Serious injuries caused, or aggravated, by poor polo helmets, and accumulating evidence of long term debilitating effects of concussions, finally motivated the HPA to mandate the use of helmets certified to an equestrian protective equipment standard (PAS015) from 1 January 2018, bringing polo into line with all other equestrian sports. Read the HPA helmet regulations here.
Prior to this, most polo helmets comprised a hard shell and a bit of padding for comfort. In fact, these helmets are still made and widely sold in some parts of the world. Common for many old style polo helmets is that they provide no or very little protection against concussions, on the contrary, some will even transfer g-forces to your skull and brain.
Certification to standards like PAS015 accesses crush and breaking resistance, retention, and g-force reduction and ensures that helmets meet or exceed the limits prescribed by the standard.
Some countries, e.g. France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, have adopted the HPA helmet rule. Many countries in Europe have not, even though it would be illegal to sell non-certified protective gear without a CE label in EU countries.
The USPA has adopted the NOCSAE standard, derived from a standard for American football helmets, and is mandating use by players in USPA tournaments from 1 March 2021 (postponed from 1 June 2020 and 1 January 2021). Read Rule 4 here.
The HPA has stated that helmets certified to the NOCSAE standard can be worn in matches played under HPA rules. However, such helmets may only be sold in the UK if they also carry a CE label (to be replaced by a UKCA label by 1 January 2022). The USPA, however, will not allow helmets certified to PAS015.
We understand that the AAP is contemplating a helmet rule mandating certified helmets, and we will update this page once an announcement has been made.
Our helmet brands, Instinct and ARMIS, are both certified to PAS015:2011.
Instinct has developed a new helmet, which is currently undergoing NOCSAE certification. It will be indistinguishable from the PAS015 helmet, except for the NOCSAE label. This helmet is expected to become available in late January 2021