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Let's talk helmets. Cheap ones.

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  • Let's talk helmets. Cheap ones.

    I need your advice and collective wisdom.

    After a 10+ year break from riding (from my junior days to my current near 30-ish state!), I've decided to get back into the game, albeit in the once-a-week-Sunday-afternoon-lesson variety.

    I live in a city about 1 hour away from the nearest barn/option I found for riding as an adult (e.g. on weekends when I can commute there!) so it's highly, highly, highly unlikely I will end up riding more than 1x a week, if even that.

    The barn has an assortment of helmets that I can borrow from and I found one - and exactly one - that fits my large, round head but it's a bit too snug. The past 2 Sundays I've left with red, sore spot on the middle of my forehead ! I don't have any of my riding gear from when I was growing up here, nor is it likely safe/fit/legit anymore (my old helmets were of the non-ASTM/SEI type/variety - you know, we all wore them - the velvet caps with the clear plastic harness or the leather harness).

    I am debating whether to buy a helmet - for comfort and to ensure if the one helmet that kinda-sorta fits me is ever missing/in use when it's my riding time that I can still have my lesson (which makes me SO happy, by the way. It's become the highlight of my week. Which is both exciting and slightly depressing, but that's probably for another thread ).

    So I borrowed a car (which is becoming a weekly habit!) and went to the nearest tack shop - the SmartPak store. This isn't a screed against SmartPak. They were nice and in fact I ended up buying a pair of awesome half-chaps on super-clearance. However the helmet selection left me a bit mystified to be honest.

    I don't think I am in the market for a plastic bicycle style helmet (they started about $50). However all of the other options seemed to be $150+, even going up to ~$500. Really? ~$500 for a helmet? Is this new technology that didn't exist a decade ago? Can it guarantee I don't fall off?

    Anyways, so what's a girl (err...nearing middle-aged woman?) to do? Do I spend $150 (minimum) on a helmet that I will wear, at MOST, 52 times in the next YEAR, if that. Is my brain worth it?

    Anyone have any cheap helmet recommendations? Particularly those that aren't of the bicycle helmet style variety?

    (And yes, I understand this is probably akin to someone asking for cheap carseat rec or where to buy cheap replacement seatbelts....)

  • #2
    I don't know, I rode for years in a ~$30 IRH (the kind with the dial in the back to make fitting easier). I guess you'd term it "bicycle style" though. But still...I don't know why that's a problem? If it's comfortable (and it's nice, to me, to have a light and airy helmet) and certified...I really don't care overmuch how it looks.

    Of course, I'm currently riding in a ~$60 Tipperary Sportage, it doesn't have the dial fit thing but that isnt' a problem for me. I like, too, that it comes down kind of low over the back of my head as it seems more protective. And it looks less like a bike helmet, even though it is plastic. Mostly I think because it isn't shiny plastic (it's matte).

    Personally, I think spending over a $100 on a helmet is just getting into "paying for the name" territory but I'm sure there are other people who'd disagree with me.
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

    Comment


    • #3
      I love my ovation schooler helmet. So comfortable, cool, adjustable, removable washable liner, and does not look like a bike helmet which I detest. I have a lot of the more expensive helmets that I use for showing or clinics, but I use the schooler at home. It is around $50.
      I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by FLeventer View Post
        I love my ovation schooler helmet. So comfortable, cool, adjustable, removable washable liner, and does not look like a bike helmet which I detest. I have a lot of the more expensive helmets that I use for showing or clinics, but I use the schooler at home. It is around $50.
        I second this - I don't have an Ovation helmet, but I think they look great and are very flattering. I do love Ovation products generally, and think you get a lot for your money with them.

        OP, you'd be surprised at how popular the more "bicycle" looking helmets are these days. Don't get stuck thinking that the helmet needs to be velvet/fabric covered to be in style, especially for schooling. I mean, look at the GPA Speed Air, which is a very expensive, very popular helmet (or at least it was for some time...perhaps people have moved on from that one now). It's not especially traditional, but it very much an accepted helmet on the A circuit.

        Comment


        • #5
          Buy your own helmet - I would NOT use one that the barn supplies (though that's better than no helmet) - you have no idea if that helmets integrity has been compromised. As far as the "plastic" helmets go - all helmets regardless of price have to meet the same ASTM requirements - it really comes down to what fits your head. That $30 helmet meets the same safety requirements as that $500 helmet. I have both the Charles Owen helmets and the Tipperary helmets - love both brands as they fit and are super comfortable.

