The iconic Yellow Salamander helmet has been a fixture on the winter and Alpine climbing scene for years. Recently Grivel chose to update their helmet line and Dave reviewed the new Salamander in February 2017. The Grivel helmet line now consists of three models in the UK:
- Salamander – a robust hardshell. £50 – 385 grams
- Stealth HS – Inner EPS and outer ABS. £65 – 292 grams (326g actual)
- Stealth – Co-molded Polystyrene Foam / Polycarbonate. £75 – 190 grams
Grivel supplied us with the mid range Stealth HS (short for hard shell) to review this winter which sits in the middle of the range both price and weight wise. The first thing that will strike you is the unique aesthetic of the helmet which it shares with the top of the range Stealth. The ‘stealth’ moniker presumably referencing the carbon fibre stealth planes of the USAF. Grivel describe this design as:
“The best solidity through the Stealth multifaceted design, which increases the rigidity of the shell and allows thinner thickness.”
The Stealth HS itself is 100g heavier than the top of the line Stealth and has a couple less ventilation slots at the back (no bad thing for a winter helmet) but to be honest this is unnoticeable when it is worn – it’s still a light helmet. Its hybrid construction makes it very robust; the outer ABS prevents penetration and spreads the impact force whilst the inner EPS absorbs the energy, it also results in a helmet that doesn’t need to be mollycoddled when packing – unlike some of the ultra lightweights out there, you can stuff this in the top of your sac and press it down without fear of it cracking!
The Stealth HS is the sort of helmet that is ideal for the abuses of Scottish mixed climbing or extended use in the Alps, a good compromise between lightweight and durability. Comfort wise the harness system is the same as on the Salamander, a minimalist but easily adjustable and un-bustable webbing affair that folds into the helmet making packing a cinch. Another change from the previous generation of Grivel helmets is that headlamp attachment is now by four low profile clips.
I’ve been using the Stealth HS exclusively so far this winter and although I have lighter helmets the slight weight penalty has not been noticed. What is noticeable from the outset is the comfort of the Stealth HS. The harness system adjusts easily and gives a secure non-slip fit. Additional foam pads are available to fine tune the fit, I used a couple in the temple area (I must have a narrow head by Italian standards!) and have found the helmet to be one of the most comfortable I have ever worn, no wobble, no undue pressure, easily adjustable to a bare head or over a mid-layer hood. Looks wise the style may be divisive and may put people off which would be a shame because this is an excellent helmet.
Partners of a certain age are bound to make ‘Red Dwarf’ and ‘Kryton’ jokes (I thought Kev was too young for that but he must have watched them on repeat;-) but hey if you’re that thin skinned you’re unlikely to last long in most climbing circles! For myself the Stealth HS has become the helmet of choice for most winter activities – I’d only swap it out for a lighter lid if I was counting every gram. The only negative I found was the switch to the headlamp tabs. I’ve never been a fan of these and prefer either shock cord or a combination of shock cord and clips. My dislike is based on the issue of attaching a helmet whilst on a stance part way up a climb – you want to do it quickly especially if your taking your own helmet off and not having a partner do it. So you may end up juggling an elastic head band trying to hitch it under the clips without it pinging off into the void and dropping the helmet as well! Tight clips like on the stealth HS I found necessitated the removal of gloves to fit and were still a bit fiddly – I gave mine a bit of a bend outwards to make it easier after the first night climb experience this season!
- Comfortable and secure
- Great Value
- Robust and Durable
- Unique aesthetic
- Fiddly lamp clips
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!