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Helmets- Rock and River?

Original Post
Andrew Heger · · conifer, colorado · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 15

Ok so I've cruised through the forums on multiple sites with no luck of finding a direct answer. I should mention the helmet would be mostly used for climbing, and whenever we raft something technical. So should or shouldn't it be used for both?


DaveB · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 1,070

If you mean ONE helmet that would serve best for both rock and river, I would say go with a climbing helmet. It will easily protect anything you'll encounter on the river. (Conversely, a typical "river rafting" helmet is inferior if used in climbing applications.)

Andrew Heger · · conifer, colorado · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 15

Yea Dave, One helmet for climbing and water.

Allen Corneau · · Houston, TX · Joined May 2008 · Points: 80

Kong has a helmet called the Scarab that is designed and meets the EN standards for climbing, biking, skateboarding, whitewater, and equestrian...
Jasmine Kall · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 40

Where do I buy this helmet? I do all of the above sports!

Suzy N · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 25
Jasmine Kall wrote:Where do I buy this helmet? I do all of the above sports!

I bought this helmet about 5 years ago for only $72, can't believe that it's over $100 now. I love mine!
Ben Beard · · Superior, AZ · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 215

I've worn my Petzl climbing helmet for rafting, riverboarding, etc, works well. I only raft occasionally, but a lot of people seem to go with a harder shell for their specific rafting/kayaking helmets.

gary ohm · · Paso Robles · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 0

Rather than create a new thread, I figured I'd bump this one. I'm in a bit of the same situation. My boys and I skateboard and have good helmets for that. How do skatebaord helmet certifications compare with climbing certifications?

From the climbing helmets I've actually held and tried on, I can say that our skate helmets are much more sturdy and the shells are thicker. They are heavier, but as far as I can tell they are much more protective.

Any thoughts on wearing a skateboard helmet climbing?

Clyde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 10

If you're talking about sport climbing and bouldering, skateboard helmets are better than any climbing helmet currently offered. They typically have a lower density foam that is better for absorbing impacts and preventing or at least reducing concussions. Plus they tend to protect more of the skull.

OTOH for trad, alpine, and ice where objects falling from above are the bigger danger, then climbing helmets are far superior. They are designed and tested to prevent penetration from sharp objects and they are better capable of taking big hits. Side and rear impact protection on most is pretty minimal. The climbing industry is pretty out of touch when it comes to helmets, partly because the standards are outdated.

BTW river helmets tend to get pretty skanky after a while. For that reason alone, I wouldn't use a bike or climbing helmet for boating.

gary ohm · · Paso Robles · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 0

That was pretty much my thoughts.

Top end bike/vert/downhill helmets have the CPSC, ASTM, SNELL or even DOT for downhill skateboarding. DOTs are motorcycle helmets so obviously they are overkill for climbing.

Climbing helmets have the UIAA and CE certs.

How do the sets of certifications compare?
Does anyone know the real numbers?

Too bad climbing companies can't catch up with the concussion protection of skate helmets while keeping the top-o-the head penetration protection they have now. Skate helmets will never have the drop-something-heavy on your head protection as they just don't need it. But climbing helmets need it all it seems.

Clyde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 10

I looked at the standards a few years ago and doubt much has changed. Don't have the numbers handy. But climbing helmets are subjected to a much more massive impact from above than any others, plus a nasty penetration test. Ideally, there needs to be a second climbing helmet standard that would cover sport/indoor/bouldering helmets. They could make a helmet for both but not many people will spend $200+ for better protection.

FWIW adult ski helmets are largely a sham. They too would be more effective using skateboard type designs instead of bike design (kid's ski helmets are better). But the power of marketing will prevent good helmets reaching the market.

Alex M. Smith · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 95


Looking for a helmet rated for both whitewater and climbing. I realize the differences, just wanting to know if there are any active helmets that are rated for both.

Bill Kirby · · San Francisco CA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

I thought this had something to do with wearing a helmet at Ed Palen’s place..

John Shultz · · Osaka, Japan · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 45

I use a Petzl climbing helmet for rafting, and I raft quite a bit with my own boat. If I were kayaking, where I was spending a bunch of time upside down, I would get either a dedicated helmet or something like that Kong helmet which is dual rated.

I used to be a raft guide, and the helmets commercial rafting companies use are like a joke in terms of structure compared to a climbing helmet (usually just a single 1.5 mm layer of plastic on a baseball cap frame with no foam).

I think there should be more universal helmets. Who wants to have 3-4 different helmets rolling around in their ride on the go? The Petzl Meteor used to have a whitewater rating, but not anymore.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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