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Are more expensive helmets worth it for schooling purposes?

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    Are more expensive helmets worth it for schooling purposes?

    I am aware that all helmets regardless of price range are required to meet the same safety standards, which is why I've been reluctant to try a more expensive brand.

    I moved up to Ovations after I discovered they fit me so much better than the Troxels I wore for years, and have no issues with them other than that they can get hot (but a lot of helmets have this issue). I like the price point because it's not a huge deal if I fall and have to replace it, and for something that needs to be replaced at least every 5 years, I haven't seen a reason to spend an outrageous amount of money (which I can justify for tack that will last decades, but not something I'll have for a maximum of 5 years).

    However, I have noticed that a lot of people opt for something like One K or Charles Owen for schooling. I have heard that the more expensive helmets are usually more well ventilated, but are there any other reasons so many people go for brands like these for schooling helmets over a less expensive option, provided both fit?

    Should I stick to an Ovation for my next helmet or would it be worth it to step up a bit? I would go try on different helmets to ensure the best fit, of course. Is there truly a difference in quality, and are more expensive helmets any safer? Like I said, I know they all have to meet the same standards, but do the pricier ones exceed these standards more so than the inexpensive options? I have heard a couple of people say that their Ovations nearly split in half or sustained quite a bit of damage in nasty falls while their Samshields, etc. offered better protection, but I know someone else's hearsay and anecdotal evidence is not the best to go off of.

    The new MIPS helmets incorporate new technology and are more protective. They are more expensive than the Ovations, but some models are still relatively reasonably priced. I know that I spend about 30-60 minutes in the saddle at the average show and double that many days at home (with two horses). So it probably makes sense to wear the most protective helmet I can get all the time. With the hard plastic shell type helmets rather than velvet/suede you can wear it for both schooling and shows and be fine.


      If a helmet is certified to me the only valid reason for spending more money on one is if it has the MIPS system. I will gladly spend more money on such a helmet (mine is the Trauma Void EQ3) because it is proven to protect the rider's head and brain better.

      Otherwise, as long as the helmet is certified, fits the rider, is new, and is replaced after every fall, I see no reason to spend hundreds of dollars for one with a fancier name or bling. Even helmets costing $1,000 US have to be replaced after every fall, which can get really expensive in the long run.


        I started riding a year ago and got a pretty expensive helmet but I chose based on which one was the most comfortable while fitting the best. My final two choices were between a <$100 helmet and a nearly $400 one. The more expensive one was way easier to wear so I chose it. I didn't know anything about brands etc, and I wasn't even looking at the prices while trying because I wanted to make sure I chose the one that I could wear for extended durations and not be annoyed at it. Of course after the fact I have to roll my eyes that OF COURSE I chose the very costly one - but I'm so glad I did because I don't have to worry about any discomfort while riding in it.

        My next helmet will definitely have MIPS. I have started trying them on but haven't found one yet that fits comfortably on my slightly odd shaped noggin.


          Originally posted by Jackie Cochran View Post
          Even helmets costing $1,000 US have to be replaced after every fall, which can get really expensive in the long run.
          Just a reminder to ALWAYS check with your helmet manufacturer to see about their helmet replacement policies after a fall. MANY brands will reimburse you a percentage of the purchase price depending on how long that you have owned the helmet at the time that you had the fall.


          Also.... everyone is welcome to come join our MIPS group.

          "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


            Let me apologize in advance.


              Well, I ride in a GPA First Lady and I spend about half my time bareback on trail rides. This is the helmet that fits my head the best- unfortunately for my wallet.

              The helmet that is best equipped to prevent a serious head injury is the one that will be cheapest for you in the long run, which both means the helmet with the best protective technology AND the one that best fits your head shape. Assuming that multiple models fit you equally well, I do think that certain features are worth paying more for. MIPS technology is of course one of them as that will offer empirically better protection. I also include creature comforts. Having ridden in ventilated and non-ventilated helmets, for instance, I will not go back to a non-ventilated helmet; I overheat easily and I do not miss getting light-headed in the velvet-covered helmets I wore as a kid. I also really like a wide brim for reducing glare and sun exposure.

              Your mileage may vary.
              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden


                I just bought a Trauma Void (MIPS) for schooling. I was very happy with the price point and obviously the amazing safety ratings. You should look into it!


                  I think it’s kind of like kids’ car seats (if you’ve ever gone down the car seat rabbit hole): all have to be engineered to a certain safety standard, but after that, more money generally* just gets you fancier or more comfortable extras. The safest one is going to be the one that fits correctly AND is used correctly every. single. time.

