“It’s a Salamander Jim, but not as we know it!”
Designed for alpine, rock, and ice climbing, Outer shell in ABS protecting against penetration, inner layer in shock-absorbing polystyrene foam.
The only recognisable similarities between the original Grivel Salamander and the Salamander 2.0 are its bright yellow colour and the two lizard logos on the back (OK, there is also the Grivel logo on the front). The rest is a complete redesign and overhaul. Not that the original needed too much of an overhaul, it’s nice bright colours and close fitting shape have proved very popular.
What the Grivel Salamander 2.0 offers id much improved durability and a great, easy to adjust, fitting system that worked well – most of the time! The Salamander 2.0 is of the mounded ABS outer with a hard foam insert to help protect from falling rock and ice. When I’m advising clients about buying a helmet I talk about stages in a climbing career (for want of a better word) – beginners should be looking at a moulded helmet (I called these hard hats), as they progress and falling off a little more likely than the shelled polystyrene helmets become a better purchase as side impact protection becomes desirable. At the extreme end the “jelly’ style helmet is worth considering for its weight reduction. I always advise that any helmet is replaced after any major impact as the structural integrity will be compromised – even if cracks aren’t clearly visible!
Is the Grivel Salamander 2.0 just a beginners helmet? No, of course not, many climbers and mountaineers(including myself) use a moulded style helmet for a variety of climbing. I used the Salamander 2.0 for my annual ice climbing trip to Cogne this year. A much better choice for ice climbing as I’m much more likely to bump my head against icicles and have bits of falling ice fall raining down on me. Also the nature of this valley style climbing means weight isn’t too much of an issue. The other major benefit, as I’ve stated earlier, is the robustness of the helmet. I would say that these style of helmet will easily last twice as long as a shelled polystyrene style helmet which accrue a variety of dents and even the shell delaminating from the foam – I have seen these type of helmets contain more duct tape than shell!
The shell of the Salamander 2.0 is well shaped and doesn’t feel too bulky on the head. The ridges provide extra strength and a little Italian style has been added with the glossy side extrusions (a neat touch) which add a little contrast to the matt finish. It has 6 vents on the top and two on the back, these were a little small to be fully effective in hotter conditions but were fine for winter climbing. Perhaps the next model could have slightly bigger vents without compromising the structural strength. The head torch strap retainers worked well and clamped a head torch tightly without it shifting down. This is a great improvement on the elasticated retainers on the original Salamander. The remainder of the styling has the Grivel logo on the front and sides and the two Salamander lizards on the back.
One of the main improvements is the helmet adjustment – I spend a lot of time with clients adjusting helmets and teaching how to make sure a helmet is fitted correctly. I’ve had plenty of problems with dial type adjusters breaking as well as chin straps that are next to impossible to adjust. The Grivel Salamander 2.0 is very easy to adjust, indeed so easy every client I’ve used it with has been able to adjust the helmet to fit first time! I really liked the way the strap fitted neatly under the occipital bone on my head and adjusted by tightening it with the two small D rings.
This worked great with a bare head in good temperatures but I had some problems when I put the helmet on with a hood. It worked much better with a thin hat – in any event the new system works better and easier than the dial ratchet version.
In conclusion the Grivel Salamander 2.0 is a good improvement on the original design. The changes work well and the helmet will be a great buy for those climbers who are looking for a robust and well designed climbing helmet. There are lighter helmets in the Grivel range and the loss of the snazzy green and pink versions will be missed. The current colour range is Yellow, Black and White and although I probably won’t upgrade my group helmets to these I will definitely be investing in a couple for private client use as well as continuing to use the one I already have. A nice all round climbing and mountaineering helmet.
Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for over 10 years. He works as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces. When he isn’t working in the mountains he’s playing in the mountains and enjoys all aspects climbing and mountain sports whether bouldering at his local crag or ice climbing; as long as he’s going upwards he’s happy!