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The Hat Site Riding Hats, Tests and Consumer Standards

Riding hats have been traditionally produced from a combination of gossamer and shellac and although many are still made using these materials, the nature of the materials used prevent the hats from conforming to any of the British standards which are now in place. Gossamer is formed from linen, coated with a shellac based paste which makes for a better fitting hat. However when exposed to water has a tendency of becoming soft preventing sufficient protection.

Riding hats have since 1963 undergone a number of rigorous tests to ensure that they afford maximum safety to the wearer. The following aspects of the hats have been tested.


The original peaks by their inflexibility and inability to bend upon impact caused neck injuries. A modification to the original standard required the peaks to provide a certain amount of flexibility.


Straps used to secure the hat onto the head, were originally made from elastic. Tests proved that these straps allowed the hat to come away from the head upon a fall. They were therefore subsequently replaced with Nylon.

In 1982 research into riding accidents was carried out. Neurosurgeons found that of those involved in horse riding accidents, 1/3 of patients were found not to have been wearing a hat, 1/3 of the patients had their hat come away from their head during the fall and 1/3 did not have sufficient protection. This lead The British Standards Committee of 1984 to require that hats have more than 2 points of attachment and the 3rd point of attachment was to be some sort of harness.


Up until 1985 the shock absorption lining had been cork. This has now been replaced by expanded polystyrene to provide a reduction in the overall weight. The polystyrene is then protected by a hard fibreglass or plastic shell which will either then be painted or covered with velvet.

Standards were looked at again carefully in 1993 when 6 cross country riders were killed. The BSI introduced its own interim standard the PAS015 which was the first standard to test the bottom edge of the helmet. This standard was created from looking at all the draft proposals for the Euro-Standard and taking the highest option in each case. The European Standard, which was finally published in 1996 in Europe and 1997 in the UK BSEN1384, is now slightly lower than PAS015. A further test was devised, the first of its kind, to test the strength of the harness.

The PAS015 was revised in 1998 with the introduction of the crushing test to ensure the helmet could resist force.

Article compiled by – portal site dedicated to the headwear industry

Thanks go to Charles Owen for providing information for the above article.

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