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View Full Version : Buying a new helmet, does more money = safer?



KBC
Aug. 25, 2013, 01:49 AM
Having trashed my last helmet in a fall, my head is fine, other parts of body not so good, THANK GOODNESS I was wearing it, I need to buy another. I know I want another IRH, love the way they fit me, but I'm dithering about which one, and wondering if you get what you pay for in terms of safety?

I saw this one first and went "OOh purty" http://www.doversaddlery.com/irh%C2%...et/p/X1-36288/ but the price made we wince a bit, even though my head is worth it.

Then I saw this one http://www.sstack.com/product/irh-all-terrain-helmets/ I like it, like the price, but don't want to save money at the expense of my head!

So are you paying extra for safety, or for looks?

Lilypad
Aug. 25, 2013, 02:12 AM
No, more money does not = safer. They all pass the same safety regulations/tests.

More money pays for looks, ventilation, brand names, etc.

RubyTuesday
Aug. 25, 2013, 02:16 AM
No, more money does not = safer. They all pass the same safety regulations/tests.

More money pays for looks, ventilation, brand names, etc.

And don't forget "feel". I am personally uncomfortable in any helmet that makes my head feel like it's in a beer cooler. A nice lining is, well, nice.

PNWjumper
Aug. 25, 2013, 02:18 AM
Agree. Money pays for looks (and brand names).

I have a Samshield I love, but just ordered my daughter an Ovation. I like it so much that I just ordered myself one to use as a schooling helmet. Amazing how little difference there really is between a $600 helmet and a $70 one!

PletchersMom
Aug. 25, 2013, 11:43 AM
Charles Owen is a little expensive but they will give you a % off new one if you break yours. It goes by when you purchase it. To me, well worth it, since I have used their service twice now.

McGurk
Aug. 25, 2013, 12:11 PM
When I decided to upgrade from my bottom of line, $30 Troxel, I went to a large tack shop with a lot of helmets in stock, and tried on every model in the store. I ended up with an IRH elite that I *lurve*- fits beautifully, comfy and cool. It was ~ $170.00. After my conferring with tack shop ladies, I verified that all the helmets met the same safety standard, and that the difference was what was trendy in the show ring, personal preference and fit. Since I no longer show, all I cared about was comfort and fit.

joiedevie99
Aug. 25, 2013, 12:14 PM
The best helmet is the one that fits you, and that you can afford to replace the first time you fall/drop it/leave it in a hot car all day.

If you prefer the style/fit/color/decorations on a more expensive helmet, by all means go for it, but its not more safe. If you delay in replacing it after a fall because of the money, then the more expensive helmet is actually less safe.

Toadie's mom
Aug. 25, 2013, 12:32 PM
The best helmet is the one that fits you,

To me this is the most important element. Even within the same brand, the different models fit differently. I've had a Charles Owen skull cap for years, but just tried on their AYR8 and it fits a lot better. Of course it's almost twice the price :(

KBC
Aug. 25, 2013, 01:13 PM
If you prefer the style/fit/color/decorations on a more expensive helmet, by all means go for it, but its not more safe. If you delay in replacing it after a fall because of the money, then the more expensive helmet is actually less safe.

NEVER, getting on a horse without one, so will have it bought and ready before I even try and get on a horse again.

stolen virtue
Aug. 25, 2013, 01:18 PM
I bought the Charles Owen Junior R8 for $150.00 it is wonderful. I could not see any difference in the $350.00 Charles Owens in terms of safety.

piaffequeen
Aug. 25, 2013, 01:21 PM
I love my Charles Owen helmet. I have a friend who is a 4****level eventer and has competed internationally and she will never put anything but a Charles Owens on her head. It has saved her from having serious head injuries from 2 falls.

Superminion
Aug. 25, 2013, 01:31 PM
I have a Tipperary Sportage that I LOVE in the summer time, and for schooling. It was about $70 and fits my head like a glove. I like how it doesn't give me that 'mushroom headed' look, since I have a peanut head. It's bright blue, so that's fun too. :)

I also have a CO JR8 that I love just as much, but it's not quite as cool in the summer. It was supposed to be my show helmet, but since it's so comfy I usually switch back and for between the two. If I'm teaching or sitting on a client horse, I like the more professional look of the CO, since it's all black and a CO. I can also fit my hair up under it a little bit neater, because of the way the back is cut. It was around $180.

I have fallen off in both, still feel the same amount of security, and my head came out unscathed.

That being said, when we were fitting my husband for a helmet, his favorite was the $30 Troxel, and he tried on even the really high end ones. It's all
about fit and preferences. The woman at the tack store said that they ALL have to meet the same guidelines, and when push comes to shove it's all about the look/brand when you start talking about the reason behind the price differences.