          "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England

          Comment


          • #6
            First of all, YES get a helmet!! Your brain is totally worth it. Plus you don't know how many times the "loaner" helmet has been dropped on the ground, involved in a fall, etc. so its actual safety may be negligible. A helmet that fits you properly will be more comfortable and safer!

            There are also lots of options out there these days! The Ovation helmets are pretty cool looking and cheap, my hubby has a Tipperary Sportage that he LOVES and was $60. Don't be put off by the 'bike helmet' look... if you are only riding in lessons once a week it doesn't matter anyway, it's not like you are showing and need something discipline-appropriate.

            Keep searching until you find something that fits! And if what fits costs $100, so be it. Your brain is worth it!
            Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

            PONY'TUDE

            Comment


            • #7
              Of the 'plastic' helmets, the Tipperary Sportage is probaby the most comfortable and stylish looking. Almost everyone who wears one gives it rave reviews for comfort, protection, and style. I personally haven't seen or tried the Ovations, but lots on COTH seem to like them a lot.

              If you want a more traditional look for a little more money, the IRH ATH SSV and Air10 are nice. They're both just a bit over $150. My DD wears the ATH SSV and I wear the Air 10. IRH also makes a few more traditional velvet style helmets for even less.

              The most important part is to find a helmet that fits you properly and is comfortable enough that you can wear it through long tiring riding lessons, especially in the summer heat. Try on different brands at your local SmartPak store to get a feel for what brand and size seems to be the most comfortable for you, then shop online to see if they make another model that you like better that you can order.

              What you'll find is that some helmet brands may fit round or oval heads better than others. GPA's are generally thought to fit round heads and Charles Owens' seem to make those with oval heads happier. The IRH helmets seem to fit a variety of heads and also one of the few that offers a special 'long oval' fit.

              For showing, the Charles Owen GR8 and Ayr8, Samshields, and GPA helmets seem to be the most popular for the "I must have the $$$ helmet to fit in' crowd, but not necessary if you can find something that fits and is comfortable for less. As long as its not bright purple plastic, the judges generally don't care.

              If you divide $150 x 52 rides I think you'll feel better about spending approx $3 per ride to be safe and comfortrable!
              Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
              Witherun Farm
              http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                A Troxel Sport helmet does the job just fine for around $30.

                http://www.horse.com/item/troxel-spo...met/SLT650530/

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't think I am in the market for a plastic bicycle style helmet (they started about $50).
                  why not? that's what most people wear. They are lightweight, have vents for comfort, and come in a variety of shapes and colors. If you can't stand how it looks, you can buy a cheap cover.
                  I've never spent more than $35 on a helmet. Why would you spend more? you have to replace them regularly even if you don't fall on your head. The most important factor is whether it fits well. Besides, there was a study done a while ago showing the cheap plastic style is actually safer than the fancy expensive ones.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by laskiblue View Post
                    A Troxel Sport helmet does the job just fine for around $30.

                    http://www.horse.com/item/troxel-spo...met/SLT650530/
                    Originally posted by wendy View Post
                    why not? that's what most people wear. They are lightweight, have vents for comfort, and come in a variety of shapes and colors. If you can't stand how it looks, you can buy a cheap cover.
                    I've never spent more than $35 on a helmet. Why would you spend more? you have to replace them regularly even if you don't fall on your head. The most important factor is whether it fits well. Besides, there was a study done a while ago showing the cheap plastic style is actually safer than the fancy expensive ones.

                    Had a Troxel a while back, spend 50 bucks so I had it for one single trail ride, yep. Did not really have the money, but it was cheaper than a 500$ ER trip.

                    Do buy your own helmet. They cheaper ones are not really any worse than the more expensive ones, and they do look kind of spiffy (plus they are nice and cool)
                    And of course you don't have to worry about getting cooties!
                    Originally posted by BigMama1
                    Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                    GNU Terry Prachett

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I hate the Troxels because they are so heavy and they fit me like carp. Some people love them because they fit them well. You really have to try them on. I can't fit into the IRHs. I fit in some GPAs, many Charles Owens, and not really any tipps.

                      I am still anti bike helmet look on me. It happens, no biggie. The ovation is the closest I have gotten to the bike look and it is not really bike type.
                      I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Find the cheapest, best-vented helmet you can find that fits you well. In the winter you can cover it with something. But you'll appreciate the vents when it's hot and muggy in July. I'll take comfort and safety over style any day.

