Review: Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

A super lightweight and stylish helmet, with a ‘barely there’ feel.

Feature type Review

Read time 4 mins

Published Jun 21, 2024

Jethro
Jethro Kiernan North Wales based adventure photographer, happy being in or on the sea, lakes, mountains and crags usually with a camera.

Our verdict

A super lightweight and stylish helmet from the masters of the domain, Black Diamond.

Weight 155g
Features Lightweight and packable cord fit system; Geometric, open-air design; UIAA and CE Certified; head torch compatible

Pros

  • Light
  • Well ventilated
  • Stylish
  • ‘Barely there’ feel

Cons

  • Not as rugged as traditional polycarbonate helmets
  • Needs retiring after a substantial knock (that may include your mate sitting on it)
  • Higher price point

First Impressions

My first impressions are of lightness and I find that the minimalist straps (or cords) are a good fit with a really good low profile on the head. The bright red colour way is one of five colours available.

This helmet is a mixture of a EPP, EPS foam construction with a thin composite shell on the top with use of some carbon fibre rods in the body. Obviously this use of exotic materials will also push up the price while bringing the weight down.

What I’m Looking For

I’m looking for a helmet that is comfortable and lightweight. I started climbing in a time when helmets weren’t a regular feature at the crag, they didn’t appear in the magazines unless it was winter or an alpine photo and people I know paid the price for this. Times have now changed and most young people I climb with view the helmet as an essential piece of equipment and, thankfully, this has also filtered through to the older generations (especially when they have kids).

I have to wear helmets for work and as part of my mountain rescue kit and it is really important to me that a climbing helmet feels more comfortable and lighter than the more utilitarian helmets I wear in these situations. I remember ditching my sweaty, heavy and uncomfortable plastic climbing lid for a lightweight Black Diamond vision helmet when I was in the Alps and it was a revelation. I have not looked back.

Despite wanting lightweight, I also want it to be tough enough to be squeezed into an overfilled sack and get thrown around a bit.

Lastly let’s not dismiss style: it has to look good.

light, comfortable, stylish and well ventilated

The Test

Unfortunately the helmet arrived at the start of what seemed to be an never-ending winter monsoon so testing didn’t get off to a flying start. A couple of photographic days hanging on the ropes established the fit of the helmet was very comfortable but I wanted some big days out and some good cragging so when the sun started to come out, I hit the crag. The intention was to let a few people try it out for fit and get their impressions and let me get a few climbing pictures of the helmet in action.

Finally the never-ending rain began to slow down and some sun led to some sports climbing at Pentrywyn and a bit of slate and some mountain days out. I was sold on this from the start – lighter, more comfortable and sleeker than the previous model I already liked, however the friends I got to model for the climbing pictures all commented on the ‘wow you barely notice it’s there’ feel and the feeling that your head wasn’t being broiled. When it came to packing and transporting, I did treat it with a little more care because of its weight but this is PPE so should be looked after.

As well as climbing I also used it whilst taking climbing pictures from the rope and the slim line fit meant it was much easier to use with a camera – a niche concern I know but is indicative of how this helmet fits.

Who is this helmet designed for?

Anyone who plays at height whether it be winter or summer cragging or big alpine days, will appreciate this helmet. Light, comfortable, stylish and well-ventilated and if you don’t mind paying a bit of a premium and taking a little bit more care… it could be the one for you.

If you routinely use your helmet as a seat and throw 5 kit bags in the boot of your car with your helmet buried underneath, then it might not work.

What Stands Out?

Lightweight

It really is very noticeable how lightweight this helmet is! 

Stylish

Much less of a mushroom-head feel.

Line of sight

Good line of sight (with the low-profile helmet not impinging on your field of vision when looking up).

Value For Money

It’s definitely landing at a higher price point compared to other helmets but if the lightweight and unobtrusive nature of the helmet make you more likely to wear it then, potentially, it’s priceless.

BASE Bottom Line

A super lightweight and stylish helmet that uses hi-tech materials to protect your noggin. If you can afford the outlay, the lightness and comfort make it much more likely you’ll put this on when you need it.

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