byNina Fedrizzi| May 12, 2017
Full disclosure: I am not a “playing the field” kind of helmet owner. I don’t have one helmet for shows and one helmet for home, and I don’t dabble from brand to brand. I find a helmet that I like, and I stick with it. Over the years, I’ve typically only replaced helmets when I had to (a.k.a. I fell off on my head) or they became too obsolete to show my face in them in the ring (so long, velvet hunt cap!) So imagine my excitement upon moving into the 21st century with a helmet that’s not only right on trend but also worth the hype.
The Samshield Miss Shield helmet takes inspiration for its longer-brimmed design from actual hats women have worn throughout history—which is helpful when you’re trying to create something that’s not only meeting required equipment standards for the show ring, but is also stylish. There are plenty of reasons the Miss Shield has become my latest, long-term helmet affair. Here are the top three.
1. It’s safe.
Thankfully, we live in an age where safety standards are mandatory in order for a top helmet brand to remain competitive on the equestrian market. What’s more, the thinking is, helmets today shouldn’t just meet the required standards, they should exceed them. And like other Samshield models on the market, the Miss Shield does just that.
Not only does the helmet meet CE VG1 (Europe) and ASTM/SEI F1163-15 (North and South America) standards, it’s made of the same polycarbonate used in high-end motorcycle helmets. Inside the shell, polystyrene material provides better energy dissipation in case of impact. Samshield helmets are tested in partnership with CRITT—a French certified laboratory renowned for being one of the most demanding in the world—to ensure that all its products meet three main criteria: the ability to absorb blunt impact, resist distortion (i.e. the crushing weight of a horse), and penetration by a sharp object, specifically through the helmet’s ventilation holes.
Samshield helmets exceed even the highest safety standards for all three criteria. Mission accomplished.
“Miss Shield’s dynamic shape and wide brim accentuate the face without adding bulk, and the end result is both flattering and feminine.”
2. It’s comfortable.
Ask any rider why they wear a Samshield and “comfort” will probably be at the top of the list. I was surprised at just how light the helmet felt in my hands, despite the significant lining on the inside. Slipping it on, I liked how it conformed to my head and yet, stayed in place steadily without feeling too tight. Much of this is thanks to Samshield’s internal ‘shape memory foam’ which (bonus!) is also removable and machine washable, eliminating the dreaded gnarly summer helmet situation that most of us know all too well.
The only difference from helmets I’ve worn in the past is that the back of the Miss Shield (and other Samshields) ends slightly higher on the head, so if you wear your hair in a hairnet under your helmet, you’ll want to put it into a ponytail in a higher spot on the back of your head than you might be used to. The semi-rigid chin strap system is also unique, but it’s soft and feels comfortable against the skin, with an added velcro attachment to ensure a perfect fit.
For warm-weather riding, Miss Shield’s wide brim, first popularized on winter circuits, is great for keeping out the sun, while various invisible air inlets (you really have to look to find ’em) around the helmet maximize airflow. The coolest part? When the wind blows, you can actually feel the air moving through your helmet. In springtime, this is just a fun added feature. In the summer, it will be a life saver.
3. It’s super flattering.
I have an oval-shaped face, and previous helmets have only accentuated my head’s most portobello mushroom-esque features. Miss Shield’s dynamic shape and wide brim accentuate the face without adding bulk, and the end result is both flattering and feminine.
Like many American barns, mine has a fashion manual that can best be summed up as ‘less is more’, and that goes for helmets as well. My Miss Shield has a plain black Shadowmatt scratch-resistant finish (they also come in Alcantara), which I love, but if I was looking to embrace my inner helmet diva, or to get a little bit creative, Samshield has plenty of options for customization. Available in blue, black, or brown, Miss Shield can be customized in four different places with everything from floral patterned Swarovski crystals in various colors, to flags and sponsorship stickers, and even crystal fabric, crocodile, or python skin on the helmet’s central band. Basically, the sky’s the limit.
The bottom line: Helmets have come a long way over the years, and that’s a really great thing. Once upon a time, they were hot, cumbersome, and the furthest thing from stylish. Today, products like the Miss Shield are changing that notion with better design and plenty of thoughtful options for personalization. By making safety just a little bit sexier, everybody wins.
Miss Shield by Samshield, from $500. Learn more at samshield.com.