                        I have IRH Durasoft helmets with Dial-fit. They fit me perfectly. I tried a "nicer" helmet, but it wasn't as comfortable.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am on my fourth IRH equi-lite helmet. Weighs 10 ounces, full of ventilation holes, and fits my oval head the best of any helmets I've tried. I have nerve issues in my neck, and absolutely cannot have a heavy weight helmet. Bonus, I can adjust the dial in the back to loosen up over my pony tail, then ratchet it down once I strap it on. I've had a brown, a black, a white, and most recently a sparkly purple. I love the purple one! Sure, I'm an adult most times, but I just really like it. I just throw a black cover over it for showing. I even have a zebra print cover for winter riding that goes over my ears. Its about having fun.

                          http://www.statelinetack.com/item/ir...met/SLT901838/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Trevelyan96 View Post
                            Of the 'plastic' helmets, the Tipperary Sportage is probaby the most comfortable and stylish looking. Almost everyone who wears one gives it rave reviews for comfort, protection, and style. I personally haven't seen or tried the Ovations, but lots on COTH seem to like them a lot.
                            Agree 100%. It may look like a bike helmet, but it's one of the best under-$100 helmets IMO. It has foam padding that can be used to "shim" the inside to get a good fit, but still won't fit on all heads.

                            It also is very well ventilated for summer use (and hence you'll want some kind of waterproof cover to use if you ride in the rain.)

                            I show in mine, with a velvet helmet cover. OK, a little tacky, but I am not showing in the Big Time.
                            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I school in a plastic helmet (I guess you'd call it "bicycle style" though it doesn't look like a bike helmet in reality; different shape) because I want to keep my CO nice for shows. Around here, a lot of people school in that type of helmet because they're lighter and cooler anyway, and cheaper to replace if you have a fall. If you're not showing, why worry about the look? Go with something that fits and is affordable!

                              Remember if you drop it or have a fall, you will need to replace the helmet, and they also need to be replaced after five years from the date of manufacture as light and atmospheric conditions will take their toll even if you never fall. So when you're looking at price, remember that you will eventually have to scrap it an buy another one.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I would never wear a helmet that was borrowed from a barn. Why? You have no way of knowing if it was stored properly, how old it is, if it was ever dropped from a height, or if/how many times someone has fallen off while wearing it. In case you are unaware (you did say you are a recent adult re-rider) these are all things that mean a helmet has to be replaced. They are good for one fall only, they must be replaced if they are dropped from around 3 feet or more, they degrade rapidly if exposed to weather extremes (like a hot car, trailer tack room, freeze/thaw etc), they also come with expiration dates-most mfg say 5 years from their "born on" date. If I didn't have MY helmet, I would simply not ride.

                                You can buy a helmet for $20-40 on clearance and starting at $40 for regular price from on-line retailers such as SmartPak, StateLine, and Schneiders. You can also buy them for around $40 from places like Tractor Supply and your local farm store. Your helmet doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to fit you.

                                That barn is taking on enormous liability by having loaner helmets. I wonder if their insurance agent knows they're doing that?
                                Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
                                Sam: A job? Does it pay?
                                Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
                                Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Buy yourself a decent Troxel with the dial at the back so you can adjust it to fit your head perfectly. They have vents for air are very comfy and very inexpensive.

                                  http://www.doversaddlery.com/troxel-spirit/p/X1-36018A/

                                  $39.95

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I have a Troxel trail something or another. I am more concerned about proper fit and safety than how it looks. Still, I chose the one I have (it's tan with dark brown accents) versus the white bicycle helmet egg looking one. Plus, the trail one fit my noggin better. I think I paid $40 for it at Tractor (comes with a velcro visor as well.) I don't have an odd-shaped head, etc. so I was able to find a size that fit, adjust it by the chinstrap and the knob on the back that tightens it a bit, and voila!
                                    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                                    DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                                    Originally posted by talkofthetown
                                    As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I find that IRH and Ovation have economical options.

                                      The IRH brand fits my large head quite well.

                                      This is the one I have: http://www.doversaddlery.com/irh%C2%...met/p/X1-3663/

                                      It's comfortable. I found with other brands (Charles Owens) they just didn't fit my big ol' head.

                                      Buying your own helmet is worth it. You can find some on sale for much less than the one I posted, or just go with a different style or brand. Plus, you're not putting someone's sweat and whatever else on your head. That and you should replace the helmet after a fall or any trauma to it. The lesson barn might not be that diligent. Don't skimp in safety!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by FLeventer View Post
                                        I love my ovation schooler helmet. So comfortable, cool, adjustable, removable washable liner, and does not look like a bike helmet which I detest. I have a lot of the more expensive helmets that I use for showing or clinics, but I use the schooler at home. It is around $50.
                                        I second (maybe more, since I haven't read the threat) this. Love my Ovation Deluxe Schooler.
                                        If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                                        ~ Maya Angelou

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