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5 signs you should replace your body protector

As equestrians, we rely on our body protector to help keep us safe. It doesn’t matter whether you're hacking, eventing or racing. The protection provided by your body protector gives you the level of security and confidence needed to go out and enjoy our sport. But it's important to know if your body protector is no longer providing you with the intended level of protection.

Did you know? If your body protector is over 5 years old, it might not be providing the intended level of protection.

A well-cared for body protector has an expected life span of 3-5 years. After this period or under certain circumstances, it may still look in good condition, but the effectiveness and the level of protection it offers will deteriorate.

5 signs you need to replace your current body protector

1 - It doesn’t have a BETA 2009 or 2018 (Level 3) label

BETA certification was revised in 2018 and current Level 3 models carry a turquoise label. The previous version dates from 2009, meaning a BETA 2009 labelled body protector is now a minimum of 2 years old, and a maximum of 11 years old.

If you have a body protector that has a BETA 2000 or older label, it is at least 11 years old and almost definitely not providing the correct level of protection. BETA recommend body protectors are replaced every 3-5 years.

Nearly all organisations, no longer allow you to compete in a body protector that is older than 2009 or 2018 BETA level 3. Find out more about safety standards.

2 - You’ve had your current body protector for more than 3-5 years

Beyond 3-5 years, there is gradual degradation of the impact foams used in your body protector. The rate will depend on a number of factors including its storage and number of falls, but we can no longer guarantee the impact performance or level of protection.

It's also important to mention that we are constantly innovating and improving our body protectors, so older models are likely to mean you're missing out the latest features like enhanced comfort and breathability.

3 - It doesn’t fit you properly

If any of the below are true for you, then your body protector doesn't fit or protect you correctly:

- Your ribs aren't covered
- You can't move freely in the saddle, without the back length interfering.
- It's loose or moves when you’re riding
- You find it tight or restrictive when riding, even on the loosest adjustment.

A poor fit means all the areas of protection won't be covered properly and risks restricting your movement and riding. It also makes it less likely you choose wear it! You can read our guide to checking the fit of your body protector, or view the video guide below: 

4 - There are visible signs of wear and tear

All our body protectors are made at our Northamptonshire factory and we’re proud of their quality and durability. However, riding is an active outdoor sport and over time a certain level of wear and tear is to be expected.

However, excessive signs of wear and tear are likely to be associated with an older body protector and affect comfort, coverage or protection.

When not being worn, we suggest your body protector is hung. Store away from extreme temperatures and extended exposure to direct sunlight. In some cases, where the body protector isn’t very old and in good condition we can offer a zip repair service.

Replacement elastics can also be ordered online.

5 - You've fallen off several times whilst wearing it

A heavy fall or repeated falls can sometimes cause the impact absorption properties within the body protector to permanently deteriorate. Check your body protector for dents after a fall; the foam should return to its original shape within around 30 minutes. If the foam does not expand back or permanently hardens, it is advisable to replace your body protector as the impact absorption will be reduced.

Concerned about your body protector?

If you are concerned about the fit of your body protector then we recommend using our handy guide to check the fit of your current body protector.

If you are thinking based on the above that it might be time for a replacement, then you might like to read our article about finding your size for a new Racesafe body protector, or you might like to find your nearest stockist.

References

“Effects of body protection vests and experience levels in prevention of equestrian injuries” Andres et al, 2018. https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000426