By Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones
201 years ago, Cassiano Grivel and his son, Dominique, forged the very first ice axe. Innovatively combining a walking stick with an axe, their imagination and ingenuity carved a path of creation that has given us the first ever crampon, the revolutionised ice axe shape we see today and many other technological gear advancements. Whether an extreme alpinist or a summer-time trad climber, we’ve all seen Grivel kit, it’s incredibly popular and for good reason. Grivel equipment has stood the test of time, not only for inventing the equipment we see today but for continually producing high quality, market leading gear. The Grivel Salamander follows this 201-year legacy by being an all-round helmet for a multitude of serious adventures.
Following on from the original Salamander, a helmet I donned frequently whilst studying in the Lake District, the latest version features a redesigned shape, much larger vents and better head-torch attachment points (a necessary redesign of the messy elastic bands found on the old model). The Salamander has been designed with use and abuse in mind; it isn’t as light or as well ventilated as some specialised expanded polystyrene models but comes in as a far more affordable and well-rounded proposition.
The ABS plastic outer is incredibly durable and resists damage well, saving my head from a few sharp rocky collisions whilst escaping the Cathedral quarry tunnels in the dark! Although slightly heavier than polystyrene outers, the combination of a plastic shell and a foam inner provide the best protection against falling objects and rocks. Having spent summer evenings trad climbing and hours route setting in the Salamander, the helmet’s improved ventilation has been a major positive. The ability to climb and set efficiently at height without having the added stress of a hot head isn’t something to be taken for granted.
Inner and Fit
On the inside, the Salamander is as durable as it is on the outside. Opting for a strap head band and cradle, rather than the typical plastic band and adjusters, the Salamander stows simply in a pack thanks to the ease of tucking away the straps inside the helmet. This was especially handy when packing lots of trad equipment into an optimistically small, boulderer’s rucksack! The straps adjust easily enough and sit comfortably round the back of the head, although it must be noted that the helmet comes in one size and will only adjust to fit the head ranges specified. The helmet fits larger heads slightly better. The chin strap is extremely adjustable and comes with a removable piece of extra padding. Whilst making the helmet even comfier, the padding also helps my head to fit the helmet nice and snuggly. I only just fit inside the stated head sizes but someone with a head towards the larger end of the range may want to remove this extra padding to ensure a better fit.
The added lip around the rim of the helmet stops head torches from sliding down the helmet whilst keeping water from running directly onto your face, nice!
The Grivel Salamander is a fantastic do-it-all helmet, ticking the box for a range of daring pursuits, allowing you to tackle them with a cool head and a safe one too! Coming in as one of the lighter all-round options on the market and featuring updates from a previous classic; the Salamander is a sophisticated and hardy helmet that stays true to its Grivel heritage.