Equestrians shopping for a riding helmet have a new resource that can help them weigh their many options.
The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, which has been testing protective headgear for a variety of sports and activities for 15 years, has just released research-based ratings for 40 popular models of riding helmets. This marks first time the lab has evaluated equestrian helmets.
The ratings are based on the laboratory’s unique STAR evaluation system (Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk), which incorporates the results of 12 impact tests. Each helmet is assigned an overall score, which the lab describes as “an estimate of the number of concussions the average person would sustain if they experienced identical impacts to those tests in the lab”. A lower overall score indicates better helmet performance. In addition, each helmets performance is indicated with a star rating on a one-to-five scale, with more stars indicating better protection from concussion.
To see all STAR helmet ratings and rankings, click here.
All the tested helmets were ASTM/SEI certified, which has been required for all headgear worn by junior riders in several United States Equestrian Federation competitions since the late 1980s. The Helmet Laboratory emphasizes that the STAR system is not a replacement for these basic pass/fail certification standards but is intended to provide additional and more detailed safety information. The helmet lab operates independently and the testing methods have been published as peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals.
Cost-conscious equestrians will be glad to note that the STAR testing indicates that higher price tags do not necessarily translate into more protection. While the top-rated helmet is the $460 Champion Revolve X-Air MIPS helmet, with five stars and an overall score of 1.46, a close second was the $58 Tuffrider Carbon Fiber, which also has five stars and an overall score of 2.43. In third place was the IRH Equi-Lite ($50), with four stars and an overall score of 2.75.
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