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The Trango Cirrus: A sturdy dual sport helmet
Posted on: June 14, 2022
Trango designed the Cirrus helmet with these populations in mind: guide and outdoor education companies, ski-mountaineers, and those of you who like gear that lasts. In our modern age of lightweight (sometimes single-use) climbing equipment, guide companies and old-schoolers are left puzzled as to what their options are for items that can withstand years of intense use. No joke, I have cracked two modern climbing helmets on separate occasions by simply stuffing them inside a tightly cinched pack. With that said, now that I am in my mid-forties and managing some degenerative neck issues and creaky knees, I still reach for the lightweight options to minimize the impact on my body and increase the longevity of my climbing career; and now that I have a legitimate job and am no longer living in my van, I can afford a new helmet every few years.
For guide and outdoor education companies, however, this lack of durability will not do. I've seen new climbers (which we all were at one time) sit on helmets; throw them; set them upside down ("dead turtle") and watch them slide down scree and snow fields; attach them to the outside of packs and then toss the packs onto the ground to sit on; drop them from midway up cliffs because the chin straps were undone, and so on. Abuse of all forms await a shiny new helmet on its way to the shelves of program use. I have first-hand experience of working for a guide service that made the mistake of purchasing a full fleet of lightweight helmets, many of which didn't make it through the first month.
Mike Lewis wearing the Trango Cirrus helmet as he prepares to descend into the Zen Wall, St. George, Utah. [Photo] Catherine Houston
The Cirrus is an excellent choice for program use. It comes with a hard plastic shell, thick foam encasing the entire inside of the helmet, replaceable cushioned inserts of two thicknesses, a choice of two different strapping systems, and the most useful innovation of this helmet borrowed from other helmeted sports—a magnetic chin strap buckle. Headlamp clips sit flush with the helmet exterior, less likely to get snagged on other items and ripped off. Ten thin air vents allow that much needed breeze to move through the helmet on a hot summer's day, yet not so much that one's head freezes off when ski mountaineering.
The author wears the Cirrus as he takes lead at Table Mountain, Golden, Colorado. [Photo] Catherine Houston
The Cirrus's two options for tightening include the Fast Strap System and the Ratchet Strap System. Commonly found on other helmets, these two choices have their pros and cons. The Fast Strap is simple and difficult to damage—you just pull two little straps through buckles at the back of the head. For the Ratchet Strap, reach back and turn the dial left or right for tightening or loosening. The Ratchet Strap is easier to manage with gloves, yet involves more moving parts and risks more likelihood for breakage.
The magnetic chin strap—damn! Game-changer. A drunkard with expedition mitts and a foot-long beard who would normally wrestle endlessly to get the two parts of a helmet chin strap together will be glad to know that with the Cirrus, if you can just get the two ends within shouting distance of each other, they will suddenly zap together.
The underbelly of the Trango Cirrus is filled with Trango's EPS foam liner, removable and washable Velcro padding, and the Ratchet Strap System. [Photo] Mike Lewis
The Trango Cirrus's Ratchet Strap System. Turn the knob to tighten or loosen. [Photo] Mike Lewis
The Cirrus is built not only for top impact, like most climbing helmets, but also for side and rear impacts as well, making the Cirrus a viable option for ski-mountaineering (there is currently no rating system for ski-mountaineering helmets). Expedition mountaineers, riggers, and other users will appreciate the toughness of the Cirrus as well. When traveling for expeditions, I have often carried my lightweight helmets in my carry-on for fear of them getting crushed in the underbelly of the plane. No problem with the Cirrus. You can rest assured that your Cirrus will survive the three-day transport via mule to the Aconcagua basecamp.
The Trango Cirrus is a one-size-fits-most helmet. Adult-sized, smaller heads will be engulfed and larger heads with toques will be squeezed. The Cirrus weighs in at 365g (13oz) in comparison to Trango's lightest helmet—the Halo at 225g (8oz). Due to the extra weight, the Cirrus will not be my personal cragging hat of choice for reasons mentioned above. However, I am glad to have the Cirrus in my arsenal for guiding purposes and for those days when I take family and friends out. It will definitely be the helmet that rides in my pack as I skin up Colorado's backcountry pow, and on my head for the sick turns down. Should I be in the position of recommending a helmet to outdoor programs or guiding companies, I would not hesitate one bit to suggest Trango's Cirrus.
Mike Lewis safely rappels into the Zen Wall near St. George, Utah. [Photo] Catherine Houston
Mike Lewis is an IFMGA/AMGA guide living in Berthoud, Colorado. Mike has been guiding and instructing rock, ice, alpine, and skiing since 1993 throughout the US and internationally.
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