7 Best Hard Hat Suspension to Protect Your Head

Best Hard Hat Suspension

Hard hats come with two very important components:

      • The outer hard shell
      • The interior suspension system 

The outer hard shell is the visible part of a hard hat made from polycarbonate, polyethylene, ABS, fiberglass, or various other materials.

Being the visible “hard” part of a hat, one might think it is the most important part of the hard hat because it creates a barrier between your head and a traumatic blunt force impact from falling or flying debris at your work site.

However, the interior suspension system is no less important. Often called the backbone of a hard hat, it may receive less attention because less obvious, however, suspension may do as much as 80 or more percent of the work according to protection professionals.

Hard HatSuspension MaterialType & ClassFeatures
Fibre-Metal Lightweight E1RW11A000Eight point ratchetFiberglass resinType 1, Class EANSI Z89.1-2009
Honeywell Fibre-Metal P2AQSW09A000Eight point ratchetFiberglass resinAttachments available for welders
Acerpal Ridgeline ABS with 6-point suspensionSix-point ratchet systemABSType 1, Classes G, E and CMany fashion an style options
Lift Safety Dax Carbon Fiber with six-point suspensionSix-point ratchetFiber strengthened resinType 1, Class GOversized, Ratcheting dial
Bullard 62DGR Hard HatFour-point ratchetPolyethyleneType 1, Class E and GHat reversable
Pyramex Ridgeline Hard Hat with Full BrimFour-point  ratchetABSType 1, Classes G, E, and CCan be upgraded to six-point
MSA Skullgard Hard HatFas-trac III, Four-point ratchet systemPolyresinType 1, Class GSuspension liner with nape strap, headband, adjustable crown straps and sweatband

If responsibility starts at the top, so does protection. Charged with protecting the body’s most important organ, the brain, hard hats are essential personal protective equipment.

They are baked under the sun, exposed to inclement weather, and dropped on a regular basis, and yet they are charged with PPE’s most important task, protecting the head.

Too often, hard hats are treated as a disposable extra and they are treated poorly, with little maintenance and cleaning in spite of their important role in protecting and possibly saving a worker’s life.

Our Best Hard Hat Suspension List

Eight-Point suspension systems

1. Fibre-Metal Lightweight E1RW11A000 Hard Hat

This is a hard hat in a full brim style that boasts an eight-point suspension system with a smooth crown design for comfort and fit.

The “SuperEight Impact Energy Control System” is designed to spread any impact force over an area as wide as possible. It is easily adjustable for a snug fit thanks to the ratchet system with a non-slip knob.

Pros

      • Comfortable fit
      • Affordable
      • Eight-point ratchet suspension

Cons

      • Considerations about the durability
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2. Honeywell Fibre-Metal Hard Hat

Manufactured in injection-molded fiberglass with an eight-point ratchet suspension system. It is a full brim hat with a frontal terry cloth sweatband. 

Pros

      • The 8-point ratchet suspension system
      • Swing strap
      • Super lightweight

Cons

      • Comfort complaints
      • Weak ratchet
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Six-Point Suspension Systems

3. Acerpal Ridgeline ABS Hard Hat with 6-point suspension

This is a full brim hard hat in durable ABS. Lightweight, it offers a six-point ratchet suspension system that is padded.

This cap also permits accessories such as earmuffs or other customized preferences. Type 1, Classes G, E, and C. 

Pros

      • Durable ABS
      • Ratchet six-point suspension system
      • Lightweight
      • Universal slots for attachment of accessories

Cons

      • Fading with sun exposure
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4. Lift Safety Dax Carbon Fiber Hard Hat with six-point suspension

Manufactured with carbon fiber strengthened resin, this hat boasts a convincing six-point suspension system for great impact protection and comfort on the job.

A ratcheting dial for size adjustment works even when wearing gloves. With the suspension system, it weighs 460 grams.

Synthetic leather dome with an EVA foam-insert for shock protection. Class G. It also features a liner in microfiber to help reduce perspiration buildup.

Pros

      • Comfortable 
      • Ratchet suspension system
      • Brim grip
      • Reinforced crown 

Cons

      • Expensive
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Four-Point Suspension System

5. Bullard 62DGR Hard Hat

Made from top-quality materials, this hard hat features both vertical height and horizontal adjustments. It has an excellent four-point suspension system that makes it exceptionally comfortable to wear.

Pros

      • Durable
      • Lightweight
      • High-quality materials
      • Nylon crown straps that are ¾ inch wide

Cons

      • No instructions
      • Side-slot a bit slippery
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6. Pyramex Ridgeline Hard Hat with Full Brim

This hard hat is constructed in ABS thermoplastic resin and meets all safety requirements for classes G, E, and C. It is a fantastic hat for hardness, toughness, and electrical insulation.

This hard hat features a four-point ratchet suspension system making it easy to adjust the fit.  The four-point ratchet system can be upgraded to a six-point suspension system with the HP6PTSUS. It is very lightweight and functional.

Pros

      • 4-point ratchet suspension that can be upgraded to six-point 
      • Lightweight
      • Made with ABS thermoplastic resin
      • Electrical Insulation

Cons

      • Outer coating not durable
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7. MSA Skullgard Hard Hat

This is a convincing choice for any professional with a bit more money to invest. It is class G safety regulations “ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014”.

Made from polyresin it not only protects you from falling objects or flying debris it will provide you protection from electrical hazards up to 2,200 volts. Class G. The suspension system offers several options, and the hat has brim options as well.

