I’ve been rock climbing long enough to know the importance of wearing a helmet, even when I’m only cragging. One of my best friends had a rock hurled at him from the top of the second pitch of Bonnie’s Roof in the Gunks and smacked his helmet at full force. He wasn’t even climbing yet, and the fact that he had the foresight to keep his helmet on during a busy weekend may very well have saved his life.
The difficulty of a climb doesn’t necessarily matter, either. A former roommate was climbing something 5.fun in Eldorado Canyon and slipped, taking an unfortunate impact that later would affect her sense of smell. Personally, I like smelling things. My love of smelling things greatly outweighs my hatred of helmet hair, so I make it a point to wear my brain bucket whenever possible.
I was asked to check out Gipfel Climbing Equipment, India’s first manufacturer of CE and UIAA certified climbing, mountaineering, and outdoor equipment. This start-up company was founded in May of 2016 out of the necessity for local gear, and thus, gear such as the Alpine helmet was created. Their Alpine helmet is an all-around season helmet, meaning it’s suitable for ice climbing, rock climbing, and mountaineering. It was oddly comfortable when I first tried it on, due to its inner foam lining. It that extends throughout the entire helmet, including the sides. This helmet offers extra protection in case of off-center impact (which we know happens all too often). While many helmets offer adequate protection during top impact, this feature is what provides cranial support in case of side impacts.
The interior foam is made of American expanded polystyrene, which is typically used as a lightweight, rigid insulation (and more commonly known for being used as insulation in walls, foundations, and roofing). In addition, this closed-cell foam provides minimal water absorption. Its outer is a polycarbonate shell that is fairly rigid. There are ten spots for ventilation total (six on the side and four on the back of the helmet), which is great for warmer weather conditions. Often, helmets make us sweat uncomfortably, are heavy, and chafe—which is one of the main reasons so many climbers won’t wear them. That, and they make us look like storm troopers.
Retailing at $75.90, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better helmet for the price. People often moan and groan at helmet prices, but at the end of the day, you have to look at wearing a helmet like having health insurance. Ideally, you won’t have to use it but when you do need it, it’s there for your protection. Also, storm troopers are cool.
Disclosure: Gipfel provided product and compensation for this review. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.
Unless stated otherwise, all photographs courtesy of Gipfel.