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Field Tested: Petzl's Scary Lightweight Updated Sirocco Helmet

By: Seiji Ishii - June 15, 2017

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The original Petzl Sirocco helmet, introduced in 2013, was a breakthrough in terms of materials and weight. Using expanded polypropylene foam (EPP) instead of the standard expanded polystyrene (EPS), the Sirocco became the lightweight champion at 165g for the M/L size. The monochromatic optic orange didn’t win any fashion awards, but the helmet soon became a favorite amongst weight conscious climbers.

Petzl just updated the venerable Sirocco, with the new version remaining incredibly light thanks to the continued use of EPP foam. But, the new model also brings improvements in durability and safety that are most welcome. The EPP foam still comprises the entirety of the helmet but is now joined by an EPS crown layer – the same material used in Petzl’s Meteor helmet – for added protection on top. The helmet also extends 3 cm lower in the rear, further safeguarding that area of the head as well. The top of the helmet has a polycarbonate shell that is also borrowed from the Meteor, adding resistance to dings and a welcome accent of orange to the black EPP. The two-tone color scheme is a nice change of pace that will surely draw approving nods from many.

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The new Sirocco utilizes the Petzl-patented magnetic closure system, which makes aligning the mating ends of the buckle incredibly easy, even while wearing gloves. There is elastic on the rear and a pair of clips on the front for a headlamp, and the rear elastic will also accommodate a goggle strap too. All of the retention straps are widely adjustable and the helmet is available in two sizes, S/M and M/L. The rear retention strap doesn’t have the near-ubiquitous adjustment dial however, with Petzl electing to use a simple and compact sliding buckle instead.

The most impressive thing about the new Sirocco helmet is the same as the original: the almost-not-there weight. At a verified 180 grams for a M/L, the helmet will blow away in modest winds if set down and left unattended. The expanded coverage down the back of the head is reassuring and the headlamp retention system is surprisingly secure. Venting is impressive, with all sides of the helmet generously adorned with aggressive looking vents. A recent trad climbing trip produced temperatures in the 90’s and the helmet vented admirably, never being noticeably hotter than not wearing a helmet at all.

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The main closure buckle on the new Sirocco is a joy to use, with the buckle ends almost magically aligning themselves. There isn’t a hard “click” like with other buckles, so pulling on the opposing straps is recommended to ensure that it is actually closed properly. Although adjustment dials are easier to use on the rear retention strap while the helmet is worn, I find that this adjustment is a set and forget affair, unless you put a beanie on under the helmet for cold conditions. The slim profile of the simple slider used in the Sirocco, and the accompanying weight savings that it delivers, is a fair trade off. The polycarbonate shell doesn’t really cover that much of the helmet, but it is better than not having any added ding resistance at all. Plus, a protective storage bag is included for added protection when not in use. This helmet is still fragile compared to “hard shell” models and care must be taken to avoid dings and crushing during stowage.

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The updated Petzl Sirocco helmet’s hybrid EPP and EPS construction, added impact coverage and improved durability are all welcome changes. The incredibly low weight carried over from the prior version undeniably keeps it as a top choice in climbing helmets, while the improved aesthetics is just a bonus.

Find out more at petzl.com. MSRP: 129.95

 

About the Author

Seiji Ishii

Seiji Ishii

Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure based motorcycle testing contributor at multiple outlets, and as an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.

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