Is climbing a requirement of your job or just your favorite pastime activity? Do you have a difficult time getting a helmet that fits?
Climbing is an inherently risky activity, and you need protective gear like helmets to keep your head covered. While most helmets are unisex, they cannot fit all head sizes. If you have a large one, you can only wear an enlarged helmet.
But which is the best climbing helmet for large heads? We have carried out an in-depth review of the most sought-after large helmets in the market. Read on to find out the most suitable headgear that will work best for you.
How Do You Size a Climbing Helmet?
Adult helmet sizes are given either in centimeters or inches and range from 48 – 61 cm (18.9 – 24 in.) The measurement is the inner diameter of the headgear, which is the part that lies on your head.
When sizing, the best way to get a fitting helmet is to try one on. However, when buying online, you can measure the circumference around your head.
Wrap a measuring tape or tailor’s tape around the head from the forehead to the rear while passing just above the ears. Use these measurements to get a fitting helmet.
How Tight Should a Climbing Helmet Be?
When you get a helmet that matches your head size, fit it tightly but also comfortably. It should not wobble.
If you are worried that this might hurt, helmets usually have a suspension system with a padded lining to hug your head comfortably.
Therefore, with the correct measurements, an adjustable chin strap, and a multi-point suspension, make sure the helmet wraps tightly around your head without creating any uncomfortable pressure points.
What Are the Best Climbing Helmets for Large Heads?
- Best Overall: Mammut Skywalker 2
- Best Ventilated: Black Diamond Vapor
- Best Budget: Retrospec Traverse H2
- Best for Alpine Climbing: Kailas Selma II
- Most Adjustable: Uninova Safety Hard Hat
- Best for Cave Climbing: Tontron Helmet
- Best for Work Climbing: Fusion Meka
- Most Comfortable: Petzl Vertex
|Mammut Skywalker 2||
|Black Diamond Vapor||
|Retrospec Traverse H2||
Best for Alpine Climbing
|Kailas Selma II||
|Uninova Safety Hard Hat||
Best for Cave Climbing
Best for Work Climbing
8 Best Climbing Helmets for Large Heads Reviews 2022
1. Best Overall: Mammut Skywalker 2
The Skywalker 2 is our best pick amongst large head climbing helmets due to its well-ventilated design, durable construction, and easy adjustment mechanism.
With eight openings on the upper part of the plastic shell, this helmet will keep your head fully aerated to dry up the sweat produced as you climb.
The hard plastic shell is tough, and it works hand-in-hand with the inner EPS material to maximize durability and head protection.
A thumbwheel on the rear side gives a quick and convenient way to adjust to your head size using a single hand. It enables you to fit 53 – 61 cm head sizes, effectively making it a one-size-fits-all helmet.
The fully adjustable chin strap makes it much better as it gives a snug fit. However, it might be too tight and uncomfortable for some users, especially those with extra-large heads.
The helmet weighs only 380 grams, which is lightweight and super comfortable. It also features headlamp clips that come in handy if you want to attach a light source for safe climbing in caves and worksites or before dawn/after dusk.
- Adjustment size: 53 – 61 cm
- Weight: 380 grams
- Vents: 8
As a fully adjustable headgear, the Skywalker 2 can fit several head sizes, and its design makes it a suitable choice for sport/recreational climbing, worksite, and cave climbing.
2. Best Ventilated: Black Diamond Vapor
With its geometric, open-air design, no other climbing helmet offers the same kind of unparalleled airflow as the Black Diamond Vapor. It ensures your head remains cool and evaporates the sweat quickly.
Another advantage is a lightweight design because the helmet weighs only 199 grams. Adding on to its low-profile polycarbonate shell and co-molded EPS foam, the headgear sits comfortably on the head and feels very light.
In between the inner EPS foam and outer polycarbonate shell are a Kevlar sheet and carbon rods that help keep the weight at a minimum while increasing protection to your head.
Molded push buttons in the ratchet adjuster make it easy to fit the helmet to your head size, and this suspension system tucks into the helmet for compact storage.
If you like climbing before dawn or after dusk, the Vapor features removable headlamp clips to hold your headlamp. It is expensive, though, but worth every penny.
- Adjustment size: 58 – 63 cm
- Weight: 199 grams
- Vents: multiple
With its ventilated, low-profile design, the Vapor isn’t just ideal for tackling alpine faces or multi-pitch trad climbs. It is a go-anywhere helmet that is also suitable for skiing.
3. Best Budget: Retrospec Traverse H2
If you are a climbing beginner or short on cash, the Retrospec Traverse H2 is one of the best climbing helmets for big heads to consider because it is very affordable. Despite this low price, it is a versatile lid suitable for a wide variety of outdoor activities.
