The Best Caving Helmets: Our Complete Review with Ratings

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

When it comes to caving, you will soon find that you ought to have a helmet that can survive hundreds of small impacts. Like a lot of other caving gear, good quality helmets can be a long-term single purchase, if selected correctly.

Many caving environments are brutal.

If you aren’t wearing a good quality helmet, you can get seriously hurt. Your wallet will suffer too, as you find yourself buying more cheap caving helmets again and again.

After assessing the quality and key features of hundreds of caving helmets, we highly recommend the Petzl Vertex Vent Helmet. It is a combination of sturdy and versatile, permitting many safe caving adventures without breaking the bank.

However, it also depends on your preferences. There are also several other very high-quality caving helmets that can fulfill your overall caving adventure needs. See the list below and read on for more details on each.

If you are new to caving and selecting caving gear, scroll down to the Caving Helmet FAQs section by clicking here.

Most Adaptable
PETZL Vertex Vent Helmet

PETZL Vertex Vent Helmet

Outer Material: ABS

Headband size: 20.8-24.8 inch (53-63 cm)

Dimensions: 11.02 x 8.66 x 6.69 inches (28 x 22 x 17 cm)

Weight: 490 g (17 oz)

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The Petzl Vertex Vent Helmet is the third of its generation, and this one came with some slight improvements. Cavers prefer this helmet because of its durability and versatile ventilation.

The shell is ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), which is typical for these kinds of protective helmets. It's available in one size, but there are two sets of foam headband liners, to help it fit better on smaller heads. The helmet weighs about 16 ounces, and comes in 9 colors.

The Petzl Vertex Vent is unique in that it offers a "center-fit system". This suspension adjusts both the front and rear simultaneously, keeping it centered on your head at all times.

Another unique benefit with is that it comes with adjustable ventilation holes. These vents can be opened for better airflow when you are caving in a hot or humid environment, but come in handy in cold environments too. Some caves are quite cold, and have running or falling water that can be more problematic if these vents are left open.

If you need to equip other accessories to your helmet, you're in luck. The Petzl Vertex Vent comes with molded slots, that can allow you to attach things like a face shield, hearing protection, nametag, and more.

However, you will likely not need these when caving with a familiar group, and will mostly want to consider mounting a headlamp.

  • Comes with slots for various accessories
  • Available in up to 9 colors, depending on supplier
  • Six-point textile suspension, easy to adjust for comfort
  • Centerfit system keeps it centered on your head
  • Available in only one size
  • On the heavier side for helmets
Most Versatile
Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet

Outer Material: ABS

Headband size: 19.7-24.8 inches (50-63 cm)

Size: 9.45 x 7.09 x 9.45 inches (24 x 18 x 24 cm)

Weight: 360 grams (12.7 oz)

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What stands out about the Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet is the thickness. When you have this helmet on, the top of your head feels invincible. We don't recommend testing it out by jumping into a low ceiling or anything like that, but it's good to know you will be safe with one of these on your head.

The suspension features a one-handed dial, allowing you to manage adequately during those times when you may be holding on to a rope or other object. Adjustment around the ear adds extra comfort, though the chin strap is a simple buckle and may be a bit too basic.

Are you a fan of accessories? The headlamp attachment on the Half Dome offers some flexible clips with teeth at the bottom. They are quite durable too, which is comforting when the cost of caving equipment can add up quickly.

There are only four colors available on Amazon currently, and while black always looks good, I'd go with orange if you want the safest choice. The bright orange (or red) on a caving helmet tends to come in handy when it's about staying in sight of your group.

Regardless of whether you are into climbing or caving, or both, this is another quality helmet that will sufficiently protect you from any sort of unexpected head trauma.

The side protection, on the other hand, is present but minimal. I assume they kept it light on the sides on purpose to keep some airflow. As we all know, caves are often quite humid even if they are colder, and the vents on the side here help with that.

Black Diamond caving helmets are well constructed and well designed. But if you are expecting tight corridors and want to play it extra safe, consider something with enough protection on the sides as well. This is the only real drawback. However, in more open passageways and wider rooms, you can't find much better than this.

  • Top rated by Climbers
  • Very durable
  • Easily adjustable straps and suspension dial, making attaching a headlamp very simple
  • A bit on the heavier side
  • Minimal side padding protection
Most Lightweight
Petzl Sirocco Ultra-Lightweight Climbing and Mountaineering Helmet

Petzl Sirocco Ultra-Lightweight Climbing and Mountaineering Helmet

Outer material: Polycarbonate

Headband size: 18.9-24 inches (48-61 cm)

Dimensions: 15 x 10 x 7 inches (38.1 x 25.4 x 17.78 cm)

Weight: 170 grams (5.3 oz)

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The Petzl Sirocco Ultra-Lightweight Helmet really takes lightweight to another level, weighing in at only 170 grams (5.3 oz). To put that in perspective, this helmet is less than half the weight of several of the other leading Petzl caving helmets, as well as most of the other top brands.

The shape here is more close to the shape of your head, which allows for a more snug fit compared to other styles. The EPS plate on the top (visible in the image) adds another level of impact resistance.

The inside contains foam pads with a soft felt, and additional foam pads come with the order. If you need to replace the original set, this is not difficult to do. Considering the more humid environments, the accumulation of sweat may want you to do just that.

