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Helmets


Original Post
A. Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 40

I know it is ultimately my decision on whether or not to wear a helmet, and the opinions of others should not matter. But for the sake of conversation... when, where, how often, etc. do you wear a helmet?

I think the only time I wore a brain bucket was on Devil's Tower back in the early 2000s. I honestly don't remember wearing one, but I am pretty sure I would have. I'd never followed multi-pitch trad before, and if I remember my leader at all, he would have given me one to wear.

Outside of that, the vast majority of what I have done has been sport climbing, and helmets were never a consideration. Now I am older, married, have kids, and it is something I think about now that I have started climbing again. I have definitely decided to put helmets on my kids whenever they are at the crag, even if they aren't climbing. I'm kind of wrestling with my ego over putting one on myself for sport climbs though, just because it isn't common. I have an excuse now, because I will just be getting back on the sharp end after a long break. Maybe I'll just make it a habit after that. What do you think?

Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

I always wear a helmet on lead or when belaying trad climbers. Put on some cool stickers, beat up your bucket and ya won't look like a noob

A. Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 40
Medic741 wrote:I always wear a helmet on lead or when belaying trad climbers. Put on some cool stickers, beat up your bucket and ya won't look like a noob
sounds like a plan.

Not directly related to helmets, but for whatever reason this is what made me start thinking about it again:

publications.americanalpine…

The issue wasn't the lack of a helmet, and the end result wouldn't have been changed by a helmet, but it could have easily gone a different direction and been much worse for both climber and belayer.
Nathan Self · · Louisiana · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 90

Your kids can't afford you taking a rock to the head: wear your helmet! Every time!

ps: my own safety awareness also increased once i had kids..

Joey S. · · Cincinnati, OH · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 30

Ditch the ego and wear a helmet: trad or sport. I've been flipped upside down a few times sport climbing and not having a cracked skull is worth the nerd factor.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

If you go the route of wearing a helmet then I think it is equally or more important to wear one at the base - either belaying or just standing around (obviously applies to your kids if they are there). Its probably more common to get hit by something dropped/pulled off by a climber above then to fall and hit your head.

jdejace · · New England · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 10

I wear a helmet every time I climb outdoors. Full disclosure: I don't boulder, I rarely sport climb (but I do wear it even if the super strong shirtless children laugh at me!), obviously I wear it for trad and ice.

Matt Zia · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 171

A friend put his helmet philosophy pretty succinctly to me once: Helmets, no good reason not to wear one. There are reasons to not wear one, but none of them are good.

Nowadays pretty much the only time I don't wear a helmet is either when climbing a chimney/offwidth where my helmet gets stuck and when top-roping at established and well-travelled areas.

Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 150

I wear a helmet all the time for trad and sport. ive had a few close calls that had things gone slightly different without a helmet I might not be writing this so for me a helmet is a no brainer. having not worn a helmet for the first 2 years of climbing I can tell you if you just force yourself and make it a conscious habit for a little while it will become like second nature and youll feel naked without a helmet. I also leave it on when im just standing around at the base. a lot of people say its to protect from rockfall but another major reason (and my friend did this) is forgetting to put it back on before getting on a climb.
for me theres just no reason not to wear one. but do it right the first time and get a light, breathable helmet and youll forget youre wearing it.

Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

I wear a helmet leading (trad or sport) and belaying if there is any suspect rock. I also flipped upside down early in my climbing career. I was wearing a helmet and hobbled away with a sprained ankle from hitting my foot on a ledge. I think the helmet was the difference between a pleasant afternoon in the campground and a trip to the hospital.

Props to Libby Sauter for wearing a helmet while sport climbing in the new Rock and Ice. Maybe its because she's a nurse. I would bet that a lot of pros wear helmets while working projects (ok, maybe not sport climbing) but take them off when its photo time.

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 123

The new crop of ultralight EPS helmets are incredible. Mammut, Petzl, and BD each have one in the ultralight category.

I get complacent, but I really try to wear a helmet when I'm climbing, period. I know at least one guy who wears a helmet even when he is climbing in the gym. You're just as likely to get flipped upside down inside as you are outside.