Apart from climbing, the piece is convertible from a snow helmet to a skating helmet by removing the plush fleece earmuffs. In any of these activities, you can attach eyewear via the goggle clip to protect your eyes.
A shock-absorbent EPS interior protects your head from impacts on the ABS shell exterior, and it has interchangeable pads to give more protection or extra room.
An ergonomic rear dial enables you to create a customized fit conveniently using only one hand. The only problem is a lack of headlamp clips for early morning or late-night climbing.
- Adjustment size: 56 – 60 cm
- Weight: 544 grams
- Vents: 14
Who would’ve thought that such an affordable helmet is this well equipped? The Traverse H2 has all the features required for outdoor sports, so apart from climbing, you can use it for skiing, cycling, skating, etc.
4. Best for Alpine Climbing: Kailas Selma II
Alpine routes generally have loose rocks that might fall off at any time. Therefore, the best helmet for such a climb should have excellent impact absorption. The Selma II ticks this box due to its co-molded EPS foam placed inside a polycarbonate shell.
The two combined give superb impact absorption at the top and rear, while stainless steel meshes on the upper vents keep sand, gravel, snow, rocks, and other debris from reaching your head after impact.
These materials are very lightweight, and they make the lid weigh only 245 grams (M – XL). However, this should not worry you about its quality because the design is UIAA/CE/EN certified, meaning it meets international safety standards.
For additional safety, a curved brim on the forehead improves your peripheral vision, while four clips give you room to attach goggles or a headlamp. The only problem is that the side vents are not covered, so pebbles and other debris can get to your head.
- Adjustment size: 53 – 61 cm
- Weight: 245 grams
- Vents: 8
With its high impact absorption, this helmet is suitable for alpine, rock, ice, tree, sports, and trad climbing, among many others. It is also ideal for zip lining, canyoning, caving, and working at heights.
5. Most Adjustable: Uninova Safety Hard Hat
With an adjustment range of 52 – 63 cm (20.5 – 25 in.), this helmet offers a universal fitting size suitable for large to extra-large heads. A 6-point ratchet suspension with a ratchet wheel on the rear end makes it possible to adjust the lid conveniently using a single hand.
There’s also a removable chin strap for snug-fitting and a replaceable soft brow pad that is gentle to the skin.
Even though the helmet is ideal for climbing, it is a hard hat for construction and mining work. The outer shell consists of high impact, penetration-resistant ABS, and it has side slots for mounting a face shield, ear muffs, headlamp, forestry kits, etc.
The shell has vent holes to improve breathability, and the design is compliant with ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014, Type 1 Class C standards for safe use.
If the helmet does not meet your expectations, Uninova will refund or replace the product within 90 days, so it is a risk-free purchase.
The only issue is the weight of the headgear. It is relatively heavy (1.15 pounds/ 521.6 grams) and might wear you down over long periods.
- Adjustment size: 52 – 63 cm
- Weight: 521.6 grams
- Vents: multiple
Since it is a hard hat, this lid is ideal for construction, forestry, arborists, mining, tree, and recreational climbing.
6. Best for Cave Climbing: Tontron Helmet
There are several risks involved in cave climbing, but Tontron’s helmet will keep you safe in such situations.
Cases of falling sand, soil, pebbles, and other debris are common in caves, so Tontron designed this helmet with side vents only to keep tiny gravel from getting to your head from the top. The upper section remains fully covered to provide maximum protection from impact with falling debris.
The outer shell consists of high-impact ABS to resist penetration, while the inner section contains high-density EPS to provide extra protection. These two meet the CE EN12492 safety certification for climbing helmets. They can withstand heavy rock drops (up to 3kgs) from a height of a meter.
Headlamp buckles on the sides provide slots to anchor any headlamp assembly, so you don’t have to buy a new one to fit the helmet before heading into the cave.
However, the six vents might not give enough aeration on a hot summer day.
- Adjustment size: 55 – 60 cm
- Weight: 370 grams
- Vents: 6
A durable construction, lack of top vents, and universally compatible headlamp buckles make this the ideal caving helmet. That said, it is also suitable for hiking and work climbing.
7. Best for Work Climbing: Fusion Meka
As a work climbing helmet, the Fusion Meka brings together multiple features to help you accomplish your task. It has ten vents to keep your head from overheating during construction projects, tree climbing, window washing, etc.
Such tasks can be noisy, and the helmet features two slots for mounting hearing protectors to cover your ears.
Inside, an antimicrobial foam padding wicks moisture to keep you comfortably dry when working. Additionally, there is a soft EVA liner that combines forces with the polycarbonate shell to shield impacts.