I will never buy a helmet without trying it on first, regardless of price, unless it's an exact replacement of one that I've managed to destroy.

Jingles that you get to feeling better soon!

paulaedwina
Aug. 25, 2013, 01:33 PM
Money doesn't buy safety. I have a Charles Owens, not because I wanted to spend $300 on a helmet, but because it fit my head (I have a big, apparently oval head and lots of hair).

Paula

KBC
Aug. 25, 2013, 02:50 PM
I have had two different styles of IRH so far, and loved them both, so I'm happy to try another. I really really loved the look of the Troxel helmets but they are so uncomfortable to wear!

SAcres
Aug. 25, 2013, 03:31 PM
My favorite helmet is a $60 Tipperary helmet. Fits my head really well, I can wear it all day. :)

walktrot
Aug. 28, 2013, 01:45 PM
Check with IRH. Many years ago, when I didn't have a seat to go with my horse's spookiness, I had to replace 2 of them. I called them and they advised to send the helmet with a check for $25, I received a new helmet, along with an "Autopsy" on the damaged ones. Both had significant internal damage that definitely was not visible, and one had a cracked liner.

I'm now a big fan of the Tipperary Sportage. They have a couple of new styles out, but they are too expensive for me. All helmets do have to pass the same standards regardless of price, and I doubt any manufacturer would stick their neck out and claim that their helmet exceeded the standards.

danceronice
Aug. 28, 2013, 01:50 PM
Money pays for looks. The only thing that matters is does it fit your head-the $40 Troxel that fits correctly will protect your head better than a $500 GPA that doesn't. I like Troxel and certain styles fit me (I have the Sierra right now). My brother USED to school in a Troxel Sport, but (no matter what they say) they changed the fit and none of their styles fit him any more. He found an IRH that fit comfortably and bought that. Fit, fit, fit.

2DogsFarm
Aug. 28, 2013, 01:57 PM
IMHO anyone who spends $500+ for a helmet needs to have their head examined without having a fall riding.

I had a Lexington Lidlocker that replaced my ancient velvet huntcap - it hurt to wear and was sweaty in Summer.
I finally replaced it with a $70 Troxel.
If I ever need to replace that you can bet I won't be spending much more!

Guilherme
Aug. 28, 2013, 02:17 PM
No, more money does not = safer. They all pass the same safety regulations/tests.

More money pays for looks, ventilation, brand names, etc.

Price, by itself is no guarantee of quality in anything.

A good helmet will be well designed and well constructed of quality materials. Good design and construction costs money. Better design and construction costs more money. Etc., etc., etc.

As to certification, that means the helmet is, at a minimum, a "D" level product. It passes. Is that enough? The answer to that is a personal decision.

Of course the best made helmet in the world is of no use if it doesn't fit or is so ugly that nobody wears it. But these are very personal points, also.

So, cost alone is not a yardstick. Quality is. Good quality will often cost more than lesser quality.

Simple, yes? :)

G.

FLeventer
Aug. 28, 2013, 10:24 PM
Personally I am all for fit and comfort. My ovation schooler and my CO J3 fit my head like a charm and neither are super expensive. My GPA speed air gave me the worst headaches of my life.

WNT
Aug. 28, 2013, 10:49 PM
The safest helmet is the one you wear. I got that lesson straight from the president of Charles Owen, and it sticks with me every helmet I fit for a customer. If it doesn't fit, you don't want to wear it.

Charles Owen and most IRH helmets fit my head, IRH fits my budget. I am interested in the Ovation models, and may consider one if my IRH ATH-SSV (how many abbreviations for one name!) meets an untimely demise. I will never go back to an unventilated helmet. Ain't no one got time for that!

I had a Tipperary years ago, and while I loved the ventilation I missed having a brim to keep the sun out of my eyes. Great in every other sense.

CatPS
Aug. 28, 2013, 11:17 PM
The safest helmet is the one you wear.

Great point. Sure the $30 Troxel meets the same standards and all, but if you won't put it on because it looks stupid, then you'd do better to spring for a more expensive helmet that you will be happy to plonk on your head every time you get the chance.

My one caveat to the whole 'higher price doesn't equal increased safety' thing is, better fit DOES equal increased safety, and I've seen some of the cheapo helmets that never seem to fit anyone very well. Doesn't do you any good if it doesn't stay where it belongs in a fall.

paulaedwina
Aug. 29, 2013, 12:58 AM
Better fit is why I ended up shelling out so much for the CO. It fit my head better and I could actually get one in my size. If it had been for $500 I wouldn't have had much of a choice would I?

