One helmet to rule them allQuick and Dirty: This was my first climbing helmet, so I don't have too much experience with others, but I would buy this helmet again. This is a classic helmet that you will see at most Crags around the globe, and for good reasons. Adjustable helmet (boa style system), low profile, and light weight, this helmet has everything I want. It hasn't had any serious direct hits to it (thankfully!), but offers good protection from small stones or in one case, my climbing partner's nail clippers.
More detailed review:
How I tested it: I have used this helmet for 3 years of outdoor climbing, which probably totals 60x or more. I have used it on single pitch routes, multi-pitch sport climbs of up to 400m, and alpine climbing.
Overall rating: I'd buy again
Green friendliness: I am not sure about this. It seems to be durable and will last a while, but I would not buy a helmet used.
What I like about it:
- low profile for a climbing helmet
- easy to adjust suspension system allows to quickly put on or take off beanies, hats, etc
- headlamp clips
- weight (s/m = 11.6oz!!), while not the lightest, definitely doesn't feel like much on your head.
- great air vents!
What I dislike about it:
- not the most comfortable when wearing a hat underneath
- scratches and dents quite easily
The nitty gritty:
Prior to this helmet, I was one of those guys who didn't wear head protection on outdoor climbs. It's not that I was too cool, although I am cool, it was more that I thought I could mitigate the need through careful climbing and observation. That is false. I bought this helmet after a climbing partner got hit with a natural rock fall, luckily for him, he was wearing a helmet.
I tried on quite a few helmets before settling in on this Half Dome helmet. I ended up buying this helmet for a few reasons, the main one being that it was quite comfortable to wear in the store. There is a dial on the back of the helmet (like a BOA system on snowboard shoes), that allows you to easily crank the helmet tighter or loosen it up. I often have difficulties regulating my heat, so I am always putting on/taking off head gear, so having this system that allows the helmet to quickly adjust to multiple sizes was crucial. I can also loan it out to friends of various head sizes, which is a nice bonus.
The helmet also has a cool system for allowing your headlamp to be attached. It is extremely complicated to describe, I spent 10 minutes trying multiple ways to describe it clearly, but it is impossible. So trust me, the system is cool. Black Diamond describes it as "streamlined, lightweight headlamp clips", and although I did have a few issues with the light popping off, it was rare and more user error than helmet design flaw.
The helmet does seem to scratch and dent easily, although I don't think it impacts its safety impact. After a couple weeks, my helmet already looked well loved, which is good for me, because I get slightly embarrassed when I walk around with new gear.
I use the helmet most frequently for sport climbing, and it is light weight and non-obtrusive enough that I hardly ever notice it is there. On multi-pitch climbs, I can wear it for 3 or 4 hours before I start to notice it, but I notice it mainly because in alpine and / or multi-pitch climbing, I usually where a baseball cap underneath to shield my eyes. It is a bad habit that I developed, and need to cut out immediately. So if you wear a baseball hat while you climb, you might feel some discomfort after a few hours. But you should be fine with a Buff or a beanie.
The helmet is pretty light, and I do not really feel it when I throw it in my pack for the approach. Sometimes, if I am out of space in the pack, I just wear it on my head. There are plenty of air vents on the helmet to keep your head cool, even in the heat.
Overall: Climbing helmets should be replaced every 7 to 10 years (more frequently if you climb often), and after every significant impact. If you are in the market to replace your helmet to do age or impact, go for this helmet. It is a great do-it-aller, and while expensive, is one of the most popular helmets on the Crag for a reason. Please think of the environment when upgrading gear, you don't need a new helmet every two years. Scratches are cool, and the longer you can safely use your gear, the better!