Rider on horse with the Helite AirBag vest
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Safety and protection in equestrian sports


Helite airbag safety vests protect the rider in the event of an accident with the horse. In the event of a fall, the ripcord connected to the saddle is pulled, which triggers the CO2 cartridge. At least 30 kg of pulling force is required to ensure that the protective vest is not accidentally triggered. The airbag vest is filled with air within 80 - 100ms and offers optimal protection in the event of an impact. The protective vest can be used again with a new cartridge.

Woman with triggered Helite vest

Helite airbag systems protect you in an emergency

The Helite company has over 20 years of experience in the development and manufacture of airbags. The protective vest is mainly used in show jumping and eventing. The Airjacket is a compact riding protective vest that is worn over clothing. The Helite Zip'In Airbag System 2.0 can be worn either as a stand-alone safety vest or integrated into a riding jacket or vest, provided that the vest has enough stretch material so that the vest can inflate unhindered in an emergency. This has the advantage that the airbag vest is not noticeable at first glance and thus enables an elegant outfit for a tournament, for example. No matter which solution you choose, the system works the same. It protects you from the moment you leave the saddle in the event of a fall, before you can come into contact with the ground or obstacles.

The safety vests with airbag system offer all-round protection for the most important parts of the upper body. In the back they inflate along the spine, kidneys, coccyx and hips. The head and neck are also stabilized. Your front is also protected and supported. This protects the chest and all internal bones and organs such as ribs, lungs, spleen, stomach and liver against external forces.

This is how the Helite airbag vest works

The principle is as simple as it is effective. You connect the ripcord, which is located on the release mechanism of the CO2 cartridge, to the saddle attachment. If you fall, the ripcord triggers a mechanism that fills the protective vest with air in a flash. To trigger the function, however, a pulling force of at least 20 - 30 kg is required. If you forget to unbuckle yourself before dismounting, the system can be triggered depending on the horse's height and momentum when dismounting. However, you quickly get used to unbuckling. It takes between 2 and 80 ms to completely fill the vest with CO100. When you hit the ground or hit an obstacle, the airbag is already fully inflated and will remain so for another 2 to 3 minutes. After about 5 to 10 minutes, the protective vest loses air and can then be made ready for use again with a new cartridge. This is simply screwed into the corresponding holder.

This is how you make the Helite airbag vest (again) operational

If you are using the airbag protective vest for the first time or if the airbag vest has been triggered, it will take a few steps to get it ready for use again. Helite has created a few videos for this purpose that explain exactly how to do it. You will also find instructions here on how to attach the ripcord to the saddle.

Can the airbag vest be worn under clothing?

The Zip'In Airbag riding vest can be worn under compatible Helite clothing. It is attached to the outer material with zippers so it cannot slip. The Zip'In 2.0 protective vest can also be worn as a standalone system over or under clothing. Although Helite's Zip'In compatible clothing is recommended, you can also wear version 2.0 under clothing from other manufacturers. It just needs to contain enough elastic material so that the unfolding and full pressure build-up are not hindered.

Can I wash the Helite Airbag safety vest?

Never wash the Helite airbag vests in the washing machine or soak them in water. You can use a brush and warm water with soap to clean them. Then hang the vest on a clothes hanger and let it dry. The airbag vests must not be dried in the dryer or on the heater.

Can I wear the Helite protective vest in the rain?

Of course, you can also wear the airbag when it rains. The different outer materials determine whether the vest is waterproof or not. But make sure that you don't get completely soaked for a very long time. It's best to spray the vest with a suitable waterproofing spray so that the rain just runs right off.

Airbag vest or classic back protector?

The advantage of an airbag vest is the rider's mobility. When not inflated, the protective vest is very flexible and does not interfere with riding, stable work or grooming the horse. Unfortunately, there is still no tested standard for airbag vests in equestrian sports. This is why airbag vests are not yet approved as protective clothing for tournaments. The classic Level 3 back protectors, on the other hand, offer tested protection and are therefore also approved for cross-country competitions. Unfortunately, the fixed protector restricts freedom of movement a little, is bulky and you sweat under it in the summer. But of course safety takes priority. This is the case with both vests.