Paula

ponysize
Aug. 29, 2013, 01:14 AM
Just because they all pass the same tests/standards, doesn't mean they did so equally. You can't convince me that a cheap Troxel plastic helmet is as safe as a Charles Owen. I won't put another one on my head. Both falls in a Troxel helmet, and not even hard falls, resulted in concussions.

I currently have a CO skull cap. I don't event, but it fits my small, round head better than any helmet I've ever had. Since I'm not showing right now, I went with it. LOVE that helmet.

Texarkana
Aug. 29, 2013, 08:12 AM
Along the lines of this thread... I was looking at the new Dover catalog the other night. I was checking out the ridiculously expensive GPAs and the photos of Grand Prix riders endorsing them.

Don't you think it's kind of ironic that Grand Prix riders wear $500-600 helmets at a show, yet many school sans helmet at home?

I'm not a helmet extremist or anything, I just think it proves the point that the exorbitant prices don't have anything to do with safety. Those $500 helmets are nothing more than brand recognition and a status symbol.

Trakehner
Aug. 29, 2013, 10:16 AM
I love my GPA Air something or other helmet...comfortable, cool, light and it fits well. Expensive? Yep, but it makes me want to wear it since it fits so well.

paulaedwina
Aug. 29, 2013, 10:20 AM
My CO cost me $300, but it fits.

Paula

MistyBlue
Aug. 29, 2013, 10:59 AM
Also want to add:
After determining whether you're an oval or round head, if at all possible please go try on various helmets before making a decision. The fit is definitely #1 in importance. But also be aware that if you find a CO that fits just right, it does NOT automatically mean all COs will fit just right too. There are differences in fit between brands and also within brands too.
I personally prefer to see people have multiple helmets. At least 2 well fitted helmets in good condition. That way if you do bump one hard, you have an immediate back up. And/or you can swap helmets according to weather. (have one vented and one not for winter, or one plastic and one not for rain, etc) You can keep one from getting faded if you prefer them to look newer. Or you can have a less expensive one for schooling/trails/beach rides and one more expensive/trendier one for clinics, shows, lessons.
People are more prone to replace helmets faster when they bonk a $40 schooling helmet and replace it with another $40 one than they are apt to do if they bonk a $300+ one. If your only helmet requires you to save up for a new one or finance it on a credit card, then you may talk yourself into "Well that wasn't too hard a hit, I'm sure it's still okay."
Plus there are soooo many fun, cute and even hilarious cheap helmet covers out there that you can get that "cheapo what-if-my-friends-see-it" helmet and cover it with Viking horns or Mohawk cover, LOL!

wildlifer
Aug. 29, 2013, 11:49 AM
Both falls in a Troxel helmet, and not even hard falls, resulted in concussions.


Some erroneous logic here. A helmet will not do much to protect you from concussion. It is designed to protect you from catastrophic skull injury, such as an open fracture or other severe blunt (or concentrated) force trauma.

A concussion is the result of the brain slamming against the inside of the skull when the skull suddenly stops moving. Your brain is suspended in basically a bucket of slop so it sloshes around.

If a fall is such that concussion-level forces are induced, you will get a concussion no matter what helmet you are wearing. But the point of the helmet is that you at least won't die of head trauma on the scene.

This is why there is so much discussion about concussions right now. Our understanding of their danger has grown, along with the understanding that current helmet technology can't do much about them.

Hinderella
Aug. 29, 2013, 12:24 PM
I can't add anything that hasn't already been said, but that never stops us on COTH, does it? :) Anyway, yes, the helmet that fits you well and you will wear is the best, and I agree that for everyday wear that it's easier to commit to replacing your helmet when it costs less than $100.
I just finished ordering a replacement for my Tiperrary. Fell off a couple of days ago and felt my head hit the ground. No visible damage to the helmet, but they're not designed to absorb multiple hard shocks, so for $60 or so, another is on its way.
I agree with MistyBlue that you should, if possible, have a second backup helmet available. I have my "good" CO that I bought for hunting, so I can slip a Lycra cover on it to keep it clean and use that until the new Tiperrary shows up.

CDE Driver
Aug. 29, 2013, 01:49 PM
I worked at a tack store years ago and a rep made the following comment that has stuck with me....

Both Smart Cars and big European sedans meet the same minimum safety requirements. Which one would you rather be in during a crash.

I took that to mean that while all certified helmets meet the minimum standards, there may be some helmets that offer qualities that make them more safe.

