I’ve been climbing for 5 years but outdoor bouldering for only about 1.5 years now. I’ve realized that no one ever wears a helmet while bouldering outdoors. Is there a reason for this? If the likelihood of a head injury while bouldering is low then that makes total sense, but I’m just a bit ignorant regarding this. I’m a physical therapist and I have a wife, so I’m familiar with injuries and I’m not trying to get a concussion or TBI anytime soon. If it’s just an ego thing then I’m gonna wear a helmet because I don’t care what people think about me, but I really don’t like wearing one as I just feel more constricted. Just wondering about people’s thoughts. Thanks for any input.
For many years, climbing helmets were only rated for impact from above- side and back impact weren’t introduced to most helmets until sometime after 2014- and maybe even later than that. There were a few exceptions to this (Metolius being a notable one), but before then, a helmet really wouldn’t do much for you bouldering.
I imagine these days it’s both a lack of culture around it (even sport climbing is still mostly a no helmet culture, although I see alot more these days than I used to), and demographics- the younger you are, the more invincible you feel- and bouldering definitely skews young (with some exceptions, myself included).
At any rate- with a back and side rated helmet, there’s probably some benefit on some problems to wearing one- especially if you have no spotters or questionable spotters/landings.
I’ve seen a handful of folks wearing helmets bouldering. Not many, but a few. More when it’s really tall.
I’d assume it’s part that it’s far less likely you’ll get hit by falling rock, and part just personal choice.
I’ve worn a helmet when I was alone on a high ball with too few crashpads. 5/5, would do again.
Keep in mind helmets don’t do much to protect the brain. Don’t get me wrong, I ALWAYS wear one when sport climbing because it can prevent my head from splitting open by rock. But the impact of a bad fall (being flipped upside down and hitting the rock) or rock fall hitting the head will still transfer and rattle the brain. Research in boxing (and I think also american football) shows this too: a helmet protects the outside, not the inside of the head. Concussion and brain injuries can still occur.
Don’t mean to scare you, but I think it’s good to know what it can and cannot do. If there’s a chance of falling on rock while bouldering, then the helmet can literally save your life. If you fall and hit your head on sand, then the helmet won’t do much to limit damage.