Bracket or straps?

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Bracket or straps?

Postby randojl » Jan 1, 2006 6:49 pm

I tried several helmets, including the venerable Ecrin Roc, before finally getting a good fit from a Kong Scarab. The Scarab's convoluted shape wouldn't work well with a light bracket, so I've been using the elastic straps. Over the holidays I tried on an Edelrid Ultralight. It fit really well and I bought it, planning to install a light bracket on its simple shape and use my Scarab for bicycling. THEN I begin reading on the 'net about how brackets and batteries that are hard-mounted compromise a helmet's protection during impact, from people who have strong opinions that strap-mounted lights are MUCH safer. On the other hand, a well-respected and articulate caving equipment vendor has opined that brackets work MUCH better for caving than straps, which in his view are only made for heads and not helmets. So, now I must decide whether to use the Ultralight with straps (for which it has retainers) or to drill and screw-mount a universal bracket and attach (bungee? strap?) the battery pack to the back.

Well, there we have it folks. Thanks in advance for your opinions, strong or otherwise! :argue:
Last edited by randojl on Jan 2, 2006 1:27 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 1, 2006 7:03 pm

I prefer strap mounted lights. Both mounting options have their benefits. For me, I like the flexibility of having the option to put the light on my head without a helmet.
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Re: Bracket or straps?

Postby mgmills » Jan 1, 2006 7:28 pm

randojl wrote: So, now I must decide whether to use the Ultralight with straps (for which it has retainers) or to drill and screw-mount a universal bracket and attach (bungee? strap?) the battery pack to the back.


I have the Ultralight and I put a bracket on it when I bought it a little over 3 years ago. I mounted a bracket on it as my primary light is an old wheat lamp and pretty much has to be used with a bracket. I drilled (actually melted) the holes with a soldering iron. I keep my light cord in place on the top of the helmet by using a small guage bungie cord run over the top of the helmet through the ventilation holes.

Sometimes on short trips I use a strap mounted light and the bracket doesn't get in my way.

Good luck with your new :helmet: :-)
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Postby caverdoc » Jan 1, 2006 9:05 pm

Use whatever works best for you. I have helmets set up both ways. At the moment my primary rig is a Stenlite mounted by bracket on a Petzl Ecrin Roc helmet. I have a lot of different helmets and some have good elastic retainers (the earlier Ecrin "bubble" comes to mind).

Regarding the issue of drilling holes in helmets and voiding warranties, cracking helmets, etc I believe the helmet will survive much greater force than the human anatomy inside. I base this on my observations during nearly thirty years of caving, ten years in the military (most as a paratrooper and a lot of time in "urban combat" scenarios, not to mention mountain warfare in Europe) and now seven years as a physician working primary care and emergency departments. I've also wrapped up my second year as a college football team physician and saw some pretty impressive trauma inflicted by helmets and shoulder pads. I've put quite a few folks into cervical collars over the years and seen some damage inflicted during falls onto military Kevlar helmets, the plastic Protec hockey/skateboard helmet (used in military special ops), the old steel pot military helmet, numerous fiberglas/polycarbonate/nylon climbing helmets and my favorite, the unhelmeted head. I've managed roadside trauma to motorcyclists whose idea of personal freedom did not include the notion of wearing a decent protective device for that most precious of organs, the brain. Drill away, use a soldering iron, whatever you want to do to your caving helmet. You face greater risk not seeing where you are stepping from a poorly lit path than from an imaginary rock or Hollywood swing while on rope. Those people who espouse the purported danger of adding holes to helmets might be better served by wearing a rigid cervical collar during their chosen sport.
Just my $0.02 worth.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 1, 2006 9:27 pm

When I said, "I like the flexibility of having the option to put the light on my head without a helmet.", I should have elaborated and said that I sometimes use my lights above ground, without the helmet. Another reason this flexibility is good is for a 'just-in-case'. Just-in-case your helmet is damaged or malfunctions so badly it's unwearable (unlikely) or you lose it (seen it happen twice, dropped down a crack), you can still keep your hands free with a strap mounted light.