Hinderella
Aug. 29, 2013, 02:08 PM
CDE Driver, I think that the rep's comment, while catchy, is an apples and oranges comparison (and I'm guessing they were repping a more expensive line of helmets).

A smart car is physically smaller and different in a great many ways from a large, heavy sedan; helmets do not vary significantly from one another in that way. Also, auto manufacturers often install additional safety features (such as side air bags) that exceed a minimum, thus offering extra safety features.

To my knowledge, there are no helmet manufacturers that install any safety features that exceed the minimums required by ASTM/SEI standards. I would certainly be interested to know if any do, as I always want the best helmet available.

This British information may be useful in understanding the alphabet soup that is out there:
http://www.bhs.org.uk/~/media/BHS/Files/PDF%20Documents/Safety%20leaflets/BETA%20Guide%20to%20Riding%20Hats.ashx

mvp
Aug. 29, 2013, 02:37 PM
I worked at a tack store years ago and a rep made the following comment that has stuck with me....

Both Smart Cars and big European sedans meet the same minimum safety requirements. Which one would you rather be in during a crash.


Having "won" in a crash between the other driver's Subaru station wagon and my diesel F-250, I can tell you that the outcome was determined by which vehicle was taller and heavier. When the gal crossed the double yellow line into my lane, my truck rolled up over the front corner of her hood.

That has nothing to do with the comparative safety features of our two vehicles. She got more hurt than I, and her car had airbags and all that mine did not. The outcome was determined by the laws of physics, and the same outcome would be statistically likely in a match between taller/heavier vs. shorter/lighter vehicles.

[QUOTE=Hinderella;7144139]CDE Driver, I think that the rep's comment, while catchy, is an apples and oranges comparison (and I'm guessing they were repping a more expensive line of helmets).

A smart car is physically smaller and different in a great many ways from a large, heavy sedan; helmets do not vary significantly from one another in that way. Also, auto manufacturers often install additional safety features (such as side air bags) that exceed a minimum, thus offering extra safety features.

To my knowledge, there are no helmet manufacturers that install any safety features that exceed the minimums required by ASTM/SEI standards. I would certainly be interested to know if any do, as I always want the best helmet available.

This British information may be useful in understanding the alphabet soup that is out there:
http://www.bhs.org.uk/~/media/BHS/Files/PDF%20Documents/Safety%20leaflets/BETA%20Guide%20to%20Riding%20Hats.ashx

So the question is whether the high-end manufacturers are

1. Building helmets that exceed those safety requirements

2. Are they doing that significantly, enough to justify the 10X price increase. MistyBlue and others have a really good point about the likelihood that someone will do the right thing and replace the $500 helmet vs. the $50 helmet when they should. I know I'm guilty of waiting to replace an expensive helmet just because of the price.

wildlifer
Aug. 29, 2013, 02:40 PM
You are correct, Hinderella. Companies love to make vague claims about achieving the "pinnacle of safety" but just try to pin them down on what that means in terms of measurable differences in fall trauma protection. I bet you won't get much.

As a consumer, I KNOW that I'm at far greater risk in front-end collisions driving a vehicle like a Honda Fit, with zero crumple zone (they exist for a reason!!!!) than a long-nosed tank of a sedan. I do physics good, heh.

With zero reliable information to verify if one helmet is safer than another, zero testing beyond the basic certification, and nothing but marketing mumbling being published about individual makes and models, it is simply incorrect to assume that spending more money means safer.

If you just like wearing the more expensive helmet, go for it. But you are not protected from anything that a Tipp or Troxel wearer isn't. And my new Troxel Intrepid is a nice looking helmet!

ponysize
Aug. 29, 2013, 08:20 PM
Some erroneous logic here. A helmet will not do much to protect you from concussion. It is designed to protect you from catastrophic skull injury, such as an open fracture or other severe blunt (or concentrated) force trauma.

A concussion is the result of the brain slamming against the inside of the skull when the skull suddenly stops moving. Your brain is suspended in basically a bucket of slop so it sloshes around.

If a fall is such that concussion-level forces are induced, you will get a concussion no matter what helmet you are wearing. But the point of the helmet is that you at least won't die of head trauma on the scene.

This is why there is so much discussion about concussions right now. Our understanding of their danger has grown, along with the understanding that current helmet technology can't do much about them.

disagree. all that troxel had in it was hard foam shell. nothing to absorb the shock, hence, brain sloshed. something with more absorption would take more of the impact, less sloshing.

WNT
Aug. 29, 2013, 11:32 PM
ponysize, if you slice open pretty much any helmet, the cross section is the same: thin decorative/protective outer shell, varying-thickness foam shock-absorbing core (the part that does the work), and the liner for noggin comfort.

