How to measure and fit a riding helmet

fitting riding helmet

A properly fitted helmet is essential to riding safely. Our quick fitting tips and size conversion chart will help you get the correct sizing. We’ll also share a video to show what happens during a professional hat fitting, and lastly touch on advice for buying a kids helmet.

Charles Owen’s helmet range caters for every head shape. If one helmet model doesn’t feel quite right, try a Round Fit version or another model. The new Kylo helmet comes with dial-fit for adjustable sizing.

Before buying a helmet, check which international equestrian safety standards it meets. A helmet that meets multiple standards is guaranteed to offer protection in a wider range of accident scenarios.

How to size your head for a riding helmet

Using a soft fabric measuring tape, wrap it around the widest part of your head (over your hair).

It should follow a line about 3/4 inch above your eyebrows, just above the ear line and around the bump at the back of your head.

Take the measurement in centimetres (cm) and repeat a couple of times for the most accurate sizing.

Unlike most other helmet brands which rely on adjustable or broad size ranges (small/medium/large), Charles Owen sizing is very specific because that ensures the safest and most comfortable fit.

Riding helmet size chart

Use the size chart table below to convert your head size into a standard riding hat or jockey skull cap size.

Head size (cm)Helmet sizeSkull cap size
506 1/8000 1/2
516 1/400
526 3/800 1/2
536 1/20
546 5/80 1/2
556 3/41
566 7/81 1/2
587 1/82 1/2
597 1/43
607 3/83 1/2
617 1/24
627 5/84 1/2
637 3/45
647 7/85 1/2

Sizes 55cm and below are classed as children’s and are VAT exempt in the UK.

If you are between two sizes, round up to the larger size, or ideally try on helmets in both to determine which one gives the most snug fitting.

How to put a riding helmet on

When putting a helmet on, we are looking to get ‘the lock’. This is a sensation of the helmet latching and gripping onto the back of your head, which means it is on properly, secure and safe.

  1. Hair should ideally be worn in a low pony tail (if applicable)
  2. Place your forehead into the front of the helmet
  3. Using a rolling motion, push backwards to feel the helmet lock into the base of the skull (listen for a suction sound)
  4. Run a finger around the rim of the helmet to check for gaps or loose points. If there is any movement or gaps you may need to try a different size or a Round Fit
  5. Always adjust the chin strap first, then tie the back laces with a knot and bow (if applicable).

How should a riding helmet fit?

A new helmet will break in as you wear it and mould to the shape of your head. It should fit like a new pair of boots: snug, with a firm and even pressure all the way around.

Things to check for:

  1. A snug fit with even, firm pressure around the entire head
  2. No specific pressure points or gaps
  3. Helmet locks onto the back of the skull
  4. Helmet sits level on the head, covering the forehead leaving about an inch above the eyebrows
  5. With the harness unfastened, the helmet should not rock forwards nor backwards
  6. The chinstrap should sit just under the chin and gently touch the bottom of the ear lobe, avoiding the throat
  7. You should be able to put a finger between the strap and your chin
  8. The harness laces at the back of the helmet should be secured tightly
  9. Wear the helmet for 5 minutes to give time for it to mould to your head and reveal any pressure points.

Head shapes

Most people have an oval shaped head but some have a rounder shape. The shape of your head can effect how a helmet fits and its comfort.

head shapes riding helmet
Determining head shape – bird’s eye view

If you have a rounder shaped head, you may need to be open to trying on a variety of different helmets because models can fit slightly differently.

Most of our helmets now come in a Round Fit size. Watch our video showing how to tell your head shape.


Buying and fitting a child’s helmet

You can follow the same steps as above when measuring or fitting your child with a riding helmet, however there are a few extra important considerations.

Don’t be tempted into buying your child a helmet that’s a size too big so that it lasts longer. As with adults, a kid’s riding helmet must fit snug on their head for every ride otherwise it is simply not safe.

Children often wear riding helmets too loose which compromises the safety of the product. If possible, we recommend children are professionally fitted. At the very least parents should follow the steps above every time their child goes riding.

In particular, check the helmet is sitting level on your child’s head, not falling back or too far forward. Their forehead should be covered, about one inch above the eyebrows. Also ensure the harness is done up properly, but not too tight. You should be able to get a finger between their chin and the strap.

It’s a good idea to let your child choose the helmet they like best, as they are more likely to wear it properly, but always check it has the latest safety standards.

Most of our riding hats do come in small sizing but we also have a kids range specifically designed and engineered for them.

In the UK, kids riding helmets (55cm and below) are VAT free.

We want you to find the Charles Owen helmet you love, so feel free to ask our knowledgeable fitting experts any questions.

Book a helmet fitting with your local stockist or browse our riding helmets.

Best selling helmets

See our guide to the best riding helmets for each discipline.