Pressed Fiber Helmet

American Fiber Helmet range instructors

The ‘other’ US Army helmet

The Pressed Fiber Helmet (also known as the American fiber helmet, American pith helmet, safari helmet, tropical helmet, sun helmet or elephant helmet) is a type of sun helmet made of pressed fibre material that has been used as part of the military uniform by various parts of the United States Armed Forces, from 1934 to present.

The Pressed Fiber Helmet is still in use today, being worn by US Marine Corps rifle range cadres, as an icon for marksmanship excellence during marksmanship course training.

The Pressed Fiber Helmet, often referred to as pith helmet but is not made of pith and it was not designed to protect the head during combat. Even so, it was assigned as combat gear issue during the 1930s and 1940s in active theatres.

The helmet has been used by most branches of the US military, including the military police, marine aviators, officer and enlisted ranks, military parades, graduation ceremonies, and combat training.

During World War II, it was issued to all ranks of the Marine service and is the longest serving helmet in US military history to date. Issued in the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, invasion of Grenada, and the Persian Gulf War.

Despite its longevity of service, the fiber helmet was never given a model name. It is officially known as “Helmet, Sun, Rigid, Fiber.” The helmet was originally designed by Jesse Hawley and first manufactured by Hawley Products Company and the International Hat Company for several decades in the 20th century.

The Pressed Fiber Helmet can also be seen in civilian use.

Famous wearers of the Pressed Fiber Helmet

  • US Army marksmen

Other names for the Pressed Fiber Helmet

  • American Fiber Helmet
  • Pith Helmet
  • Safari Helmet
  • Tropical Helmet
  • Sun Helmet
  • Elephant Helmet
  • Helmet, Sun, Rigid, Fiber