View Full Version : Helmet Makes and Models

Mar. 7, 2010, 09:37 AM
OK, now that everyone is talking about the need to wear a helmet, can we discuss different styles, certifications, pricing, etc.?

I have been using a Tipperary Sportage for quite a few years, but I have dropped it a few times and am starting to think I should probably replace it. I don't show, so don't need a "fancy" helmet, but I do want something well made and with a good reputation.

A lot of folks seem to like the Charles Owen helmets, but from the photos, they don't appear to have air vents. If this is correct, the COs are probably not a good choice for riders in the hot, humid south.

Does anyone have the IRH Elite Extreme? Dover lists it for $169.90.

What about the GPA SpeedAir? It is incredibly expensive (Dover has it listed for $549.90), but that is cheaper than one day in an ICU.

Is it a fair assumption that the higher priced models are "safer" due to better construction? Also, I am gathering that ASTM F-1163-04a/SEI is the highest level of safety certification for riding helmets. Is this correct?

Mar. 7, 2010, 09:43 AM
The speed air is discontinued and is being replaced by the evolution. The evolution will be available in a month or so (I just ordered one). They are EXPENSIVE, but they look like the most ventilation and the liner is removable washable and replaceable and at least after spending that much I'll be wearig it

Mar. 7, 2010, 11:14 AM
You are correct re: the certification. Expensive helmets are not safer. They are all tested to the same standard. A few private groups have made attempts to compare them, and results have not been correlated to price. I believe they are all too old to have tested the most current models, but I remember the $30 plastic Troxel doing very well in one.

The most important thing is that your helmet fits well, without any extra padding shoved in, and its comfortable enough that you put it on every time.

I ride in a Tipperary 8500 most of the time, but also have a GPA Speed Air and a Charles Owen JR8 (for show). I'm considering a Charles Owen Hampton for showing this year.

Mar. 7, 2010, 01:22 PM
...but thought I should spread the message about this awesome super lightweight good-looking helmet:

I ride in a Uvex Uvision helmet which I love. I do endurance so it's on my head for a long long time and I don't even notice it (unless the occasional branch scratches it )

People ask me about it all the time. It is super lightweight with excellent ventilation (for all the people on other threads who say they can't possibly wear helmets because it's too hot where they live and they have to ride too many horses a day...) and you can take out the little forehead cushion and wash it. It comes with dial system and fits me really well.

I got mine in Germany for 99 Euros and am not sure if they have an American distributor yet. Uvex is known for their line of wintersport and bike helmets and obviously all products are tested and comply with European standards.

Mar. 7, 2010, 01:25 PM
They're cool looking, but may not be available here if they're not ASTM certified...

Mar. 8, 2010, 06:18 AM
The speed air is discontinued and is being replaced by the evolution. The evolution will be available in a month or so (I just ordered one). They are EXPENSIVE, but they look like the most ventilation and the liner is removable washable and replaceable and at least after spending that much I'll be wearig it

Interesting - I have seen the Evolution advertised as the "GPA Speed Air Evolution".

I guess my head is worth $550, but I am not sure I understand why the SpeedAir/Evolution models are SO much more expensive than other models. Are they made out of moon rocks? :lol:

Mar. 8, 2010, 06:35 AM
I have the IRH elite, and love it - very comfortable (but may not be if you don't have the correct head shape; my daughter does NOT love it - she loves her troxel). She has the Troxel Legacy and loves it, while I hate that one. I also have the CO JR8 for showing and LOVE it, but you're right, it's not vented and that sucker can get hot. It's not as hot as you'd think, but in the middle of summer I can't wear it.

Edit: Oh, and I got my daughter the Troxel because it fits her the best, and it has a very good safety rating. Even though I hate the "speed dial" thing, if it fits correctly, it's safer. I like the Tipperary myself, and I think I'm going to get her one of those for schooling. I like having multiple helmets myself, and want to encourage her to have that as well.

Mar. 8, 2010, 06:42 AM
Interesting - I have seen the Evolution advertised as the "GPA Speed Air Evolution".

I guess my head is worth $550, but I am not sure I understand why the SpeedAir/Evolution models are SO much more expensive than other models. Are they made out of moon rocks? :lol:

Yea, same helemt. They are advertised and featured in the Dover catalogue, but not yet actually available.

If I have heard this correctly, when the GPA's first came out, they were expensive as they had some new -technology, manufacturing technics and/or materials. They then caught on and are now probably expensive because people like me will buy them

Mar. 8, 2010, 03:42 PM
I know I'm a bit behind the power curve in replying here, but I am in Colorado so it gets somewhat toasty here but isn't crazy hot and humid, so a temperature reference.

