How Tight Should My Air Vest Be?
FIT IS EVERYTHING. As with helmets, an air vest, or any other safety equipment for that matter, is not as effective when it is not fitted properly. It's why getting fitted by an expert is so important, and even better if it's someone that doesn't have an agenda to push one brand over another (think independent saddle fitter).
There are two types of air vests: what we call eventing-style that are designed to be worn over a body protector and a low profile style that looks like a garment and is designed to be worn along.
Eventing style vests include:
- Hit Air Pro Plus
- Hit Air Original
- Hit Air Pro Kids
- Hit Air Advantage Kids
- Hit Air Advantage (crossover between the two types - heavy duty material without elasticity, but fits close to the body and doesn't need to be worn with a body protector)
- Point Two ProAir
- Point Two Hunter
- Point Two Soft Shell
- Airowear AirShell/AyrPS
- Helite Air Jacket
Low profile vests are:
- Helite Zip'in 2
- Penelope AirLight (made for females)
- Horse Pilot
Eventing style vests are meant to have a bit of a looser fit. They are made of a heavier duty fabric (almost a canvas feel) and don't have any give to them, so they need room to expand. If this type of vest is too tight, it can create a crush sensation or the feeling of having the wind knocked out of you when it inflates, because it has nowhere to expand.
Low profile vests are meant to fit close to the body. Helite, FreeJump, and Penelope vests should be snug enough so that the canister isn't tipping off of the torso, but should not be ultra tight. Horse Pilot is the snuggest fit of this style of vest (we jokingly call it the thundershirt of air vests). Because these vests have elastic mesh in multiple places, they have more give to expand. One of the things we look for in these types of vest is a little but of room to be able to layer clothing underneath, even in winter, as your air vest must always be your outer-most layer unless that outer layer is air vest compatible.
The most relaxed fit of the low profile vests is the Helite Zip'in 2, followed by FreeJump, then Penelope Airlight, then Horse Pilot.
Whenever getting fitted for a vest, we always recommend trying on at least two models (the more the better) so that you can see which fits you best. Each of us is built differently, so some models may fit your body type better than others.
Have questions about air vests or looking for a custom fitting? Contact us to set up an appointment!