Sac Steam
Harry Mossman, Webmaster

Zulu Pith Helmet

pith helmet
Pith Helmet

Intrepid steampunk explorers simply must have a pith helmet. The correct one to wear is the so-called "Zulu" helmet, named for Zulu War of 1878-79 (technically the Foreign Service Helmet), but worn in various forms by many European soldiers, police and explorers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is historically correct but also works well to hold your essential goggles.

Most of these hats are made in Vietnam. I got mine at The Village Hat Shop. They run rather small. If it is too big for you, there is a fix. The band may simply be removed, along with the hardware that holds it. The latter task requires only some pliers.

zulu helmet liner
Helmet liner

If the hat is too big, you could put some folded material on the top of your head before wearing it. In fact, on a hot day, you might use a damp cloth. Or a bag of ice wrapped in a bandana. Or, you could do something like this technique used for pikemen's morion helmets. It would not be that elaborate, of course. Perhaps you would use brass bolts to hold the suspension system in place.

vintage pith helmet
Vintage French Pith Helmet
Click to enlarge

You may choose to age the helmet. See the vintage French helmet on the right. You could could do that with thinned water color. During the African wars, British soldiers found that their bright white helmets made perfect targets. They rubbed on dirt and added foliage.

armored pith helmet
Armored Helmet
Thomas Willeford's Steampunk
Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos

You can, of course, add all sorts of goodies to the basic helmet. How about a cannon, as on the armored helmet in Thomas Willeford's Steampunk Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos. Perhaps a steam vent. And, of course, your goggles! I have thought about how to add an ear trumpet. A spike would be a fun addition too.

pith helmet
Home Service Helmet