Gear Review: Petzl Boreo Climbing Helmet

The new Petzl Boreo helmet is a super protective rugged great value choice that replaces the long loved Petzl Elios helmet in Petzl’s award winning helmet line.


How we tested

We tested this media sample while sport climbing at Rumney, NH, cragging at various cliffs in Mount Washington Valley, and multi-pitch climbing on Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledge along with some alpine climbing in Huntington Ravine. I shared this sample with some of my co-workers, climbing partners, and guests and solicited their opinions. After 3 months of testing I’m ready to share my opinions on this model to help you decide if this is the right helmet for you. As usual we will start with the most positive stand-out features and work our way down the list after covering the manufacturer info.

Petzl Boreo Review
Tom tests the Petzl Boreo during some alpine climbing in Huntington Ravine

From Petzl:

Durable and very versatile, the BOREO helmet is suitable for climbing, mountaineering, caving, via ferrata, canyoning… Thanks to its hybrid construction, the helmet is both compact and head-covering. Protection against lateral, front and rear impact is reinforced. Optimized volume on the head and wide ventilation holes make it a comfortable helmet for all activities.

Description

  • Rugged:
    – hard outer shell is impact and scratch resistant for optimal durability
    – hybrid construction with thick ABS shell, an EPP foam liner and an EPS foam liner makes it compact on the head
    – soft headband conforms perfectly to the shape of the head and folds into the shell for storage and transportation
  • Head-covering design for optimal protection against lateral, front and rear impact:
    – carries Petzl’s TOP AND SIDE PROTECTION product label
    – head-covering shape, lower in the rear, offers reinforced protection
  • Versatile, for a variety of activities:
    – suitable for climbing, mountaineering, caving, via ferrata, canyoning…
    – four clips for headlamp attachment
    – compatible with the VIZION eye shield

Specifications

  • Material(s): ABS shell, expanded polypropylene (EPP) liner, expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner, polyester webbing
  • Certification(s): CE EN 12492, UIAA
  • Weight S/M 285 grams (10 ounces) M/L 295 grams (10.4 ounces)

Durability

Petzl Boreo Review
The author cragging with the Wednesday Sendsday crew- photo by Corey McMullen

Petzl uses three main materials in the construction of the Boreo. The outer shell is a hard plastic ABS shell which both protects the energy absorbing liners and helps dissipate force in a hit. An expanded polypropylene (EPP) liner makes up the bulk of protection around the entire helmet except for the crown (the very top of the helmet) which uses an expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner for added impact protection from a direct top hit. For comparison this EPS liner is about 25% smaller in size than the EPS liner in the award winning Sirocco 2017 model (my review of that model is here).

Petzl Boreo Review
A protective ABS plastic shell houses the EPP foam with a crown section of EPS foam in the Petzl Boreo

All this adds up to a helmet that is super durable and long lasting. It should survive many years of small knocks and hits from falling ice, occasional rocks, etc. As with any helmet a major hit whether from a fall or object might require retiring it, but this is a helmet I could cram into an overloaded haul bag and not get too nervous when I forget it’s in there before sitting on my pack at a trail break (I’ve broken ultralight climbing helmets in this manner before). This helmet definitely stands out in terms of long term durability!


Protective

Petzl Boreo Review
Full side and back protection makes the Petzl Boreo a great choice for those who want the most protection regardless of the type of hit or fall

The next most significant feature of the Petzl Boreo is how much protection it provides. There are a lot of things that determine how protective a lid will be so let’s start with the material. The ABS/EPP/EPS combo is un-matched for being able to absorb and dissipate energy in a hit and is likely the most durable construction out there (at the cost of some weight). While carrying certifications from both CE and UIAA Petzl has gone further and created there own internal tests for gauging side and rear impact protection. CE and UIAA tests focus on top protection but for a helmet to truly protect the wearer from a bad fall the sides and rear of the helmet need to be tested as well as they are certainly prone to impact. This may be the most protective (and durable) climbing helmet on the market.


Affordable

Petzl Boreo Helmet Review
The author testing the Boreo while setting the rigging for a guided Waterfall Rappelling adventure. Photo by CF Photography

There are very few models that can offer the protection, durability, and design Petzl achieves at this price point. This makes the Boreo a great choice for institutions, climbing camps, guide services, and climbers who appreciate durability over saving a few ounces or grams.


Comfort

Petzl Boreo Review
The Petzl Boreo has good ventilation for warm weather climbing

I found the Petzl Boreo to be relatively comfortable for a helmet in this weight category. It definitely feels heavier than the ultralight Petzl Sirocco and on long climbing days I rarely would forget I have it on. The removable foam pads are comfortable directly on the skin and can easily be washed after they’ve seen a few weeks of sunblock greasy climbing. Ventilation is much better than the Petzl Elios it replaces but not as airy as the super breathable Petzl Sirocco.


Fit

Petzl Boreo Review
Dylan found the Petzl Boreo to be quite comfortable during a morning tour of Cathedral Ledge despite having a twist in his helmet strap here!

The Petzl Boreo comes in two sizes, S/M and M/L. S/M is for a head circumference of 48 to 58 cm and the M/L is for a head circumference of 53 to 61 cm. My head measures in at 59 cm so the M/L fits me well with no hat and I can where a thin winter hat liner with the helmet adjusted to its largest setting. If your head is 60 cm or larger you might find this helmet a bit to snug to wear with a winter hat. While the side yoke straps are not adjustable they did fall perfectly around the ears. My only small gripe about the adjustable mechanism is when the helmet is packed it tends to adjust itself to a smaller size requiring the need to re-size the helmet almost every time I take it out. This only takes a second or two but it is worth noting.


Features

Petzl Boreo Review
Four helmet clips secure your headlamp on the Petzl Boreo

The Petzl Boreo is compatible with the Petzl Vizion Face Shield and that combo would offer the most about of protection possible for ice climbing. The helmet includes four clips for mounting a headlamp and my Petzl Actik Headlamp attached quickly and securely. As already mentioned the removable and washable foam pads are really comfortable on direct skin and clean up easily when they get that mid-season funk.


Summary

The Petzl Boreo is the most durable and protective climbing helmet I have reviewed to date. The focus on increased side and rear impact protection is proof of Petzl’s forward thinking design and desire to not only meet existing standards but go beyond. The Petzl Boreo is a great choice for not only rock and ice climbing but for ski mountaineering pursuits. While ounce counters might not like the relatively high weight those looking for value in a long lasting highly protective helmet wouldn’t find many options as appealing as this one. I think this is an excellent choice as a “first” helmet and its durability will likely keep it in your kit for certain missions throughout your climbing career.

You can pick this helmet up at the following local retailers in Mount Washington Valley:

International Mountain Equipment, North Conway

Eastern Mountain Sports, North Conway

You can also order from these authorized Petzl online retailers:


Backcountry   Bentgate   EMS   Moosejaw   Mountain Gear   REI   Amazon


See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start

Disclaimer: A media sample was provided for purpose of review and affiliate links above support the content created at Northeast Alpine Start at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Petzl Boreo Climbing Helmet

  1. Great review David! I think you nailed every aspect that the helmet has to offer! Very detailed and well written. It was great spending time on the cliffside with you! And thanks for letting me try out Petzl’s new helmet! Gotta protect the noggin!

    Like

    • Thanks for modeling and testing! And it was great climbing with you too! Looking forward to the next time we share a rope.

      Like

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