How to Choose a Helmet for Sport Climbing

When you tell your mama you’re getting into rock climbing, the first question she’s going to ask you is: “do you have a helmet for this rock climbing?”

And you better be able to answer her: YES!!

Below you’ll find our guide to choosing a good helmet for sport climbing. Truth is, it’s not that complicated!!

What is the Purpose of a Climbing Helmet?

Believe it or not, a helmet is *mostly* to protect you from falling rocks, not to keep you from hitting your head! That said, climbing helmets can help protect your head from hitting the wall in an inverted sport-climbing fall.

Do I NEED a Helmet to Sport Climb?

No, and you will encounter some climbers who go without. But keep your mother in mind, and spend the $60, yeah? Helmets weigh nothing and add a significant margin of safety.

What Features Should I Look For in a Climbing Helmet?

Climbing helmets aren’t too fancy. Picking one is pretty simple: find a colour you like, at a price point you can afford. Eventually, a super-light helmet like the Petzl Sirrocco may become appealing if you want to venture into the mountains — but for a gym to crag climber, almost any climbing helmet will do the job.

Women may want a helmet which can accomodate a ponytail — we love the Petzl Elia helmet for that.

Best Sport Climbing Helmets:

Black Diamond Half Dome

Ol’ reliable. Made out of hard plastic, this helmet is light enough, but sturdy enough to take any abuse you throw at it. Easily adjustable, headlamp clips, and a variety of colors at an affordable price point, this is a great beginner option that will last you well into your climbing career.

Buy from $60 on Amazon.

Petzl Sirrocco

A very lightweight foam helmet, the Sirocco is favoured by alpinists and mountain climbers where every ounce matters. A lightweight helmet WILL protect your head for sport climbing, but they are not as durable as plastic helmets. Your mileage may vary. Ultralight helmets are also considerably more expensive than plastic helmets.

Buy From $120 on Amazon.

Black Diamond Vapour

Black Diamond’s competitor to the Sirrocco. Foam-based, lightweight helmet for those who prefer top-of-the-line ultralight equipment.

Buy From $140 on Amazon.

Petzl Elia Women’s Helmet

The Elia is a “women’s climbing helmet” which is actually designed for women — not just a men’s helmet that comes in a pink colour scheme. The Elia is designed to accommodate a ponytail or extra-long hair, which can often get smushed and uncomfortable in regular helmets.

Buy From $65 on Amazon.

Mammut Wallrider MIPS Helmet

Made in Switzerland (and priced to match), this helmet is the best climbing helmet you can buy in 2020. The MIPS Wallrider uses brand-new multi-layer technology to minimize the impact your head suffers in any collision. Plus, like all Mammut products, this thing is hella stylish.

The Mammut Wallrider has to be the coolest rock climbing helmet we’ve yet seen.

Buy From $150 on Amazon.


Any of these helmets will work fine for sport climbing. Our advice about buying a helmet for beginner sport climbers is to not overthink it. Pick one you like the look of, and always bring it with you when you climb. Your mom will thank you.