Helmet Showdown

“Team GPA!”
“NO, Charles Owen all the way!”
“Ew, Samshield or nothing.”

Everyone has a personal preference for helmets and some people don’t even fit to certain brands. I’m lucky enough to have a head that fits most riding helmet brands and have had the opportunity to wear quite a few styles and brands. So, I give you my ultimate helmet review.

Disclaimer: I’ve purchased all of my helmets in sizes that allow me to wear my hair underneath unless otherwise noted.


Charles Owen GR8

My GR8 was my first nice helmet that I had and I got it back in 2008. Since then it has been reserved for showing, clinics, or the occasional special event.


Size: 7 1/4
Fit: Charles Owen helmets are known to fit more oval head shapes compared to other brands. This fits me well with my hair up but is too big and loose with my hair down.
Fabric/Outer shell: Microfiber suede.
Liner: Non-removable, padded liner.
Harness: Microfiber-suede covered nylon with lacing in the back. (I believed this has now been changed to leather.)
Ventilation: None, this thing is HOT in the summer.
Lastability: The padded lining has compressed a lot with use over time which effects fit (it fit better when I first got it and “broke in” the padding), but I’ve experienced no fading or pilling of the exterior fabric.
Cleanability: I’ve always used a soft, clean brush to remove any dirt or dust. You can also use a soft, slightly-damp cloth to clean the exterior. The interior should be cleaned with the Charles Owen Helmet Cleaner.
Replacement Policy: Receive a percentage of money back (dependent on the year) if the helmet has been purchased within the past three years.

Charles Owen JR8

I purchased my JR8 lightly used off of a friend as a schooling helmet. It was used for multiple rides a day, 5-6 days a week, for four years.


Size: 7
Fit: This never really fit correctly me with my hair underneath it (which makes sense because it is smaller than the GR8), and it would sit on top of my head as opposed to around my head. I usually wore it with my hair out and it fit fine.
Fabric/Outer shell: Microfiber suede.
Liner: Non-removable, padded liner.
Harness: Nylon.
Ventilation: None, very much like the GR8.
I beat this helmet up over the years (tossing it around in my bag, not cleaning it, leaving it out) and it has held up great. No fading or pilling.
Same as the GR8.
Replacement Policy: Same as the GR8.

Charles Owen ARY8

Of my Charles Owen helmets, I’ve had the least experience with this one. I’ve ridden in a friend’s a few times and I’ve worn one unmounted.


Size: 7 1/4
I found this to fit the same as my GR8 when I had first purchased it.
Fabric/Outer shell: 
Microfiber suede with a mesh center.
Non-removable, padded liner.
Medium, there is ventilation compared to the GR8 and JR8 but other helmets have better.
I can’t comment on this personally, but I have friends who have had this for quite some time and it has held up nicely.
Same as the GR8.
Replacement Policy: 
Same as the GR8.

GPA Speed Air Evolution

I recently got this helmet as a gift in May 2015 and have worn it consistently since then.


Size: 7 1/4
Fit: GPA helmets are known for fitting rounder heads and I find this to be true. This helmet puts less pressure on the sides of my head and fits with my hair in and out.
Fabric/Outer shell: Composite plastic.
Liner: Removable foam.
Harness: Nylon with padding in the back and removable padding under the chin. (The new Speed Air helmets feature a new harness design made of leather and without the pad.)
Ventilation: Great and obvious. The vents on this helmet are quite visible.
In the short time that I have had my Speed Air it has held up wonderfully. I do know that others have experienced the outer shell becoming scratched.
Simple, just wipe it down with a wet cloth and let dry.  The liner can be removed for washing.
Replacement Policy: Return it to the tack shop that you purchased it from within one year of purchase.

Samshield Premium

This is the newest addition to my helmet “collection” and have ridden in it consistently since purchasing last month.


Size: Medium shell.
I purchased this helmet with a size 7 liner in a medium shell and will be getting the size 71/4 liner to go with it. I cannot fit my hair underneath in the 7, but I can in the 7 1/4. I find this to fit well and the special liner relieves pressure on the forehead.
Fabric/Outer shell: Alcantara fabric.
Liner: Removable memory foam.
Harness: Leather.
Ventilation: Great. Samshield helmetss have the best ventilation, in my opinion, without having obvious vents on the exterior.
I can’t vouch for this personally since it is so new to me, but I’ve heard they last well.
I use a soft, clean brush to remove any dirt or dust or a slightly damp cloth. Liner can be removed for washing.
Replacement Policy: Same as Charles Owen (as far as I could find).


Published by Terisé

• New England Equestrian Blogger • • Photographer • • Editor •

5 thoughts on “Helmet Showdown

    1. Or I could be an idiot. Looks like it depends on the store you bought it from. My local tack store says “Samshield will replace a helmet for 25% off of retail price up to 3 years from date of purchase” but Dover says “Contact Manufactures Directly, Helmet must be purchased within the last 4 years.”


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