the same way a motorist uses a seat belt.
Before choosing a helmet, you must first decide the usage: climbing, mountaineering or caving.
Sport climbing is conducted on mapped routes which is more controlled and the risk is not as high. Regardless, wearing a helmet ensures safety from the different situations that may occur on a mountain. This type of climbing helmet is made of polyurethane, which ensures lightness in weight. Helmets for mountaineering or caving need be more resistant. These helmets have substantial differences from the previous helmet, since they must be able to resist impacts with fixed surfaces. In this style of climbing it is very normal that stones may fall, incurring helmet damage. This type of climbing helmet is heavier than the first and more uncomfortable. The helmet has greater durability to protect the head against any kind of impact. Helmets that have a polycarbonate shell are more resistant to impact and more durable.
Some of the features that must be considered in selecting a helmet are:
Ventilation: if a helmet does not have good ventilation it can become very hot which increases the chances of the person moving the helmet back to allow ventilation, increasing accident probability by falling rocks or other objects (Murphy’s Law is fulfilled in a very high percentage). If you decide on a helmet without much ventilation, the more appropriate color is white because it reflects light better and you’ll have less heat. The openings should not be too large to avoid rocks or other items sneaking in and with a minimum of six vents. It is advised to check the state of the vents as if they are weak they may break on impact resulting in head injuries
Weight: the helmets are divided into 3 types according to their weight, traditional (425 grams), light (325 grams) and super lightweight (less than 260 grams). The advantages of the super-light helmets are several and very noticeable, such as due to its lighter weight, the neck feels less fatigue, more energy is absorbed if an object strikes and they offer better ventilation. On the contrary, they are less durable and permanent deformation can occur from impact. They are also more expensive.
Comfort: this should be an essential quality in selecting your helmet. You should try them on in store and see how they feel and look. It is very important to see that both the neck or forehead is not too exposed and the fit is correct. (give a pat on the head to see if it moves), etc..