Your riding hat is, undeniably, one of the most important pieces of kit you'll ever own as an equestrian. That being said, many riders underestimate the importance of having their riding hat properly fitted by a trained and experienced hat fitter. Having a hat that is the perfect fit for your head, can make all the difference between a hat that will do its job and provide the protection needed in the event of an accident, and one that won't.
Here we will explain how to tell if your hat really does fit you properly, and when you should be looking to replace your existing hat. We'll also demystify the current hat standards so you know exactly what to look for when buying a hat.
When to replace your hat
We always advise that any riding hat be replaced with a new one if it has suffered any type of impact. This could be from a riding accident or simply by dropping it onto a hard surface. Your hat may look fine on the outside but there may be hidden damage on the inside which could prevent it from providing adequate protection in the future. For this reason also, we never advocate buying second hand riding hats as you can never be sure of their history!
Charles Owen recommend that you replace your riding hat every 5 years, as this is its realistic lifespan. Over time the protective elements in your hat will begin to deteriorate and then it may not provide the level of protection that a newer hat would.
Finding a hat that fits
As a BETA-trained and approved retailer, our staff have a wealth of hat fitting experience and will be able to offer you advice on which hat is best suited to your head shape.
You might have a specific hat in mind, but it's always a good idea to be open to trying a few different hats on as the fit can vary from hat to hat, even between the same brand and models.
BETA advise that 'a well-fitting hat sits firmly on the head – just above your eyebrows and ears – and should fit snuggly all the way around the head with no pressure points at the temples.'
There shouldn't be any movement in the hat once it's on your head; it shouldn't tip forward or back or rock from side to side. Any movement on the head means the hat doesn't fit properly and therefore the level of protection it should offer will be dramatically reduced.
Whilst you shouldn't rely on the chin strap to hold the hat on your head, it does need to be done up properly in order to work in harmony with the hat. Many riders can be seen with the strap dangling loosely under their chin! It should be done up so that it sits neatly under the jaw with space to fit just one finger between the strap and your chin.
Any laces at the back of the hat should also be done up tightly to help ensure the absolute fit of the hat.
Which type of hat
Riding hats are available in many different styles and materials; including velvet, suede and leather. Riding hats normally have a peak whereas skull caps don't. Hats can be vented, unvented, decorated with coloured binding or even covered in sparkles - the choice is yours and it is almost endless! Some are suited to different disciplines such as cross country or dressage. Your experienced R&R hat fitter will help you find the hat which fits you best and is also suited to your chosen discipline.
PAS 015 98/2011 Kitemark is generally the most common standard in the UK. All the hats we sell at R&R Country (with the exception of the 'Beagler') are approved to this standard and it is widely accepted by most riding associations.*
SNELL E2001 is a 'high-performance' standard. It combines all aspects of both PAS 015 and ASTM but it is also tested against even higher levels of impact, making it a popular choice in eventing and with cross country riders. Examples of hats with this standard are the HS1 Jockey Skull and the Charles Owen 4 Star Jockey Skull.
VG1 Kitemark was brought in as an interim standard when EN1384 was discontinued. It carries the Kitemark but it is unclear how long it will last if the new EN1384:2017 standard becomes affiliated with the Kitemark.
ASTM F1163 SEI is an American standard which is similar to PAS 015. It doesn't incorporate all the same tests though and the hats often have large ventilation holes or slots in them. It is accepted by some riding organisations.
*Please always check with your individual riding association to ensure your hat meets their current rules and regulations.
EN1384 standard was withdrawn in 2014. This doesn’t mean your hat is now unsafe if it has this standard. However, the standard was withdrawn so it could be reviewed and improved, so you may wish to look at replacing your hat if it only carries this standard.
EN1384:2017 is the new standard to replace EN1384, but it is does not currently bear the Kitemark. Some riding organisations that were going to accept this new standard have decided to wait until the situation has been clarified and the standard has the Kitemark.
Kitemark this isn't a standard but rather a registered trademark of the British Standards Institute. 'The Kitemark indicates that a company complies with a rigorous system of regulation and testing, including regular batch and audit testing of random samples.' BETA
Click here to browse our range of riding hats online.
Even better, pop down to one of our stores and we'll be happy to discuss your riding hat needs and help you find that one perfect hat.