Melon protectors – what’s the difference?
We all know that helmets keep our heads safe and there are plenty on the market, but which offers the best protection?
We take a look at what the current regulations are and what’s on the market.
Is a helmet a helmet?
Any old helmet should be able to protect your noggin, right? Wrong.
Not all helmets are made the same and with technological advances, helmet makers have come a long way to make sure that the materials used can withstand the impacts of horse riding.
I shudder at the thought, but I was still riding around in my old Harry Hall helmet that I purchased in the late 1980’s up to ten years ago. You know the one, it had a thin shell covered in velvet and a flimsy elastic chin strap. I’m really not sure how much protection it gave but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a lot compared to what we have on the market now.
As of 1 January 2017, Equestrian Australia withdrew the EN1384 safety standard. This meant that riders were not able to compete in helmets stamped with EN1384 and were required to purchase a new helmet of the new safety standard of VG1, or international equiv- alent. For example, new helmets should have the EN1384 VGI or above printed on the inside. Full information about the helmet regulation updates can be found on the Equestrian Australia website.
Since this new safety standard was implemented, there are now several differenthelmets on the market. You can spend big dollars on a helmet, but it won’t make it any safer. As long as the helmet is meeting the current safety certification you’re buying a certified protective helmet. Spending more might get you different padding, lighter shells, fancier decorations and materials, but it doesn’t translate into more protection.
That being said, here are my favourite helmet choices currently on the market:
DUBLIN ARISTA HELMET
The Dublin Arista helmet features a microfibre suede look which looks elegant and is easy to clean. It isn’t as bulky as some of the other helmets on the market and comes with stainless steel vents that allow air through. There is a good choice of colours and it is available in black, grey and navy. Priced from $99 – $160 (for the bling edition), it’s in a great price range for those who want something stylish yet practical.
UVEX EXXENTIAL HELMET
The Uvex Exxential helmet combines pro- tection with lightweight polycarbonate materials. It is fully adjustable in the back with a toggle that can be opened and closed to fit the width and height of your head. The harness can also be extensively adjusted to ensure an accurate fit. While it is stream-lined, it uses a polycarbonate shell that does have a somewhat plastic look. However, what it lacks in appearance it makes up for in its lack of weight. It also offers a choice of colours – black, grey, blue and brown – and is reasona- bly priced at $160 – $180.
CHARLES OWEN WELLINGTON PROFESSIONAL HELMET
The Charles Owen Wellington Professional helmet offers a slim and streamlined outer casing that is covered in premium microfiber suede material. It has a uniquely soft and snug-fitting microfiber suede-lined harness and a drawstring al- lows the harness to be fully adjusted. Comfort has been at the forefront of this helmet’s design with
the super-soft headband offering superior comfort. There are four perforated ventilation holes visible only from the inside which al- low heat to escape. There is no other colour choice other than black and it is priced at
$200 – $250 for those wanting a more luxuriously comfortable helmet choice.
SAMSHEILD SHADOWMATT HELMET
The Samshield ShadowMatt is made of an extra light polycarbonate paired with an ex- panded polystyrene inner core that absorbs shock upon impact. The inside of the helmet has memory foam that offers a consistent shape and depth for exceptional fit, comfort and stability. The inner shell can be replaced quickly and cheaply after a fall. There are discrete vents above and below the visor and the highly effective airflow channels help increase circulation to eliminate sweat. While there is a huge range of colours and design details for this helmet, at $500 the ShadowMatt is the entry level model. Different colours and materials will expand the cost.
CASCO PRESTIGE AIR HELMET
The Casco Prestige Air helmet delivers more than shiny good looks – it provides great air flow even when the outside temperatures are set to cremate. A honeycomb mesh is stretched across the interior of the helmet to achieve perfect comfort and position without touching the head itself. The interior of the helmet comes with soft top-stitched leather and there are several colour options of white with gold piping, black carbon, black, beige and navy with silver-pip- ing. Priced at $200 this helmet is the optimum riding cap for those in the hottest climates.
KEP CROMO GLITTER TEXTILE HELMET
The Kep Cromo Glitter Textile helmet is beautiful and stylish. The shell includes air passages that allow the air to circulate in a single, precise direction of flow: fresh air comes in from the front slits and keeps the head cool, while the warm air created by body heat flows out from the rear of the helmet. This keeps the head permanently cool and dry. The internal lining is anatomical pad that adapts perfectly to fit the nape of the neck, ensuring optimum comfort and total breathability. This helmet is black with a black scratch proof glitter front grill and is priced at $1250.