The Difference Between a Caving Helmet Vs Climbing Helmet

Last Updated on 06/03/2022

Caving Helmet Vs Climbing Helmet

What is the Difference Between a Caving Helmet Vs Climbing Helmet?

Can you wear a caving helmet for climbing or a climbing helmet for caving? In this guide, we explain the differences between a caving helmet vs climbing helmet and which is better for both sports if you had to pick one.

Caving helmets are designed to take knocks regularly in cramped spaces and support headlamps. Climbing helmets have many similar features however are often lined with expanded polystyrene (EPS) instead of having a fabric cradle.

Caving and climbing helmets look similar to caving helmets and most of them can be used for both sports. In this article, we’re going to explore the differences between a climbing helmet vs caving helmet.

What are the Similarities of Caving and Climbing Helmets?

Both are designed to withstand falling rocks from above and protect you from knocks to the head if you fall or are moving through tight gaps. You will often see ventilation on both caving and climbing helmets because both can be physically exerting and helmets with foam liners can get hot and sweaty. You will see similar low profile shapes in both if not more so with climbing helmets however the chin straps and adjusters are identical.

What is a Caving Helmet?

Caving helmets are designed to be lightweight and unobtrusive. Most caving helmets have an internal cradle that is held in with straps. This is also true of a lot of climbing helmets, but some models rely on foam, which is less suitable for the dirt and dampness of a cave.

Caving helmets often have attachments, or clips, for attaching caving headlamps or lights with battery packs. These clips and headlamp mounts stop your headlamp from coming off as easily underground. They also often have a vent cover that you can close up to stop moisture from coming in.

Helmets are one of the most crucial pieces of gear for caving, along with a reliable light source, and you will rarely if ever see a picture of a caver with one on. Caving helmets are near enough only used by cavers, though they can be used for climbing, too.

Benefits of Caving Helmets Vs Climbing Helmets

The key benefits to a caving helmet are that they are robust enough to withstand being underground, but remain light and unobtrusive. You may notice more of a lip around the rim of a caving helmet which helps deflect drips from falling down your neck as wells as loose debris.

Caving helmets also have clips and attachment points for caving lamps and battery packs because caves are dark and you almost always need a headlamp. It is more common to see vent covers on caving helmets vs climbing helmets which is good for both breathability and waterproofing.

What is a Climbing Helmet?

Climbing helmets are lightweight and unobtrusive, designed to not get in the way while you’re climbing. Because climbing helmets aren’t usually knocked against the rock as often as caving helmets, they can be lighter and don’t require as much protection.

Some climbing helmets have lightweight outer protection, with the lightest simply being foam with no plastic. Unlike caving helmets, some climbing helmets don’t have a strapped cradle, but the foam fits the head instead.

Most climbing helmets have vents so you can stay cool while climbing. The size of these vary, depending on your particular environment.

Benefits of Climbing Helmets Vs Caving Helmets

Climbing helmets are lightweight and unobtrusive, with large open vents. Most climbing helmets have a similar internal cradle to those of caving helmets, but others rely on the foam fitting closely to the head.

Caving Helmets Vs Climbing Helmets

Can you Use a Climbing Helmet for Caving?

Yes, mostly. Most caving helmets are similar to climbing helmets and can be used underground. The key difference between a caving helmet and a climbing helmet is the attachment points for a headlamp. Without this, you can simply attach a headlamp over the top of your helmet.

If your climbing helmet is especially lightweight and doesn’t have a plastic outer, you may want to avoid using it underground. These helmets can dent and crack easily with regular knocks against rocks.

Can you Use a Caving Helmet for Climbing?

Yes, though you should be careful that you don’t catch any lamp attachments on ropes. Caving helmets are often, at their core, climbing helmets with some adjustments. With caving helmets regularly getting damp and muddy, you should check them regularly for damage.

What Else can you Use Climbing and Caving Helmets for?

There is any number of sports that you can use climbing or caving helmets for. These include, but aren’t limited to, mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, cycling, skateboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and rafting.

Some climbing or caving helmets are also able to be used professionally, as hard hats or safety helmets. Of course, this is commonplace if you are working at heights.

If you are going to use your climbing or caving helmet for different sports, you should first check that it is rated for that activity. This is also true for wearing your helmet at work, where you should check that it is professionally rated.

Conclusion: Is there a Difference Between Caving and Climbing Helmets?

There are some small differences between a climbing and caving helmet, but at their core, they are both similar. Certain types of helmets are better suited to both sports, with foam helmets less suited to caving.

If you are planning to pursue both activities, then it’s worth buying individual helmets. If you are an infrequent climber or caver, then you may be able to use one helmet for both.

Finding out the difference between a caving helmet vs climbing helmet has been informative for us, we hope you thought so too.

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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