Best helmet for spelunking

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The term "spelunking" is derived from the Latin word for "cave." Outside of the U.S., it’s usually referred to as caving or potholing.

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Which helmets for spelunking are best?

While spelunking can be considered dangerous, responsible decision-making and appropriate safety gear help keep the likelihood of a spelunking accident low. If you want to get out and explore the caves near you, make sure you have a helmet like the Petzl Boreo Caving Helmet to keep you safe.

What to know before you buy a helmet for spelunking

Size

Besides getting the correct size, you want a low-profile helmet that stays squarely on your head and doesn’t ride high. This will allow you to safely get in and out of tight spaces without worrying about your helmet getting caught as you crawl through caves and tunnels.

Weight

There’s nothing less comfortable than lugging a heavy device on your head as you explore. No, you won’t find ultralight options (though some may be lighter than your bike helmet). There are, however, lighter choices that will keep you both safe and comfortable.

Stability

The most important thing in a good spelunking helmet is finding one that won’t roll off. When you purchase your helmet, have a friend try to roll it off the front and back of your head. If you can roll it off, that helmet doesn’t fit you properly. You want to make sure to test this out ahead of time before trying your luck in a cave.

What to look for in a quality helmet for spelunking

Chin strap

Any good spelunking helmet will have a chin strap that attaches at four points. This looks like a V shape around each ear that then moves to attach to the other under your chin. These four points of contact make sure your helmet stays secure to your head if you get caught in a tight spot.

Headlamp mount

It should go without saying, but caves can be pretty dark. Make sure your helmet has a headlamp mounting plate. They’ll often have mounting plates in the front and back of the helmet, which can be especially useful.

High-quality materials

Your best bet is to go with plastic. Fiberglass is another option; however, a high-quality plastic can take a few more hits without cracking. 

How much you can expect to spend on a helmet for spelunking

The average spelunker can use a helmet that costs between $50 and $100.

Helmet for spelunking FAQ

Do I need to use a spelunking-specific helmet?

A. No, but it helps. If you don’t have a spelunking helmet available, a climbing helmet can be a good substitute. You could probably use a mountaineering helmet as well.

What is a good safety certification for a spelunking helmet?

A. In the U.S., the UIAA certification means a helmet is high quality. Europe has a set of standards called the CE standards, but they’re a bit less comprehensive. If getting a European brand helmet, look for the CE EN12492 certification. High-quality helmets like the Petzl brand have the CE EN12492 certification, and it’s a standard you can trust.

What is the lifespan of a helmet?

A. You can get about a decade’s worth of use from a helmet, assuming no major incidents. If you do take a blow to the helmet, you’ll want to look at getting a new one. Even if you walk away fine and the helmet shows no sign of impact, the protection may be weakened.

What are the best helmets for spelunking to buy?

Top helmet for spelunking

Petzl Boreo Caving Helmet

Petzl Boreo Caving Helmet

What you need to know: Petzl is a trusted brand name for spelunking helmets, so this offering is something you can feel good about investing in.

What you’ll love: This is Petzl’s popular Boreo helmet updated for spelunking needs. Front and rear mountain plates allow for mounting multiple types of headlamps. This helmet is EN 12492-certified and offers solid side protection as well as front and rear. Foam lining is on the inside for comfort.

What you should consider: These straps are a bit narrower than some of Petzl’s other helmets. While they aren’t less reliable, they may feel a bit uncomfortable at first.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry and Amazon

Top helmet for spelunking for the money

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

What you need to know: While this helmet isn’t spelunking-specific, it is a low-profile climbing helmet that can transition well to spelunking.

What you’ll love: This is a great option if you’re looking to save money and weight. While it is a climbing helmet first, it still features a headlamp mount, which you’ll want for going into the caves. With multiple style and size options, you’re sure to find something that works for your setup.

What you should consider: There are options that offer better air circulation and comfort.

Where to buy: Sold by Backcountry and Amazon

Worth checking out

Petzl Pro Vertex Helmet

Petzl Pro Vertex Helmet

What you need to know: This is one of two helmets that replaced Petzl’s iconic and widely popular Ecrin Roc helmet after it was discontinued.

What you’ll love: This helmet offers UIAA and CE EN 12492 certifications. This is a durable and strong helmet that looks good on your head. With plenty of vents and a headlamp attachment option, you’ll stay safe underground.

What you should consider: This is a taller helmet that may sit higher on your head. Those with larger heads may find the strap pinches them a bit.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Joe Coleman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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