The $600 vs. $80 Equestrian Helmet

Hanging in my tack room are two well-worn helmets. The GPA Speed Air (retails arounn $649) and the Tipperary Sportage (retails around $79.95). I am asked a fairly consistent range of questions about them by curious riding buddies. Here are a few of my thoughts on how they stack-up.

1. Is the expensive helmet really more comfortable?

The short answer.... Yes, most of the time. The specific hat sizing, in 1/8” increments, of the GPA seems to provide the better fit. When I first put it on it took just a few tiny tweaks of the lining and it fit like a glove. The less expensive helmet came in standard S, M, L sizing. I have readjusted it a number of times and although it’s fine, and comfortable enough, the fit of the GPA is better. 

2. Which one has better air flow?

For me they are about equal. 

3. What is the primary advantage of the GPA Helmet?

The quality of material is really nice. The fit is excellent. The liner is replaceable and/or washable so when it starts to smell weird you have more options. And, I really like the profile better when it’s on. You see a lot of GPA helmets in the show ring because of their traditional profile.

4. What is the primary advantage to the Tipperary Helmet?

The Tipperary Sportage Helmet is a little lighter and it comes in tons of cool colors. So, for summer riding I have a white one. I look a little like a cotton swab coming through the trees. But, my head stays noticeably cooler on really hot days which makes it more comfortable for summer endurance riding. Also, at the reduced price of the Tipperary when I scrape it on a sharp Juniper branch I don’t cringe as much while wondering how deep the scratches are.

5. Which one is safer?

Both helmets are ASTM-SEI certified to the same testing standards. There doesn’t appear to be any studies stating that one is safer than the other. 

6. Which one is your favorite?

I honestly don’t have a favorite. Which one I wear is just dependent on what I’m doing and what’s more practicle. The best advice on what helmet to purchase came from a friend who said “the best helmet is the one you will wear consistently.”


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