In the late 1950’s, climber Yvon Chouniard began forging pitons and started selling them in the Yosemite Valley out of the trunk of his car. Chouniard Equipment was born and settled in Ventura, California. The gear Chouniard Equipment manufactured gained a good reputation for quality through the years.
But the success was only for short therm. In 1989, the company became bankrupt because of some product-liability lawsuits and lack of profitability. The leftovers from Chouniard Equipment where bought by a group of former employees under the supervision of Peter Metcalf, the current CEO and was renamed Black Diamond Equipment. The company was moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1991 to be closer to the climbing and skiing of the Wasatch Mountains.
In 1996, Black Diamond Equipment Europe was established in Switzerland and in 2006 Black Diamond Equipment Asia was established in China to ensure the global growth of the company.
A revolutionary helmet that's ideal for long routes, alpine climbs and other weight-sensitive missions, the Black Diamond Vector Helmet combines lightweight protection, excellent ventilation and "barely there" comfort like never before. The geometric, co-molded EPS foam and polycarbonate shell provides full-coverage protection while remaining incredibly lightweight and comfortable, and the generous ventilation ports keep air flowing on warm days. The ratcheting suspension tucks away for easy storage in your pack, and when the sun gets down before you do, the Vector's in-mold headlamp clips provide an ultra-secure attachment.
- Co-molded EPS foam with polycarbonate shell
- Large ventilation ports provide max airflow
- Ratchet adjuster with molded push buttons
- In-mold headlamp clips for ultra-secure attachment
- Tuck-away suspension makes for compact storage
- Available in 2 sizes
Size Range : [S/M] 53-59 cm, 21-23 in; [M/L] 58-63 cm, 23-25 in
Weight : [S/M] 231 g, 8.1 oz; [M/L] 240 g, 8.5 oz
When I’ve put on the helmet for the first time, I was astonished by its lightness and comfort. I also tried the Petzl Meteror III+ helmet, but I found out that the Vector was more comfortable because of the difference in the suspension. The Vector has a flat foam on the inside and doesn’t create pressure points on the forehead when tightened. On the rear the adjustment system works the same as the Meteor, but it appears to sit lower on the back of the head and it envelops the head in a more stable way.
The rear suspension is very lightweight and it tucks away for easy storage, time will tell us if it will hold up years of abuse.
The Vector is one of the most protective foam helmets around. The helmet sits very low on your head so it doesn’t only protects the top of your head like most helmets, but it also covers the forehead, the back of the head and the sides. Thereby it also protects you well when you hit the rock face during a fall. The helmet also has a protective advantage above some hybrid helmets (foam inside, hard outer layer) those helmets are heavier and some tend to shift backwards when you look up, leaving your forehead exposed to impacts. On the vector, this problem is solved by its lightness and the stable suspension.
Although a foam helmet is designed to break on impact and thereby distribute the impact force, it is still pretty rugged. It took some hard ice-impacts while belaying a brittle alpine ice route and it was tossed around during transport. After a full alpine summer season it is still going strong! There are only a few little dents and scratches in the outer shell. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of it, because if you drop a heavy backpack on top there is a big chance it will be crushed.
The only issue I had with the protection of the helmet, was that when I looked down when ice or rocks where falling sometimes a small piece hit the back of my head, because it fell through the venting holes. I advise to keep your head straight when rocks are falling. BD did however a good job by placing the venting holes on places who are less prone to be struck by falling rocks.
Like I said, most of the venting holes are placed on the back of the helmet and two on the front. At first I thought this was going to be an issue because there is less ventilation on the sides, but my head was always very well ventilated. On the inside, the sides of the foam are cut out to create an airflow from the front to the back which solves the problem.
There were some times I even wished the helmet wasn’t so well ventilated and a cold wind entered the ventilation in the back. This is where a hooded fleece or jacket came in handy. A hood easily covers most of the venting holes .
Although the design of the helmet is inferior to its protecting capabilities, it is still very important in my opinion. I mean, who wants to wear an ugly helmet? If you look cool with a helmet on your head you will wear it a more. That’s what it’s all about!
I think BD did a good job in designing these helmets. They used some beautifully contrasting colors and I like the geometrical lines running through the shell. I have the orange version and it looks great on the photos! ;)
It’s a great well ventilated and -protective, lightweight helmet but it needs a bit more care and it has a high price tag.
- Fall protection forehead/sides/back
- Less durable
- Stones can fall through vents