Monday, June 15, 2015

What helmet should I buy?

So, I fell off my horse. I fell mostly onto my hip and back, but in the rolling followup I smacked the back of my head against the ground, too.

It was a relatively minor fall - helmet didn't crack, no real headache, anything like that.

The helmet was already nearing the end of its useful life, however - the sticker inside said it was manufactured in November 2011 - and I am a firm subscriber to the rule of replacing your helmet whenever it gets hit.

In the past, I've mailed the helmet back to the company, used a backup (usually my show helmet), and then paid the nominal fee to replace it through the company. I've done this at least three or four times with IRH, and been very happy with that process. (Did you know you can and should do that? It's an important part of product research so that we can make helmets better and safer.)

After a marathon day spent trying on every single helmet at Dover Saddlery about 8 years ago, I've been loyal to one particular helmet: the IRH Air-Lite Dura Soft Touch.

It is not the most attractive helmet on the market, but it has many other virtues. It is light, vented, tough, and it fits my head perfectly. I've been really, really happy with it. As I said, this is at least my fifth one in a row.

But. You knew there was a but coming, right?

I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to ride in something a bit nicer, and a bit more stylish. The Air-Lite gives me the most incredible bubble head, and I'm kind of sick of it.

So this is where you come in, internet: what helmets should I try on when I head down to Smartpak next week?

Things to keep in mind:

- $200 max budget (who the fuck are these people who pay $1,000 for a goddamn helmet?!)
- oval-shaped head
- I hate the Tipperaries; I'm looking for traditional styling, black.

A quick internet browse leads me to believe I should be looking at Charles Owens and IRHs. I'll try on a wide range at Smartpak, see what they have in clearance, and if I don't love what they have there I can hit up a large Dover Saddlery nearby as well.

Would love any and all suggestions!


  1. I seriously love my CO. Fits my head like a glove. Never had another helmet fit me so nicely.

  2. I have a CO and it's quite stylish, BUT it's hotter than Hades.

    Honestly, I school in a cheap ovation that cost like $50 and I love, Love, LOVE the venting. So nice for summer riding.

    And no, I have no idea who spends $350+ on helmets. I can't.

  3. I have had a lot of IRH helmets (currently have one as well as a Samshield). I really like the elite extreme. No bubble head look and lots of ventilation. I think IRH is very underrated.

  4. I love my Ovation - it's not the schooling version - think I spent $60 on it. Anyway, it fits my head and doesn't look like a black bubble slowly engulfing my face. It's a little warm but I'm fine with it.

  5. If you're not worried about venting since VT is much cooler than TX, I'd get the CO Jr8. It's reasonably priced and fits my oval head very well!

  6. The COs are definitely oval shaped, but as others have stated, they're hotter than hell. The Jr8 is about $165 and a lot of people seem to like it. (My head is too round for COs.)

    Ovation makes a solid line of helmets. I have the Schooler and it's comfortable, lightweight, and runs about $55. They have several options under $100 if you don't like the look of the Schooler!

    Troxel also has a surprising number of good looking helmet options. I mean, they still make that classic white bubble of a helmet, but all of their English options are sleek and stylish. They're all under $200, too!

  7. the CO has never worked for my head shape, ever (despite wishing very hard haha). i've been happy with a few IRHs over the years, but LOVE my One K. happy helmet hunting (tho bummer about the fall)

  8. My Charles Owen is my favorite helmet. I do endurance in Tipperary but CO is much more comfortable (but warmer). Needs replacing for age reasons but haven't gotten around to it yet. It's on my cart and I use for a driving helmet right now.

  9. I love my CO AYR8 (show helmet) and I school in a IRH Elite Eq which I really like and keeps my head cool when it's crazy hot in summer.

    Neither are under $200 but maybe you can find them on sale! :)

  10. I'll second IRH. I've had several of the IRH ATH SSV helmets and liked them.


Thanks for commenting! It's great to hear from you.