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What to look for when choosing an Air Jacket

Air Jacket Comparison

What to look for when buying your Air Jacket...


The more body parts covered the better.

  1. The Helite Airbag System plays the role of an inflatable mattress by cushioning the impact.
  2. It will also tighten/ compress the upper body to better prepare for the impact. If the rider is supported there is less chance of torsion, hyper-extension, whiplashes and breaks.
  3. Supporting the sides and back of the neck indirectly protects from head and brain injuries. Because our airbag inflates under the helmet, if the rider falls on their head, the impact to the helmet is distributed onto the shoulder and neck airbag that are supporting and pushing the helmet the opposite way.
  4. The airbag should  also inflate behind the triggering system.


If for some reason the airbag doesn’t inflate, (rider forgetting to clip the lanyard to the saddle strap or an empty canister being used for example) the triggering system and CO2 cartridge need to be situated near the least vulnerable area of the upper body. Helite have chosen to position the trigger system on the right side of the lower abdomen.

Having the triggering system is placed on the front of the Air Jacket makes it as visible as possible, consequently, there is less chance that the rider forgets to clip the lanyard onto the saddle strap.


The bigger the cartridge the more body parts are correctly covered, because the airbag volume is bigger. The cartridge size will vary depending on the size of the air jacket used which is determined by the size of the rider.


The time of inflation becomes important on rotational fall situations and when the rider is pulled off the horse close to the ground. Helite air jackets inflate in less than 0.1 seconds. Air jacket inflation speeds vary across the market ranging from 2.5 seconds to 0.1 seconds.


The airbag system itself  is an easy invention to understand, it is however essential that high standards are maintained in the manufacturing process as the quality of the components (springs etc.)  influence the performance of the airbag.

Key components:

  • CO2 canister
  • Lanyard
  • Carabiner/Clip to hook to the saddle strap
  • Needle to pierce the cartridge


There is no actual legal standard in place for Air Jackets yet, whether for horse riders or for motorcyclists.
Therefore the airbags need to receive a CE certificate for the airbag from a European certified centre, which states: “determined by an expert”. The Helite Air Bags are tested by CRITT and are CE approved.

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How to install a new canister for Helite Airjackets

Can I reuse a canister once it has inflated my Air Jacket?

No. Canisters cannot be reused or refilled, they must be replaced after each activation.

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Can I use a canister I have had for a long time?

Although there is no expiration date of a canister we do advise that you check for any rust, dents or deterioration before use.

Weighing the canister will help to indicate if it is safe to use or not, see below.

  • Adult Canister (60cc, Blue Label) – should weigh 182g +/- 3g.
  • Child Canister (50cc, Red Label) – should weigh 152g +/- 3g. 
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Can I wash my Air Jacket?

You can sponge your Air Jacket with warm soapy water, but it should not be submerged or tumble dried.

The Blouson Air Jacket is machine washable at 30°C when the Airbag system has been removed.

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Can I wear my Air jacket underneath other clothing?

Any garment worn over your Air Jacket must be loose fitting enough to allow the Air Jacket to inflate.  It is also important that clothing does not interfere with the Lanyard.

We do recommend that you wear your Air Jacket over your other items of clothing.

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Do I need to wear a Body Protector underneath my Air Jacket?

If you wish to compete under Pony Club, Riding Club or BE Rules or use training facilities requiring BETA Level 3 Protection to be worn,   you will need to wear a Body Protector of this standard underneath your Air Jacket. 

On other occasions we recommend that you do wear a Body Protector underneath your Air Jacket but this decision is left to the individual.

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Does the Airbag in my Air Jacket inflate inwards or outwards?

The Helite Original Air Jacket inflates in the space given, moving towards the direction of least resistence.  If the adjustable straps are done up too tightly this may cause some discomfort. It requires a fists width on each side of your chest between the inside of the Air Jacket and the outside of the body protector.

The Helite Air Shell Range: The Blouson and the Gilet inflate outwards due to the elasticity in the Tekseries fabric.


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How do I know if my Air Jacket is fitted correctly?

Your Air Jacket should always have a fists width between it and your body, or body protector if you are wearing one.

This is to ensure there is room for the Air Jacket to inflate in the case of a fall.

The straps on the front of the Air Jacket can be adjusted accordingly using the Velcro on each side.

REMEMBER: You will need to adjust your Air Jacket if you change between wearing it with a Body Protector  and without.

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How long will it take for my Air Jacket to Inflate and Deflate?

The Helite Air Bag System inside your Air Jacket will inflate in less than a tenth of a second and will stay inflated to support and protect the rider for 15 - 20 seconds.
It will take 2-3 minutes for the Air Jacket to deflate completely, unscrewing and removing the canister will speed this up significantly.
The Air Jacket can be unclipped and removed from the rider immediately at any time.

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Is my Air Jacket guaranteed to prevent me being injured?

There is clear evidence and scientific proof that wearing a Helite Air Jacket provides greatly increased protection provided it is fitted and used correctly.

However, Helite cannot claim that an Air Jacket will eliminate all risks of injury to a rider wearing one.

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