I have ridden in a lot of helmets as I jump in addition to dressage so I relatively religiously replace my helmet every two to three years. I am not a fan of any helmet with dial fit. The reson why is every helmet I have used or seen with dial fit, even if carefully handled, the dial or the plastic holding the dial in, will give out. It is unfortunate as they are great helmets otherwise. That being said, for kids or riders who may not eb jumping or doing intense stuff I feel they are good as long as you watch that part for issues but really keeping a close eye on your helmet is a good idea anyway I suppose.

Personally, I love my Charles Owen GR8. It may not be vented per se, but it has a coolmax lining and I really do forget I am even wearing it. It is the most comfortable helmet I have ever had.

I highly suggest trying on a bunch of different helmets at a tack store though and seeing what fits your head best though as head shape determines very much which helmets will fit you best. I literally felt like I was wearing abrick when I tried on a few GPAs- they were entirely the wrong shape for my head. I wished very much they would fit, since I like them very much, but they don't fit. So... I guess my .02 is see what fits you and go with that :)

Mar. 8, 2010, 03:45 PM
My Troxel fits me, I wear it. I don't show so I don't need a helmet that announces how much money I can drop on a helmet. :D My criteria are ASTM certification and fit, in that order.

Mar. 8, 2010, 03:54 PM
I have the IRH Elite and I do like it. I bought it because in Texas the air vents are much better for summer riding! I did prefer the Charles Owen Ayr8 - it had more padding inside and was comfier. I loved my older Charles Owen without vents, but it got too hot in the summer.

The IRH is comfy and i Have been pleased with how much cooler it is in the summer. The plasticy cover cleans off easily, but I was very disappointed a few weeks ago when I dropped my helmet on the ground - not cement, the ground - and the visor cracked. The visor is not a safety issue, so I am not returning the helmet. But it is really annoying that something would crack so easily.

Perfect Pony
Mar. 8, 2010, 04:07 PM
I was literally tossed through the air, my feet above my horse's back, and landed right on my shoulder and side/back of my head. I guess I hit the ground so hard people could hear it loudly standing on the other side of the barn.

I was wearing a Tipperary helmet. I blacked out for a second and saw stars, but stood right up and had a very mild concussion.

I always ride in a Tipperary every day, and because of the price I replace my helmet every year. I think that is way better protection than buying an expensive helmet (that doesn't protect any better) and wearing it for years and years...

Mar. 8, 2010, 04:19 PM
I wear an IRH helmet--it's very comfortable, but a pain in the butt to clean and it drives me insane that it doesn't have a ponytail port. In the summer I can deal with this, but in the winter, when I have extra stuff, like ear coverings, the dang helmet slips over my eyes in front.

You'd think, with the majority of riders being women, they could put in a ponytail port--just a little hole in the back!! I must say it's the most comfortable helmet I've ever worn though.

Mar. 8, 2010, 09:10 PM
I have a Charles Owen AYR8 and it has air vents all up the front. You can see them in this photo: http://www.crowstonstack.co.uk/active_images/Catalogue/Charles-Owen-Ayr8.jpg

The one in the photo is the black/silver model. Mine is black/black so the vents aren't as obvious.

Mar. 8, 2010, 09:21 PM
I have the IRH Extreme (not Elite, IIRC). It is comfortable, fits my oval head well and feels secure. It feels more secure on my head than the older Tipperary did (the older ones didn't come down as far in back), but less vented.

You can get GPA's from non-US companies and they will be less expensive, tho not officially approved in the US. AmiraUK is one example.

There is a Charles owen that is similar to the AYR8, but with the harness made from a different material. It has a J in its name and is less expensive. A barn mate has both this one for schooling and the AYR8 for shows and says they are the same.

It is very helpful to go to a tack store and actually try on a few to figure out what types and brands fit better. Some people have round-ish head, while other heads are more oval. A GPA on my oval head made it feel like there was a vice grip on my forehead. If large enuf to avoid that I literally had gaps along the sides.

Mar. 8, 2010, 09:27 PM
I have a CO Hampton, and I really like it. It fits well, and I don't notice it getting that hot in the summer.


Mar. 9, 2010, 01:00 AM
The speed air is discontinued and is being replaced by the evolution. The evolution will be available in a month or so (I just ordered one). They are EXPENSIVE, but they look like the most ventilation and the liner is removable washable and replaceable and at least after spending that much I'll be wearig it

love that logic- I have also now embarked on the helmet life and acquired a nice - well fitting type - that looks halfway ok and feels like it's not injuring my brain just for wearing it but also stays on in the rather rambunctious canter of my horse...I'd love to have a more ventilated style though for summer- as our summers get very hot and I am not inclined to abandon the 'helmet' life....I am gonna be good !!! (feels like I am on a diet...but necessary!!)

