Black Diamond Vapor helmet review

The Black Diamond Vapor is superlight, airy and protective – have climbing helmets finally evolved? Read on to find out in our Black Diamond Vapor helmet review…

Climbing helmets are a weirdly controversial subject, with some arguing heartily for their right not to wear one. Rights and ethics aside, we’ve always felt safer with one on, but it’s very much a personal call. In the old days though, not wearing a lid was more understandable, as they weighed a ton, were often uncomfortable and ill fitting, and were only available in comedy 80’s colours.

Luckily, that all went out with the ark, and climbing helmets are now lightweight, protective and in some cases almost stylish. This Black Diamond Vapor is very much at the forefront of this new breed, being not only among the lightest helmets around (our scales say 199 grams) but also armed with cutting edge tech to boot – let’s take a look around it…

 

Black Diamond Vapor helmet review -8Note the simple size adjusters, easily operated with light gloves. This isn’t really a winter helmet, so wearing heavier mitts and complaining about a lack of feel is a bit reductive. Without gloves it’s a great system, easily resized for a hat, and the chinstrap falls to hand easily – it’s not magnetic like some competitors, but the standard clip works perfectly well.

 

Black Diamond Vapor helmet review -7

To get the weight down Black Diamond have used an old but effective tactic – holes. This makes for good ventilation, but does leave potential gaps for stonefall. It’s all very bicycle helmet from a visual point of view, but there’s more going on underneath…

Black Diamond Vapor helmet review

Underneath the reflective Black Diamond logo you’ll find an impressively tech blend of reinforcing carbon rods and a kevlar mesh, which combine to deliver climbing-rated impact resistance with considerable lightness.

Black Diamond Vapor helmet review -6

That big grey clip item is the contentious bit, it’s one of four removable headlamp clips. Now, we’ve not tried attaching a headlamp to it at 2am on a glacier yet, but we’ll bet the removable part doesn’t help. The clips also take the weight up from a quoted 186grams (S/M) to 199 grams, a tiny difference, but a critical one when you consider that the Vapor costs £100. In context, the competition – such as the Petzl Meteor – weighs in at a chunky 220grams, but is half the price.

So how does the BD Vapor stack up in the final analysis? Well, fit is pretty important, and the most comfortable lid is the one you’ll wear most, so headshape is pretty critical. The Vapor is the second lightest climbing helmet around, just behind the Petzl Sirocco, but the latter is just expanded polypropylene, ideal for impacts like falling off grit, but not so good for rockfall.

In short, the Vapor is the lightest ‘real’ climbing helmet for general use for our money, although there are enough compromises to make winter or ice climbing a bit of a stretch. If you want lighter with more compromise, the Sirocco is your beast, and if you want cheaper then the burlier BD Vector or Petzl Meteor are both excellent shouts. Just wear whichever one you pick!

The Black Diamond Vapor climbing helmet is available now, from around £100 – best we found was Epic TV at £98.10…

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