Gear Review: Black Diamond Vapor Climbing Helmet

Black Diamond Vapor
Black Diamond Vapor

Climbing Helmet
Black Diamond Vapor Helmet
$140, 7.5 oz. (M/L)
Sizes: S/M (21-23 ins./53-59 cm), M/L (23-25 ins./58-63 cm)

I’m afraid to put this new helmet down somewhere and take my eyes of it: My climbing partners unabashedly confess how covetous they are of it. After wearing the Vapor for several days of rock climbing at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, Castle Rocks State Park, and Mores Mountain, I’m quite loathe to lose it. Those included a couple of hot days baking under the desert sun, one of them on the five-pitch route Sinocranium on Steinfell’s Dome at the City. The Vapor is hands-down the coolest, lightest, and most comfortable climbing helmet I’ve ever worn—by comparison, much more comfortable than BD’s older Half Dome helmet, which I’ve worn for years.

Black Diamond Vapor

What’s different about the Vapor? Abundant venting holes, mostly in the sides and back, allow for much more airflow than solid helmets. Kevlar and carbon rods inside co-molded EPS foam with a polycarbonate shell keep the weight low. The ratcheting suspension adjusts the fit instantly and tucks inside the helmet, storing compactly in my pack. Removable clips hold a headlamp securely. Note, though, that Black Diamond cautions against using the Vapor in a situation with high rockfall potential. Stick to sport and trad cragging with it.

Black Diamond VaporNOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza



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