Mountaineering helmets are a key part of any mountaineering clothing kit list. Why do you need to wear a helmet when mountaineering?
Mountaineering involves facing a number of dangers including falling rock and ice, whether it has been triggered naturally or dislodged by a climber above you. You could even simply hit your head while scaling an overhang. Just like any form of climbing, you should always wear a helmet when you are mountaineering.
MOUNTAINEERING CLOTHING: WHAT TYPE OF HELMET SHOULD I GET?
Mountaineering helmets and climbing helmets are essentially the same, however some mountaineering ones are suited specifically to snow and ice.
There are three types of climbing helmets: foam, shell and hybrid.
Foam helmets are made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) covered with a thin polycarbonate shell. They are much lighter than hardshell helmets and are well-ventilated. Foam helmets are good for protecting your head if you banged it in a fall, but not good if a stone or rock fell on top of your head. Impact causes the foam cells to collapse, so they aren’t safe for large impacts and therefore aren’t suited for mountaineering.
Hardshell helmets are relatively self-explanatory – they are made with a hardshell and a cradle of webbing inside. This style of helmet is much more robust than a foam helmet – it manages small and large impacts by allowing the webbing inside to stretch. On the downside, there is less protection offered towards the rim but it does offer excellent protection on the top.
Hybrid helmets are a mix of the two. They have a rigid plastic shell with a foam inner layer which provides the main protection. The foam inner means the helmet is lightweight and more comfortable, while the hardshell makes the helmet more durable and resistant to impact. This is probably the best helmet for all-round mountaineering.
When you are carrying lots of gear and sweating lots, a lightweight, ventilated helmet will be preferable. Make sure you choose a bright colour so you can be spotted in a whiteout.