I guess it's probably better to have your back-ups be strap mounted. Your primary light mounting preference is personal.
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Postby caverdoc » Jan 1, 2006 9:43 pm

I use the bracket-mounted Stenlight but have one of the new fancy Petzl Tikkas mounted as a backup. As if that's not enough, I have a Maglite mounted via shock cord through the conveniently placed ventilation holes. I like to have the detachability. Everybody I cave with kids me about losing my helmet (something I've never done caving, but come close a couple times parachuting...opening shock, ya know!) and all my lights. Then I have to show my LED mini light around my neck (on a thin cord joined at a small wire ring, so it will release under tension and not garrot me) and start pulling small backup lights out of the ol' cave pack.

On a more humorous note to my above post (which is actually sort of morbid) try this little experiment next time you get an old or retired helmet. Smash it repeatedly with a rock hammer or axe. Bet it takes quite a few whacks to damage it. I remember in 1980 trying this with one of those "glow in the dark" Fibremetal mining helmets (adopted for caving by sawing off the brim and hand-sewing a rigid three point chin strap) at the student "shop" at VPI. People thought I was crazy. I finally managed to punch a hole using a star drill. Ouch!

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Postby NZcaver » Jan 2, 2006 12:11 pm

caverdoc wrote:...try this little experiment next time you get an old or retired helmet. Smash it repeatedly with a rock hammer or axe. Bet it takes quite a few whacks to damage it...Dr J


caverdoc - I know just what you mean. I've frequently argued with people who say things like "No - you can't go drilling/screwing holes in your helmet! Do you have a death wish?" :roll:

Years ago when I was in the military, I was given the job of destroying a few construction-type hard hats that were being written off. We were swinging big sledgehammers at them, and they were just bouncing off. You could see some discoloration in the plastic caused by the stress of the impacts, but they did not break or noticeably deform. Eventually we gave up, and just threw them away...

I used a similar type of helmet for caving, back when I started out. One time it was dropped on the ground, and I drove over it in my 4 wheel drive. Again there was visible discoloration, but it was not really deformed. I did retire it, though. :wink:

After years of messing around with elastic headbands and zip ties, my main headlamp and it's battery pack are now both firmly screwed onto my helmet. My primary backup is fixed on with a small bolt, which is easily removable. If I want to use a headlamp without wearing a helmet, I have many others to choose from. And if I really need to wear a helmet without a headlamp, I have more of those too. :cool:
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Postby randojl » Jan 2, 2006 2:03 pm

caverdoc wrote:... Those people who espouse the purported danger of adding holes to helmets...

Thanks for these insightful opinions, Dr. J. You certainly have a lot of helmet-related experiences! I'd like to get one point clarified: the helmet-drilling-naysayers seem to feel that having rigidly-attached protrusions on a helmet will serve to concentrate point loads during impact. I think this is the main thrust of their concern, rather than the drilled holes themselves, and I guess it could cause stress concentrations beyond those of a CE or UIAA test of an unadorned model.

Based on your answer I'm assuming you would still believe a helmet to be much more durable than is necessary even with rigidly-mounted protrusions -- am I assuming correctly?
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Postby caverdoc » Jan 2, 2006 2:38 pm

Based on your answer I'm assuming you would still believe a helmet to be much more durable than is necessary even with rigidly-mounted protrusions -- am I assuming correctly?


Yes, I do indeed believe that helmets are much more durable than necesary, even with rigidly mounted protrusions. The shell is what we're talking about in terms of durability. Now the SUSPENSION is another beast entirely. I understand that the military has recently gone to foam padding inside the ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet), using velcro to attach it to the shell. This is quite a contrast from the older nylon webbing and cord suspensions, and quite a bit hotter. The foam deforms under impact.
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Postby cob » Jan 2, 2006 6:07 pm

Being almost exclusively carbide (my back-ups are electric) there is no way to mount carbide brackets without drilling. When it comes to "concentrating point loads during impact"... I say gimme a break. I rather suspect the cervical damage during such an event far outweighs other concerns. I think the main thing to look for, is a helmet with a proper suspension system.

