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What kind of helmet for you?
Full-face protection, narrow eye slits.
46%
 46%  [ 20 ]
No full-face protection, wide field of view.
53%
 53%  [ 23 ]
Total Votes : 43

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David Lohnes




Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Joined: 31 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:08 am    Post subject: Great helms, kettles, etc. and battlefield vision         Reply with quote

Okay learned friends:

So I decided to add a little historical oomph to the PVC-pipe sword brawls I have with my seven and four year old sons, and I taped some brown paper with great-helm-like ocular slots over the visor of my motorcycle helmet.

I promptly got schooled.

Obviously most foes on the battlefield were taller than 4', and so the lack of vertical vision wouldn't have been "as" big a deal, but nonetheless, I was utterly shocked by the huge negative impact reducing my field of view to two little slits had on my ability to fight.

Searching the forums, I see that there are several who prefer kettles to closed helms, and I can see why. With my limited experience, I would have to say me too.

My question is this, how often were great helms worn by fighters on foot? I can see that perhaps the extra protection afforded by a closed helm for an exposed mounted warrior subject to lances, sling stones, arrows, and pole arms might offset the reduced field of view. But for a footman?

And of course, I've said nothing about breathability, mobility, weight, and comfort.

What about you SCAers and reenactors out there? What do you prefer?

Jump in everybody!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

FWIW: The choice might be partly cultural. Apparently, 15th c. Italians tended to prefer visorless sallets, which is one reason visored sallets with Italian armourers' marks are commonly described as "export sallets." I can't explain why everyone else seems to have preferred visors. Maybe the light sallet (like the Milanese type I'm wearing in my avatar) was considered a good compromise design and ideal development of the barbute, a very popular Italian style through much of the 15th c.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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A. Spanjer




Location: USA
Joined: 26 Apr 2009

Posts: 242

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The only "helm" I've had any expierience with was a fencing mask. That said, I may still have something relevent to add.

When I first started fencing I found it quite difficult to see what I was doing with the mask on. After a while I became used to it, now I don't even notice I'm wearing anything. (except for that time a yellow- jacket got in my mask... now THAT was a surprise! Razz )

It may take longer that with a fencing mask, but it seems to me that you'd get used to it if you used the helm long enough.


Having said that. I still think I'd prefer something like a viking spectacled helm, I think a great helm would get in the way to much.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 12:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I would be a horse soldier so I would want a great helm or an armet on foot an open faced helm might be okay but foot guys don't have to deal with things like the melee
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 10:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I voted for the open face in the poll but then the other option was " narrow " slits "but there are many designs that give a lot of face protection but don't restrict vision too much. Wink

Distance of the slit/ocular from the eyes make a great deal of difference since a very narrow slit very close to the eyes can give better vision than a much wide slit far from the face.

Open faced helms also give more or less protection to the face depending on design also: A wide brim on a kettle hat gives a lot of indirect protection to the face. Add cheek plates and you have very good coverage.

A Morion's turned up brim fronts and back and turned down on the sides give a lot of protection.

A T shaped barbute doesn't restrict vision at all, doesn't restrict air either but protect the face almost as well as a full face plate.

Vision wise my various helms rate from worse to best in the order below:
1) Pig face bascinet has it's vision slits far from the face and seems the worse.
2) Great helm is not too bad as the slits are much closer to the eyes. ( air a problem thought ! ).
3) Visored sallet with bevor. Without bevor it's closer to the next one
4) Eye slot kettle hat doesn't block vision very much and the angle of the rim in relation to the eyes means that below the slit one's vision is only blocked by a narrow band of steel that is tilted in such a way to seem even narrower, and one's vision is clear under the rim.
5) T shaped barbute: Almost like nothing blocking one's view.
6) Nasal helm: After a while one hardly notices the nasal.
7) Wide brim kettle hat: Only restricts vision if one tilts one head down. ( Note: The eye slot variety means that if this kind of helm is worm slightly tilted back one looks most of the time under the wide brim and if one tilts one head down to avoid a blow one doesn't lose situational awareness because one can peek through the eye slots ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Gerald Fa.





