How to choose a new riding helmet

choose riding hat

With a range of more than 30 great riding helmets, Charles Owen has one to suit every rider.

Given so many options of styles, colours and features, it can be difficult to choose a new riding hat.

Here are our tips on how to narrow down your options and find your best fit and style!

Type of riding

Pick the type of helmet that is most suited to the type of riding you do. What is your discipline?

If you’re a foxhunter, you’ll probably be most interested in one of our velvets.

If you’re an event rider who will be galloping cross-country, a skullcap will probably be your pick.

Or, if you’re looking for a helmet for show jumping or dressage, our Ayr8® Plus is a perfect choice and comes in a variety of custom options.

Next, consider the level you ride at and whether you plan to compete.

Our children’s riding hat collection is perfect for anyone who is beginning their riding career, and experienced riders looking for a helmet that will set them apart in competition may be more interested in our Premium helmets.


The emphasis on safety and protection from impact in a fall, as well as the helmet’s ability to stay in place, should be your first priority.

Consult your trainer, riding establishment or your sport’s governing body for their helmet safety requirements.

It is paramount to your safety to have the correct helmet fit. Charles Owen helmets meet multiple international safety standards.

Helmet features and details

Decide on the features that are most important to you.

Is customisation crucial? Do you ride in a hot climate and need maximum ventilation? Do you want something sparkly or more subtle?

Next decide on the finer details. You can pick your helmet’s colour off the shelf or decide to customise one to match your personal preference.

Our Ayr8® With Piping online configurator is a great tool to bring your vision to life and see if it’s exactly what you want before you buy it.

No matter what you can’t live without in a helmet, you’ll be able to find a Charles Owen that fits the bill.

Helmet fitting and comfort

Once you’ve selected the style of helmet and the features you’re most interested in, have a professional helmet fitting done.

Look specifically for an approved retailer with a Helmet Fitting Certificate. They will have extensive knowledge of the different ranges available, be able to help you choose the right model, correctly fit the helmet to your head and make any necessary adjustments.

Every riding helmet in our range is designed to fit slightly differently so that we can accommodate a wide array of head shapes. Within certain models, we also offer both regular and Round Fit.

When you have a professional fitting done at your local tack store or at one of our sponsored events, your fitter will start by measuring the circumference of your head in centimeters to find your size (or your size range if you’re in between sizes).

After this, we recommend trying on a few different models of helmet to see which one provides the best fit.

The helmet should give a snug, even pressure all the way around the head without causing any painful pressure points.

A new helmet should never rock backwards, forwards or sideways. A helmet that moves on the head in any way will significantly reduce the level of protection it is designed to offer.

Since it will mould to the shape of your head as you wear it, it’s important not to buy a hat that is too big.

Your professional fitter will be able to check the fit and offer advice to ensure you leave with a helmet that will be comfortable and meets your needs.

Checks for a secure harness:

  • Check the length of the chinstrap. When correctly adjusted, it should sit just under the chin and gently touch the bottom of the ear lobe; the strap should not be around the throat.
  • You should be able to put a finger between the strap and your chin. While it should be reasonably tight, it should also allow you to talk comfortably.
  • The rubber band on the chinstrap should lie close to the buckle, as it helps keep the webbing or leather strap secure and stops it from slipping through the buckle.
  • The harness laces at the back of the helmet should be secured tightly to ensure the helmet hugs your head. Always adjust the chinstrap first, then the back laces. They must be taut enough to support the chinstrap, but not enough to force it around the throat.

See our guide on how to adjust a harness.

How long does a riding helmet last?

Your riding helmet is designed to protect your head and help reduce the chance of injury.

Bear in mind that helmets should be replaced following a severe blow – essential if the rider loses consciousness or has a severe headache afterward.

Even after just being dropped onto a hard, unforgiving surface, your helmet may be damaged even though it may not be immediately apparent visually.

Realistically, riding helmets should be replaced after approximately five years, which is the expected lifespan of a helmet.

If, however, you suspect that yours may have been damaged during this time, then it should be replaced by a new one as it may not give you adequate protection in a subsequent impact.

Helmet care

To provide the best protection when you’re riding, a helmet is designed to be weaker than your head so that it will absorb impact instead of your skull.

Therefore, it is important to never do anything to your helmet that you wouldn’t think of doing to your head.

A helmet’s interior is made of high-grade expanded polystyrene that is full of microscopic bubbles. The layers of bubbles burst upon impact and, as they burst, they protect your head and reduce the risk of injury.

Helmets are also sensitive to extreme heat (70°C+/158°F+), and as such should always be stored in an ambient temperature and out of direct sunlight.

The tiny polystyrene bubbles inside the helmet will melt past these temperatures, so if you leave your helmet in a car on a hot day, the helmet could be compromised.

Your helmet should never be dry-cleaned, exposed to solvents or put in the dishwasher. Always clean your helmet with specialist products made for either the interior or exterior of the helmet.

Enjoy it!

The final step is to bring your new riding helmet home and enjoy your riding even more!

When you ride in your Charles Owen, you can feel confident that you have a helmet that not only suits you perfectly, but also provides the most comprehensive protection available.

Click here to find your perfect helmet!

Charlotte Dujardin
I trust Charles Owen to take care of me with safety and style.
Charlotte Dujardin CBE