Mar. 9, 2010, 07:39 AM
Honestly, I didn't start riding with a helmet until my barn owner decided to start enforcing her helmet rule, but I think I will continue to wear a helmet even after I leave this barn. Anyway, I have an IRH Windsor that I used to be my show helmet until now. It is practically identical to the CO Hampton, but only $99. It is low profile and very classy looking. Even though it is velvet, I think it is pretty cool during the summer. Not to mention it was was of the only helmets that would fit my monsterous head.

Mar. 9, 2010, 08:03 AM
I've had so many different,expensive helmets....just sold my GR8.I keep coming back to the Tipperary.It's the only helmet that comes low on the back of my head and protects the occipital bones,It's very comfy and cool.I feel totaly comfy and protected in it.It's not a show helmet as far as looks.

Mar. 9, 2010, 08:26 AM
I just bought a Charles Owen Wellington Classic. I can't afford one for schooling and one for competition so I bought this one. It is low profile and velvet. A truly beautiful helmet. My young horse is 3 this year and I wanted something that was attractive enough to wear in recognized competitions (maybe later this year, if she steers well enough at that point to stay in the arena :)). It is so comfortable that I have my horse untacked after a ride and still have it on because I forgot I was still wearing it. Love it! It was pricey ($239.00), but came with a really nice hat case. I was never comfortable in my Troxel. Just my personal preference.

Mar. 9, 2010, 09:05 AM
As others have said, the most important thing is really to go to a tack shop and try helmets on. Every brand, every model, fits your head a little differently. Charles Owens give me instant headaches, GPAs roll side to side, and the Troxels make my head feel like it weighs sixty pounds. I must have tried on 20 different helmets and when I put on the IRH, it just clicked.

Most tack stores will also have someone who knows about proper helmet fit, and who will be happy to get sizes and models for you from the back until you get just the right one. Good fit makes the difference between comfort and awkwardness, and it also means you'll be safer if you fall, because the helmet will shift less and be in the right place to protect you.

Mar. 9, 2010, 09:14 AM
I just got the IRH Elite last fall, and it's by far the most comfortable helmet I've worn. Most of the time I don't even notice that I have it on. I haven't had experienced our Texas summers with it yet, but I've heard it stays nice and cool! I got the oval shape and was amazed by the difference in fit and comfort.

Mar. 9, 2010, 09:14 AM
No -- a higher price does NOT mean safer. A $40 Troxel passed the same safety tests as a ridiculous $600 Whatever.

You should buy what fits your head and what YOU feel comfortable with. Try things on because there are different head shapes out there and different brands of helmets can fit you differently. I love my Tipperary and have a moral objection to paying an extra $500 for nothing, so it's a perfect fit for me. For you -- only you can try out and figure out what works for you.

Mar. 9, 2010, 09:33 AM
Some of the pricier helmets are actually approved in Europe and the US so have undergone more and different tests. I still think the astm/sei approved helmets are extremely safe, but since I do jump sometimes I went for one that I knew met both the US and European standards since I felt that was a greater assurance of safety. Just a thought.

Mar. 9, 2010, 09:45 AM
I use a troxel for at home riding.

On all helmets, no matter the original price, they should be replaced every 5 years or after a hard knock. Plastics degrade with time.

Plastics also degrade in sunlight so do not store your helmet in your car back seat nor on a window ledge

Mar. 9, 2010, 09:53 AM
Excellent point hoopoe.

Usually the manufacturer includes how long the helmet should last under normal use. A helmet being used frequently actually needs to be replaced closer to every two years due to things like changes in temperature and moisture causing it to degrade. Even if it looks fine I like to think of it as a cheap insurance policy :)

If you have a fall where your head (and helmet) hit the ground at all its a good idea to replace it even if it looks fine. Often there can be damage tot he helmet that can't be seen. Some companies will check the helmet for you after a fall, but given that requires mailing it in I usually just replace it because its faster and I have little patience :lol:

Mar. 9, 2010, 10:18 AM
Just a FYI. Many manufacturers will replace the helmet for you for free after a fall, if you retain the original receipt that is.