                  * MIPS is something I opted to spend more money on. I was immortal and fancy-free in my teens and 20s, but now I have a mortgage and a husband and some really expensive small people who would like to eventually go to college. Any technology that’s proven to increase my chances of getting to argue with them about SAT scores gets a “yes” from me.

                  As for schooling, that’s when the horse and/I are trying things for the first time, pushing harder, working more. For me, that’s a time for protecting whatever brains I have left.


                    I have a CO Ayr8 and a Fian. Both a really nice velvet helmets. Coming back to riding I saw Mips tech and looked at ton of reviews / "crash rest results" and bought a Trauma Void Lynx that is really comfortable. I had it on for over an hour and then got in the car and forgot I had it on. No forehead pressure, head stayed cool. I paid less than $150 for it.

                    I think that is a bit of the secret. (They all test to pass ASTM and the Mips is a good thing). A helmet that is so comfortable you forget it is on your head is a helmet you are more likely to wear on and off the horse. Many accidents happen on the ground as well. Plus if a helmet has pressure points on your head, does it really work perfectly in the case of a fall?

                    Mips was my first priority, then fit/comfort, then looks, then price. I would have spent whatever to get the right helmet for me, but in this case it was the $150 one.


                      Absolutely pay more to get the MIPS equipped helmet!


                        Could be worth looking into what certification entails exactly. I believe Charles Owens helmets are triple certified and the standards are slightly different between the three organizations, particularly around puncturing of the shell.

                        I don’t have a CO personally as another brand worked slightly better for me fit wise when I recently upgraded to a MIPS helmet, but something to consider.


                          I got an IHS when I returned to riding. When I needed to replace it because the lining was deteriorating, I tried to buy a Troxel or Tipperary. But the Charles Owen AYR8 was so much more comfortable I bought that. When that wore out I went for an AYRbrush because it had a removable liner. I was looking at the OneK Defender a couple years back and they seemed even more comfortable than the CO, but now I think my next helmet needs to be an MIPS. I ride every day, sometimes two horses, lots of back country trail riding too.

                          So yes, pay more to get comfort and MIPS for your everyday helmet. But not bling or fashion.



                            Thank you for leading in beautifully to me mentioning that they're taking donations for the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab's Forthcoming study on USA helmets. The goal is to change over from the ASTM Pass/Fail system and move into a 5* certification process that will allow all of us buying a helmet to know, with CONCRETE info, exactly how well the helmet we are considering buying did in the safety testing. No longer just that it "passed" and we never know by how much or how little, no instead we would know the results.

                            The study will cost $450k and will continue into perpetuity testing all helmets that are to be sold in the USA. The USHJA has earmarked $100k towards this and the USEF has earmarked some as well but they have not stated a set amount publicly.

                            You can read up more about the study, the Helmet Lab itself and Dr. Barry Miller himself who runs the lab and this study at

                            PLEASE consider donating.

                            Also, fwiw, Champion helmets are also triple certified, like the Charles Owen, and the company has been around as long, if not longer than Charles Owen. They're a VERY reuptable helmet company and they have 2 skull cap MIPS helmets and 2 show style Mips helmets. With a variety of colors and a LOT of vents. You can find them on SmartPak and Rider's Warehouse.


                            "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries


                              I show in the same helmet I school in, a MIPS OneK.
                              The Evil Chem Prof


                                Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                                I show in the same helmet I school in, a MIPS OneK.
                                Same here but mine is a tipperary sportage. Never heard of mips I'll have to look that up!


                                  MIPS is worth investigating, it's been common among ski and bike helmets for years and I'm glad equestrian helmets are finally incorporating it. CO and Champion also offer the PAS British certification, which is a higher standard, and I personally think they make the best xc helmets. Champion also have cushier interior padding and are among the most comfortable for me, so I recently upgraded to the Champion ventair MIPS skull cap for xc. I have the CO MIPS myps wide brim for schooling, and it's comfortable enough but a little bulky looking.


                                    Xctrygirl sounds like a great initiative that would give OP the answer to their question


                                      For me the comfort of the oneK was worth the upgrade from ovation. My next helmet will definitely have MiPS


                                        I don't think there should be a different helmet for schooling vs. showing. Safety first...Buy the best you can. And I think it's best to actually try it on in a tack store rather than on line if you are hesitant on brand.