I really don’t like the direction that equestrian riding helmets are going. Three years ago I had several choices in a helmet that had a harness – NOT a “dial-fit” system, a real honest-to-goodness harness that either fit your head or didn’t. The Troxel Dakota Duratec fit perfectly and voila! I had a new helmet to replace my much abused Troxel Sport. Now, three years later it is time to replace my helmet and the only non-dial-fit helmet in my price range are the Troxel sport and the Tipearrary (I just butchered the spelling on that) eventing helmet that is very popular for endurance in this area. In the intervening years, Troxel has added a dial-a-fit system to my beloved Dakota 🙁
So what do I have against dial-a-fits? By adding the dial, the helmet now fits no one and everyone at the same time. At best I get a mediocre fit that adds bulk, pressure points, and weight to the back of my head. As a kid I rode in my friends helmet that was a “lid-locker”. It was a WONDERFUL invention but this new dial-a-fit just does not cut it! I would rather pay a little more, have the options of many different sizes, and choose a HELMET (not harness) that truely fits my head.
Many high end helmets do come in the coveted non-dial-a-fit variety, unfortunately I have put my put foot down at $100. Technically helmets are suppose to last 5 years under normal use. The key is NORMAL. How many of you out there think that endurance is “normal” use? I’m not plunking down $250+ every three years for a Charles Owen. Sunlight is a major factor in the decay of plastic materials. My thought is that endurance riders spend much more time out in the sun than their arena counterparts. I’ve only gotten three years out of my last two helmets. Maybe someone who didn’t wear their helmet for every ride and perhaps had an indoor arena (and didn’t live in California?) might get closer to 5 years.
My helmet will be three years old in June. In that time I have fallen off ~25 times (thanks to Minx), slammed into uncountable tree branches (thank you Minx), and spent hundreds of hours in the sun. In fact the first 2 days I rode in this helmet I had 2 falls that I probably should have replaced it for but I had JUST payed $75 for it AND it was in soft ground grass (first time), and the beach (second time). I wasn’t even sure I HIT my head….although a horse did gallop over me, hitting me on the back several times at the beach…..anyways. The last couple of months I took a long, hard look at my helmet and realized I wasn’t comfortable with how it looked (condition wise). The plastic look brittle, it was cracked in several places from branches, and I had a nagging thought that one of those falls could have compromised it…..but I struggled with finding a replacement. Buying another Dakota was out of the question because of the change of harness inside. I had two options: Troxel sport or the tiperarry helmet.
My first helmet (before the Dakota) was a Troxel sport. I loved it, but unfortunately it SCREAMS new rider. The Dakota was slightly heavier, but vented well, had a bigger brim, and most importantly – gave me the image of a serious rider. Even though the Dakota is VERY comfortable, I still take it off when I get off the horse. I never noticed the sport and would often wear it most of the day. The sport fits me extremely well, is light, and dissipates heat well, and is CHEAP (less than $30!).
I really wanted to like the Tiperarry (from now on “Tip” so I don’t keep embarrassing everyone with the spelling of that brand name….). I tried one on several times and did like it but had my reservations. The fit was good, but the helmet is VERY heavy compared to the Troxels. It has a LOT more padding inside which would make it very warm.
It came down to the these two facts:
1. I am starting to care less and less how I look and how people perceive me. I’m more confident in my riding ability now. I’m willing to wear spandex in front of the world and duct tape a handkerchief to the back of my helmet. I don’t think wearing the Sport is going to help or hurt the image I have going on.
2. Comfort is king. Comfort includes getting off and running on the trail. Light and un-noticeable trumps heavy and padded.
3. A low price tag means I am more likely to replace the helmet if I’ve been though a questionable incident.
So today I was buying fly spray at the feed store and tried a Sport on (after trying the new Dakota in a vain effort to make it fit). Sigh…The Sport really is the perfect helmet for fit and comfort for me. I plunked down the hard cold cash (ie the credit card) and bought myself a helmet.
Thought of the Day!!!
Do you wear a helmet (I’m NOT looking for the famous to wear or not to wear debate, just curious what kind, in what situations etc. I wore a helmet MUCH more regularly after college than before, but there are still situations – such as civil war reenactments – that I don’t wear one)
What do you think of the dial-a-fits?
How often do you replace your helmet?