Are you looking for the perfect helmet for your next climb?
If so, you might want to check out the Black Diamond Vector helmet. This lightweight piece provides decent affordability and a range of benefits that might make it your go-to option. We’ve been looking to see how it holds up in a range of categories such as comfort, adjustability, durability, price, and more.
In this guide, I’ll go over exactly what it is you should be looking for in a helmet and then delineate some of the specific performance aspects of the Vector helmet. Specifically, I’ll tell you what I liked and didn’t like so that you can make the most informed decision when it comes buying time.
Keep reading to find out if the Black Diamond Vector helmet is right for you!
What to Look for in a Helmet
Before you can decide whether or not the Vector is the best choice for you, you’ll first need to know what to look for in a helmet. Whether you’re a beginner climber or a veteran, there are a number of considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes to finding the best option. Let’s go over a few of these factors so that you’ll have no problem finding the helmet that works best for your purposes.
For starters, you’ll want to see if your helmet is a lightweight option or a heavier option. In general, harder options use an ABS build that produces a harder shell case. These helmets are tougher and generally stronger and rely less on padding. Lightweight options, on the other hand, are designed for more experienced climbers who don’t mind trading off a bit of security for an easier climb. These helmets use a combination of padding and a soft overhead shell to provide a quick and more efficient climb.
Depending on your skill level, you’ll likely want to take a helmet’s material build into account. In general, heavier helmets are more durable and are more suitable for beginner climbers. Conversely, lightweight helmets are great options for more experienced climbers who are looking for a more expedient climb.
Largely dependent on the build of your helmet, comfort is another factor you’ll want to take into consideration. As you’ll find, some helmets are simply heavier than others, leading to a bulkier and less pleasing fit. What’s more, some helmets provide more ventilation than others, helping reduce the amount of sweat that pools around your head and allowing your body to breathe. You’ll want to purchase a helmet that keeps you relatively comfortable throughout your climb, as this can decrease the amount of distractions you encounter as you climb and facilitate safer climbing practices.
Closely linked, adjustability proves to be another consideration worth merit. Simply put, if a helmet lacks the proper adjustability, you’ll find it harder to wear it without discomfort or distraction. For this reason, you want to find a helmet with high levels of adjustability and with a simple-to-use mechanism that you can use to alter the fit of your helmet.
Coming up, we’ll see where the Black Diamond Vector helmet stands in light of these guidelines!
What I Liked
Let’s start with the positives. I thought that the Vector held up pretty well in a number of important categories. Specifically, I was impressed with the piece’s comfort, adjustability, and price, all of which can be considered toward the top of its class. In this section, let’s take an in-depth look at just why the Vector succeeds in these categories.
If you’re a man (like I am), you can find the Vector in both S/M and M/L sizes. I purchased the S/M helmet and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was. Clocking it at just 231 grams, it’s one of the lightest options on the market. In fact, after months of wearing a hard shell, I found myself forgetting that I was even wearing a helmet. The Vector is light enough to keep your climbing swift and comfortable but roomy enough that you never feel squeezed or tight. I’ve even heard of climber wearing hats underneath their Vector without any problem!
To make things even better, the Vector provides superior ventilation that will keep your head cool and refreshed. There are a number of holes located around the sides and back of the helmet that provide for optimal airflow. Specifically, the helmet comes with one vent per side and a cluster of vents in the rear , making it one of the best helmets I’ve come across in terms of sheer ventilation. Compared to hard shell helmets, especially, the Vector provides for a more comfortable and ventilated fit. It’s worth noting that Black Diamond’s Vapor option contains a total of seven more vents than the Vector, and while I found the ventilation on this device perfect for my needs, those who are particularly sensitive may wish to opt for a more ventilated option.
When it comes to adjustability, it’s hard to beat the Vector. There’s a simple plastic system located on the back where you can adjust the fit of your helmet with just a simple movement of your hands. Specifically, the piece contains a sliding ratchet system that (personally) works better than a click-wheel system and does a great job of holding the helmet securely on your head. The chin strap consists of only one strand that you can buckle and adjust easily. Unlike other helmets I’ve tried, this one never feels like it’s choking me and stays on pretty nicely, so that’s all around a massive plus.
While it is hard to adjust this helmet one handed (as you can do with a wheel system), this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem when climbing. Because the secure fit prevents constant slipping and sliding, it’s likely that you won’t need to adjust on the fly anyway. This means that the Vector is all-around one of the better helmets I’ve tried when it comes to sheer fit and adjustability.
Retailing at only a fraction of the price of some other lightweight helmets, the Vector truly is a great value option. If you’re looking for a helmet that won’t break the bank (or are simply looking to try out different options), you can’t go wrong with the Vector in terms of price alone. With the added benefits of this helmet, you’re sure to get added bang for your buck.
What I Didn’t Like
With that being said, there were a couple of things I didn’t like that I think you should know about. In this section, I’ll go over two negative factors I believe the helmet could improve upon to provide an overall better value: durability and applicability.
As a lightweight helmet that combines EPS (expanded polystyrene) and a thin polycarbonate casing, the Vector doesn’t hold up as well as some bulkier helmets. In fact, after just a couple of falls and rough slings of my backpack, I’ve already noticed a number of cosmetic dings on mine. This means that you’ll want to be very careful with your helmet so that you don’t compromise its reliability. The EPS build on this helmet is designed so that your helmet will take impact (and damage) in case of an accident; this means that dings and bumps are most likely unavoidable but can limit the effectiveness of your helmet.
Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend this helmet to anyone who isn’t an experienced climber. Though you might be tempted to go for a lighter-weight and more comfortable model, the truth is that you want something that matches your level and keeps you safe. If you’re a beginner, it’s likely that the Vector is not that helmet.
As such, the limited applicability of this helmet is a certain knock for me. In general, I’d recommend this helmet only to those climbers who have tons of experience climbing and have the know-how to sacrifice a bit of security for a swifter, more rewarding climb.
So how does the Black Diamond Vector helmet stack up overall? As someone with years of experience on the rocks, I find the Vector to be a quality option for more advanced climbers. It’s comfortable, adjustable, and highly affordable, making it an all around quality piece. Despite this, its lack of durability does hamper its long-term viability and render it unusable for less experienced climbers.
If you don’t feel like shelling out tons of cash for models such as the Vapor and don’t wish to keep your hard-shell helmet, the Vector is a great go-to option. As long as you treat it with care (proper packaging, transportation, etc.) and climb safely, it’s likely that you’ll be able to use this helmet for months or even years. At the least, it’s a great starter helmet for those looking for a lightweight option that won’t break the bank while providing superior performance and comfort.
With this in mind, make sure to check out the Black Diamond Vector helmet for yourself today!