This article is part of our Helmet Awareness Week, brought to you by Troxel.
You’ve chosen to use a helmet, but finding a helmet that fits and works for you, can be daunting. How do I know what size to get? What do the different price ranges mean? What styles and features are available for my discipline? Choosing a protective riding helmet isn’t as simple as it used to be, but that means that you, as the buyer, now have many more options.
We’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of tips from the top experts in helmets, such as Troxel and Julie Goodnight, to help you find one that works for you.
Find a helmet that is certified to meet safety standards.
- Check for certification: The very first thing to consider is that the helmet is certified by both the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and by the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI). Helmets that are ASTM-approved and SEI-certified have been manufactured to meet certain safety standards tailored for the horseback rider.
- Look for the label: Always look for the ASTM/SEI label when you helmet shop to be assured the helmet meets the highest safety and quality standards in the industry.
Size and Fit
Try out these tips to find a helmet that fits the shape of your head and is the correct size.
- Do your hair. Before you try on helmets for fit, wear your hair the way you will when you are riding. Your hairstyle will affect how the helmet sits on your head.
- Measure your head. Save time! Before you start grabbing helmets to try on, measure your head with a measuring tape to determine your hat size. Then look on the helmet packaging to see which size you need, based on your measurements.
- Find the right shape. Try on lots of helmets to see what feels right on your head. Look for a helmet whose basic design fits your particular head shape. This helmet will be more likely to stay put on your head in the event of a fall. Make sure the helmet feels snug on your head without too much pressure.
- Position it right. The helmet should sit straight on your head, covering your forehead. The brim should be two fingers’ width from your eyebrows.
- Adjust the chin strap. Adjust the strap so it’s snug, yet comfortable, under your chin. At the barn and in the saddle, always fasten the chin strap. An unsecured helmet won’t protect you, and if it’s knocked out of position as you fall, it can even be dangerous.
- Shake your head. Give your head a shake while you’re wearing the helmet. You don’t want it to move.
- Walk around. Walk around the store while wearing the helmet to see whether it’s comfortable as you move. Wear it as you do your other shopping. It shouldn’t give you a headache.
Pricing and Style
Helmets can vary widely in price, so it’s good to know what styles and features are important for you, your climate, and your type of riding.
- Price Difference: “All certified equestrian helmets go through the same certification process,” says Goodnight. “They all meet or exceed the requirements. A $39.95 helmet has the same safety value as a $400 helmet; it just doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. You’re paying for more style, comfort, and features.”
- Pay attention to material. Some helmets feature a shiny plastic finish, while others have leather or felt covers. The material you choose is a matter of aesthetics. Pick the one that best suits your riding style. Leather covers typically have a Western look, while plastic is sportier. English riders often choose helmets with felt covers.
- Consider climate: If you live in a warm weather area, you might want to pick a helmet that has more ventilation. In colder climates, a removable liner might be desirable to provide warmth.
- Colors: Troxel offers a Western line of helmets with available options in brown, black, and tan. The company also offers a variety of colors like pink, purple, green, and blue in their all-purpose helmets.
- Show pen choices: If you choose to use a helmet in the show pen, try out one of the western helmets from Troxel, opt for a leather covering, or choose a color that fits you.
- Customize it: If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, consider customizing a more basic helmet to add your own personal flair.
Even if you want to wear a helmet, you won’t wear one that is uncomfortable or ill-fitting. If your helmet pinches, gives you headaches, makes your head sweat, or is generally not fit for you, it will be hard to convince yourself to wear it. Use these tips when helmet shopping to find the right fit, and style that suits all your needs.