I used to be a welder and always used the terry covers, saved that line round your head at the end of the day.I'm afraid the chin strap isn't a chin strap at all; it's just a decoration. In fact, if you pull the chin strap down, it is inside out, which not only shows that it is vinyl, not leather, but also puts the buckles the wrong way against your neck, which is not comfortable.
I can't verify that it is actual pith or not, though it feels like it through the cloth. The suspension is actually stapled to the helmet, which I doubt would take any real wear before pulling out. I can't tell if the staples are folded over or not, but it doesn't seem like it, and I didn't want to pull very hard!
In all, I don't think this helmet would stand up to real wear. I bought it for a murder mystery dinner, thinking it might also be good for real use, but after wearing it around, I discovered I really didn't like it much!
If you are open to other styles, I have two suggestions that work pretty well for me. The first is this helmet:
It has the cotton suspension, with the cotton-wrapped sweatband. The cotton on the sweatband is very thin, but it does keep sweat from flowing down into your eyes when a vinyl one just pools the sweat on your forehead until you take it off, at which point it streams straight into your eyes! The downside of this helmet is that it is also a bit on the cheap side, and may not take any real wear. I've worn this for short trips out to the field, but not for days at a time and it has held up, but I'm not sure how tough it is. It is also quite wide. It looks a bit like I have a serving platter on my head!
The second option is the military helmet (http://www.armynavysales.com/product...i-pith-helmet-). I wear one of these all the time at work, and it is great. I've modified it two ways, however. I've used my tent awl to attach cotton webbing to the vinyl sweatband to make my own suspension, and I've added an M-1 helmet sweatband (http://www.charleyssurplus.com/army_...iner_sweatband) which just clips right to the vinyl sweatband. It works great! The only don side is that the leather sweatband makes the helmet smaller. I wear a 7-1/8, and it fits perfectly, but I don't know how much larger it will go. An alternative to the M-1 sweatband is the terycloth removable (and washable) sweatbands they make for hard hats (http://www.constructiongear.com/haha...FUxxQgodbi4Atw). I've never tried that, but have thought about it.