Are you big-headed? Well, in a figurative sense, this means something not-so positive but we are talking about the literal sense. In that sense it simply means the circumference of your head is larger than that of the average adult.
If you are, you could go about your life never noticing it. However if you like head gear, you may find it difficult to find helmets that fit well.
It is even more difficult if you are a climber because you absolutely cannot go up those boulders without head protection, yet only a handful of climbing helmets are big enough for you.
If you can relate to this, you will be glad to know that we have done the work for you. We have looked through a long list of climbing helmets and come up with a list of the best climbing helmets for large heads.
Obviously we cannot opt for appropriate size at the expense of quality so everything on our list is both bigger than average and good enough quality for you to stay safe and protected.
Before we look at helmets for large heads, let’s take a moment to define ‘large.’ According to science, the average circumference of an adult man’s head is about 58.4 cm.
The same for adult women is 56.4 cm. There is one group of people in the world who deal with head sizes for a living – hat makers. What do they consider a large head?
According to hats.com, hat sizes for adults range from small to XXXL (extra, extra, extra large). Here are details in terms of head circumference:
- S – 55 cm
- M- 57 cm
- L- 59 cm
- XL- 61 cm
- XXL- 63 cm
- XXXL – 65cm
From this we can conclude that anyone with a head circumference larger than 58 cm can be considered to have a large head. If you fall in this category and are looking for climbing helmet, here are some options to consider.
Our favorite picks for the best climbing helmets for large heads
1. Black Diamoond Vapor Helmet
The Vapor helmet from Black Diamond is a foam helmet which gives good 360 – degree coverage. It weighs only 199 grams, making it amazingly light for its size.
A unique feature about this helmet is its construction.
Inside the helmet is a sheet of Kevlar, a strong heat resistant, synthetic fiber known for its use in armor. Kevlar is a good choice in this situation because of its high strength to weight ratio.
Kevlar is stronger than steel and weighs only 1.44 grams per cubic centimeter, where steel weighs 7.8 grams per cubic centimeter.
There is also a series of carbon rods placed between molded EPS foam and a polycarbonate shell above them.
This combination of materials gives you strength with minimal weight.
In further effort to manage weight of the entire product, Black Diamond have used a slightly different kind of fastener to secure the helmet to your head.
The two straps which come down either side of your head are held together at the chin using a buckle and are sewn into the chinstrap.
You can adjust the length of the chain strap but you can’t adjust the position of the straps on your head.
To adjust chinstrap length, there is a simple buckle and the strap’s tail is held in place using an elastic band. At the back of the helmet is a thin, light adjuster used to tighten it around your head.
You need both hands to operate the two molded push buttons on this adjuster. When not in use, the entire harness can be pushed into the helmet which helps to save space when in storage.
This also reduces chances of damage to the harness when transporting the helmet. Padding is another notable feature because it determines how comfortable a helmet is.
This one has soft padding at strategic points on the front and top of the inside of the helmet. The downside to foam is that it soaks up sweat and this may cause discomfort and bad odor.
This is why it was necessary for Black Diamond to include a staggering 21 vents which are there to allow sufficient flow of air. This makes it a good choice for hot weather because you will never feel too sweaty.
This helmet comes with head torch clips but unlike other helmets with this feature, this one comes with the clips detached. You attach them yourself by pushing them into the foam.
This way you can leave them off when you don’t need them.
- Fits 58 cm – 63 cm heads
- Lightweight – 199g
- Kevlar sheet
- Detached head torch clips
- Very well ventilated ( 21 vents)
- Harness can be pushed up into helmet
- Good for hot weather
- Minimal harness
- Cant readjust strap position
- Padding soaks up sweat
- Not good for cold weather
2. Grivel Salamander Helmet (XL)
The Grivel Salamander extra-large helmet is the biggest helmet we came across. With capacity to fit a head up to 66 cm in circumference, it may seem somewhat over catering.
How many people actually need that much room? The truth is that it not only caters for climbers with larger than average heads, it also caters for the needs of climbers in very cold areas.
Even if your head is not particularly large, you may be climbing in a place where you know it will be very cold and perhaps warm up later.
The best way to deal with this is to have a warm wooly hat in between the helmet and your head which can be peeled off later. For that you need an extra-large helmet.
This is a hybrid helmet, so it draws from the advantages of hard shell and foam helmets. It features an inner layer of EPS and an outer shell of ABS.
A good chunk of this foam covers the top of your head. A smaller amount of foam forms a thin band around the rim. The disadvantage of generous padding is ventilation challenges.
With all this padding there is minimal ventilation considering there are only 4 mesh covered vents at the front and a few narrow ones at the back.
This is what makes the Salamander XL a better choice in cold weather.
