Air Vests - Is there any research?

Really curious to know if anyone knows of any studies the prove you are safer when wearing an air vest?

(British terminology: the rigid vests = “body protector” and the inflatable vests = “air vests”).
The British Equestrian Trade Association ( established safety standards for body protectors in conjunction with many and varied experts, to meet EU test criteria and these are evident in the widely recognised BETA lables seen on body protectors. There is also a separate standard for shoulder pads. All is explained on the BETA website. By contrast, as yet there is no agreed standard for Air Vests though BETA and manufacturers have apparently been working on one for some time. So most test data is from individual companies and the other evidence is anecdotal. BE collect information about Air Vests on Fall Report Forms so there is evidence of more people using them, for what that is worth. Have a look at for a useful summery.

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There is one standard out there SATRA M38: Issue 3 Feb 2015. I can’t say it is a good standard or not, more knowledgeable people will have to give their opinion. But there is no standard that has been approved by any Equestrian Federation. The British BETA standards seems to be the most stringent out there so I would default to them, but they do not have an air vest standard.

I ride with an air vest and from my personal experience it has saved me from being sidelined for any length of time.

This article summarizes some of the research and guidance as of 8/19:

The major surprise is that they did find a correlation between air vest use and serious injuries in one study. But, important to note it’s not a randomized trial, and doesn’t take into account that air vest wearers may have a history or greater likelihood of serious mishap, be riding trickier or greener horses, at a higher level, etc etc.

In the h/j world, where these have become much more common, there’s no study-confirmed benefit, and a lot of confusion about what they actually protect you from, fwiw.

Nope, there isn’t. At least 2 recent fatalities the riders were wearing air vests. So while they may cushion light falls, they don’t add any more protection than a regular vest for serious falls in my opinion.


I have both Hit-Air and Tipp vests – and I am not doing anything challenging – just recovering from open heart surgery and at age 66, coming off is bound to break something, so why not?

The Tipp vest is very hot in warm weather, whereas with the Hit-Air, I forget I have it on.

You are likely safer than not wearing a vest at all, which was my logic for getting Hit-Air after I already had Tipperary.

I love my hit air. I tend to grab the reins and roll on my back. The back of my head has never touched the ground and my neck is cradled. Will it protect from everything? NO, not even close but for my silly roll off the shoulder self, I don’t even get a bruise.

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