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Climbing Helmets

Singing Rock Penta

The Penta is CE and UIAA certified, and has a plastic veneer that protects the exterior. It is as light on your wallet as it is on your head.

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Singing Rock Penta | libertymountain.com | $84.95 |

In today’s installment of “What’s New in Helmets,” we look at the Penta, a foam lid that at just over seven ounces almost seems made of air.

Remarkably, it is as light on your wallet as it is on your head. Priced at just $85, the Penta is $45 to $55 less than foam helmets of similar weight.

The Penta is CE and UIAA certified, and has a plastic veneer that protects it from being dinged by jiggling cams or ice screws when it’s in your pack, and from the everyday sort of damage that it might otherwise get from being dropped or tossed in the back of your car. Four plastic-lift tabs accept a headlamp strap quickly and easily. The helmet is foam and rides directly on your head without a suspension. Generous cutouts on the sides and back let air in, but sweat still builds up since foam helmets are basically insulated koozies for your head, a point you’ll appreciate on cold days, but not so much on hot ones.

Under the hood, an all-webbing harness adjusts macramé-style to your head. It takes fiddling to keep the side straps from scraping your ears. I wear glasses and had to go through a series of micro-tweaks to gain clearance for the earpieces. The harness circumference, however, adjusts with two sliding buckles, so you can go from a bare head to a cap-covered one virtually fuss-free once you zero in the initial fit. The all-web harness is unique and works, but isn’t as user friendly as its closest competitor, the Black Diamond Vapor ($139.95) with its webbing-and-plastic harness.

The Penta is available in only one size. I have a small to small/medium head, and the Penta, which adjusts from 51 to 60 cm, is a snug fit, especially so when I’m wearing a beanie.

—Duane Raleigh