The arguments and evidence for wearing a climbing helmet are long-documented, both through lab testing and anecdotal evidence. It’s also widely accepted that users are more likely to wear a lighter helmet but even the lightest helmet in the world won’t save your head if you’re not wearing it because it’s not comfortable.
The Singing Rock Penta is not only of the lightest, but also one of the most comfortable, helmets I’ve used. At just 208 grams (one size), it is slightly heavier than the lightweight champ Petzl Sirocco (170 grams, size 2) but a touch lighter than Petzl’s Meteor III+ (218 grams, size 2). This firmly puts it in competition with other lightweight helmets out there — but it’s significantly cheaper at just $70 USD msrp (vs. the others at approx. $120 USD).
But regardless of the weight and cost, what really sets it apart from the others is how low-profile it is. It’s hard to see, and even harder to demonstrate, but the small size of the Penta is immediately obvious when you pull a hood over it. It sits low and the straps hug it close, so even with a tight hood you maintain good head mobility. This one thing alone has made it the one helmet I now wear everywhere, all the time.
The strap system has two sliding buckles that position and secure the helmet atop your head, and though these are moved around easily, they stay put when you’re actually wearing the helmet. The main buckle is of the standard, no-frills plastic variety. It works flawlessly.
There are four headlamp attachment clips, and a whole bunch of rather large vents around the sides and back. I haven’t worn it above 5C yet, but cranking hard in around-zero temps still produces a lot of heat which the Penta vents efficiently.
The outer shell is tough polycarbonate, and other than me crushing a part of the helmet somewhere, shows no undue marks from scraping against rocks or deflecting falling icicles and such. The inner is your typical polystyrene foam, which I haven’t really tested (thankfully!) but it has passed all the usual certification tests that climbing helmets undergo.
The only downside I can think of is the odd ‘arrow’ sticker on the front of the helmet, which points up? It’s a little strange, and I don’t get the purpose of it whatsoever, but it has worn off, so I don’t even need to find a sticker to cover it up with! Problem solved. [EDIT: I’ve been informed that the arrow is a part of Singing Rock’s logo. It points up, to signify upward progression.]
The Penta comes in only one size but fits heads from 51-60cm (most people?). It also comes in four colour schemes, all of which appear to be mostly inoffensive based on the website photos. (My red-on-red is quite attractive, and very visible.)
As Singing Rock is a Czech brand, I imagine it’s relatively common in Europe. If you’re in North America, Liberty Mountain is the official distributor — and near as I know, most climbing gear shops should have access to their supply chain. This is a lightweight, affordable, low-profile helmet worth searching for!
Pros: light, low-profile, comfortable, cheap
Overall: The Penta is a superb, low-profile and lightweight helmet for all-around use. With its low price-tag, there is no excuse to not take it climbing everywhere, all the time.
I could only find one decent photo that showed the arrow on the front, hanging out in the cave on Louise Falls, as usual. Cover image by Audrey Hebert: https://www.instagram.com/audreysnowclimb/