A Helmet is a variety of hat which is designed to protect the wearer's head not just from cold and wetness and bad haircuts, but also from external damage from blows.
Reasons for wearing a Helmet
- Sport Safety (Hockey, American Football, Lacrosse)
- Vehicular safety (motorcylcing, bicycling)
- Workplace Safety
- Extra Vehicular Activity
- Hazmat Work
- Entering a Combat Situation
Materials to make a helmet out of
- Wood, if you have trees but metal is scarce or you are really primitive
- Wool, if you have sheep but metal is scarce or you are really primitive, this applies to other textiles as well, or if you need padding for another item on this list. leather (below) also works.
- Leather, if you have large animals but metal is scarce, you are really primitive or are at the bottom of the social ladder (though they do work moderately well)
- Bronze, if you are living in the bronze age
- Steel, if your society has mastered iron working and does not want to put up with importing tin and/or copper. Current modern steels can easily withstand ballistic threats, but due to weight issue would be impractical to wear unless you're that special kind of person.
- Plastics (besides being used in crash helmets, ABS holds up surprisingly well against blades.)
- (Ultra)High-Molecular-Weight-Polyethylene, essentially plastics but much more stronger and durable (thanks to it's molecular weight) to the point where it can be used to withstand ballistic threats, all while still being practical to wear due to their light weight.
- Ceramics and ballistic textiles, if you are in the modern age and want to keep shrapnel and pistol rounds out of your brain. Some have improved to the point of withstanding intermediate rifle rounds, but one shouldn't put their money on it.
- Tinfoil, to keep out the FBI/CIA/NSA/MI6/CSIS/Russian/European Union/Chinese/Indian/Knights Templar/Google/Scientologist/Vatican/World Bank/Alien/NWO/MIB/Moon Nazi/Mars Soviet/Mercury Empire of Japan/Asteroid Belt Napoleonic Empire/Tzeentch/Lizard Men/Pinniped mind control rays.
Some types of helmets
- Boar Tusk Helmet: From Mycenaean Greece (1600 BCE to 1200 BCE), it was made by making a leather hat and sewing onto it slices of boar tusks. Making such a helmet required hunting down and killing something like 40 boars for their tusks, which was pretty badass.
- Corinthian: Most popular variety of ancient (800 BCE to 0) Greek Hoplite Helmet, made of bronze, a single piece affair with built in cheek guards and nose guard (known as a nasal). Often had a horse hair/plumed crest.
- Galea: The Helmet worn by Roman legionaries, made out of several pieces of bronze or steel. Had cheek guards on hinges and a back guard to protect the neck. Came with a detachable horse hair/plumed chrest for special occasions. Unlike most helmets of it's time it does not cover ears, because being able to hear orders is actually more important, especially in Roman maniple formation, where coordination was EVERYTHING. Being practical SOB's, Romans even added special hook to fix the helmet on the soldiers belt when on the march, because marching all day long with heavy chunk of metal on your head is usually a bad idea, unless your neck is as thick as normal man's hip, and keeping your helmet on the supply cart is an even worse idea, unless you don't expect ambushes (and good soldiers on the march should always expect ambushes).
- Steel Masks: a variety of these were used alongside conventional helmets to protect the face by a variety of cultures.
- Late Roman Ridge: A transition to the medieval Spangenhelm and Nasal helm, this was adopted towards the end of the Roman Empire, and kept around by the Byzantines and Subroman Brits.
Middle Ages & Renaissance
- Spangenhelm: A dark age (5th to 9th century) helmet made of bits of iron forged riveted onto a frame. An easier form to forge than an iron bowl for unskilled smiths. Sometimes had a nasal or cheek guards attached. Viking helmets were a type of spanghelm that featured an eye guard. They didn't have horns, though.
- Nasal helm: Basically a Spangenhelm, but made from one solid piece of metal, and it always had a nasal guard. This was the iconic helmet of the Normans and early Crusaders.
- Cervelliere: A dark age/medieval helmet composed of a single steel dome. Became more common as armorers got better at their trade. It might come with a nasal guard.
- Kettle Hat: A steel dome with a wide brim around it, sometimes with a nasal. A common helmet for common soldiers in the late middle ages as it offered a good deal of protection against arrows and other projectiles while allowing good visibility. While not ideal for a ground battle since the entire head below the scalp was exposed, it was excellent in sieges when most attacks were coming from above.
