Gear Guide 2012: Mammut El Cap Helmet

A super safe helmet that you forget you're wearing

If helmets are all rated and tested to meet the same rigorous standards, what makes one brain bucket better than another? “The best helmet is the one that you forget you’re wearing,” says one tester who donned the El Cap on a climb of Chile’s snow-capped, 11,879-foot Volcano San Pedro. “It sits lower on your head, so it’s easy to pull your hood on and off; 12 vents guarded against brain bake; and microfiber-covered padding and a smooth chin strap never irritate.” Nice feature: A small visor adds sun protection. Could be better: Size adjustments take two hands, making on-the-fly changes tricky. It’s best to set it and forget it. $70; 12 oz.; mammut.ch