Some helmets are marketed towards ski mountaineering, like the CAMP Speed 2.0 and 2019 Petzl Meteor, but they are not technically certified as ski helmets by the official ski standard. They are very light helmets that protect against rock fall more than collisions. The Meteor is in it’s own category for a “Ski Touring” cert, which is not a typical ski certification (it won’t pass all racing standards). Although you can wear a climbing-only certified helmet for other sports, the lack of ski (or bike) certification means the climbing helmet will not provide ideal protection. Rock climbing helmets main focus is protecting the top of the head, not the sides. This makes them unideal in a collision situation and is why the vast majority of climbing helmets cannot attain skiing (or biking) certifications. We go into more details of the certs later in this post.
Similarly, the reason it’s not ideal to use bike helmets for rock climbing (or ice climbing) is because there isn’t adequate protection from large/sharp object impacts from above. That said, some rock climbing helmets do give a bit more side protection. The Petzl Meteor III was certified for biking (EN 1078), with more side protection that most helmets BUT the 2019 Meteor is not certified for biking.
DOWNSIDES TO MULTI-USE HELMETS?
“Multi-use” usually translates to “not ideal for either job.” The biggest difference between a typical rock climbing only helmet versus a multi-use helmet is the bulk. Multi-use helmets generally have fewer vents, more padding and additional foam for protection, resulting in reduced breathability (they’re hot) during warm weather rock climbing. There are a few multi-use helmets that have lots of vents, which is great for rock climbing, but the extra ventilation can make them chilly on colder ski days. Multi-use helmets are typically heavier then their climbing specific alternative because they require more material to pass the certification requirements. That said, the weight range is still quite wide: The lightest and most vented of the multi-use helmets, the Grivel Duetto is planned to be 195 grams while the more skiing-oriented Mammut Alpine Rider comes in at 400 grams.
There are different certifications for each sport and activity. For rock climbing, the official standard is EN 12492 and/or UIAA 106. If the helmet is sold for rock climbing in Europe, it must have the EN rating. The UIAA rating is optional, but widely accepted as a sought-after standard. The details of the UIAA requirement are public and you can read them here (and the EN cert was written using the UIAA requirements).
EN 12492 – ROCK CLIMBING / MOUNTAINEERING
“The force transmitted to the head form as a result of the impact of the falling mass shall not exceed 8 kN for the vertical impact test, for the side impact test, for the front impact test and the rear impact test.” The UIAA pictorial overview of the tests makes it a little clearer.
EN 1077 – SKI AND SNOWBOARD HELMETS
“Tests ski/snowboard helmets for shock absorption, penetration and retention systems. Peak acceleration imparted to the head form cannot exceed 250 Gs. Tests also include a number of design requirements, such as area of coverage, field of vision, and clearance between the head and the shell. Class A protects a larger area of the head and offers a higher degree of protection from penetration, while Class B offers more ventilation and better hearing but slightly less protection.” If you want to geek out further on Class A and B, we found this super nerdy forum post that has pictures, diagrams, and a more detailed explanation.
Using a climbing helmet while skiing is still better than no helmet for protecting your cranium but it won’t protect you as well for collisions, the most common type of skiing accident. If you are convinced that you want to use a single helmet for climbing and skiing we highly recommend you use one certified for both skiing (EN 1077) and climbing (EN 12492 / UIAA 106).
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