Kev takes a look at the Vapor climbing helmet from Black Diamond…
My first climbing helmet was a Joe Brown fibreglass number. It was large, heavy and hot and consequently I never wore it very much. These days however, climbing helmets are amazing and you can get helmets so comfortable you forget you are wearing them and so light that they’ll blow away if you leave them lying around unattended.
Black Diamond’s Vapor climbing helmet is one of the lightest on the market. It weighs 186g in size S/M. The only other helmet that I have used which falls into this sub 200g category is Petzl’s Scirocco which at 165g is probably the lightest helmet available.
Black Diamond say:
Providing ultralight, low-profile protection, unparalleled ventilation and a secure and super-comfortable fit, the Black Diamond Vapor helmet is a go-anywhere cragging lid that proves helmets aren’t just for multi-pitch trad climbs and big alpine faces. We engineered a sheet of Kevlar and a series of carbon rods in between co-molded EPS foam and a polycarbonate shell to keep the weight at a minimum while keeping you protected. The Vapor’s ratcheting suspension tucks into the helmet for compact storage in your pack or haul bag, and removable headlamp clips secure your light on pre-dawn starts or when rapping after dark.
- Co-molded EPS foam with polycarbonate shell is lower profile than the Vector
- Geometric, open-air design provides unparalleled airflow
- Ratchet adjuster with molded push buttons
- Headlamp clips are removable for reduced snagging on slings and clothing
Straight away I could feel that the helmet was comfortable, it fit perfectly straight out of the box with the only adjustment being a squeeze of the simple ratchet system and a pull of the chin strap. There wasn’t any faff getting the strap to position correctly around my ears or the chin strap adjusted. Once it was on I could just get on with climbing and really did forget that it was there. It is probably the most low profile of any helmet I have worn and as such I don’t seem to bang my head on things as often because it just doesn’t stick out off my head as much.
The ventilation is amazing but I was slightly concerned that some of the vents may allow small stones to pass through, although this in reality is probably unlikely.
The clever construction of the Vapor Helmet allows the lightness to be achieved. A combination of Kevlar, carbon rods and EPS foam all covered in a polycarbonate shell, means that the helmet is strong but actually fairly robust for a helmet of this type. I’ve actually cracked other similar lightweight EPS/polycarbonate designs dropping my pack on the ground (careless I know)! The only downside of this clever construction is that it hikes up the RRP and at £120, the Vapor Helmet is not cheap. But what price would you put on your own head?
Other features are headlamp attachment clips, which are secure but you have to fit them yourself and a neat system where the cradle nests in the helmet for easy storage in your pack. It comes in a choice of 3 colours, white, red or grey.
I have used the Vapor Helmet for everything from trad cragging in the UK to Alpine routes and will continue to do so. It’s a great helmet if it fits you, light, comfortable and well made. It’s not cheap, but you only have one head!
- Find out more at the Black Diamond website.
- RRP: £120
About the author:
Kevin Avery has been climbing for over 20 years. He loves all aspects of the sport from sunny cragging to Alpine north faces and bouldering to ski mountaineering. Kev has a keen interest in all things gear, he enjoyed a spell as Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, is a trainee IFMGA Mountain Guide and highly active in the outdoors. He likes to test kit to destruction. When not climbing he enjoys running in the hills and cycling. He’s also partial to a decent pint of ale (but that’s a secret).