The science behind a comfortable helmet
The four keys for a perfect fit
Contributed by LionConnects
The comfort level of a helmet is much more than a matter of personal preference. It directly corresponds to how closely the fit of your helmet matches the dimensions of your head. Since no two heads are alike, this requires certain components of the helmet be adjustable so each can properly fit your head’s unique size and shape. Comfort is also a safety concern.
It’s well established that a comfortable helmet will be worn longer with less fatigue.
Center of gravity
This is determined by how your suspension system (straps) interfaces with the top of your head. The center of gravity is established by the intersection of the front and back suspension straps with the side straps. A properly seated center of gravity will provide optimum balance. There should be little to no “wobble”, either from side-to-side or front-to-back. To achieve maximum comfort and effectiveness, the straps must be adjustable. This allows you to determine where the center of gravity will be located.
The height of your headband affects the profile of your helmet, how well it interfaces with the SCBA mask, and how well it fits the shape of the back of your head. In most cases, you want the profile of your helmet to be as low as possible. The higher your helmet rides, the greater the strain on your neck during firefighting activity.
The height of the front of the headband should be adjusted so it clears your SCBA mask. This permits the proper seal for your mask and keeps the headband from resting on top of the mask and lifting the helmet, which decreases balance and reduces comfort. The height of the rear of the headband needs to be set below the occipital lobe (the knot at the base of your skull). This and the proper rear ratchet band angle eliminate peak points that can cause gapping between the headband and your head.
Together, the front and back headband settings should provide enough height so the helmet is not rubbing the tops of the ears.
Cushioning that wraps around the sides and front of the headband increases comfort by dissipating the pressure a tightened headband places on the wearer.
Unnecessary weight is seldom a good thing for fire fighters. It can increase your metabolic stress and reduce your stamina in high-exertion situations. So why would someone want a heavier helmet? There’s a myth that a heavier helmet gives additional protection. Advanced composite technology proves this wrong. In fact, the weight of the helmet has almost no correlation to its ability to withstand impact penetration or heat.