Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



You're Wearing Your Helmet Wrong

Helmets are designed to protect us from impact, but design doesn't matter if you're using them incorrectly.

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.

You’re wearing your climbing helmet wrong if…

One very important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) for climbing is the helmet. Designed primarily to guard the top of the head from unwanted impacts, many modern helmets also provide extended protection around the front, sides, and rear of the head. As climbers, we only benefit from the protective properties and performance of a climbing helmet if we wear it properly and maintain it regularly. If you are guilty of doing any of the following…you’re wearing your helmet wrong:

…you throw away the Instructions for Use without reading and understanding them

The Instructions for Use explain how to correctly use your helmet and warn against some potential dangers related to its use. This will help you become acquainted with its capabilities and limitations as well as understand and accept the risks involved with its use. Any misuse of this equipment will create additional dangers. Contact Petzl if you have any questions or difficulty understanding these instructions.

…you use it for anything beyond climbing, mountaineering, and other vertical sports using similar techniques

Do not use your helmet in activities for which it is not designed. Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of head injury, but does not ensure protection against all impacts.

In a major impact, the helmet deforms to absorb the maximum amount of energy possible, sometimes to the point of breaking the helmet. Helmets must not be pushed beyond its limits, nor be used for any purpose other than that for which it is designed.

…you don’t inspect it before putting it on

Before each use, check the condition of the shell and liners for any cracks or deformations on the inside or outside. The presence of stickers on your helmet can limit your ability to properly inspect for cracks and deformations. Check that the headband adjustment system and chinstrap buckle are working properly. During use it is important to regularly monitor the condition of the product and make sure that all the parts are functioning and correctly positioned. Petzl recommends a detailed inspection by a competent person at least once every 12 months–follow the process described in the Inspection Procedure for Helmets found on the product page on


…you stress it out

Treat your helmet with care and avoid exposing your helmet to unnecessary stress. Do not sit on the helmet, pack it too tightly, drop it, or allow it to come into contact with sharp or pointed objects.

…you expose it to extreme temperatures

Do not expose your helmet to temperatures higher than 122º F by leaving it inside a vehicle in direct sunlight. In colder environments, avoid exposing your helmet to temperatures below -22º F.

…you don’t adjust and wear it so that it properly fits your head

Position your climbing helmet so that it covers the front, back, and both sides of your head. Make sure the chinstrap is not too loose or tight. Be sure to lower the headband adjustment system to its lowest position and adjust it so that it stops the helmet from sliding around on your head. Do not use this helmet if you are unable to adjust it to fit properly. In this case, replace it with a different size or model of helmet.


…you don’t protect it from chemicals

Do not apply paints, solvents, adhesives to your helmet. Certain chemicals, especially solvents, can damage your helmet. Water-based adhesives are approved for applying on helmets.

…you can’t bring yourself to destroy it when it’s time for retirement

A climbing helmet must be retired when it is over 10 years old, it has been subjected to a major fall or load, it fails to pass inspection, you have any doubt as to its reliability, you do not know its full usage history, and when it becomes obsolete due to changes in legislation, standards, technique or, incompatibility with other equipment. Destroy the helmet to prevent further use.