A climbing helmet should be lightweight, shock-resistant, be able to withstand extremes of temperature, and offer an optimal range of vision. Although helmets are not yet obligatory for rock climbs they are strongly recommended. They are, however, obligatory in the mountains. They not only offer protection from falling rocks or objects dropped by other climbers, but also protect a climber’s head from impact with stationary objects, such as the rock face in a fall.
There are two different types of helmet, according to the composition of the shell:
(e.g. polystyrene) shells are generally extremely lightweight and shock-absorbent thanks to the foam’s highly compres- sible construction, but are less robust in terms of general wear and tear.
(polycarbonate) shells are heavier and more durable but offer less efficient shock absorption.
Some models of helmet are a hybrid of these two technologies and offer durability and effective energy absorption from impacts, while remaining lightweight.
Accessories can be added to helmets, such as a headlamp for caving or a protective shield for ice climbing.
The standard for these two types of helmets is EN 12492. Helmets are subject to the following strength tests:
- Resistance to penetration
A 3kg cone-shaped weight (with a 60° summit angle) falls from a height of 1m and should not pierce the dome of the helmet.
- Chinstrap strength
Subject to loading with a mass of 50kg, the chinstrap should not stretch by more than 25mm..
-Helmet retention system test
Subject to loading with a mass of 10kg mass falling from a height of 20cm, the helmet should not fall off the head of the test dummy. The test is carried out front-to-back and back-to-front.