As there is alot of discussion around Helmets I am curious about people's thoughts on replacing a good helmet that has not been involved in any falls. Do your replace yours automatically every 3 years, 5 years, more? If so why?
I have a few really nice helmets that all have been kicking around for 4 plus years. I ride all the time in my Charles Owen Skull Cap. But I have I nice IRH that I only use for competing. If it is 5 or 6 years old should I be replacing it even if it is hardly used?
Helmets are exposed to heat, cold, humidity, rain, sunlight etc - the elements that make your helmet naturally break down. So even if you have not landed on your head, the chances of your 5 year old helmet offering the same protection as a newer helmet are small.
After having a horse fall on me and getting kicked in the head while wearing a helmet- I see what sort of affects impact has on the foam. (erm, whatever the correct word is for the helmet material!)
Even when money is tight, my head is worth more than $50-$200 (and higher)
My question has always been, is it 5 years from the point where you started USING the helmet, or 5 years past the manufacturing date? My CO skull says it was manufactured in May 2005, but I didn't buy it and start using it until late '06.
I replace my schooling helmets every 2 years. With all the temperature changes, general wear and tear, and accidental bumps here and there, I just want to be safe (especially considering they're only ~$60). My show helmets that I keep in my house so don't see a lot of temperature fluctuations and accidental banging I replace every 5 years.
When I looked at the CO skull I just got (mfr'd in 2003 - thank god - because it means it's the kind I like), it had a tag regarding replacement. The short version is this - replace it after a hard fall; if it hasn't had any knocks, replace it after 5 years because the fit may have changed. The replacement after 5 years with no knocks wasn't related to the helmet's ability to absorb a knock, but strictly regarding fit. It also specifically said that time spent bagged in a box doesn't count. Might have said to replace after 5 years if it's had multiple small knocks (not visibly altering it) - that doesn't apply to my old one, so it didn't really stick. I don't replace mine every 5 years.
I wonder if the 'fit' versus 'knock absorption' might be a liability issue. After all, if CO acknowledged that the materials change due to time/temp/etc, wouldn't that make them that much more liable for a lawsuit?
What would change fit wise after 5 years? The skull joints are synarthrosic - they permit little to no movement under normal conditions. So that means the helmet must change after years of use - due to material breakdown.
Yes, I think if you wear a helmet daily in all kinds of weather it will change - you'll drop it on the tack room floor, your horse will konk you in the head while you're fixing your gloves before you get on, you sweat, it rains, it gets really cold then warm inside/cold outside - I think it's reasonable that after 5 years of solid use it might warrent a replacement.
Hrm... sounds like my show helmet may become my new riding helmet. They're both ~4-5 years old but one has seen a lot more sweat, heat, trauma via the floor, etc. etc.
I don't know much about the engineering of helmets, but something about usage and temperature change seems like it would effect it more than age (though I agree age itself probably does play a part).
The fit of my everyday hat has definitely changed over the years I've had it. The question then is whether the change is only in the padding that makes it comfortable, or the shock absorbing materials. I think that each person has to decide what she's comfortable with. Clearly the more conservative route would be to replace it.