Starting April 2023, you must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in Japan. It’s now an “effort obligation” which means you must put in some effort.
In Japan, language can be unclear when it comes to who is responsible for what, so it’s strange that public organizations use such abstract words repeatedly.
Helmets are commonly used in mountaineering. In the past, only climbers who scrambled up rocky mountains used them, but over the past 10 years, helmets have become much more common. I go to Kamikochi almost every year. Many climbers there have helmets on their backpacks, probably because mountains like Mt. Hotaka and Mt. Yarigatake have rocky ridges and falling rocks are dangerous.
I was curious why everyone brought their helmets, and I learned that Nagano Prefecture marked “mountain areas where helmets are recommended” and the Kamikochi Mountains were included.
I plan to climb one mountain each month in 2023, with my sights set on higher peaks during the summer summit season. Ontake and Shari-dake are part of my upcoming plans. Ontake is known for a deadly volcanic eruption, while Shari-dake involves climbing a stream.
As such, I wanted to ensure I had a helmet ready by year-end. If I were younger, I might have disregarded the purchase, thinking it costly and burdensome. However, with age comes wisdom. My legs and back have weakened more than my age because I’ve worked from home for years. As a result, I never know when I might fall. Since I lack confidence in my body, I have to rely on items, as Okaden, who is about to turn 50, currently does.
The helmet I purchased was a Half Dome, a helmet made by the company “Black Diamond”.
In my case, my climbing and camping gear is full of Montbell products.
Montbell products are inexpensive yet highly functional, and I appreciate the conveniently located stores where I can find almost all outdoor-related products (except for specialty items such as climbing gear) in one place. Best of all, I am a member of the Montbell Club, which allows me to purchase products at a 7% discount off the retail price. Thanks to this, I am in a situation where I cannot get away from Montbell products.
Of course, a Montbell helmet was my first choice, but I did not choose it because I felt it was not very cheap for Montbell, and most of all, I did not like the Montbell logo printed on it in a big and proud way.
I always wonder how much Montbell thinks their logo is worth. I always wonder. I am sure there are many other people like me who use a lot of Montbell products, and I am sure these people think it would be better if the Montbell logo was not printed on their products.
In the past, when UNIQLO was rapidly expanding its business, there was a tendency in the world to ridicule people who wore UNIQLO clothes from top to bottom, saying that they looked tacky. But UNIQLO hardly ever prints its own logo on the front of its clothes, and while UNIQLO displays its brand logo designed by Kashiwa Sato in its stores, it does not show its logo on its clothes.That’s because I like to buy Montbell products.
Now I’m buying a helmet after changing my mind and thinking, “I wouldn’t want to buy a helmet if it weren’t for my declining physical strength. Of course, I can’t and won’t buy an expensive one. I can’t afford an expensive one, and I won’t buy one because my wife and children won’t be happy even if I buy a luxury helmet here. I am the only one in my family who enjoys mountain climbing, so I feel bad about spending money on this kind of thing. Above all, we are not a couple with an independent budget, nor do we have an allowance. Each person is allowed to buy what he or she wants, but there is a strong sense of psychological resistance because the money comes from a common wallet. In fact, it is more of a savings mentality than an allowance system.
The Black Diamond helmet I bought this time was cheaper than Montbell’s. When I bought it, it cost 7,000 yen including tax.
The Black Diamond brand is unfamiliar to most climbers.The brand sells items for rock climbing, including helmets.The name “Half Dome” comes from a huge rock peak in Yosemite National Park in the U.S., where I made my first trip abroad in my life, and it is a sacred place for rock climbing.
Apparently, in the world of mountaineering helmets, the higher the price, the lighter and thinner the helmet becomes, while maintaining the same shock-absorbing capacity.The “Half Dome” I bought is the lowest priced mountaineering helmet, so it’s quite big and heavy, but I didn’t have my own standards for how much I should pay for a helmet, so I decided that “as long as it meets safety standards and is inexpensive, that’s all that matters.
On the front of the helmet, the Black Diamond logo is printed in large letters. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that the diamond shaped logo looks more like MontBell than the other two, it seems I can’t escape the MontBell spell.
Although I knew this from word of mouth, the logo on the back of the helmet was a rough sticker. Is it a sticker that should be removed immediately? I am not sure of the purpose.
I purchased this product by mail order without actually holding it in my hands.
When I received the actual product and actually tried it on, I thought, “Well, I see, it would be better to see the actual product in the store and try it on before buying it. In short, it was a little different from what I had imagined.
When I looked at myself in the mirror with the helmet on, I saw that I had a very long head. I was somewhat prepared for that, but I was still surprised.
Bicycle helmets and mountain helmets are the same in that they protect the head, but their functions are completely different.
Cycling helmets are designed to withstand falls and hits to the side of the head on the ground, while mountaineering helmets are designed to withstand rocks falling from above.This makes the top of the head of mountaineering helmets stronger than that of cycling helmets, resulting in a “long head”.The size and number of holes in the side of the head, called ventilation, also differ between cycling and mountaineering helmets.Ventilation is important because the head also heats up and sweats during exercise.In the case of cycling, even if a person falls, he or she often falls to the ground, so it is not as much of a problem if the helmet has a large ventilation area. In mountaineering, on the other hand, the possibility of hitting your head on a jagged, sharp rock makes it impossible to provide a large ventilation system.
However, at the higher end of the price range for mountain helmets, many companies offer products with lots of vents that look cool and comfortable. Therefore, it is likely that manufacturers have no choice but to reduce ventilation to maintain the strength of their helmets, even if they are inexpensive, rather than reduce ventilation for safety reasons.
At a slightly higher price point than the Half Dome, the Mammut Skywalker 3.0 mountaineering helmet has more ventilation and looks cooler.
Climbing helmets in this price range have a two-layer structure, with a hard shell of polycarbonate or other material on the outside and a foam-like material called in-mold on the inside.
Why are climbing helmets so expensive compared to safety helmets? At first I wondered why climbing helmets are so expensive compared to disaster helmets, but since most disaster helmets have only a hard shell, the difference is worth the price.
However, the head is longer. The thickness of the in-mold makes the face long and vertical.
Well, not so cool. The next time I have to buy a new helmet, I will choose a thin one, even if it costs more.
I was surprised at the head size of this helmet, which made me change my mind, thinking that a helmet is like an insurance policy as long as it’s cheap.One of the reasons it makes my head look bigger is because of its flimsy design.It’s not a dynamic design like a bike helmet. Come to think of it, it doesn’t have a “brim” on the forehead.
The reason is obvious: mountaineers wear rain gear in rough weather. Since the hood is worn over the head, a helmet should be as slim as possible.In addition, the nature of mountaineering means that there are many opportunities to look up. If the helmet had a visor, it would reduce visibility.This is no longer an option.
All mountaineering helmets can be fitted with a headlamp. When I tried it with a headlight attached, it looked a little cooler. The design became more lively and the “too long head” impression was softened.
Black Diamond helmet with a Montbell headlight.Now, it will be a little while before this helmet is put into actual use.This year, I am aware of my declining physical strength, and will try to take it easy on my mountaineering.
Okaden at the summit of Mt. Shari on July 1, 2023.He wore the helmet from the start of the climb to the end of the climb.