The lid features headlamp clips that come in handy if you have to work in dark spaces. However, it lacks goggle clips to attach eyewear for eye protection.
- Adjustment size: N/A
- Weight: 407 grams
- Vents: 10
Safety and comfort are vital for work climbing, and Fusion’s Meka has most of the features needed for this task.
8. Most Comfortable: Petzl Vertex
Comfort is crucial in any helmet, and Petzl’s Vertex takes this to the next level. It features a 6-point textile suspension that conforms to the head’s shape and a CenterFit adjustment system for tuning the headband while also centering the helmet on the head at all times.
Each unit features a strong chin strap to keep the helmet firmly tied to your head to limit the risk of losing it if you fall. Additionally, it includes two headband foam sizes for perfect fitting depending on your head size.,
The ventilation system also enhances the comfort level because it contains sliding shutters for adjusting the size of the gaps depending on how hot you are feeling.
If you need to carry extra gear, the helmet can accommodate hearing protection covers. It can also hold a Pixa or Ultra Vario headlamp and a Vizen, Vizir, or Vizir Shadow protective shield. The attachment selection limits compatibility, though, because only selected hardware can fit.
- Adjustment size: 53 – 63 cm
- Weight: 490 grams
- Vents: multiple
Petzl’s Vertex packs several comfort features that make it stand out from its peers. With its 6-point suspension and adjustable ventilation, the lid is perfect for work climbing.
What To Look for Before Buying a Climbing Helmet for Large Heads
There are some technical features to consider before buying a climbing helmet. Here’s what you need to look for:
Big helmets for big heads usually have adjustment ranges to fit different head sizes. However, some have a short range that expands by 3 – 5 cm, while others go up to 9 cm. The longer the range, the more the lid is compatible with different head sizes.
If you are unsure about your head size, a long adjustment range will give you more room to find the perfect fit. In such a case, we recommend Uninova’s safety hard hat due to its highly adjustable 52 – 63 cm suspension system.
Though the weight variation in these climbing helmets is not that big, it is a crucial factor. Generally, light lids are better because they are easier to carry, especially if you climb for long periods.
However, there is a tradeoff. Lightweight headgear might lack enough hardware to provide sufficient protection. Try to balance between weight and protectiveness.
Climbing might require other tools like goggles for safety and flashlights to use in the dark. Therefore, a helmet should have attachment points to accommodate such so that you can free your hands to climb.
Look for slots/clips to hold headlamps, goggles, forestry kits, earmuffs, and any other appropriate gear.
Ventilation enhances comfort by circulating air around your head when it gets hot. More vent holes are better, but they should have covers to keep dirt and pebbles from getting to your head.
Another desirable vent feature is adjustability. It might get cold the higher you climb, and the holes can make it uncomfortable. With an adjustable ventilation system, you can control the size of the holes or shut them depending on the situation. If you need this feature, check out Petzl’s Vertex.
The shell and inner layer construction materials determine the quality, safety, and comfort of the helmet.
In most cases, EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) makes up the inner layer, but the outer layer can either be high-impact ABS, polycarbonate, or plastic. Regardless of the material, make sure the helmet has undergone certification tests to prove its quality and safety.
When it comes to comfort, check the thickness and density of the inner EPS layer. Some helmets have moisture-wicking padding to keep you comfortably dry, and we highly recommend such features.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Pick the Right Climbing Helmet for Large Heads?
Several factors make the best climbing helmet, but you should pick one based on your intended use. It could be work, caving, recreational climbing, etc. Look for the features you need.
Why Do Climbing Helmets Sit So High?
Compared to other types like bike helmets, these sit much higher to maximize protection. They maintain some distance between your skull and the shell to prevent impact.
When Should I Replace My Climbing Helmet?
With regular wear and tear, the helmet can last up to 10 years. However, if you experience a big hit that causes significant damage, replace it immediately.
Are Climbing Helmets Worth It?
Climbing is risky. Falling rocks can cause death, disability, or brain injuries. Even though a helmet might not stop some injuries, it protects against several kinds of impacts.
A climbing helmet is a crucial protective headgear for any climbing sport/activity. Its construction keeps rocks, pebbles, and other heavy debris from causing life-threatening injuries if they fall on you.
If you want the best one in the market, the Mammut Skywalker 2 ticks all boxes. It features durable construction, a wide adjustment range with a convenient adjusting thumbwheel, multiple vent holes, and is relatively lightweight.
The Black Diamond Vapor is another solid helmet that is worth buying. It offers unparalleled ventilation and has a super lightweight design that feels almost weightless on your head.