Joined: 29 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 11:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I voted for Full-face protection, I do just about as good in sword fighting with Full-face protection as with open face helmet. I was in A.R.M.A. one time with my Basic Sallet and have fought some people that had fencing masks and I tend to block pretty well even with limited vision. It just I see the harm movements and you can more or less tell were he is going to strike next… (I am in A.R.M.A.)

This is the one I have:
But my Sallet give a lot more vison then what most people think…


David Lohnes wrote:
Okay learned friends:

So I decided to add a little historical oomph to the PVC-pipe sword brawls I have with my seven and four year old sons, and I taped some brown paper with great-helm-like ocular slots over the visor of my motorcycle helmet.

I promptly got schooled.

Obviously most foes on the battlefield were taller than 4', and so the lack of vertical vision wouldn't have been "as" big a deal, but nonetheless, I was utterly shocked by the huge negative impact reducing my field of view to two little slits had on my ability to fight.

Searching the forums, I see that there are several who prefer kettles to closed helms, and I can see why. With my limited experience, I would have to say me too.

My question is this, how often were great helms worn by fighters on foot? I can see that perhaps the extra protection afforded by a closed helm for an exposed mounted warrior subject to lances, sling stones, arrows, and pole arms might offset the reduced field of view. But for a footman?

And of course, I've said nothing about breathability, mobility, weight, and comfort.

What about you SCAers and reenactors out there? What do you prefer?

Jump in everybody!



I do not know, but there were infantry men with great helmets... If it was me, I would use a great helmet on foot...



But tacitly I think in a closed fight open face seems better for most people, but in an open battle-field, I would think full-face protection would be better for most people...
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David Lohnes




Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 5:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For what it's worth, in the Maciejowski Bible, great helms seem to be worn mostly (entirely?) by Israelites, and mostly (entirely?) by mounted troops. I haven't studied the whole thing carefully, but I've looked at a bunch of battle pictures. There defintely is a trend in those two directions.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm guessing that your motorcycle helmet visor was much farther from your face than the front of a great helm. Half-inch slots right up close to your eyes will give vastly better vision than bigger slots a couple inches farther out. I like being able to see and hear, but I also don't want my face to suddenly become less pretty, eh? Life is all about choices.

Matthew
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T. Hamilton




Location: United States
Joined: 30 Dec 2009

Posts: 85

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sugarloaf in my avatar has pretty narrow eye slits, but they are long enough that only minimal head turn is required for decent peripheral vision. As far as vertical vision, upgaze is no problem, but I find I must look through the breath holes to see what's going on toward my feet. That actually works pretty well. I don't think I'm wearing the helmet too far forward, because if I got any closer to the face plate, my nose would be touching. My biggest problem is down and to the side, something I think would be more of an issue for a mounted warrior in a melee situation. Breathing is not so great, and after a few minutes of exertion, the interior of the face plate is covered in condensation. Looove that wet metal smell!
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Feb, 2010 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My experiences are limited to SCA combat. I, along with most SCAdians in my area, began with a hand-me-down great helm.

The first time fighting in that helm I thought “You have to kidding me!” I felt claustrophobic, had a hard time catching my breath and thought I couldn’t see anything my opponent was doing. Eventually, you became accustomed to the helm. You learn how to use the breaths for downward vision, learn how to properly fit the helm so that the oculars were at eye level, learn how to use peripheral vision and learn how to control your breathing. After a few months, fighting in the great helm offered no great disadvantages.

My next helm was a spangenhelm that lacked a nasal. There were bars for face protection as required by the SCA, but for all intents and purposes it was an open face helm. Obviously, the total field of vision was increased and appreciated. Most interestingly, the vastly increased hearing is what I found to be most beneficial. This was an unexpected and pleasant result.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Feb, 2010 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it must depend a lot on what the rest of your armour is. If everything other than the head is completely covered, then an open face helmet will leave you 10 times as vulnerable as a full-face helm. Big difference! Especially against arrows.

But if you're wearing aketon/buff coat, breast-and-back, maybe some armour on arms and legs, the open helmet leaves you a little more vulnerable, but not that much more. For a little face protection, nasal or 3 bar face guard.
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