Which Helmet is Better? Kask Zenith vs Pfanner Protos
When you need a new climbing helmet, it's pretty natural to want the best. Your safety is on the line, right? Don't skimp on quality here! Perhaps you're award of the two most popular helmet choices: The Kask’s Zenith X and The Pfanner Protos. It really feels like climbers fall into either the Zenith or the Protos fanclub, but which one really is superior?
In this blog we will cover both pros and cons on these two specific helmets, so hopefully you can choose for yourself! Before diving into it, I want to clarify that I do own both sets of these helmets and have used them both repeatedly in my tree care career.
Helmet Classification Considerations
First things first, classifications. Not all helmets are equal, and your career may require a specific classification of helmet.
Anyone working in the line clearance industry, or "The Dark Side" as some may call it, needs to wear a helmet compliant to ANSI Z89.1 Class E standards. This automatically dismisses the Pfanner Protos when working near electrical conductors, as it is only a Class C rated helmet. The Protos helmet is vented for breathability, but vents are against ANSI code. So while tree care professionals can get away with them, line workers cannot. Luckily, the Kask Zenith helmet IS ANSI Z89.1 Type 1 Class E and works for those that fall under utility line clearance.
Design & Features - Zenith
Next up in the fight for the helmet throne: design features.
The Zenith is available in plenty of colors, including hi-visibility neons. It includes a foam padding to absorb the shock of any blows to the head. Plus the helmet is pretty damn comfortable to wear.
The downside of the foam is that it can get a bit warm in the summer depending on where you are located. It does however, have advanced composite fabric to help with moisture wicking though. Another premium feature: the LEATHER chin strap! Pretty fancy, right? Buckling the chin strap is just as easy as any other helmet with buckles.
The coolest feature of the Kask Zenith helmet is the Silver Mirrored Visor! This visor makes me feel like an astronaut hovering through space whenever I use it. It’s not too tinted, not too light, and it actually reflects people’s image back at them, so no awkward eye contact!
There is the downside to the Zenith: it does require adaptors if you plan on adapting a visor of any sort to the Zenith.
Recently the ratcheting system on the helmet has been updated to a larger size and the pivot system that adjusts to the back of your head. It is now WAY more comfortable! Overall this is a great helmet for tree work.
Design & Features - Protos
Now we can dive into the famed Protos by Pfanner.
This helmet comes with its own metal mesh visor that can be removed if not needed. The mesh provides great visibility and you forget its even there. I accidentally spat onto my own visor once because I forgot it was there next to my face! Gross!
Another really cool feature of this helmet is the earmuffs. They are built into it and tuck inside rather than outside. This feature makes them even greater when paired with a Sena Communications Unit.
The biggest downside to this helmet comes with the weight distribution. It is a bit heavy towards the back. I will say if you didn’t have a lot of neck muscle, this will definitely get you on the yoked status! In all honesty, it does take some time to get used to.
The Pfanner Protos is also modular with separate safety glasses that can attach directly to the helmet. They're well placed and don’t get in the way, and they come in hand for those days when you forgot your standard shades at home. The safety glasses can be tucked up towards the sweatband and stay out of the way when not needed.
Basic features of the helmet are similar to the Kask Zenith X, and include both shock-absorbing foam and a chin strap. The chin strap is magnetic which is rather unique and handy. Pfanner switched this up a little while ago. It takes some getting used to, but once you master it it's super easy to close!
In Conclusion, the Winner Is...
It's hard to imagine the benefits of a helmet just by reading about it, we get that. Personally, I like trying on any new climbing gear just like buying new clothes. So which helmet is better? While the Zenith has clear advantages in being ANSI/OSHA compliant, it doesn't offer any face protection. The Protos offers better face protection, but is a heavier helmet. I love both of these helmets and do use both. My Zenith is for when I’m out working for “The Dark Side” and the Protos is for my contract jobs that I know don’t involve powerlines. Whichever way you decide to go for lids, you’ll come out happy and winning!