- Maille Coif: To better protect people's heads, they often wore hoods made of chainmail. Often, though not always in conjunction with a more conventional helmet, or else the mail attached to the bottom of the helmet to act as a faceguard called an aventail. This practice was common across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
- Enclosed Helm: Predecessor to the great helm, the enclosed helm was basically a metal hat with a faceguard attached to the front. The great helm added neck protection and made the helmet into one solid piece.
- Great helm: A steel bucket with eyeholes wore by knights. They came in two varieties: Flat-topped, and conical. The flat-topped versions came first, but it was discovered that making the top conical helped to glance sword-strikes away from the head.
- Barbute Corinthian 2, Electric Boogaloo! Basically a Corthinian Helmet made of steel minus the crest.
- Sallet: A type of steel helmet from the late middle ages. It's main component covered cheeks and had a lock neckguard in the back. To protect the face it would have a face guard bolted on, which could be raised or lowered. One good thing about the visor was that it only covered the upper half of the face, meaning that it could be removed and that the face would still be protected by the falling buffe that protected the lower half of the face.
- Bascinet: A conical helmet with the point facing towards the back of the head. Oftentimes combined with a detachable face guard that was likewise conical, commonly called the "pig's snout." However, the bascinet could be worn without the face guard.
- Armet: Another type of full head helmet worn in the late middle ages. It came with three parts, a main component covering the back, a visor and a chinplate. Thus allowing full head protection while being much easier to move about than a clumsy great helm.
- Cabasset: A halfway point between the Kettle hat and the Morion, the Cabasset offered the protection of a rim with the glancing surface of a conical top.
- Morion: A type of helmet similar to a Kettle hat, but with a top part which came to a ridge and dipped down on the sides to cover the ears. Often morions would have cheek guards. Most commonly associated with Conquistadors.
- Frog-Mouth: As the name implies, these-oddly shaped helmets look like a frog's mouth. These helmets were basically made for one purpose, that being jousting. That's because they would be impractical for combat, as the helmet had very little visibility and a complete lack of neck articulation, its sole purpose was to protect the head from lances.
- Lobster Pot: A helmet from the Renaissance period and age of enlightenment composed of a steel dome with a visor, cheek guards and a back guard made of overlapping steel plates rivet together (looking like a lobster tail). They usually came with a nasal or a faceguard of some sort. These helmets were used by both cavalry and infantry, and are most commonly associated with the Polish hussars.
- Burgonet: Another Renaissance cavalry helmet, the Burgonet features a comb and cheek guards like the Morion, with an optional faceguard as well.
- Kabuto: Japanese Samurai helmets, have a dome part as well as a back made of laminar protecting the neck and cheeks. For facial protection they had a mempo, a stylized mask.
- Jingasa: Japanese Ashigaru Helmet, these were usually cone shaped (though latter ones bore a resemblance to Morions and kettle hats) and made of steel or lacquered wood.
- Pith Helmet: These are the iconic helmets of British soldiers of the Victorian era, as well as stereotypical explorers up to the present. Pith helmets were pith/cork domes covered in cloth, meant more for protection from heat in tropical climates than enemy attack, though lighter hats like the panama hat are preferred for this purpose nowadays. Still, many would reinforce the helmet with a band of cloth to help absorb sword strikes to the head. It was often joked that an Englishman could not survive outside their native country without a pith helmet.
- Pickelhaube: Also known as that one German helmet with the ludicrous spike on top. Even in its day it was widely mocked, and it took a World War for the Germans to realize that it was in fact a terrible design for a helmet (the thing wasn't even metal, it was leather), when it was replaced by the Stalhelm. British snipers prided themselves in de-spiking them at 300 meters.
- Adrian Helmet: Helmets fell out of fashion starting around the 18th century as they were often not much use against firearms and were deemed to be dead weight while they were also believed to kill offensive fighting spirit (space marines approve of this message). This changed during the Great War, artillery shells would splinter into fragments when they exploded. These fragments came to account for huge casualties in the trenches but could be stopped by a simple steel helmet. The French found this out first and in 1915 first made the Adrian Helmet. It was easily made out of stamped steel in very large numbers and reduced shrapnel casualties significantly. It had a brim which was more prominent in the front.
