Giant Pith Helmet Thread of Doom

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Richard, May 16, 2005.

  1. totallyfrozen

    totallyfrozen One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    250
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    After using a couple genuine pith helmets for a couple years, I'd like to weigh in again and revise some of my initial comments. Namely, I'm not sure where the idea (myth?) of soaking or drenching the pith helmet originated, but I'm sure it's in error. My helmets are made in Vietnam from pith covered with thin strips of cork for shape and added firmness (I assume) then covered in cotton twill. Sola pith may stand up to water better than straw or felt; however, I don't think the original intent was to soak the hat. I've found that dunking, soaking, or drenching the pith helmet causes deformation and deterioration. Pith swells, like a sponge, when wet. Then shrinks as it dries. It never dries exactly as it was before it was soaked. Have you ever seen particle board or even a kitchen sponge after it's soaked then dries? It doesn't look like new anymore. Likewise, the result is the cotton twill covering is stretched. When the helmet dries, you're left with a wrinkled, bubbled appearance. Also if the twill fabric is not colorfast, you'll have color bleeding and staining. Also, if any glues used during manufacture are water soluble, you'll have added deterioration and deformation. Ideally, you want the helmet to ride off of the scalp suspended by the head harness to allow maximum airflow. My practice is to wet my hair (not the helmet) prior to donning it. Then as the helmet catches the breeze, it keeps me cooler. The goal is to have a chilled head, not a chilled helmet. If you have a genuine pith and/or cork helmet, I'd advise AGAINST soaking, drenching, or wetting it. It's almost certainly a myth! At the time and places these were in common use, water was scarce. It's not logical that soldiers would have wasted precious water (that they needed to drink) by pouring it over their helmets. A pith helmet can tolerate rain better than a straw hat, but why intentionally wet it given the risks? The upside for hat sellers is they'll sell more helmets as customers seek to replace the ones that wear out prematurely. As I write this, the temperatures here have been around 106 degrees. After drenching my shirt and my hair, I put on one of my piths and was able to dig a 4 foot hole with a shovel and plant a tree all while remaining fairly comfortable.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
    Blackthorn, RJR, johnnycanuck and 2 others like this.
  2. totallyfrozen

    totallyfrozen One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    250
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    I advise folks to take it a step down. My official (military) hat size is 7-1/4. So I ordered the standard sized pith helmet. My forehead touches the front of the crown causing my sweat to absorb through the helmet and stain the puggaree on the outside. It also impedes airflow a bit, and as we know, airflow is the whole point and purpose of the pith helmet.

    So I'd say if you're a 7-1/4 or larger, get the Big Head version. I recently ordered one and hope the size difference is enough to keep the helmet off my head.



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  3. totallyfrozen

    totallyfrozen One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    250
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    I feel like I'm the only one keeping this thread alive. I can't be the only one who understands and appreciates the sun helmet.
    So...let's see 'em.
    Show them if you've got them.

    Mine's a bit of a mess from use and modification.
    Dirt:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Sweat stains:
    [​IMG]
    And modifications:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


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  4. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,744
    Location:
    Alberta
    Totallyfrozen that how I usually feel posting to this thread. So I will join you. I have four pith helmets. British and Indian.
    [​IMG] they are fun but don't get good actual use.
    Next are the French and Wolseley[​IMG]
    The French has seen more practical use than any if my pith helmets. The plastic brackets snapped holding the sweat band in place so I added weather stripping and glued the sweat band to it.
    [​IMG]
    But my newest one is the Wolseley. Trying not to get it dirty but it seems to be a loosing battle. With that said the higher crown allows for more air movement and is a lit cooler a breezy summer days.[​IMG]
    I added foam weatherstripping to keep the sweatband off the helmet. I also added shoelaces to create a suspension inside the crown.
    Hope that is of interest to someone.
    Johnny



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    PeterB, Ticklishchap, steur and 4 others like this.
  5. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,842
    Location:
    vancouver, canada
    I have a pith helmet from India that I would gladly send to a good home. Will send for the cost of the postage and if you are willing to wait til mid August will mail from a US address to save money and customs hassle. The helmet is in good shape. I bought it when I was the costume master for "Arsenic and Old Lace" and kept it as a souvenier but never wear it so needs to go to a good home. Send me a PM with your email address and will send some pics to you
     
    totallyfrozen likes this.
  6. Mr. Godfrey

    Mr. Godfrey Practically Family

    Now that's a bargain!. Sir, you are true gent and lover of the pith helmet.
     
    totallyfrozen likes this.
  7. fireman

    fireman One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    Location:
    michigan
    Hi,

    I sent you a pm....please let me know if you got it.

    thanks!
     
  8. totallyfrozen

    totallyfrozen One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    250
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
  9. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,351
    Location:
    Oroville
    I love the look of pith helmets, I just don't own any. Yet.
     
    M Hatman likes this.
  10. Vampyre Master

    Vampyre Master Vendor

    Messages:
    471
    Location:
    North Wales Uk
    well you can buy a repro but they are cheap and nasty you cant beat a real one xx
     
    Blackthorn and M Hatman like this.
  11. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,744
    Location:
    Alberta
    deadlyhandsome and M Hatman like this.
  12. Redfokker likes this.
  13. M Hatman

    M Hatman My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Welcome to the world of militaria !!!! ;)
    M:)
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  14. Not a world I want to get sucked into. I have enough vices.
    Brent
     
    M Hatman likes this.
  15. Ticklishchap

    Ticklishchap One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,515
    Location:
    London
    I'm afraid I'm starting, just tentatively, to want one of these. And with me, interests like this turn into obsessions, as my ridiculously large collection of commando sweaters and Guernseys testifies.
     
    M Hatman likes this.
  16. fireman

    fireman One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    131
    Location:
    michigan
    Has anyone bought the Mil Tec pith helmet? I'm thinking about one of these but I have not found a picture of the headband/liner and was wondering what it looked like.

    Thanks!
     
  17. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,744
    Location:
    Alberta
    It’s that time of year again. Crazy hot yard work. Time to break out hot weather head gear. [​IMG]
    Johnny


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  18. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,744
    Location:
    Alberta
    Some yard work done. Now to think if a Sunday pick-me-up.
    [​IMG]
    Johnny


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  19. 1961MJS

    1961MJS My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,336
    Location:
    Norman Oklahoma
    Hi
    While realizing that this is an 11 year old post, wearing a Pith helmet and Safari jacket downtown cracked me up. I commonly wear what's effectively a Spanish American war roughrider hat, or 1880 era US Army fatigue hat. I took my 28 year old daughter to the zoo while wearing tan shorts, deck shoes, a tan shirt, and the tan felt hat. I got a LOT of weird looks and it took a few hours to work out that I was dressed as a Professional Hunter.

    Later
     
    David Conwill likes this.

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