When it comes to comfort, the Petzl Sirocco Ultra-Lightweight Helmet might be the best on the list. Cavers often don’t even realize they have it on, due to how well it fits.

Though it’s significantly lighter, there is always a trade off with helmets and density. It’s slightly less durable, and thus is more applicable for climbers who will not risk bumping their head on any ceilings. For caving, it does work just as well, but if you are planning on crawling and ducking under low hanging cave formations often, perhaps this is not the best choice for you.

  • Lightest helmet on the list
  • Head-shaped design allows closer fit
  • EPS plate adds more protection
  • Good ventilation in humid environments
  • Foam pads are relatively easy to replace
  • Slightly less protection
  • A bit on the expensive side
Best on a Budget
Tontron Climbing and Caving Helmet

Tontron Climbing and Caving Helmet

Outer Material: ABS

Headband size: 19-23.62 inches (49-60 cm)

Dimensions: 9.84 x 7.48 x 7.87 inches

Weight: 322-370 g (11.4 – 13.0 oz)

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This Tontron Climbing and Caving Helmet is one of the lighter models, and perhaps most suited for kids.

It’s on the cheaper end, so you can consider this helmet if you’re not planning to go very often, and are on a tighter budget. You always want sufficient head protection when you go, but if you plan to go actively, especially to some more difficult locations, this helmet may be lacking in a few regards.

While meeting the climbing helmet certification (EN12492), they include a high-density inner EPS liner for added protection. There are vents for more comfort, but they are not adjustable.

In addition, it’s available in multiple sizes, depending on the supplier. Comparing it to some other helmets like the Petzl Vertex Vent, you can see that the Tontron helmet is an affordable choice for younger cavers.

However, there are some minor issues that are worth considering. This helmet sits a bit high on the head. In addition, if you don’t have it affixed well, you may experience some mild wobbling when you make frequent movements. This may simply come down to measuring size correctly, so double check and try it on correctly before you take it on any extended trips.

  • Good on a tight budget
  • Great for younger cavers
  • Vents add extra airflow
  • EN12492 Certified
  • Lack of padding in the front
  • Potential wobbling due to the padding distribution

Caving Helmets FAQs

What is a Caving Helmet?

The most important thing you can do when participating in any extreme sport such as caving is to protect yourself. A caving helmet serves as the primary protection for your head, which may make it the most essential piece of safety equipment you can bring with you.

Interchangeable with climbing helmets, caving helmets are typically made from a very durable plastic outer shell. Inside, there will often be some kind of foam or webbing suspension system, which serves to provide comfort and additional padding. Without a helmet, you should not even consider going into a wild cave, even if you are experienced.

Caving Helmet vs. Climbing Helmet: Is there a difference?

As mentioned above, caving helmets are often interchangeable with climbing helmets. They both serve similar purposes, although the activities are slightly different. Caving doesn’t always involve climbing, however, and there is often more risk of falling objects or low ledges than climbers may face.

In addition, caving often involves a lot of darkness, so a good caving helmet combats this. Cavers attach a headlamp to their helmet, keeping their hands free while not having to worry about the lack of natural lighting.

Climbing helmets would not require a lamp very often, and so climbers may either use another type of attachment or go without one. Attaching a camera to record the climb is one common choice.

Finally, there are some minor differences to be found inside the helmets. Climbing helmets have traditionally made use of a webbing suspension system. Caving helmets tend to feature an EPS foam lining, which is meant to offer more protection from accidentally bumping your head on a low ceiling or a wall on either side.

How Long Do Caving Helmets Last?

Typically, a good quality caving helmet can provide several years of constant protection, regardless of the amount of times you may bump your head. Outside of extraordinary circumstances, there shouldn’t be any serious damage done to a helmet. This means, for about 5-10 years, as long as you picked a good one, you would be fine.

However, there may be a requirement to replace them for a few reasons. First, if you tend to go caving in humid environments, the inner foam lining will be absorbing sweat during your outing. Unless these are replaceable, as they are for some models, you might want to replace them sooner than 10 years.

Brands differ as well. For example, Petzl, which makes some of the best helmets, recommends 10 years. Other less notable brands offer a maximum of 5-year guarantees. In addition, if you happen to suffer any hard impacts, such as from a fall or large object making direct contact, don’t neglect it. While the helmet is likely to look visibly secure, repeated impacts can weaken it until a single impact may cause significant harm.


It is a beginner’s mistake to believe that a caving helmets is too expensive as an add-on to your caving gear. If you think about the thought process with bicycles and skateboards, the younger crowd often elects to go without the protection there as well.

But don’t make this miscalculation when going caving. And when you select a helmet, do not cheap out on it.

If you choose wisely, it is a one-time investment. A budget helmet can keep you secure but its design and other drawbacks won’t let you enjoy the adventure with maximum safety. Discomfort, stress, and lower protection quality will inevitably lead to more problems that could easily be prevented.

Besides, when you buy a great quality helmet, you can use it for more than just caving – it can be used for biking, hiking, climbing, and other wild sports. With that said, please remember to be safe, and the best way to do that is to choose your gear wisely and prepare meticulously.

For a full checklist of essential caving gear to consider, check out this post next.

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