The 9 Best Riding Helmets

Updated December 20, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

9 Best Riding Helmets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. As with any sport, it's a good idea to protect the most vulnerable parts of your body from impacts while on horseback. If you have an equestrian in the family, make sure his or her head is well shielded at all times from any nasty falls with one of these riding helmets. They have been rated for durability, style and cost. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best riding helmet on Amazon.

9. Ultra-Lite Equi-Lite

If you want to show off your personal style with bright colors not often found in this category, the Ultra-Lite Equi-Lite is a terrific option. It's best for beginners and hobbyists, though, as it would look out of place in competitions.
  • dial-fit adjustment system
  • even the large size isn't very big
  • construction is somewhat flimsy
Brand Ultra-Lite
Model 113516
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Medalist 106866

The Medalist 106866 will make you look like you were born to be an equestrian. It has a traditional style that riders have been wearing for many years, but some may find the matte velveteen outer shell a bit dated or boring.
  • fast drying liner
  • 3 point harness keeps it secure
  • sizes tend to run large
Brand Medalist
Model 106866
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Tipperary Sportage

The Tipperary Sportage is built with resistance to strong impacts in mind. Its heavy duty yet lightweight ABS material will protect your head in case of a fall, and a reflective rear strip will help keep you visible at night.
  • interior is made of comfort foam
  • available in a wide range of colors
  • does not include a liner
Brand Tipperary
Model pending
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. IRH Equi-Pro

With its soft, removable, machine washable inner lining that wicks moisture away, and numerous vent ports the IRH Equi-Pro will greatly improve your experience on horseback by keeping you cool and comfortable day after day.
  • clip closure harness adds security
  • choose from five color options
  • a bit tight on rounder heads
Brand IRH
Model 123716-Matte Black-Medi
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Troxel Spirit Schooling

The Troxel Spirit Schooling features 7 mesh-covered vents, a strong and durable outer shell, and an innovative dial fit system, making it great for growing kids. Don't let its low price scare you off, as it is a top-quality choice.
  • fits true to size
  • liner can be removed and washed
  • makes your head look a bit big
Brand Troxel
Model 04-046L
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Devon-Aire 1002

The Devon-Aire 1002 features fully adjustable nylon straps with a quick-snap buckle and a dial-fit retention system to ensure it stays on tight, even on rougher outings. It meets all SEI and ASTM safety standards, so you can rest easy knowing you're properly protected.
  • removable cushioned head liner
  • comes in matte and glossy finishes
  • comfortable and inexpensive
Brand Devon Aire
Model 1002BLKS/M-P
Weight pending
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Charles Owen Ayr8

The Charles Owen Ayr8 has a low-profile appearance, so you won't feel like a giant bobblehead, but it does not compromise on safety. It has a flip-up visor, front and rear vent holes, and is available in a variety of accent color options.
  • microfiber suede outer lining
  • comes in one-eighth size increments
  • quality is worth the high cost
Brand Charles Owen
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

2. Ovation Schooler

With high flow mesh vents and a rubberized finish, the Ovation Schooler offers durability and functionality for any rider, with a range of sizes to fit even the smallest heads. Leather straps and an adjustable dial keep it snug.
  • lightweight for long riding days
  • removable breakaway visor
  • designed to stay clear of your face
Brand Ovation
Model 467565BKBRNS/MD
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

1. One K Defender

The One K Defender features a high quality, synthetic suede covered, polycarbonate shell and is designed for both comfort and style. It boasts an innovative stainless steel mesh ventilation system to keep you cool on hot days.
  • comfortable padded harness
  • washable and antimicrobial liner
  • suitable for wearing in competitions
Brand K.ONE
Model 468260BKMATXL
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

How To Get The Most Protection From A Helmet

Most riding helmets on the market are rather visually appealing, topping off your riding apparel nicely, but they are not just accessories. They can make the difference between a fall that just temporarily throws you off your horse, and a fall that changes your life forever, or possibly ends it. So you need to take helmet shopping seriously.

When searching for a helmet, you want to find one that is approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM test equestrian helmets to see how they hold up to things like sharp or blunt blows, extreme temperatures (you can’t wear materials that diminish in the sun, leaving you vulnerable), drops, and harness strength.

Even if a company sells helmets that are not ASTM certified and assures you their product does meet ASTM certification standards, you have to question why they didn’t go through the official test. Though there are other certifiers like Snell and Kitmark; ASTM is the only one that approves helmets for professional level riding.

There are several types of equestrian riding helmets in a range of designs , but if you are a rigorous rider and do a lot of jumping, your best bet is a skull cap or an eventing design since these offer more protection along the backs and sides. Keep in mind though, that these types often don’t have a sun-blocking brim. That is on purpose, since competitive riders need all the visibility they can get. But if you want a helmet that can double as a competitive and leisurely riding one, try one with a see-through brim; that offers the best of both worlds.

The Top Dumb Excuses Not To Wear A Helmet

People come up with some pretty stupid reasons to not wear a helmet. One such excuse is, “I know how to do an emergency stop and dismount.” Fine, but do you know how to do that in a real life, high-pressure, life-threatening situation? Or do you just know how to do that in the calm, comfortable surroundings of a practice ring?

Pulling off an emergency stop and dismount, when you are truly fearing for your life, is not as easy as pulling one off in theory. And even if you are an expert at these maneuvers, are you willing to bet your life on your skills?

Some riders complain that helmets give them headaches. This is a tragic and uneducated reason to stop wearing them. If your helmet gives you a headache, you’re simply wearing the wrong one. A pro shop can easily fit you for the perfect model that will not cause you pain, and will keep you safe. Sadly, some people give vein excuses like, “Helmets mess up my hair” or “I don't want to sweat and develop acne.” If you ask any of the thousands who have suffered a life-threatening head injury from riding, they will tell you that they would rather be alive with some pimples and bad hair than the alternative option.

One major excuse people use is masked as an explanation. Some people wear a helmet, but it’s not a riding one. While this is certainly better than wearing no head protection, you have to keep in mind that bicycle or motorcycle helmets are not designed with horseback riding risks in mind. Equestrian helmets are built to help you survive falling off of a horse, and a horse is much taller than a bicycle or motorcycle. Ultimately, there is no good reason not to protect your head.

Alarming Riding Accident Statistics

Stables and riding trails are so peaceful. During off-hours, you see sleepy horses happily wagging their tails, riders grooming their prized pet, and maybe some commentators enjoying lemonade between races. These settings are nothing like the high adrenaline tracks of Nascar races, but don’t let the visual differences fool you. The truth is that more people end up in the hospital every year due to horseback riding accidents than due to a motorcycle, football, or ski accident.

Some people might say that horses are more predictable than vehicles since you can usually tell a horse is breaking down long before it can no longer ride. Meanwhile, vehicles can be running apparently smoothly until they suddenly stop in the middle of a highway of rushing traffic.

But horses are unpredictable in their own ways since they are living animals. Twenty percent of horse-related accidents don’t even happen while the person is riding a horse, but rather when they are simply standing near them. Why? Because horses have feelings, they can become scared or angry, and suddenly kick their legs in the air.

If you believe that, should you fall, the chances it will result in a head injury are small, you’re wrong. Of the over 70,000 people who go to the hospital every year due to a horse riding accident, over 12,000 of those will have suffered a head injury. That means over twenty percent of horse riding accidents result in a head injury.

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Last updated on December 20, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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