On a side note, a few months ago a guy I work with took a 12 ft fall down a stair well and cracked his head open on the concrte floor. He started the fall with his hard hat... he ended it without. No chin straps on hard hats. The hard hats we wear are stamped, dated and required by OSHA. If I came in with a caving helmet, my boss would get fined.

4 mos later my buddy still has horrendous headaches, short term memory difficulties and dizzy spells... We wonder if he will ever be the same.


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Postby NZcaver » Jan 2, 2006 11:53 pm

cob wrote:...No chin straps on hard hats. The hard hats we wear are stamped, dated and required by OSHA. If I came in with a caving helmet, my boss would get fined...


Yep, OSHA is a strange beast. Standard hard hats can withstand some enormous blow from above, but that doesn't help you when it falls off! I believe manufacturers make elastic chin straps for most hard hats, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone wearing them on building sites. Mustn't be "cool" :cool:

But I sure hope the inspectors catch up with all the idiots that think they look cool, wearing their hard hats backwards... :roll:
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Postby speloman » Jan 3, 2006 1:03 am

The Reason why most people wear there hard hat backwards is for welding helmets and other type of protection. I am a miner and I do some welding it is impossable to put a welding helmet on a hard hat facing forward because the bill gets in the way. I can't stand wearing it backwards so if I am not welding I have another hard hat facing the right way. I thought people did it to be "cool" too but when I tried it I now know why and this is Ok with the MSHA inspectors. But I do think people do it to be cool though is some instances. Most people don't wear chin straps and OSHA and MSHA don't require them (as to my current knowledge). I am on the mine rescue team and I have a Petzl Ecrin roc when I do rope rescue and training. Though it is not required, but I ;like it better.
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Postby NZcaver » Jan 3, 2006 10:18 am

speloman wrote:The Reason why most people wear there hard hat backwards is for welding helmets and other type of protection...


Actually, that reason does make sense. But don't they also make specific welding helmets with a face shield and no bill?

The many instances I've seen of backwards-hard-hat-wearing haven't involved any welding. They were just regular guys working in commercial construction - like electricians, plumbers, painters, etc. I know the elastic chin straps aren't required by OSHA, and aren't commonly used. They're certainly no match for the chin strap system on a regular climbing/caving helmet. I was just suggesting they might be an option to help avoid unfortunate incidents like the one mentioned by cob.

I guess all this is a bit off topic, anyway. :off topic: ...sorry...
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Postby erebus » Jan 3, 2006 3:34 pm

The welding "helmets" are not for head protection so much as for protection from the arc or flame, if I'm not mistaken.

Also, I am under the impression that some construction workers wear their hardhats backwards so their vision upwards is less occluded. Same reason that caverdoc sawed the brim off his, actually. Think about it - if there are guys working above you, you'd like every chance to see what's coming down before it gets to you, wouldn't you?
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Postby speloman » Jan 3, 2006 4:22 pm

NZcaver"But don't they also make specific welding helmets with a face shield and no bill?"

I haven't seen one like that I know they make one that is easier to put a strap with the welding hood over it, or special mounting brackes.

This is what I am talking about this is off a website that sells safety equip.

Image

It is possible that those electricians, plumbers, painters, etc are trying to have a fashion statement. None of these guys wear their hard hats backwards where I work. I can't stand wearing mine backwards. I like that little bill protecting from splash from above so it don't get behind my glasses etc.

erebus "The welding "helmets" are not for head protection so much as for protection from the arc or flame, if I'm not mistaken."

This is correct but where I work and I am sure many other places require a hard hat at all times while on site even when welding thats why they make welding sheilds that attach to hard hats.
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