From Charles Owen's website: How helmets work: A Charles Owen riding helmet comprises of a hard outer shell with a protective liner made of high-grade polystyrene, a material that can be considered as microscopic bubble wrap. Upon impact, layers of bubbles burst, giving your head more stopping distance and therefore reducing the chance of injury to the brain.

From Troxel: Lastly, analyzing the degree of damage to the EPS* that lies under the broken shell also gives us an estimate of the energies involved.
Your helmet is designed to give up its structure in order to absorb very high energies. Whenever a shell cracks during a fall, the energies are typically high enough that they would have caused a brain injury without a helmet to absorb these energies. *Expanded PolyStyrene (Styrofoam)

That hard foam shell is the part that keeps your head from cracking open like a melon dropped from the roof of a physics building. It is also why a riding helmet is a one-shot deal: once the foam is compressed in a fall, it loses its ability to crush and absorb shock in future falls.

I think one thing you pay for in a lower profile helmet is the use of a thinner, denser (and probably more expensive) foam. For example a low profile GPA has to have denser foam than a "mushroom cap" Troxel that uses a thicker, less dense foam to provide the same amount of shock absorption.

wildlifer
Aug. 30, 2013, 10:05 AM
Yup, the foam is what compressed and dissipates the energy. Same as happens in any other helmet. A comparative cross-section will reveal this is the case. Fabrics do nothing outside of providing user comfort.

New foams have resulted in lower profile helmets -- the Troxel Intrepid I mentioned earlier is a far cry from the white bubble of yore. You can disagree, that is fine, and you are certainly welcome to buy any helmet you like, wearing one is always a great idea! But facts are still facts and personal beliefs do not make good science.

Ajierene
Aug. 30, 2013, 11:01 AM
disagree. all that troxel had in it was hard foam shell. nothing to absorb the shock, hence, brain sloshed. something with more absorption would take more of the impact, less sloshing.

As WNT stated, this is faulty reasoning. I am trying to find the independent research I had found a few years ago. On most tests, the Troxel came in first for safety, over the other brands. My concerns were the schooling helmet and low profile show helmet, so that's what I remember being above the competition.

I have only ever had one fall that resulted in a wonky head. I was wearing my $35 Troxel, fell and hit the back of my head against the hard ground. I got up fine, noted that I should buy a new helmet. I procrastinated and a few months later was in an indoor, taking a lesson. Fell off and hit my head in almost exactly the same spot. That hurt a bit. I went to the store the next day and bought two helmets so that I would not procrastinate. I now buy a new one every year and replace my helmet about every two years if I do not fall and hit my head.

For me, the troxel schooling helmet fits well and does the job. The low profile, velvet show helmet fits my desire for a nice show helmet, fits and does not break the bank for something I wear 8 or so times a year. That one, I replace every 5 years or so.

mvp
Aug. 30, 2013, 02:17 PM
On a related note, I believe the NFL just lost a class action suit filed by a huge set of players (including more than 10 Hall of Fame-rs), for minimizing the effects of concussions sustained in that sport.

I saw at least one documentary on this. It's very, very sad seeing the aging players who are quite brain damaged after years in the sport.

I think concussions have become A Thing recently. I'm glad, but also not sure that manufacturers have been the ones issuing the hue-and-cry call for improved equipment.

Hinderella
Aug. 30, 2013, 03:00 PM
It's unfortunate that none of the major equine magazines have done a piece on the safety differences, if there are any, of the various helmet brands. But then I suppose that since those same brands are their major advertisers, that will never happen ;)

catzndogz22
Sep. 1, 2013, 12:26 PM
It has nothing to do with looks. It's all about fit.

On Friday I bought a new helmet for the first time in 20 years. I went to the local Dover tack shop and tried on pretty much every helmet in the place. I was hoping to stay in the $100-$150 range. None of the IHR helmets fit me. My head is long and narrow. With each of the IHR helmets, I could fit my finger between my head and the helmet above my ears. No go. I tried the Uvex with the dial to customize the fit. It was still too wide.

The only helmets that fit me were the Charles Owens and they fit me perfectly. The JR8 was only $150, but I couldn't bear the thought of riding in 95 degree temperatures under the blazing Colorado sun with NO ventilation. I had visions of passing out from the heat, falling off and hitting my head. I ended up getting the AYR8 for a whopping $350. :eek: My head is worth it. That's what pays for my horses.

paulaedwina
Sep. 1, 2013, 03:55 PM
You and I have the same issues with head shape. We ended up making the same decision. It has nothing to do with style or status. It's all about fit.

Paula