www.petzl.com, eight ounces
Light is right when it comes to most backcountry gear, and light is even righter if it’s an item you carry as often as you use, like helmets. Petzl’s Meteor has long been a standard for climbers and alpinists seeking an ultralight bucket, and like most collapsible foam and shell climbing helmets (think beefed up bike helmet design) it’s rated as a CE-certified helmet for cycling, inline skating, light kayaking, canyoneering, and adventure racing.
The Meteor III+, a modest upgrade, tipped our digital scale at exactly 8 ounces. That makes it lighter than every climbing helmet aside from the equal-weight, but less comfortable, Camp Speed. Black Diamond’s (cheaper) Tracer and the (pricier, less ventilated) Kong Scarab are a bit heavier. The weight differences aren’t much, but we found them obvious during wear – and glaring in relation to hard shell helmets.
“The Meteor III+ also felt cooler during bike rides and hot weather canyoneering than my other helmets,” our tester reported. “It’s a tad hotter than most bike helmets weighing two to three ounces more, but I really like the best-in-show upward vision, which is critical for route-finding and rock-fall avoidance.” Four outside clips hold headlamps very securely, better than any other climbing helmet we’ve tried.
Size range is another strong point. The Meteor III+ adjusts from 20- to 25-inch head circumferences—a huge range. Our 23-inch melon-headed tester was at the limit of his Kong, but easily had room for sweatbands or balaclavas under the Meteor III+. The only drawback was that the ultralight rachet sizing mechanism made back-and-forth layering adjustments fussy. Forward-backward, and lower-higher chin harness adjustments were easy.
The main downside to using a helmet like the Meteor? It’s fragile, so you need to baby it a bit during knock-around use. This isn’t some hard shell bucket you can sit on around camp. Like all helmets, it should be retired after taking a significant hit. Fittings like the head circumference adjustment could be broken if you get impatient, but spare parts are available.