Black Diamond Vapor ReviewAugust 12, 2016
- Great ventilation
- Comfortable fit
- Removable headlamp clips
- Durability concerns
- Headlamp clips can be difficult to attach
The Black Diamond Vapor is a lightweight molded foam helmet featuring great ventilation and a comfortable fit. The Vapor is a popular option for rock climbers seeking out a super light helmet that can be worn all day and not weigh down their packs on long approaches while mountaineers will appreciate the great ventilation.
The Black Diamond Vapor is one of most comfortable helmets tested and received rave reviews from a variety of testers for its comfort. A key contributor to the Vapor’s comfort is how incredibly light weight it is. The Vapor features simple, lightweight padding on the interior of the helmet for the top of the head and the brow. The plastic suspension system lacks padding and hence, is less comfortable than some other helmets, but the Vapor overcomes it by keeping the plastic to a slim profile. Thin, light straps also contribute to keeping the Vapor comfortable for long days out.
The Vapor was a favorite amongst testers for use on warm climbing days thanks to the ventilation provided by twenty-one vent holes that wrap around the sides of the helmet and to the back. While some of the holes are of modest size, about the surface area of a quarter, many are larger and the sheer number of them creates a spider web like look with mostly breathable space between.
Ease of Adjustment
The Vapor was also a favorite for its ease of adjustment. Two plastic ratcheting adjusters on the rear of the suspension system provide for quick and easy sizing. Push the adjusters together for a snugger fit and release them by pulling them away from the middle. Hence, there is no wheel or button to mess with and the system works well with gloves. The chin strap has a simple and easy to use cinching buckle.
The Vapor is a streamlined helmet that is without fancy bells and whistles. Headlamp clips are common on most any helmet you’ll find but on the Vapor they are removable. This makes the Vapor even more streamlined to prevent slings or clothing from snagging on the helmet. Unfortunately, you need to make sure you have them with you when you first go to put a headlamp on for a dark descent, as discovered while testing. Without the clips, it is hard to get a headlamp to stay secure and not fly off the helmet and into the night. Attaching the clips can also prove difficult as I struggled to get them to attach. Four vent holes include small holes in the foam for the headlamp clips to attach to. My struggles were not solitary as I spoke with a number of users who gave up on the headlamp clips.
Durability was one of the biggest concerns among testers. That super comfortable, lightweight construction may suffer from the drawback of being fragile, affecting its real world versatility. Users need to be mindful of how they carry their helmet in or on their pack as well as how it is transported to the cliff. I observed many users of the Vapor taking painstaking care with the treatment of their helmet and also talked to a number of people who broke the Vapor by dropping a heavy pack too hard or having something get packed on top of their helmet. My helmet suffered a number of dings and dents from regular, albeit careful use, and eventually was cracked when someone’s pack was placed on top of mine.
At 6.6 ounces for the smaller size, or 7 ounces for the larger size, the Vapor is one of the lightest helmets on the market and is less than half the weight of a rigid plastic helmet like the Petzl Ecrin Roc.