And there's nothing cool at all about a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Dustin Stotser · · Springfield, MO · Joined May 2014 · Points: 363

I almost always wear mine. Be careful about blindly trusting any climbing helmet for back of head(upside down flip) protection. Many climbing helmets I've seen offer no protection for that area despite the plastic shell covering it.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Do any of you insist your partners wear a helmet?

I want my partner to wear one if we're doing multipitch, as a head injury to him can greatly affect me. If we're on single-pitch, it's their call.

Josh Kornish · · tufaclimbing.com · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 845

Dropping a coin on the light BD helmet was the best thing I ever did.

It fits so well and is light enough that I don't even notice it climbing. These days I wear it on almost everything including my hardest sport sends.

I wish helmets would become a sexier trend as it really just takes shitty luck to have a really bad day

wonderwoman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 84

I wear my helmet at all times at the crag ever since having to visit one of my friends in the hospital who nearly died while belaying a top roper:

THE CLIMBING ACCIDENT THAT ALMOST KILLED ME

Sometimes I am the only person at a sport crag wearing a helmet, but I could give a rat's ass.

Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 150
FrankPS wrote:Do any of you insist your partners wear a helmet? I want my partner to wear one if we're doing multipitch, as a head injury to him can greatly affect me. If we're on single-pitch, it's their call.
my friend was about to do his first 5.11 sport clean. he took his helmet off at the base and didn't put it back on. I stopped him half way up when I realized it. at first he said he was fine but then really thought about it and had me send it up to him. he was grateful I did.
Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

In my 20s and 30s, I rarely ever wore a helmet, never for climbing and only when whitewater rafting/kayaking or mountain biking.

Now, I have a helmets for climbing, road biking, mountain biking, skiing, kayaking... It is rare that I participate without. If I am doing something where I have a near zero chance of hitting my head (ocean kayaking, climbing in the gym...) I am not going to bother wearing my helmet. Otherwise, I put it on. Now, if I forget it, I probably will go ahead with the activity and not rent a helmet, but it will give me a sense of unease.

A bog part of it started when I was skiing and climbing with my kid. I told her she needed to wear a helmet, and not being the "do as I say, not as I do" kind of guy, I picked one up for myself and changed my habits.

I have been on well established sport routes where pebbles (and larger) rocks have come raining down on me, so the issue of how well traveled a route is does not come into play.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
wonderwoman wrote:I wear my helmet at all times at the crag ever since having to visit one of my friends in the hospital who nearly died while belaying a top roper: THE CLIMBING ACCIDENT THAT ALMOST KILLED ME Sometimes I am the only person at a sport crag wearing a helmet, but I could give a rat's ass.
Helluva story, Sara. You're lucky...oh, never mind. :)
A. Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 40

So this discussion has reaffirmed my decision to start wearing a helmet, and certainly to put them on my kids (and wife).

I used to be a very avid bike racer... road, mtb, cylcocross. Unless I was racing or mtbing, I never wore a helmet. At some point, I don't remember when, I started wearing one all the time. I was never bothered by it again. I guess climbing will go the same way.

The couple we have been climbing with don't wear helmets or put them on their kids unless the kids are tied in. I'd been following their example, but I think it is time to make that decision for myself. Maybe I'll start a trend!

Now I have to come up with 4 helmets. That is going to put a dent in my gear budget.

frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 96

We don't need no steenking helmets.
I only wear one if I'm climbing 5.14 but since I don't climb nearly that hard, I never wear one. I'm thinking about going back to a swami belt.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

I try to always wear my helmet because it has saved my life on more than one occasion. every now and then I forgot to bring it if I'm just sport climbing or TRing in an area without much loose rock, but I'm usually pretty good about wearing it and I won't climb multi pitch or trad without one, even if it means hiking back miles to the car. As it has been stated, there's simply no reason NOT to wear a helmet and doing so can keep you climbing rather than having your head go splat. Life is fragile, so wear your damn brain bucket.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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