Mammut Wall Rider Helmet

Head Coverage

Despite my personal feelings on the look of the Wall Rider, a helmet should really be judged first on how well it protects the user. Unfortunately, the UIAA helmet test does not really simulate most head impacts from climbing (see here for a description of the test), but focuses mostly on top penetration rather than a side-impact. In real-life, the corollary to the test looks like rock falling on top of your head rather than banging your head during a fall. Having concussed myself before from a bad fall and side-impact, I am firmly of the opinion that while the UIAA test doesn’t quantify side-impact, foam helmets provide better protection than a hybrid helmet. The Wall Rider does a good job here, and the foam wraps all the way around with no dead spots near the rim of the helmet.


As on most helmets, the features of the Wall Rider are quite minimal. Really the only “feature” are the headlamp clips, which consist of two plastic clips by the forehead and an elastic band on the back of the helmet. The clips hold a headlamp in place just fine, and I actually was able to get a pair of ski goggles to stay in place using the elastic strap — something that I haven’t been able to do on a climbing helmet before.


The major drawback of lightweight helmets is their lack of durability, especially after impacts. Old plastic helmets could take multiple hits and still function perfectly well, while an EPS foam helmet is actually designed to break under a major impact. The EPP foam in the Wall Rider and the Sirocco is designed to flex under major impact, and can thus withstand repeated blows without failing.

Matt Zia reviews the Mammut Wall Rider helmet for Blister gear Review.
Matt Zia in the Mammut Wall Rider helmet.

In practice, I did notice an increase in durability compared to previous EPS helmets I’ve worn. I’ve actually cracked several EPS helmets from things as simple as putting them in a backpack for an approach, and also from actually losing the war on gravity, whether it was a rock that fell or me that fell.

After wearing the Wall Rider for over 6 months (including trips to Alaska, the PNW, and the Black Canyon), I have yet to crack, dent, or otherwise compromise the integrity of the Wall Rider. I’ve even taken direct hits from football-sized chunks of ice on top, and there was no damage to the helmet, nor concussion to myself.

Compared to the Sirocco, my personal experience suggests that the Wall Rider is the more durable of the two EPP helmets. I have seen two instances of the Sirocco cracking in everyday use — once one was dropped down a gully, and once from rockfall — both were about a year old and with no other significant abuse. My completely unscientific opinion is that the Sirocco is just a little too lightweight and fragile, and while it certainly shines as a helmet for those times where every gram counts, the Wall Rider is more suited for everyday use at only a very slim weight penalty.


As I said above, I’ve taken hits from football-sized chunks of ice without incurring any damage to either the helmet or my head. Earlier this season in Patagonia, I came back from climbing to find a friend who was wearing the Wall Rider on a route across the valley. He took a direct hit from a chunk of ice about the size of a basketball (if not bigger) which was enough to crack four of the large foam struts on the side of the helmet. He walked away with zero injuries. That same day, a friend wearing an EPS helmet (the Black Diamond Vapor) took a hit from a similar-sized piece of ice on another route that did similar damage to his helmet, and he walked away with a concussion.

Both were soloing easy snow couloirs to access technical climbs, and both likely would be dead if they had not been wearing a helmet. They both accepted that risk and mitigated it by wearing a helmet.

Bottom Line

The Mammut Wall Rider is an excellent lightweight climbing helmet that is more durable than a traditional foam helmet. The EPP foam protects the head well, and it’s comfortable to wear. Although the Wall Rider is slightly more expensive than a traditional hybrid plastic/foam helmet, I think the increase in durability and head coverage is worth the extra money.

Given the marginal price difference, significant increase in durability, and zero trade off in protection, I don’t see any reason to still buy an EPS helmet, and I’m not sure that there is a better climbing helmet on the market than the Wall Rider given its combination of durability and weight.


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