New climbing helmets from Black Diamond and Petzl set new standards of lightweight head protection.
One notable development at this year's OutDoor European trade show was the launch of not just one, but two improbably lightweight climbing helmets for 2013, one from US brand Black Diamond - more about their other new kit shortly - and one from French hardware specialist, Petzl.
New Black Diamond Vapor - 180g
The Vapor was one of the first stand-out products we spotted in Germany. It's a super high-tec, super-lightweight climbing helmet which Black Diamond dubs: 'the helmet for people who don't want to wear a helmet'.
Aimed primarily at rock climbers and having passed all UIAA safety standards, the helmet is a minimalist take on the hard-shell/shock absorbing liner concept, an injection-moulded EPS foam liner covered by a load-spreading Kevlar/carbon composite hard outer shell layer.
The use of high tech materials means that while it's still strong enough to meet industry standards, the liner and and shell are both incredibly thin, with the result that not only does the helmet weigh something in the 180g region, it's also very low profile making it unobtrusive in use and also more accommodating when worn under a hood.
Once it's available in early 2013, the Vapor will retail for around £120 in the UK.
New Petzl Sirocco
And just when you thought the Vapor was pretty light, along come French brand Petzl with their new climbing helmet, the Sirocco, which takes an even more radical approach to head protection and weighs in at a ridiculously light 145g...
That's just insane and to achieve that figure, Petzl has taken a radical new approach to helmet construction. Instead of using conventional ABS (most mountaineering helmets, like the Ecrin for example) or bike-style expanded polystyrene with a polycarbonate shell like Petzl's popular Meteor design, the new helmet simple uses expanded polypropylene (EPP) on its own in what the brand calls a 'monobloc construction' with vents moulded into the shell.
That in itself saves weight, but Petzl has shaved further grammage by using special narrow webbing for cradle and adjustment straps. Finally, the design also uses a new, patented magnetic buckle which allows the chin-strap to be attached with one hand.
The helmet will be available in two sizes and one colour, the orange hue pictured. It also has fittings to accept headtorches and Petzl's VIZION visor. And of course it meets all CE/UIAA standards.
Sub-200g helmets, like buses eh? None at all, then two of them come along all at once...