We’re wandering around the Valley of the Birds in the North Ghost, slogging through knee-deep snow, stumbling on hidden rocks, ticking off route after route. But something feels off, and my partner keeps giving me odd looks.
We stop at another turn in the canyon and I finally ask: “Why do you keep looking at me like that?”
“Dude, you’ve been wearing your helmet all day,” he replies. “It’s a bit odd.”
I’m genuinely surprised. We haven’t been taking off our harnesses in between routes, but crampons have been shed, and tools slung away. “I honestly didn’t notice, totally forgot it’s on my head, I guess!”
And that is the best compliment I have for a helmet. Be it climbing — ice, rock, mixed, whatever — or mountain biking, or road cycling, or really anywhere you should protect your head, a helmet that you forget is on your head is a helmet you’ll be wearing when you need it. And that’s the whole point in the first place.
In this instance, the helmet I’m wearing is the Camp Storm, one of the new-ish lightweight climbing helmets in the sub-250-gram range. Like most other helmets in this class, the Storm uses in-mold EPS construction with a polycarbonate shell for durability. (In-mold construction basically means that the outer shell and inner foam liner are made within one mold that fuses the two pieces together, making for a lighter helmet than if the shell and liner were constructed separately.)
Tech note: EPS, Expanded PolyStyrene, is one of the most common foams used in helmet manufacture: it offers light weight, is reasonably inexpensive, and has great shock-absorbing properties. Its one potential downside is its inability to withstand multiple impacts as the foam deforms when hit but doesn’t ‘bounce’ back to its original shape. EPP, Expanded PolyPropylene, is very similar to EPS except that it does slowly return to its original shape after an impact, thereby making it a multi-impact foam. EPP is more expensive than EPS and harder to work with, which is why EPP helmets are pricier than similar EPS models. EPP helmets are also often lighter, but this is mostly due to the absence of a protective shell, which is either polycarbonate or ABS. This shell is needed for EPS helmets so they don’t get damaged excessively under normal use.
Regardless of price, style or construction, the key performance characteristic of a helmet should be fit: if it doesn’t fit your head, sit comfortably and securely, then no matter how light or advanced the construction is it won’t matter much because you won’t be wearing it. Much like boots, brand and price should be irrelevant when shopping for a new lid. Thankfully, the Storm fits me so well that I forget about it most of the time!
The Storm’s strap system is simple and intuitive, with lockable buckles on each side to position the chin strap, and a ratcheting dial adjuster on the back of the head. Once adjusted I haven’t noticed any shift from the chin strap, but I really appreciate the quick-adjust dial on the back so I can tighten or loosen the helmet as needed based on the thickness and number of hats and/or hoods I’m wearing underneath. The chin strap has a soft, padded, fleece sleeve for comfort and it’s a nice extra touch on a lightweight helmet.
There are a lot of vents — 22 in total! — and they perform admirably in summer months. I have a tendency to sweat (a LOT) so the vents are greatly appreciated, as is the generous padding/sweat band to help absorb all that moisture. In winter, the vents help cool my head on approaches but are positioned such that errand shards of ice don’t find their way inside.
The Storm sits down low on my head so it fits under jacket hoods well, and I appreciate the compact dimensions when cramming it into an already overloaded pack. The strap system tucks away making for even easier packing, and the headlamp attachment is simple and secure. In short, it has all the features you’d expect in a modern helmet. Plus, it comes in bright colours, like Red, and Blue, which is always nice to have!
At $130 Canadian, it sits about mid-way among climbing helmets, but thanks to the EPS and shell construction should prove relatively durable. The shell also appears to be thicker and stronger than some other helmets I’ve used and doesn’t show any significant marks or dents even after months of regular use.
After trying on various other Camp helmets and never quite feeling the ‘right’ fit, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the Storm — it’s very comfortable, relatively light, and so far has proven very durable. Recommended (assuming it fits your head!).