Oct 09, 2014
Review: Petzl Sirocco – The World’s Lightest Climbing Helmet
The Petzl Sirocco is a helmet so light you won’t even notice it’s on your head.
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Most people don’t like wearing helmets. They sit on your head, are usually sort of uncomfortable, don’t usually fit well and make you look really goofy in pictures.
But three pitches up on the first ascent of Two and a Half Yogis, a new route we put up in the Chotta Dhara area in India’s Lahaul area of the Himachal state in the north, I didn’t even notice that I had something on my head. That’s because Petzl’s revolutionary Sirocco helmet weighs a ridiculously light 168 gm. Yes, that’s lighter than a peanut butter and nutella sandwich, or that new iPhone 6+.
Climbing helmets usually come in three flavours: hardhat, foam, and hybrids. Hardhats have a hardshell plastic exterior and a webbing interior on which the whole thing rests on your head. The hard plastic protects you from stones and rock, while the webbing takes the actual force of the impact. They can take scrapes, dings and full blows by rocks and more multiple times, at least until the whole thing is impacted or shears (which would be such a large impact that having a helmet would not have helped anyways). However, they’re wobbly, heavy and silly-looking.
Enter foam hats. Borrowing from cycling helmets, foam helmets are lightweight and made of EPP (Expanded PolyPropylene). They take the impact directly and deform to absorb the blow. The downside is that they’re one-time protection – a single rock, or climbing fall can ruin the helmet and have you go buy a new one. Easy enough when you’re at the crags, but impossible if you’re on expedition.
Petzl Sirocco is a foam helmet, so incredibly lightweight that you forget it’s there. It also comes with a magnetic clip, making it easier for you to get it on and off with one hand, instead of fumbling under your chin. Despite its light weight, there’s no compromise on comfort or the little add-ons, like clips to attach a headlamp; or attachment points for a visor for ice-climbing – they’re all there. The small light harness webbing is quite comfortable, despite the thinness of the straps.
Are there many cons? Well, for one, you have to decide if you want or need a lightweight foam helmet – it may not make sense as your everyday helmet which you’ll ding up and scrape often. But if you are working a hard redpoint or planning an ultralight alpine climbing trip, this may be your perfect piece of gear. Secondly, it’s an expensive helmet. It retails at US $130, which makes it one of the priciest helmets in the market. But if the choice is between not wearing a helmet vs. wearing one, and comfort is what swings the decision to the smarter one – what’s the price of saving your life? Other than that – it only comes in orange. Not a problem since we love the color. Finally, some online reviews say that because of its ultra lightweight construction, no weight should be placed on it or it will crack! Well, that’s certainly a legitimate concern, so it should be stored properly right at the head of your pack, with no extra weight or pressure above it.
Pros – Lightweight, comfortable, fits well
Cons – A bit expensive, fragile to store
Specifications of the Petzl Sirocco
- One-piece crown of expanded polypropylene (EPP) and textile adjustment system for an ultra-lightweight product
- Ventilation distributed around the crown
- Adjustable and adapts to all head shapes
- Removable comfort foam is quilted and lined with absorbent fabric; washable
- Magnetic buckle allows the chinstrap to be fastened with one hand (Petzl patent)
- Two mounting holes for VIZION visor
- Two hooks and rear elastic for attaching a headlamp
- Available in two sizes
- One colour – orange
- Weight – 150 – 168 g
- Price – $130
- Certification(s) : CE EN 12492, UIAA
- Guarantee – 3 years
You can buy the Petzl Sirocco here.
Images © Zubin Atre/The Outdoor Journal