How to make sure your airbag vest is working properly?

It is best to check that it is in good condition by voluntary activation and to ensure proper storage. Manufacturers generally indicate the care to be taken in their instructions.

In terms of riding, it is important to differentiate between accidental triggers (falls) and voluntary triggers (forgetting to remove the lanyard when dismounting from the horse). After a fall, it is necessary to check the vest carefully to ensure that the airbag is not punctured or the
seams damaged.

In any case, the most reliable check remains voluntary activation because it allows you to check the proper functioning of the cartridge, the percussion system and the airbag release valve, which must maintain pressure for a few seconds.

Also pay special attention to your CO2 cartridge, at Vimele our verification protocol requires us to self-weigh the CO2 cartridges twice before they are mounted on a vest or sent to our customers as spare parts, once during the labelling process, and once before the CO2 cartridge is mounted or shipped. It may sound like overkill but every precaution is too little, as an uncharged CO2 cartridge will not inflate the vest with the consequences that could result.

And of course, use CO2 cartridge whose manufacturer is certified and produces its products according to Directive 2014/68/EU concerning the filling and sealing of pressure equipment, which expire after 4 years from the date of filling engraved on the bottle, so you should make sure when purchasing these spare parts that they have not approached their expiry date.

We also recommend, in the case of vest with a safety ring, to check its position before climbing onto the frame, as if the safety ring is lowered it will not allow the steel ball to be released and the firing pin to pierce the CO2 cartridge, preventing its deployment with the risk that this may entail.

Did I get off the horse without the airbag deploying?

This occurs when there is insufficient traction to trigger the firing pin. Depending on the systems, a traction of 25 to 35 kg is required to release the pin (usually a stainless steel ball).

For this reason, the use of inflatable vests for small children is not recommended, as their weight is not sufficient to guarantee the “unlocking” of the system in case of a fall. A rigid vest will be more effective in this case.

It is also possible, as mentioned in the previous point, that the release system is in the locked position (sliding ring that prevents the percussion system from unlocking: see the manufacturer’s release instructions).

Also make sure that the locking clips are pulled out through the opening provided for this purpose: if the locking clip is jammed behind the zip of the cartridge protection pocket, it is unlikely that unlocking will take place under the intended conditions.

How fast does an airbag deploy?

This depends on the design of the vest, but also and above all on the volume of the bag to be inflated. Manufacturers advertise time intervals of 100 ms to 300 ms, which, depending on the sport, normally gives the airbag time to inflate properly before the moment of impact.

Technological developments now make it possible to manufacture approved riding vests with inflation times equal to or less than 200 ms.

For equestrian sports, the airbag vests on the market would do the job
quite well, as the required inflation speeds are less demanding than for motorcycling vests, and where floors and obstacles are often less aggressive. However, having the certification guarantees not only the inflation time of the vest, but also different technical and ergonomic aspects necessary to ensure maximum protection of the product.

Can you continue to breathe when the airbag inflates?

Inflation can sometimes cause a “shortness of breath” effect due to the pressure, but after a few seconds the airbag starts to deflate and the pressure decreases.

By depressing the vest or unscrewing the cartridge, this “release” will be even faster.

However, a vest with NF S 72-800:2022 certification takes this into account during its development, as the standard requires the manufacturer to certify each size individually.

Are there any contraindications to the use of an airbag?

Yes, this can happen. Very large people may not be compatible with the protective structure of the airbag, leaving vital areas of the individual unprotected.

For this reason, the new standard NF S 72-800:2022 regulates the need to certify each size individually, sizes that can only be used within the height and weight parameters indicated by the regulatory body.

Since the trigger pull is 25/35 kg, some small airbags (small children) may not provide sufficient traction to activate the system.

In some situations, such as pregnancy, the inflatable vest may not be recommended, but neither would riding a horse.


Following a successful year since the launch of our horse-riding approved VML01 vest, we are pleased to report that we now carry out the full assembly of our vests in-house. This change allows us to have full control over the process, from the selection of accessories to the final assembly of the product.

Rigorous Quality Control

Each vest, once assembled, is subjected to extensive testing to ensure optimal performance. These tests include:

Activation of the vest with a CO2 charge to verify:
The correct release of the steel ball that activates the vest.
The proper deployment of the dock.
The precise perforation of the cartridge by the needle.
The timing and uniformity of inflation of the internal bags.
Detection of possible leaks in the bag seals.
The integrity of the tripwire.

In addition, during the inflation process, accessories such as snaps, hooks and seams are carefully checked, ensuring their strength and durability.

Commitment to Quality

Our commitment is to deliver a product that not only meets the most demanding regulations for inflatable equestrian vests, but also exceeds our customers’ expectations in terms of safety and reliability. This “do it yourself” approach allows us to ensure the highest quality in every vest we produce and ship to our customers and distributors.