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bmyers427

All Foam Helmets

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I've been using an all foam (with thin polycarbonate shell) for about 4 years now. I've always insisted that even though most are only rated for climbing (impact from above) that they are much safer than older style helmets in a side impact. I may have gone so far as to insist that it is safe enough to bike with and made it my primary bike helmet since my actual one is less comfortable. Some proof (or at least one data point) of my claim came a month ago when I wrecked my bike and fell hard enough to break my collarbone and damage my helmet. I smacked my dome pretty fucking hard and managed to escape with a mild concussion at worst. I can't compare it to a normal climbing helmet, but I'm gonna throw this out there as another argument for all foam helmets. In a short ground fall or a big upside down whipper, it could be the difference between mild or serious injury. Although this is coming from someone who's an amateur climber, an almost engineer and a goddamn fool.

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Having taken a solid back-hit on a hard-hat style helmet, they're probably a little better than you think, though it wouldn't at all surprise me if it varies significantly between models. I'm sure the risk of concussion is worse, but you also get a tougher helmet :-/

 

And then there's the aesthetics, but we live in the PNW where everyone is inclusive and accepting of all ways of life, right guys?

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Twight says that helmets are the one piece of gear that is actually made too light. Those foam things are better than nothing for cragging by the road, but useless in the mountains where falling rocks are typically followed by more falling rocks.

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EPS (BD Vapor) helmets are very different animals than EPP (Sirocco) helmets. EPP helmets are rated for multiple impacts (and pass the more strict UIAA testing) and are nearly as tough as my old Erin Roc, in my experience. I've stood on mine with no apparent issues. Technology is an amazing thing.

 

Interestingly, I've read that the EPP products absorb energy better than multi impact helmets, but that doesn't do you much good when another rock is on the way.

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I love the orange petzl blob that sits on my head while climbing. I have not taken any hard impacts but have had lots of small impacts (rocks/ice) and it still looks great. The only thing about that helmet I don't like is the stupid magnetic buckle. It attracts tiny pieces of metal that are in the dirt, eventually enough builds up that you cannot lock the chin strap even though the magnet has pulled the two ends together it may not be locked. I may be the only one with this problem.

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I love the Sirocco. I've had mine for a year and wear it from sport to alpine and I wouldn't go back. I really like how muted it is if you bump your head on the rock compared with a hard hat. I'm with you on the buckle being upgraded or redesigned.

 

Check out the abuse this thing takes in the video.

 

[video:youtube]

Edited by Eric T

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Agreed about the buckle on the Sirocco. It gets clogged, and this seems to reduce the security of the clasp. The buckle is also really flimsy, and I had to replace it recently.

 

That said, I still love the thing. It's taken some direct hits from rock and ice, and its still in great condition.

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P.S. for any helmet manufacturers reading this: made the adjustable straps longer! Those of us with outsize noggins don't like having to choose between a hat and a fully open airway.

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but they look so ghey :(

I don't like the looks of them and they're bulky to haul around, but they are light on the noggin.

 

 

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i weave a motley collection of crushed pabst cans into a protective matrix about my manly dome :)

 

my old helmet was pretty cool too

s-l300.jpg

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Even with EPS helmets, like the one I had, it's not like one impact renders the helmet useless.

this is actually my exact helmet. If you get hit hard enough for the helmet to break, you're probably already gonna be in rough shape. I would say the odds of me getting hit with two large rocks in the same spot in one trip are much lower than the odds of me taking a tumble down some slab (which are embarrassingly high). Foam does suck for belaying an ice climber though.

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Petzl badly needs to redesign that buckle on the Scirocco. Mine has now been retired after the buckle started releasing any time I looked down at my feet on a climb - regardless of whether or not I'd completely cleaned out the metal filings that clog up the clasp. It seemed to have to do with the flimsy plastic they build the buckle out of. It's pliable enough to allow it to clasp under just the force applied by the magnet, which apparently meant that after a year of frequent use it degraded to the point where a solid direct pull would cause it to release. I almost lost the helmet mid-climb more than a few times before finally tossing it into the dustbin. Not cool.

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forty years personal real-world experience:

 

1975 - softball sized falling rock to side of Joe Brown helmet -- it starred the surface of the helmet, but NO INJURY, and I used that helmet for another decade

 

2009 - 1000' avalanche ride down couloir, cracked BD Half Dome, resulting in TBI with permanent symptoms

 

2010-13 - numerous "dents" to BD foam helmet, eventually cracked & retired

 

2013 - avalanche on Kitty Hawk cracked Edelrid hardshell, no injury

 

2013-16 - CAMP hybrid, cracks developing in internal foam from shell flexion, still using

 

takeaway: experience seems to favor old hardshells; foam helmets appear to have durability issues; jury still out on hybrids

 

 

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I always preferred foam helmets for cragging, where my main concern was my head impacting a fixed object, and old-school helmets for lower angle alpine terrain where my main concern was getting hit by a rock.

 

I only have one data point for the old-school helmets, but in that case a rock in the baseball-softball sized range tagged me just above the forehead with enough force to knock me clean off of my feet, and the helmet suspension straps left a bruises on my head that lasted for several days - but I don't recall any other injuries other than a mild headache that lasted for the rest of the day.

 

In that particular case I felt like a big part of the reason that the damage wasn't worse was due to the fact that the helmet's rigid, and fairly slick surface deflected most of the energy rather than absorbing it.

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In that particular case I felt like a big part of the reason that the damage wasn't worse was due to the fact that the helmet's rigid, and fairly slick surface deflected most of the energy rather than absorbing it.

 

This is a really good point, and something I've wondered about with all foam helmets. I think it is potentially a major drawback for glancing blows, but I've not seen any data one way or the other.

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were the germans wearing foam helmets when they attacked us at pearl harbor?!?

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were the germans wearing foam helmets when they attacked us at pearl harbor?!?

 

Not sure how many germans were at pearl harbor

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were the germans wearing foam helmets when they attacked us at pearl harbor?!?

 

Not sure how many germans were at pearl harbor

enough to make a t-shirt at least :)

large-shirt-was-it-over-when-the-germans-bombed-pearl-harbor-shirt-animal-house-parody-alt.jpg

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Petzl badly needs to redesign that buckle on the Scirocco. Mine has now been retired after the buckle started releasing ... Not cool.

 

That's intentional, it's called planned obsolescence. It's usually a minor failure that a few customers will bother returning but most will just buy another. It's timed also so by the time it breaks the helmet is showing signs of wear so less likely to return.

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