Since 2011, Virginia Tech researchers have been providing unbiased helmet ratings that allow consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing helmets. The helmet ratings are the culmination of over 15 years of research on head impacts in sports and identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk. This work is 100% independent of any funding or influence from helmet manufacturers.

With sponsorship from eventing supporter Jacqueline Mars, USHJA, USEF, and USEA, a total of 40 equestrian helmets were rated using the STAR evaluation system, rating each equestrian helmet based on the results of 12 impact tests in the laboratory using a headform. Impact tests evaluate a helmet’s ability to reduce linear and rotational acceleration of the head correlated to concussion risk from a range of head impacts a rider might experience. Helmets with more stars provide a reduction in concussion risk for these impacts compared to helmets with fewer stars. All helmets in the study have passed American standards (ASTM F1163, SNELL E2016) and/or European standards (VG1 01.040, PAS 015).

Researchers test the helmet’s front, side, and back at two impact energies based on industry standards for equestrian helmet performance, advanced video analysis of equestrian events, and peer-reviewed equestrian research. The lower and higher severity test conditions represent the range of impacts that could result in concussions.


Each lab helmet impact is weighted to contribute equally to the average helmet’s overall score. Concussion risk from each impact test’s peak linear and rotational acceleration values is computed. Each risk is then multiplied by its weighting factor and then summed together to calculate an overall score estimating the number of concussions the average person would sustain if they experienced identical impacts to those tested in the lab. A lower STAR score indicates better helmet performance.

It is interesting to note that the only two helmets receiving a 5-star rating in this study were the Champion Revolve X-Air MIPS (price $460) and the TuffRider Carbon Fiber ($58).

See all helmet ratings here.