most of what you're paying for with a 300+ helmet is the brand name and "fitting in"
That being said My Charles Owen is the only thing that REALLY fits my head and the extra padding makes it a custom fit
Many of the more expensive helmets are, simply, more comfortable. Many offer venting options not available in less expensive helmets. If you get stinkin hot in a CO, you might want to consider something with better ventilation.
Agree with those who love their CO I have a GR8 that I have for schooling and an AYR8 for shows and they are both really comfortable. That said, I know many are either an IRH or a CO person and both brands don't always fit well. (I wore my friend's IRH once b/c I hadn't planned on riding and she let me hop on her mare, and it didn't fit at all because there was too much space on the sides if that makes sense). But.. compared to the Tipperary i had before my CO, it is definitely worth the extra $$ to me
I absolutely love my GPA SpeedAir. Awesome helmet, as cool as a helmet can be, and comfortable enough to leave on all day if necessary.
I also just got a Samshield. They're designed to not sit on your forehead and channel the vented air up the space in front of your forehead. Also very comfortable.
But I think it comes down to how vain you are. I am vain enough to not want to show in a helmet that doesn't look good. The CO helmets look terrible on me and the GPA SpeedAir looked great. The Samshield looked similar to the GPA SpeedAir.
__________________________________ Forever exiled in the NW.
The most comfortable helmet I've worn in my life is the IRH DFS Equi-Lite (their cheap schooling helmet). It's especially amusing in polo, because the polo world is frankly even more full of crap than many other horse circles. The only reason I'd *ever* buy a "real" polo helmet would be if I decided I really wanted a helmet with a face mask. Don't even get me started on the lack of *any* standards in polo helmets, combined with ridiculous prices. And now that they are considering finally implementing a standard, do they just say "use the same crash standards as every single other horse sport in the world"? No, they're planning on using a completely different standard than the rest of the entire horse world, IMO so that a few polo manufacturers will benefit and everyone will be forced to buy their helmets once the whole thing is implemented. I love the game, but even the little amount of politics I see at my low level is maddening, at least on the US side of things.
I have both a CO GR8 and a speed air. I used to think my CO was comfortable but when I put on the speed air it was love at first fit. It really depends on the shape of you head and whether venting is important for you.
I have a CO GR8... mostly because it's the only model that comes in my size. With my hair in it I wear a 4 5/8. Most helmets, including other CO models, only seemed to go up to a 4 1/2. IMO I think it does give me a bit of a mushroom head look, but since it was the only thing that came in my size and was within my budget I got it. It is very comfortable though!
Forgot to mention, my boyfriend took a nasty fall last summer thanks to my naughty mare. The IRH schooling helmet I'd got him had a nice big crack right on the lower back part where it wraps around your noggin. He was fine, but I showed him the damage. That helmet did its job.
The first article says that the big clunky helmets protect better than the low profile ones and that smaller sized helmets protect better than large sized helmets. Ugh. I'm in trouble because I have a very large head, on a skinny body, no less. Pretty much any helmet makes me look like a mushroom (because I am one ), so I go for lower profile.
I have a CO GR8, and am ready for the next helmet. After trying a bunch on (newer GR8, GPA Speed Air, Samshield) I like the Samshield best, not for looks,but for comfort. Its much lighter than the CO helmet, and has more padding than the speed air. I think they are all good brands, yo0u just have to find the one that fits you best.
No matter how expensive the helmet, it does not prevent your brain from slamming against your skull should you have a bad fall. Look at all the football players who get concussions while wearing helmets.
I like the Troxel Duratec Legacy. It fits me well and is comfortable, at a price point that leaves room in the budget for other things. Very happy we have choices.
I love my Samshield helmet, they have a couple of different options depending on your price range. The samshield fits a different head than the CO I find it fits more like a GPA and the air flow they get is wonderful, much better then my GPA.