- Brodie Helmet: The British thought the French were onto a good idea with their Adrian helmets and designed their own. The Brodie Helmets were based off Kettle Hats. Used by troops across the British Empire during both world wars and by US troops during the Great War.
- Stahlhelm:The Germans also thought the French were onto a good idea with their Adrian helmets and designed their own. The Stahlhelm was based off the Sallet. It is considered to be the best helmet of that time period as it protected the neck and ears. In fact, it was so good that even the Chinese were buying them like a drug-filled hooker (
Which gave an unfortunate confusion on who is the Chinese and Germans during WW2They fought on two different continents, it would've been pretty easy to figure out). It would later became commonly associated with the Nazis. The basic cut however would become the basis for all modern helmets after WW2, especially since it was conductive to including ear protection/coms headset under it.
- M1 Helmet: The US decided that the Brodie Helmet did not quite cut the mustard, so they designed their own helmet for use during WWII. It was thicker and bent down in the back and had less of a brim. Would be the basis for several early Cold War helmets on both sides of the Iron Curtain, many even meant to survive bullets, but the stahlhelm style eventually won out.
- Modern Combat Helmet: Modern Combat Helmets like the British Mk-7 or the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) are made of layers of metal, fiberglass, ceramics and ballistic textiles, often with a cloth covering for camouflage purposes. Helmets can also be outfitted with loads of accessories, from helmet-mounted night-vision goggles, to cameras, and so forth. As of current, the ACH is being somewhat replaced by the Enhanced Combat Helmet, with has 35%+ superior protection over it. Ceradyne is the producer of the ECH, as well as several other defensive gear such as the E-SAPI protective plates the US military uses.
- Perhaps the most important upgrade these brought is the suspension system. Rather than be in direct contact with the head, the helmet was now suspended over the head. Equally important is the strips which go behind the head and also over the chin like a cup instead of under it. This makes it much more likely to stay on and stay attached. Supposedly old Japanese armor had this style of chin strap, but evidence is shaky.
- Safety Helmet: basic helmets of plastic and steel made to protect the user from occupational hazards. Generally not for ballistic protection unless specified.
Helmets and Faces
Helmets are the most common type of combat armor employed in History and it's easy to see why. Helmets protect your brain, your most important organ, from damage. Some also protect some combination of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, all of which are nearly as vital. When compared to a breastplate or other such article of torso armor, helmets are fairly easy and inexpensive to make, while being easy and unobtrusive to wear. If you had to have just one bit of armor, you got a helmet. Helmets came in many shapes and sizes. Even a re-purposed cooking pot will do in a pinch.
Covering as much of the head as possible often improved a helmet's performance in a purely functional-as-armor sense. This did come with some downsides; if your entire head is sheathed in vision-obstructing, hearing-distorting, badly-ventilated metal with a few small holes to look and breathe out of, you clearly have some disadvantages over a fellow wearing one of its skimpier but less-obstructive counterparts, which is why most modern militaries eschew them. Never-the-less, full head helmets have been used by a wide variety of cultures all over the world, and they were much more valuable in the ages of medieval cavalry when the horse was doing the stamina-draining grunt work anyway.
However, for visual fiction, full-face helmets can be problematic as they hide the faces of the character and as such, limit what emotions and features can be shown to the audience, as well as concealing his/her identity and making them less relatable, ironically serving the opposite function of all other varieties of hats. For this reason, full-head helmets are usually reserved for faceless enemies employed by the bad guys to be killed with a minimum of audience empathy, while heroes wear helmets which leave their faces exposed, or simply go helmetless into combat situations. The most common exceptions to this rule are characters whose identities are meant to be concealed from the audience. Generally, this means that the wearer is either another important character pretending to be someone else, who won't speak so no one knows who they are until the plot says so, or female, so she can prove her martial skills to military leaders and higher ups who hold to pre-modern prejudices about gender and shock them with a surprise revelation when she removes it. You also occasionally a few characters who's face is effectively the helmet and never take it off (at least are seen doing so).
Note in particular that the less face-covering the helmet, the more likely a named or speaking character will be shown properly using one.