by Mick Ryan – UKClimbing.com click to enlarge It was only a decade or so ago when you hardly saw anyone wearing a helmet, especially at single-pitch crags. New lightweight sporty designs influenced by cycle helmets changed all that.Go to most crags these days, even sport climbing venues and you will see many, if not most climbers wearing a helmet.This is reflected with a whole array of choices when you go to your climbing shop. Petzl, C.A.M.P, Edelrid, Black Diamond, Grivel, and DMM all have various helmets for you to have a look at: lightweight cragging expanded plastic foam (EPS) bicycle type lids, the more robust Shell/Cradle type and the hybrid Shell/Foam helmets (read the UKC Article – Helmets – Everything you need to know!). The UK company, Wild Country Limited, have now joined the club with two new helmets and one, the Alpine Shield, was rated highly in a design and innovation competition at the recent Friedrichshafen OutDoor Show. First off is the 360 helmet, a polycarbonate shell with an closed cell foam (EPS) liner. It´s an attractive lightweight helmet with high top impact and side impact resistance. The real innovation is however, the Alpine Shield. This is a modular helmet, the first of its kind, that is suitable for cragging to Scottish winter and anything you can throw at it, or drop on it. Why is it special? Designed by Neil Preston and Kevin Brown of Wild Country this is again a EPS/polycarbonate helmet, lightweight and strong enough for crag use but it has a removable polycarbonate cover. If you need extra protection in a winter or alpine environment you simply pop the clear polycarbonate shield onto the crown of the helmet and get 30% enhanced stonefall protection; it attaches by a simple coin-slot attachment system. Then remove the shield when you are normal cragging. One helmet to do it all. It was deemed that innovative it made the short list in the OutDoor INDUSTRY AWARDS 2008 at Friedrichshafen, an award for “innovative product developments that proved surprising.” Although the Wild Country Alpine Shield didn´t make the roster for the gold and silver awards it did make the short list of 27 products cited for exceptional design and innovation out of 196 entries. Both helmets pass the CEN and UIAA standard and are 3 Sigma rated. Available early 2009, the Alpine Shield shall retail at £60.00 and the 360 for £40.00. More details at this UKClimbing.com Gear Product News: Wild Country Helmets: The 360 and the Alpine Shield Last years winner of the OutDoor INDUSTRY AWARDS 2008 was a helmet, the Edelrid Madillo foldable helmet. Where next for helmets? Will anyone consider a helmet for boulderers perhaps designed to look like a beanie!