Your riding helmet is one of the most essential pieces of kit you own and we would always recommend that you wear a helmet while riding, and preferably also when you’re handling your horse from the ground.
Head injuries present the most serious risk to riders so it’s crucial that you wear an approved form of protective headwear, but with a huge choice of riding hats available it can be difficult to pick the best one. Read on for advice from the team at Champion Riding Hats to help make your decision a little easier.
There should be no compromise when it comes to safety, and developments in materials and designs mean that most helmets on the market today are lightweight, while ventilation systems help to keep your head cool and you comfortable. Horses are unpredictable creatures and it’s far better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your safety.
Choosing a riding helmet
There are several things to consider before you buy a new riding hat. One is what types of activities you do with your horse, and if you compete under rules you must ensure that your helmet is up to the standard specified by the organiser/governing body.
Another is to ensure that the hat you choose fits properly and is comfortable to wear. Different brands of riding hats and helmets fit differently and may suit different head shapes. Even within one brand, different styles and shapes of hat will fit slightly differently.
To help make sure you choose the best hat for your head it’s essential that your hat is fitted in store by a qualified fitter, as they will be able to guide you as to the best style and fit for your individual needs.
Fixed peak or skull cap?
The choice between a fixed peak riding helmet or a skull cap largely comes down to personal preference and the style that fits you best.
Modern fixed peaks are flexible or detachable and so will not hinder the protection offered in the event of a fall. In fact, some research shows that fixed peaks offer extra protection to the nose as they can help to prevent full force facial impact in the event of a face-down fall.
Fixed peaks have the advantage of helping to shade your eyes in bright sunshine and to keep rain from your eyes during bad weather, but they can hinder your line of sight when you’re riding in a forward, cross-country seat. This is why the vast majority of cross-country riders choose a skull cap for this phase. Peaked hats are no longer permitted for cross-country riding under British Eventing rules, or under Pony Club rules.
There are several different standards of riding hat/helmet available. The current standards to be aware of are PAS 015 2011, VG1, ASTM F1163-15 and Snell E2016. PAS 015 2011 and Snell E2016 offer a higher level of protection than that provided by VG1 and ASTM F1163-15.
If you compete under rules you must ensure that your hat is up to the standard specified by the organisation in question, e.g. British Riding Clubs, British Eventing, British Dressage or British Showjumping. It’s well worth checking up on the rules before you buy a new hat so you know that you are buying one that you can compete in.
When to replace your riding hat
If you have ever had a fall in which your riding hat sustained an impact your hat should be replaced.
It’s also worth considering that, after years of use, the level of protection your hat will offer you will diminish. Even though your riding hat may not have sustained an impact, it is still important to replace it regularly. This is because the protective materials it contains will gradually deteriorate with exposure to heat and repeated use, which means that your riding hat will not offer you the same level of protection as it did when it was new.
Champion recommend that you replace your hat annually if you ride daily, and every two to three years if you ride occasionally. You should always replace your hat after a fall, especially if it has sustained an impact.
If you are concerned that your hat might be damaged, then play safe and replace it.
Shop for riding hats
Uvex Perfexxion II
RRP from £199.95
Colours: Black matt, blue matt, anthracite matt
Safety standards: VG1 01.040 2014-12
For stockists: zebraproducts.co.uk
The perfexxion II combines sportiness, climate control and safety. It features a pentagonal honeycomb structure of the ventilation channels to help keep you cool and for increased safety the outer shell is extended on the back of the head.
Champion Revolve Ventair MIPS Jockey Sport
RRP from £202
Sizes: 6¼-6¾ (51cm-55cm), 67/8-7¾ (56cm-63cm)
Safety standards: British PAS 015 2011, VG1 01.040 2014-12, ASTM F1163-15, British Kitemarked to PAS015 2011
For stockists: championhats.com
A lightweight jockey-style helmet with MIPS technology, a central ventilation strip, removable crown comfort padding, a four-point leather harness with rear lacing adjustment, and brush fabric lining.
One K Glamour Rose Gold
Sizes: Small, large
Colours: Black, navy
Safety standards: PAS015 certified to ASTM standards
For stockists: justtogs.co.uk
As well as great looks, this hat uses a revolutionary air pump system for comfort and a bespoke fit. Three air pockets at the back of the liner can be inflated until you get the ideal fit. The quick-dry liner is moisture wicking, plus airflow is helped by the multiple air vents.
Charles Owen Luna Helmet
RRP £185 £225
Colours: Black gloss, black matt, navy
Safety standards: ASTM F1163-15, PAS015:2011, VG1 01-040 2014-12
For stockists: charlesowen.com
Designed for everyday riding, the Luna has a slim and low-profile styling with a leather-look harness and washable padded headband. The helmet features a unique 360° ventilation system, with additional ventilation on the crown.
Gatehouse Ciana Riding Hat
RRP from £139. 98
Colours: Matt/gloss black or navy, matt black, suedette/glitter black or navy
Safety standards: PAS 015:2011 and VG1 01.040 2014-12
For stockists: gatehouse-equestrian.co.uk.
A stylish choice, this lightweight and comfortable riding hat has a sleek and smart appearance. Its quick-drying and highly wicking padded liner can be removed for washing, and vents maximise airflow for greater comfort.
Colours: Black matt, black shine, navy matt, navy shine
Safety standards: VG1 01.040 2014-12, ASTM F1163 with SEI mark
For stockists: kask.com
For all riders and disciplines, this helmet consists of two shells, one in EPS and thermoformed PC, the other in ABS — with an injection molded system. The inner padding is made of hydrophilic fabric that’s breathable and antibacterial. There’s also front and rear ventilation for comfort.