Helmet Lifespan?


Original Post
ChossKing · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

What's the recommended lifespan for a helmet? Currently using a Petzl Roc-Ecrin from the mid 90s and it'a great. It's never seen hard impact and I wear it pretty frequently.

Unsure if there's any unseen degradation that impacts safety.

^Asking for a friend obviously..

Kyle Goupil · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 270

Check Petzl's tech notices and PPE inspection sheets. They recommend 10 years for shelf life for helmets. The PPE inspection sheet will have a rundown of what to look for to retire the helmet. It's right on their product page.

Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0

Just a quick reference: Black Diamond Half-Dome instructions state a 10 year life-span, so I'd guess that would be a good number to go by.

I also know in many Motorsports helmets are considered OK for a 10 year lifespan, after that the certs are not typically allowed in competition.

Probably time for a new helmet.

Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 23

Ecrin-Roc should be fine indefinitely, as long as the webbing harness isn't degraded at all. I've heard of people still using one from the 80s or 90s.

Newer helmets that utilize foam need to be replaced because the foam degrades, but the plastic won't have any issues with degradation, just with damage. I would be more concerned with the helmet's harness, but if it looks good enough that you would use it (or something that looks like it) as a sling, then it's good enough to be a helmet.

Note that if you are using it as PPE (for your job) then it should be retired. No such requirements for recreational gear though.

Mountain Mark · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Use the manufacturer recommdation as a maximum. Any serious hit, throw it out. That max is for a helmet sitting on shelf or barely used. If you are using it everyday in the desert, maybe one year is it. Individual call.

I pretty much destroy mine every five years as a weekend warrior. Have fun with it. You can put them on a melon and drop heavy objects on them. You learn a lot too. I don't get sentimental with gear. When in doubt throw it out.

It is time to gravity test your ecrin.

Mountain Mark · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Gavin, I respectfully disagree with your comment regarding plastic not degrading. The sun can do a number on plastic. Also cumulative knicks hits and scrapes can take a toll over time. When I retire my next helmet, I will put it outside in the sun for a year and see what happens.

Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
Gavin W wrote:Ecrin-Roc should be fine indefinitely, as long as the webbing harness isn't degraded at all. I've heard of people still using one from the 80s or 90s. Newer helmets that utilize foam need to be replaced because the foam degrades, but the plastic won't have any issues with degradation, just with damage. I would be more concerned with the helmet's harness, but if it looks good enough that you would use it (or something that looks like it) as a sling, then it's good enough to be a helmet. Note that if you are using it as PPE (for your job) then it should be retired. No such requirements for recreational gear though.
+1 to Mountain Mark's post about plastic.

Also: Soft goods, like webbing, also have a shelf life. Typically 10 years.
Nathan Bloom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

It all depends on your risk tolerance.

A 2-day old helmet has deteriorated more than a brand new one, so if you want max helmet integrity, get a new one for each outing.

The mfg. recommendation is based on whatever they decide is acceptable.

When do they recommend replacement? At 95% original tensile strength?

A helmet that has deteriorated to 50% will still provide far more protection than no helmet.

I would like to see the data behind the recommendation.

ChossKing · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Thanks everyone. I'll pick up a new one but when convenient.

Darren in Vegas · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,900
Brian L. wrote:Just a quick reference: Black Diamond Half-Dome instructions state a 10 year life-span, so I'd guess that would be a good number to go by. I also know in many Motorsports helmets are considered OK for a 10 year lifespan, after that the certs are not typically allowed in competition. Probably time for a new helmet.
FWIW, I road race motorcycles and many racing and track riding organizations cut you off with a 5 year old helmet.
Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 95

Hard hats have a 10 year lifespan, not from impacts (replace after any significant impact) but because the plastic degrades by UV light. So if you are out a lot, then 10 years is a good go by.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

Older cars can quickly illustrate why the Ecrin Roc style helmets are not forever. In just about every 80's car I've ever met, all the interior trim is brittle and cracked. Plastics are better these days, but they do age.

Mountain Mark · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0

I would like to see the data too Nathan and you are right, it all depends on an individual 's risk tolerance. But people need to understand the risk reward to make a good decision. Absent of any good data someone needs to make an educated guess. Materials data, experience, accident data and general expert consensus is the best we may have right now.

I am going to check ANSI, OSHA,UIAA AND WRSI to see what they have and how they come to these lifespans.

I like to stack the odds in my favor so I choose to follow the manufacturer recommendations. They know more than me and test with the best. It is only $60, so for me it works.

Also, since I teach, I am required to follow those requirements for my own protection and it is the right thing to do. I won't be obtuse and say that if you use a 12 or 20 year old helmet you are tempting fate, that would be stupid.

But in the same vain, I am not going to be jaded and say the manufacturers are trying screw us to make a buck. These guys care about their fellow climbers and want to to protect themselves from liability so they can continue to make stuff for us.

At the end of the day, anything big enough to break a helmet or require retirement is going to suck whether you are wearing a new helmet or 20 year old ecrin.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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