An easily identifiable characteristic of the Salamander XL is that it rises quite high at the front. The extra space created is intended to allow for goggles used by skiers and some mountaineers.
The sides are another notable merit. They come down quite far therefore providing protection over the entire head.
To adjust it, you have locking buckles on the harness and an adjustment wheel at the back.
What we liked about these adjustment methods is that you can maintain your size setting by locking it in place once you get it right.
What we didn’t like is that you cannot try to make these adjustments in a hurry. It takes quite a bit of adjusting and readjusting before you get a perfect fit.
Weight being a significant factor for helmets, this one’s weight does drag it down on the list of best climbing helmets for large heads. It weighs 329g (11 oz.) which makes it a heavy option.
If you need to attach a head torch, you can. There are a few small metal clips at the front and some elastic at the back to hold one.
- Fits up to 66 cm head
- Generous padding
- Good for cold weather
- Room for goggles
- Can lock size setting
- Has clips for a head torch
- Heavy ( 320g)
- Minimal ventilation
- Takes long to find appropriate fit
3. Trango Zenith Helmet
The Trango Zenith is a lightweight helmet with a fitting circumference ranging from 53 cm to 64 cm. It is ideal for rock and ice climbing.
Protection from this one is thanks to a contoured, molded-foam construction which protects your head from top, side and rear impacts.
It fits just right so you don’t have to deal with obstructed hearing or vision. We call it lightweight because it is lighter than most but not the lightest in the market.
At 263 grams (9.3 ounces) it is relatively light and feels extremely light for climbers accustomed to hard shell helmets. Soft felt padding on the interior of the helmet makes sure it is comfortable to wear even over extended periods of time.
Even the brim is padded, though the rear adjustment piece is not. This makes it a bit less comfortable at the back.
There is a light plastic shell which serves to protect the molded foam.
If you use the helmet for other activities like ski-mountaineering or ice climbing you can add a visor using two threaded attachment points on either side of the helmet. A small piece of padding on the chin strap helps to reduce pressure or discomfort on the face.
As far as durability goes, this, like other molded-foam helmets, doesn’t last as long as traditional hard shells.
It is important to note that you should retire a molded foam helmet as soon as it experiences any impact which causes the foam to deform in any way. Ventilation determines how breathable a helmet is.
This one has 9 ventilation holes of different sizes. The molded foam has cleverly created channels to allow air to flow from the top through the ventilation holes.
These work effectively to keep your head cool and aired but we could have done with a couple more ventilation holes especially when using the helmet in hot weather.
To adjust the helmet for a perfect individualized fit, you have an easily adjustable chin strap which comes down either side of the face. It should ideally be positioned around the ears though some people opt to do it differently. A buckle is used to hold it in place.
A rear adjustment wheel allows quick and easy fitting which need not be redone every time. A headlamp can be attached using 4 easy to use attachment points.
- Fits up to 64 cm head
- Lightweight (263 grams)
- Chin strap padding
- A rear adjustment wheel
- Can add visor
- Can attach headlamp
- Could be better ventilated
- Not very durable
4. Wild Country Fusion Helmet
Wild Country’s Fusion helmet is an all-rounder hard shell ideal for mountain and rock climbing.
A combination of strong polypropylene on the outer and EPS inner are attached using simple mechanical joints.
This system gives increased flexibility between the layers therefore making the helmet stronger and less susceptible to damage. It also makes it more durable.
This one has a small brim which gives you the advantage of additional protection from falling rocks or ice. A unique feature is a removable washable lining which adds to comfort and helps to keep the inside of the helmet fresh.
Adjustment is done using a Quik-Clik dial which allows for quick and simple adjustment to achieve a perfect individualized fit.
This dial can be adjusted using one hand, so it is possible to adjust your helmet when you are high up on the rocks.
If you enjoy climbing at night, you will like this helmet because it has 4 large head torch clips to ensure you never have to stop just because the sun is going down.
- Hard shell helmet
- Fits head circumference 58-63 cm
- Small brim for added protection
- Great for both rock and mountain climbing
- Quik- Clik rotary control knob
- Removable, washable lining
- Well vented
- 4 head torch clips
- Minimal color variety
5. Black Diamond Vector Helmet
Black Diamond’s vector helmet comes in 2 sizes. The small and medium sized one fits users with a head circumference between 53cm and 59cm and weighs 231 grams.
The medium and large sized one which is ideal for larger heads fits users with a head circumference ranging between 58cm and 63cm. it weighs 240 grams.
This is exceptionally light especially for climbers accustomed to hard shell helmets. You may even forget that you have a helmet on at all.
On top of minimal weight, it gives you sufficient room to wear a hat under it for those chilly, early morning climbs.
This piece features a polycarbonate shell with co-molded EPS foam. This not only provides full-coverage protection but also helps to keep the overall weight down.
