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How to buy helmets

By Paul Kaspar

Okay, you are excited that you have just been selected to work motors and your sergeant tells you go to the uniform store and pick up you gear. Keep in mind that your motor officer duties require a lot more time wearing your helmet than you would if you were just riding on weekends. Based on an 8-10-12 hour shift, your helmet, if not properly fitted, can make life miserable.

Let’s quickly talk about the different types of helmets out there. Many agencies are wearing a half-shell or “shorty” style helmet. This helmet is made to only come down to the top of the ear. The three-quarter helmet is another open-face design similar to the half-shell, but it comes down over the ears. Another increasingly popular style of helmet is the modular. This is a full-face helmet with the ability to unlock the chin bar and rotate it up in a locked position when needed. Whatever style you decide on, you should make it a point to select the right helmet fit. Here are some fit considerations:

1. The helmet should fit a little snug at first. Wear it around the shop with the chin- strap fastened for several minutes. A half hour would be great. You will know by then if there are any fit problems. Any shop that does not allow this should be avoided.

2. Keep in mind helmet liners will break down over time so take that into account. The main fit is around your head. Some helmets have helmet liners that can be changed out, but that may be limited, depending on the brand and size of helmet you start with. So, if there are any hot spots (pressure points) around the forehead, sides or top of the helmet, try the next size up.

3. On half-shell helmets you do not have to worry about fitting around your face. However, on three-quarter and modular helmets you must take into account how the helmet fits your cheeks. Some brands of helmets will have interchangeable cheek pads that can be replaced with thicker or thinner ones for the best fit. If the helmet fits around the head you have the right size and you should stick with that size.

4. While all brands of helmets meet or exceed DOT (Department of Transportation) standards, an important consideration is time and use. You are wearing your helmet more than the civilian rider. As a rule of thumb, you should think about replacing the helmet sooner than later.

5. Another consideration is that if the helmet is dropped, you should consider having it inspected. Micro cracking can occur based on the age and type of impact the helmet is subjected to. These cracks may not be visible and will compromise the overall protection needed in the case of an accident.

Remember, you have to wear this helmet every day. Make sure it works for you. Be safe.

Paul Kaspar came to work at Helmet House almost three years ago after devoting 25 years of public service with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Paul retired as a Patrol Sergeant with various assignments in Detectives, Patrol, Courts and Custody. Paul is an avid motorcycle rider with over 15 years of riding experience. His current ride is a BMW F800ST. Helmet House has been in business for over 40 years providing industry-leading apparel/helmet lines and is the currently one of the few companies focused on Police Motor Officer safety development. See all of the police products offered at Helmet House at or call 800-421-7247 ext. 296.

The Police1 Buying Guide column features how-to-buy guides for top police products and articles from our columnists as well as industry analysts, educators, and other noted specialists in their fields. Send product suggestions and feedback to