When I think about a good climbing helmet two things come to mind: fit and durability. Fit is important to me because an ill-fitted helmet can impair your vision and make your climbing more difficult and even dangerous. Durability is important to me because climbing equipment is expensive and I want to buy things that have a decent shelf life. I tested Petzl’s most updated version of their women-specific helmet, the Borea, and hope it’ll help you draw your own conclusions.

Petzl Borea Helmet : First Hand Review 1

First Impressions

My first impression of this helmet was that it had a cool turquoise color and looked solidly built. Not that color has anything to do with the performance, but I could see why some climbers would be excited to have a unique color, especially when it pops in photos. The Borea helmet comes in white, violet, and turquoise. I also confirmed the helmet has 4 clips to attach a headlamp to insure it stays on and in place.

Petzl Borea Helmet : First Hand Review 2

One of my next thoughts was, What does a women specific helmet actually mean?!? For Petzl, there’s 3 main parts. First, a design change, there are smoother lines for a more feminine look which makes it appear more simple and sleek. Second, it is specifically sized for women to fit a smaller head circumstance coming in at 52-58cm verses 53-63cm on most other unisex helmets. Third, space was made inside the helmet to fit a pony tail with a pronounced notch in the back.

You can hear the longer version of the differences and all the thought that went into this helmet from Pierre, head of climbing products at Petzl:


For the purpose of this review I tested this helmet climbing sport, traditional, and aid climbing. I wanted to get a feel of how this helmet held up in many styles and how well the fit stayed in each type of climbing. I have to say, I was pleasantly impressed and my first impression of, “this seems bulky and heavy” seems to be unfounded in use.


The Borea has two tightening adjustments located in the back of the helmet along with the adjustable chin strap so it really stays in place. I took a whip sport climbing and it didn’t move forward like I have noticed some helmets do when taking a fall. I also did awkward chimney moves, traversing, and strenuous high gear placements and it truly stayed fitted to my head and didn’t obstruct my vision by moving. It is also comfortable and stable on the head due to foam liners spread throughout the inner shell.

Petzl Borea Adjustment
Screenshot from the Petzl Borea video showing the fit adjustment.

Ponytail Holder

Usually I wear a high pony tail however with the Borea helmet it is fitted for a low pony tail or braid. With a low pony tail it fits perfectly in the notch so you don’t get that painful knot on the back of your head from it rubbing against the helmet.

Climbing with the Petzl Borea Helmet
Photo taken by Steven Tata at Auburn Quarry 3


One of the words I mentioned earlier was durability and that is something I always consider when buying climbing gear. And I have to say I would consider the Borea helmet about as durable as a helmet could get. The hard outer shell is impact and scratch resistant which makes it optimal for rock climbing, mountaineering, caving, and canyoneering. Granted, it can and still will get beat up but it will last longer than those of lesser quality.

Petzl also touts reinforcement protection against front, side, and rear impact designed with Petzl’s Top and Side Protection Label. Most helmets in the past have focused on the top part of the helmet (as required by CE and UIAA standards) but this new protocol (that Petzl came up with) tests frontal, side, and rear impact by dropping a 5kg mass from a 50cm height on each of those parts of the helmet. It’s possible other helmets would pass this test, but at this point no other manufacturers are marking this claim.


Before I tested the Borea helmet I swore by Black Diamonds Vapor mainly because it was light weight and breathed very well. The Vapor weighs in at 186grams and I was a little worried about going to a heavier and bulkier helmet. The Borea weighs 295 grams (a few ounces more than the Vapor) and is larger because of the foam liners and thick ABS shell.

I thought the helmet would feel bulky but I when I was climbing it never got in the way and I was surprised that hardly noticed the additional weight. I made sure to adjust the sizing to my head correctly which made it stay in place and feel good while climbing.

Climbing with the Petzl Borea helmet
Photo taken by Steven Tata at Auburn Quarry


This helmet comes in at $60, which is significantly less than the lighter weight helmets that are often $100+. In fact, the Petzl Borea is less than half the price of  Black Diamond’s Vapor. I can’t comment on price much more as I received this helmet for free in exchange for an unbiased review.

Hardshell Helmet vs In-mold Helmets

The Borea is a heavier hardshell helmet made with ABS plastic and should hold up to more abuse than a lighter in-mold helmet like Petzl’s Meteor or Black Diamond’s Vapor or Vector helmets. Owning the Vapor, you can see how easily it can get small scratches and minor indents, just from being bounced around in a pack with the other metal hardware.

Owning both helmets, I would choose to wear a breathable in-mold helmet like the Black Diamond Vapor anytime I am projecting a single pitch route because when trying at your max having one of the most light and breathable helmets is my preference.

If I am doing mult pitch / all-day climbs I would opt for the Borea (as long as it wasn’t super hot outside). The Borea is still light and mostly breathable but I felt mentally more comfortable with the added safety of Petzl’s Top and Side protection. I especially would like the Borea for offwidth and chimney climbing because of this new protection label and ability to withstand scraping better than in-mold helmets.

Petzl Borea vs Black Diamond Vapor
Petzl Borea vs Black Diamond Vapor comparison. Photos by Steven Tata.


I have to say there are very few negative things I could come up with about the Borea helmet. The most obvious downside is the weight because it is on the heavier side for helmets however with additional weight comes additional protection and durability.

The other downside was how much ventilation this helmet got. There are ventilation holes located on each side but with the thick foam liner and outer shell I noticed my head got a little hot when I was wearing it for long periods of time in full sun, climbing in 65 degree weather. It wasn’t unbearable and wouldn’t keep me from using the helmet in the future, but it was something I noticed compared to other helmets.

Petzl Borea Helmet : First Hand Review 3
You can see the foam blocking some of the vents of the Borea and you can see some of the small dents on the front of the Vapor. 


A few of my favorite aspects would be Petzl’s new Top and Side Protection Label, as it gives me piece of mind adding additional safety that protects the head just a little bit better, especially during a lead fall possibility. I also liked that all the chinstrap and adjustment clip webbing folds into the outer shell for easier transport and storage.

This would be a great budget helmet or first helmet that will last. Or a great helmet if you are harder on your gear.

Overall I would highly recommend this helmet because I found it comfortable, durable, and safe. Whether you are a new climber or a seasoned professional I think the Borea has stepped up helmet safety and durability and I look forward to using mine more in the future.

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If you’re interested in the Petzl Borea helmet, here are the current places of US buying options (our Petzl Borea page has non-US buying options):