Full- head protection ensures you are protected from rocks and the like which often fall from above, as well as from lateral and force often experienced as a result of falls.
Ventilation is one of the most important aspects of a helmet.
This one gives you superior ventilation to keep your head cool so you never feel cramped and sweaty. There is one vent per side and a cluster of vents in the rear for better ventilation and comfort.
It doesn’t have as many vent holes as the Black Diamond Vapor helmet but it has more than enough if you are not climbing in very hot weather.
To make adjustments on this helmet, you have a plastic system at the back which can be used to make quick and easy fit changes.
It has a sliding ratchet system which holds the helmet securely in place. To compliment this is a comfortable, one-strand chin strap which is buckled in place.
Another feature to note is in-mold headlamp clips.
These are made using the same polycarbonate plastic used to make the shell of the helmet. They are cleverly laid in line with the ventilation system so they don’t end up looking like additional pieces which jut out of the surface.
They serve to hold headlamps in place and are barely noticeable when not in use because they sit almost flush with the surface of the helmet.
This is a safe way to have head lamp clips because it reduces chances of them getting caught on something and perhaps breaking off when you are pulling it out of your bag.
Durability is one area where this piece could have performed better.
A few light falls and some hits on its surface especially when in a backpack left some noticeable damage which compromises the overall reliability after that.
This calls for extra caution when handling and even more caution when transporting it. Always pack your Black Diamond vector helmet at the top of everything else in your bag pack rather than at the bottom underneath everything else.
The ladies are not left out. There is a women’s model of this one.
- Co-molded EPS foam with polycarbonate shell
- Well ventilated
- Sliding ratchet adjuster
- In-mold head lamp clips
- Superior head coverage
- Tuck-away suspension for compact storage
- Not as durable as heavier options
- Cannot make one-hand adjustments
- Not recommended for beginners
6. Petzl Vertex Vent Helmet
The Petzl vertex vent helmet is a professional-grade helmet made from polycarbonate, ABS, nylon, polyethylene and strong polyester.
The foam padding is interchangeable for better, longer use of the helmet. It is designed such that the outer shell absorbs the blow and deforms on impact in the event of a fall.
It can be used by climbers with a head circumference anywhere between 53cm and 63cm. This makes it a good choice for people with large heads.
A key feature which adds to its comfort is the CenterFit technology which enables the helmet to mold to the center of the head.
This prevents the helmet from sitting disproportionately on either side of the head therefore making it quite comfortable despite its weight.
There are two adjustment wheels on either side of the helmet to help you achieve the perfect fit and a strong adjustable, dual chin strap to hold it securely in place.
For extra safety and peace of mind, this helmet comes with an adjustable ‘ground setting’ to keep you protected even when you are not climbing.
The ventilation system is somewhat unique compared to other helmets mentioned. This one comes with adjustable ventilation in the form of shutter vents which can be closed or opened depending on your ventilation preferences.
Durability is perhaps the strongest selling point. This piece is CE, EN 397 and ANSI certified.
The vertex vent is compatible with a number of accessories including headlamps to give you that much needed light in the dark. You can attach a headlamp using a band or using mounts on the helmet.
Other add-ons like nape protectors can also be used.
The primary disadvantage of this product is its weight. At 455 grams, this is no doubt a heavy helmet.
Although it performs exceptionally well in terms of durability, its weight really does pull it down on overall scores. There are several other helmets in the market which are just as durable but weight much less.
First, it is uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time considering you have slightly less than half a kilogram on your head as you climb.
Some people have experienced head and neck pains after wearing it for a couple of hours. Second, we cannot forget that you should always try pack as light as possible to avoid exerting yourself unnecessarily.
With this one, you have an additional half kilogram to carry to and from your climbing location.
- CenterFit technology
- Webbing suspension to better conform to shape of head
- Shutter vents for ventilation
- Very durable
- Adjustable ‘ground’ setting
- CE, EN 397 and ANSI certified
- Adjustable dual chin strap
- Very heavy (455 grams)
- Uncomfortable due to excessive weight after a few hours
Every last one of us has a little bugaboo. For some it’s a long crooked nose, for others it’s an oddly shaped third toe, awkward looking nails, the list is endless.
If yours is a large head, that doesn’t mean you can’t protect it when you hit the crag. It is true that your options are quite limited when you are looking for a comfortable helmet but there are options.
The Black Diamond Vapor helmet topped our list of best climbing helmets for large heads because of its superior ventilation system.
With an impressive 21 vents throughout its surface, your head is almost as well ventilated as it would be if you were wearing nothing.
It is also significantly lighter than most helmets, weighing only 199 grams. If you are climbing after dark, you are well taken care of because this helmet has clips which you can use to safely secure head lamps in place.