Mar. 9, 2010, 11:05 AM
I'm on my second Troxel Grand Prix- replaced the last one after about 5 or 6 years of having it. Had my first fall in ages, and don't even think I hit my head, but figured it was time anyway. I keep a helmet cover on it like eventers wear to keep it clean, and ride in CO - I'm used to wearing black helmets in summer, though I do wish they would offer this helmet with some screened vents just so I could try it. I hate the dial fit system, and this one doesn't have it. It's good looking (I get compliments on it and wear it at shows), inexpensive (they run about $90) and it's comfortable.

Mar. 9, 2010, 12:04 PM
I have a Tipperary and and IRH Extreme Elite. I love both. I bought the IRH to replace my old velvet show helmet but have found myself reaching for it a bit more often than the Tip. Both have great vent-age, but the IRH seems more substantial on my head and therefore makes me feel safer.

Mar. 9, 2010, 01:47 PM
Troxel makes this: http://www.troxelhelmets.com/products/features.php?ProductID=32 seems like it would be easy enough for them to make one that is more "dressagy"

Hampton Bay
Mar. 9, 2010, 04:18 PM
I have the new IRH ATH SSV, and I LOVE it. It's very lightweight, vented very well, and it doesn't slip down over my eyes. It's also available in numerical sizes, which I believe is important to get the perfect fit. They have it in long oval and in the standard round shape. You can find them online for under $150, but I bought mine from a local tack shop that was willing to order it for me to try on.

I have been wearing a helmet ever since I had a bad fall 4 years ago. I was wearing a CO skull cap, and the doctors have said it saved my life. Things are still not right, I've had a headache for 4 years, and I have seizures, as well as some more mild cognitive issues, but I am feeding myself and wiping my own hiney. I wear a helmet every single time I ride, without exception.

There are so many models, and the ventilation has improved by leaps and bounds, that there truly is a helmet that will fit every head and still be comfortable.

Mar. 9, 2010, 04:33 PM
Well, I just ordered an Evolution, hopefully this will make me wear a helmet 100% of the time, it gets hot in Houston and I have been very lucky with my injuries.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Mar. 9, 2010, 06:55 PM
I have always worn Troxels as they fit me so well...until the one I just recently ordered, which would fit someone about 6-8 years of age...I am hoping this was just a glitch on Troxel's part or I will be looking for a dfferent helmet form a different manufacturer.

Mar. 10, 2010, 10:33 AM
I wear a Troxel schooling cheapie for everyday schooling and hacks. Believe it or not this helmet fits me the best of ANY thing out there. I HATE dial systems and refuse to buy them so this is one of my only options if I want to stick with Troxel. It's a shame because I had a very comfy, well fitting Troxel from their trail line prior to this one and I loved it, but they "upgraded" it to a dial system so so much for that! So I went back to my old standby - their $30 schooling.

Unfortunately, when wearing sunglasses and during trail rides of 20 miles or more, the tops of my ears started to rub against the helmet, so I picked up the new, redesigned Tipperary for my endurance helmet. I like it OK. It's hotter and heavier than the troxel, but well designed. Sometimes I'll wear the troxel schooling during the day (for a 100 miler) and then switch to the tipperary in the evening as it gets cooler.

Still haven't found a dressage style helmet I like so I've been using the troxel schooling for schooling and putting a black cover on it for shows (I know - kinda tacky....).

Mar. 10, 2010, 10:43 AM
regarding helmet replacement - be aware that how you use a helmet affects the replacement rate.

For example - I do endurance. Sunlight breaks down plastic MUCH faster than if you just ride in the evenings or in a covered arena. There is NO way I would EVER get 5 years out of a helmet I use in dressage.

My compromise is to have several helmets - one endurance helmet that is more expensive that I use for long conditioning rides and actual endurance races, and one cheapie schooling helmet for every day use.

This way, I can replace the cheapie helmet ($30) more often as it gets the brunt of the wear (sun) and get as many years as I can (3-4) out of the endurance helmet that is more expensive BUT doesn't rub the top of my ears during long rides.......

I don't think I've EVER hit my head during a fall, but one thing I keep in mind is that my helmets see a LOT of brush and tree branches. The nature of the country I ride in and the speed at which I travel.....those kind of hits do add up on a helmet.

So in addition to age and falls, consider - sunlight exposure, other type of wear like tree branches.

One thing I look for is any changes in color to the plastic (which is why I buy light colored helmets when possible) which can happen during sun damage, or micro cracks in the plastic covereing from hitting stuff. If I see any of these changes, I replace the helmet.

Mar. 10, 2010, 11:27 AM

I have the same problem with the troxel Dakota rubbing my ears. Mine has a large visor, which I love. It has the pinch system instead of the dial.

Like you, I ride trails with branches. Does the Tipparary rub, too? Does it allow glare? Has anyone found a way to add a visor? Is it a more oval shape?