Well, how much can one talk about a “lid” without sounding silly… Not much, I can assure you. However, what I discovered, is that it is inversely proportional to the amount of time one spends choosing a good one. I started climbing in a time and culture where helmets were used only for motorbiking and were slowly transitioning from the road to the rock. The major impact I noticed then was an acute stiffening and possible long term strengthening of the neck muscles so I promptly gave up on wearing a helmet. Lucky there was, at the time, no other major impact… I got converted again, in the late ’90s, to the plastic bowl with a brim. It was much lighter and still ugly as hell. What I remember most about my helmet then was the habit in vogue at the time to stash in the mesh the survival blanket and a dry pack of cigarets… The major impact turned out to be, again, an acute stiffening and possible long term strengthening of the neck muscles but since by this time this wasn’t the only impact I was subjected to I kept wearing it. Helmets changed and we changed; our safety-first culture made us value our heads more, even in climbing. Slowly but surely helmets are creeping towards becoming a fashion item (begins to feel now like the lid is more important than the pot, looking at the costs involved)… Moreover a new sect, the talibans of the helmet has sprouted. You know, those safety conscious people always looking disapprovingly at you for not wearing your helmet in the gym, while bouldering, crossing the street or in the shower. If there is one certitude however I have now about the helmet, besides the fact that actually helps preserve what’s in the pot, is that a lot of thought has gone into designing them.
Yet, for my part, I believe there is still lots of thought to go into helmets (both literally and metaphorically speaking). I feel special for having a special head… Despite the enormities that it produces sometimes it is, actually, quite a small head. Small enough that regular helmets spin on it like a tippe-top but big enough that a beetle-design children’s helmet is too small. While in winter the beanie solves the problem in summer, on multi-pitches, this is no viable option. I have tried countless of models just to grow more and more frustrated. Petzl’s Sirocco size 1 was the first one to actually fit my head but my vanity just could not stomach it… Looking like I was wearing the smacked butt of a Tortoise Ninja was too much for my ego. Friends and family gladly helped in making this spot even more sore.
Here enters the stage Orbix! At the Tendon stand in Friedrichshafen, while keeping myself busy doing nothing of any importance, I manage to slip my head into one specimen hanging of the wall. I interpreted the cosy embrace and gentle hug as love at first sight. Had I not been too far from the exit I might have even, nonchalantly, stroll out with my new found friend but in the given circumstances I had to wait for my new yellow companion to reach me by post a moth or so later at our new home address.
So, after some serious use and abuse, here is the low-down:
- at 240 g the Orbix is not the lightest helmet out there but it surely is in the light league
- comes in unisex size 54-62 cm but in the tightest configuration it still fits my small head without a beanie
- suspension and chin strap are pretty classic but without trying to innovate the banal it manages to be both comfortable and non-iritating (with or without beanie)
- head-torch attachment points: easy to use yet secure
- no fancy material, just polycarbonate outer shell means a super competitive price on the market and at 46 EUR it’s impossible to beat
- shape is just about right so it protects your head from impact without the helmet being bulky and unsightly
- it is CE (EN 12492) certified which in natural language means that if a 5kg rounded object falls from a height of 2m or a 3kg conical objects falls from a height of 1m you are safe, of course if your neck can take 10kN
- on the side of vanity I have to admit that I love both the yellow version (Tendon makes me feel colour-blind as they advertise it as green) and the red version while insofar as the white version is concerned I prefer to think it does not exist…
What would I change?
I’d make it 48 – 62 cm just so I can shave my head and I’d also paint the white blue. Everything else is how I dreamt it to be and I even sourced a cotton bag to use as a helmet-cover when not in use / thrown in the duffle bag. That’s the level of commitment I am showing to my new yellow friend. 🙂
Photos below by Andrey Golovachev