CGR tests out the new and re-vamped Half Dome helmet from Black Diamond.
Completely redesigned from the ground up…the Half Dome is an all-purpose workhorse ideal for everything from trad cragging to alpine expeditions.
I have been a helmet user for some time now, I wear one when instructing, coaching and guiding as well as personally in the mountains and for all winter climbing.
I have used both types of helmet – the high density extruded foam type such as the Black Diamond Meteor and the ABS type like the Half Dome. For outcrop climbing such as grit and lowland crags I use the Meteor type as the main danger is from banging my head against the rock face when I fall off. In the mountains I prefer the ABS hard shell type as there is an added danger of a rock falling down on me as well as ice in the winter.
I have used a Black Diamond Half Dome for some time now as I still have a Mark 1 model. I liked the ease of adjustability and the way it sat tightly on my head without moving – which some other models did.
The new, updated model is real improvement on what was already a very good and popular helmet. The basics are still the same, a moulded ABS shell with a small expended foam crown insert and a cradle. The main changes are the fit and cosmetic detailing and I must say they are a great improvement.
The first point of note is the addition of enlarged ventilation slots, this helps keeps your head cooler and reduces the weight. The slots worked best on windy days and on the occasions I wore the helmet when it was raining I did find some water did find its way through (although I should add I’m often so wet that a bit of water on my head is neither here nor there).
The styling is also a great improvement on the mark 1, the style looks much more modern and streamlined. There are 5 colours to choose from and 2 sizes so there should a combination that you like. I think this has contributed to more people wearing helmets, more colour choice and better styling means people are more likely to wear one – and that can only be a good thing.
The headtorch clips worked very well at keeping my headtorch in place. I have a lot of trouble with helmets and headtorches in the past and I’m pleased to note that the new clips work much better than the mark 1 clips. They are nicely colour co-ordinated and were easy to locate in the dark as they contrasted with the main helmet colour.
The other main improvement is the fit – this is achieved by the improved cradle which sits nicely under the occipital bone at the back of the skull. Adjustment was very easy using the wheel adjuster, which was great to use, even with my winter climbing gloves on I could adjust the cradle easily as the wheel had some grippy rubber on it.
The side and chin straps were similar to the mark 1 the main change being a buckled chin strap which does away with the double strap and increased the comfort. They were as easy to adjust, but not in the field with gloves so you would need to make sure that it was adjusted to fit before you went out. This is time well spent as once adjusted they stayed in place nicely and I didn’t have that movement where the helmet looks like it’s some sort of comic prop and looks skew whiff as seems to happen on plenty of other sorts of helmets that I’ve used.
All in all the Black Diamond Half Dome is a great, all round helmet. It’s not as stylish as some, it’s heavier than the polystyrene ones but it is more compact and a great improvement on what was already a good helmet. I feel Black Diamond have done a great job in re-vamping the Half Dome and if you looking for a well priced helmet for all seasons then you won’t go far wrong.