At a mere 235g, the Petzl Meteor III is the lightest climbing helmet to pass CE standards. Find out how it shaped up in action.
Weight: 235 grammes
Polycarbonate shell with an expanded polystyrene layer to absorb shock; removable internal foam padding; polyester straps including an adjustable headband nape strap, adjustable headband circumference strap, and chinstrap with a lateral position buckle; integrated inserts for attaching the VIZION ice climbing face shield; four headlamp clips; retracting headband for transport; 87cm² of ventilation surface area; one size: 53-61 cm; carrying bag included; CE UIAA certified.
Super-light and super-well ventilated, without compromising safety..
Dents a bit more readily than you'd expect.
The Meteor III is the lightest CE certified helmet ever made. The idea is that nobody will mind wearing a helmet they can barely feel, so more climbers will don some good solid head gear before they hit the crag. Maximum ventilation is the other key part of the design - over twice as much of it as in the previous Meteor, to be precise. So, what we're looking at is a super-lightweight, and super-well ventilated, helmet for cragging.
We've already mentioned the weight and the ventilation, and we'll be coming back to those, because they're pretty impressive. Time for a quick glance at the other features though. These include four clips for a head torch strap, which feel secure without being fiddly. They're located above the temples, and in the same position at the back of the head, which means the back of the torch strap is left free, in case your batteries are stored there.
The straps adjust in three ways, to ensure a good fit. As you'd expect, two of the three adjustment options are on the strap under the chin and the circumferential strap around the head. The third allos you to raise or lower this head strap, either for a better fit, or to store it inside the shell of the helmet itself when it's packed away.
If style's your thing, you'll be pleased to know that the Meteor's quite a low profile helmet, so you don't feel like you've got a mushroom protruding from your head, and there are some arty grey and orange lines across the top, on the off chance that someone's looking down from the top of the crag at your impressive layback moves and wants to check out the designer appearance of your climbing gear at the same time (see below). We're more concerned with comfort and security though, so we'll get back to the good old weight and ventilation ...
The ventilation panels are numerous rather than large, which means they allow plenty of air flow to your head without exposing it to falling rocks. They're mostly arranged around the sides, so the top is completely solid, for security. There are also panels at front and back, although these get covered up if you have a thick torch strap - not that this inhibits the ventilation all that much anyway. As for the weight, at 235g, you simply can't argue.
One quick glance at the overall structure: this is a polystyrene-padded helmet, like a cycle helmet, which means it will absorb any hard knocks by crumpling slowly. Traditional climbing helmets, like the Roc Ecrin for example, used a more solid structure but without the padding, which means that falling rocks were easily deflected, but there wasn't so much protection from a really sudden impact. If you pendulum-ed into the crag then your head would still be brought up short. The Meteor avoids this problem, but obviously if you suffer too heavy a knock, the polystyrene will have crumpled, and it will need replacing.
To start with we felt slightly vulnerable wearing something as light as egg shell on our head on a loose Alpine ascent. We quickly realised that this was all psychological though. The weight of the Meteor doesn't mean for a moment that it isn't completely safe - it's been through the full rigorous testing process, after all. Once we'd got our head round this - or inside it, seeing as it's a helmet:-) - we began to really love the Meteor. Every gram you can get rid of helps when you're carrying a pack of full ice gear up to 3000m from a 1000m valley floor. Hence, we were more than happy to leave our previous climbing helmet in storage and carry this one with us. It wasn't long before we realised that plenty of other mountaineers had had the same idea - we probably saw more Meteors on the mountain than any other type of helmet. It might just have been that we were looking out for them, but either way, there were certainly plenty around.
We also found the Meteor pretty comfortable, which isn't always the case as our head isn't a particularly standard size (it's a bit on the small side). Having three strap adjustments helped make sure the fit was good. The only difficulty we encountered with the straps was the rather stiff adjustments. Once we knew how hard to push/tug, it wasn't a problem though. The best thing was that the helmet could be easily adjusted when we were wearing it, which was a relief, as we had no intention of taking our helmet off at any point on some of our climbs. If you have trouble adjusting the helmet while it's on your head, this could be because the head strap is too high, and so you can't squeeze your fingers between the strap and the outer shell of hte helmet. It can easily be lowered beneath the helmet shell though.
We only had one slight quarrel with the Meteor, which appears in the image to the left. It did seem to dent quite easily, even though we don't remember striking it on anything significant. Perhaps we were just being careless though. Oh yes, and there's an identity label inside where you can write your name, phone number, allergies, blood type, and emergency contact details, but as it's just a sticker, it peels off pretty easily and is generally a bit flimsy and silly. We certainly wouldn't trust it as a replacement for any other identification tags you might wear.
That's a minor quibble though. Most of the time we were so busy noticing how cool and well ventilated our head was - or completely forgetting we were wearing any head gear because it was so light - that we couldn't find anything to argue with.
A super-light helmet with superb ventilation, fully adjustable straps, and well-placed torch clips. You'll definitely appreciate the lack of extra weight if you're on a longer mountaineering trip, and even if you're on a roadside crag, keeping a cool, light head is always appealing. Apart from a tendency to dent very slightly, we had no quarrels with the Meteor. In fact, we loved it and we'll definitely be wearing it again next time we're out climbing.
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