We know our sport is not without its risks so investing in quality protective headwear is a must, writes JESSICA MORTON.
Whether you’re a happy hacker or racing the clock over fences, spending a little bit extra on a good helmet is a sound investment. If a rider falls, the likelihood of serious injury is much higher than with other sports due to the speed, height and force of impact – so the benefits of wearing a helmet are obvious.
A well-designed helmet can significantly protect your head and brain by deflecting and absorbing the impact of an accident and dispersing its force. You don’t have to gallop fast or jump high to appreciate the benefits of a good helmet. With a variety of quality helmets on the market, here’s an overview of some that we liked:
Back on Track EQ3 LYNX Smooth Top: While many helmets are designed to help prevent severe traumatic brain injuries, they are not designed to prevent concussion caused by rotational falls. The Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology found in the EQ3 LYNX can mimic the natural defense rotation of the brain by absorbing rotational energies and forces that would otherwise be transferred to the brain, neck and spine. Rated as one of the markets top-performing equestrian helmets, this model has a deeper profile and dial-fit system, which makes it easy to fit a variety of head shapes and sizes.
KEP Cromo Endurance: Created for endurance riders, this low-profile helmet has a modern look and a fun range of colourways. Featuring KEP’s unrivalled ventilation system, this model has extra coverage at the back of the helmet and is exceptionally lightweight – great to wear over the summer months – with a focus on comfort without sacrificing performance.
Charles Owen SP8 Plus: With its deep, wide brim, the SP8 Plus helmet offers wearers exceptional sun protection over the face and neck (a huge plus in Australia). A flattering and feminine design, it features front and rear ventilation slots and a Free Fit system that pairs the frontal air channel with Coolmax mesh to improve the evaporation of perspiration while riding.
Samshield Shadowmatt: The luxurious and customisable Shadowmatt helmet ticks all the important boxes. Functional, lightweight, breathable and protective, the matte finish outer shell is made from high quality polycarbonate (also used in high-end motorcycle helmets). Samshield’s ventilation differs to other brands, channeling fresh air from the front to back through the lining to provide cooling and circulation without unsightly ventilation inlets in the shell.
CASCO Mistrall-2 Edition: Founded in 1989, CASCO has been producing high-quality helmets and eyewear for decades. The Mistrall-2 Edition utilises fan-like air outlets to improve ventilation, while the sleek titanium outer can be personalised with interchangeable coloured stripes or Swarovski crystal detailing.
Uvex Cross Country Perfexxion II: For those who like the simple design of a skull cap but are looking for something a little more refined, the Uvex Cross Country Perfexxion II is a great option. Extremely versatile and secure due to its slim, lightweight, and ergonomic design, the innovative shape extends over the neck to provide extra protection for the back of the head, while a ponytail cut-out is a helpful feature for riders with long hair.
GPA First Lady Concept Model: French brand GPA were the first to create a helmet exclusively for female customers wanting elegance and superior fit as well as safety. GPA helmets are used by the French army and police; the Republican Guard; the English, Norwegian and Italian police; and the Irish and Italian military. This year, GPA redesigned their patented rigid concept chinstrap to ensure even more support, safety, and comfort for riders. The First Lady Concept Model incorporates this feature to provide additional neck protection, improved vision, and enhanced stability in the saddle.
Choose the one that fits
For a helmet to prevent concussion, it must be correctly fitted. When trying on new models, assess the fit of the helmet, not only its design and look. If a helmet feels ‘tall’ on top, or as if it’s perching on top of your head, it is likely too small or shallow for you. Conversely, if it drops down over your eyebrows or pushes the tops of your ears down, it is very likely too big.
If you find a helmet is pressing against your forehead and the back of your head, but not around your temples, you probably have an oval skull, and the helmet you are wearing is made for a round skull. If, on the other hand, the helmet feels tight on the sides of the head and rocks front to back, you likely have a round head and you are trying a helmet that is designed for oval skulls. Everyone’s head is shaped a little differently, but luckily helmets are made to suit a variety of shapes and sizes – some brands even included padded liners that can be adjusted for a custom fit.
And finally, the golden rule: Never sacrifice safety in pursuit of style.