Pros

      • Comfortable
      • Suspension liner
      • Fas-Trac III ratchet suspension system 
      • Heat protection

Cons

      • Complaints about delivery without suspension 
      • Expensive
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What is the Primary Function of a Suspension System on a Hard Hat?

Many people might answer that the suspension system’s main function is ensuring a good fit and comfort. They might also assume that it is the hard outer plastic shell of the hat that protects the head.

Instead, the suspension system’s design is intended to stretch and absorb the shock and impact of a blow to the headWhile the outer hard shell will deflect the impact, the strength of the blow will be dispersed thanks to the interior suspension system.

Since the suspension system keeps the hard shell from touching the wearer’s head, the blow will not be absorbed by the skull, but rather by the hard hat. These two components work together for your safety and both are necessary. One is not sufficient without the other. 

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What are Suspension Systems made of?

Suspension bands will normally be manufactured in nylon or polyester for resistance and a certain amount of flexibility. The suspension system should provide space between your head and your helmet, from approximately 30 mm. to 1.2 inches.

Some helmets are sold with extra cushioning in polystyrene foam that will be positioned between the helmet and the suspension bands. 

Selecting the Correct Suspension for My Hard Hat 

One of the most important factors when choosing your hard hat suspension are the number of points that are part of the suspension system.

These systems are made with four, six, or eight points. The number of the points used represents the number of connections created between the hard shell and the suspension. 

This means that four, six, or eight straps are arranged in a star-type pattern or fixed arrangement. The straps are secured to each other thanks to stitching at the point they cross over each other. 

An alternative method for connecting the straps is the use of a circular crown pad or cushion that sits on the top of the wearer’s head. The straps will be threaded through this crown pad. Usually, the more suspension points used, the more the force of a blow will be spread out or dissipated on the head.

The type you pick will depend on your own personal preference. Types of mechanisms include:

      • Pin-lock suspensions allow you to adjust the fit of your hard hat by removing the hat from your head and matching the pin to the appropriate hole.
      • Ratchet suspension systems adjust the size of your hard hat’s fit thanks to a knob that is turned.
      • Swing ratchet suspensions utilize a reversible ratchet to permit you to self-adjust your hat’s fit.
      • Touch or One-Touch suspensions adjust the fit by having you squeeze and slide the suspension. It is referred to as a “one-touch” because you can do it with one hand.

Hard Hat History

In 1889, a U.S. mining equipment company, the “E.D.Bullard Co.” sold protective hats for the workplace made in leather. The U.S. Navy commissioned the Bullard company to create a helmet for work in shipyards in 1919.

Hard hat history

This helmet was designed to resemble the “Doughboy” Brodie helmet from World War I. In 1928, almost one hundred years ago, the inner suspension was invented by E. W. Bullard and two years later was patented.

During the 1930s, an American company, the “Six Companies, Inc.” that specialized in building railroads and buildings, as well as the Hoover Dam, made hard hats mandatory for their employees. Hard hats evolved and the rest is history.

Important Tips for a Well-Functioning Suspension System

For hard hats and suspension systems to provide protection, they must be worn as indicated by manufacturers. The brim of the hard hat should face forward.

Some hard hats can be worn backward, but only because they have been specifically designed to do so. In these types of hats, the suspension systems must be turned so that the nape strap stays on the neck’s nape.

A suspension system must be adjusted to guarantee that the hard hat fits on the top of your head comfortably. A hard hat should never, under any circumstances, be worn tilted back on your head.

Other types of caps, such as baseball caps or skull caps should never be worn under your hard hat. These caps can potentially reduce the impact absorption space between the shell and your head consequentially reducing the protection as well.

Suspension systems will age over time and may even begin to show signs of wear such as cracking, fraying or tearing or may lose pliability.

How to take care of Hard Hat Suspension

Environmental chemicals or substances may begin to affect the suspension or even hair care products such as gels, sprays or oils. Perspirations and natural hair oils will also contribute. Most manufacturers and protection safety experts will recommend replacing suspension systems every twelve months. 

During a suspension system’s twelve-month life, it should be cleaned at regular intervals with a mild detergent, scrubbing it gently and rinsing in warm water. Then it should be allowed to dry before reinserting it into your hard hat.

Never replace your suspension system with a new one made by another manufacturer. Manufacturers of hard hats have the responsibility for testing to ensure that the hat meets ANSI or CSA safety standards. The hard hat shell and suspension are tested together as a unit for safety standards certification.

In some cases, a suspension may be tested with more than one shell to guarantee compatibility. Only the manufacturer can tell you if a suspension is guaranteed compatibility. Do not interchange hard hat shells and suspensions, especially with different manufacturers. This would probably void the hat’s safety certification.

The Bottom Line

The type of suspension system you choose is really about personal preference. We have chosen several examples with all three types of suspension point systems: four, six, or eight to give you an idea of what is available. The best move would be to try on a hard hat with each type of suspension system and decide which you prefer.

The Bullard 62DGR four-point suspension system hard hat is a very popular choice among tradesmen and undoubtedly, Bullard has decades of experience in manufacturing protective gear.

Also noteworthy is the Pyramex Ridgeline Full Brim hat for its great value in terms of cost/quality ratio. The MSA Skullgard Hard Hat offers premium quality if your budget will allow you to invest a certain amount of money for a hard hat.

Remember to inspect your hard hat daily, checking out the outer shell, the headband, and of course the suspension system. If you suspect that your hard hat has been compromised in any way for whatever reason, please replace it immediately before returning to your job site and resuming work. 

We hope this article will help you find the best, most comfortable, and most protective hard hat suspension system for your professional activities.