Headgear – Soft and Hard

ERDL Boonie Tropical Hat

Soft tropical sun hats were used by all forces in Vietnam. They were made of either cotton poplin or rip-stop fabric. The hat featured an adjustable chin-strap, foliage loops and ventilation eyelets around the crown. The insect net was issued with it, but not often used. ERDL pattern was used by the US Army ARVN and Marines. Look at the leather toggle on the hat strap. If it is rectangular shaped then its a Vietnam dated Hat. Post Vietnam and modern ones have toggles with rounded corners.

OG – Green Boonie

The OD green version of the boonie hat. Vietnam era hats had two vents on the sides.

Boonie Insect Net

Made of a netted mesh to keep insects away. The top has an elastic suspension that fits over your head, boonie or helmet. There a semi-rigid hoops sewn into the netting to hold a cylindrical shape to keep the netting away from the users head. Can also be worn between the helmet and the liner.

Fatigue Cap

This was a visored baseball style hat made of polyester and rayon gabardine cloth dyed olive green army shade 406. This hat was very unpopular with troops. The stitching is a good way to recognize wartime fatigue caps, as they have a double row (Two rows) of stitching around the visor and cap. Post war caps have two double rows (Four rows) of stitching.

Steel Helmets

M1 Helmet

The M1 helmet of the 1960’s has a lower profile than the M1 helmets of WW2, otherwise the design was unchanged. The two-part chin strap was typically fastened up around the rear of the helmet . There are many of the Vietnam era helmets to be found. Some things to look out for….. The WW2 helmet’s rim joins at the front, the Korean and Vietnam helmet rim joins at the rear. The helmet strap should have a little anchor insignia on it. If you are new to reenacting you will find these helmets heavy to wear but you will get used to it.

Earlier Pattern M1 Helmet Liner

The early pattern is the same as the WW2 helmet liner interior, but it has olive green webbing.

Later Pattern M1 Helmet Liner

The liner includes a 6 point suspension system made up of cotton webbing with 3 adjustable web straps. The headband is attached to the suspension webbing. There are also three small buckles attached to the inside of the liner used to attach the nape strap. The Vietnam liner webbing are attached with rivets, whereas the later ones have a detachable suspension system.

Mitchell Pattern Helmet Cover



Tight Weave Fabric

Twill Fabric

The Mitchell leaf pattern was a disruptive camouflage pattern using selected organic dyes and resin bonded pigments. A reversible cover with leaf patterns in greens and brown colors for spring and summer wear, and brown colors for fall and winter operations. For additional camouflage the cover contained small slots for inserting natural foliage. The elastic helmet band could also be used to hold foliage in place. It is possible to buy a cover with graffiti written on it. Graffiti on helmet covers was a means of expressing identity and opinion. If you choose to put your own graffiti on a helmet care should be taken to use graffiti appropriate to the period and service and also keep in mind you will be in full view of the general public, so you might want to temper it a little bit. The easier dates to find are between 1970 -1975. 1960’s dated are around but you have to hunt for them. If you have a twill cotton cover then it was definitely made in the 1960’s. Likewise early Mitchell pattern covers were still marked with FSN. The FSN (Federal Stock Number) marked covers predate the later DSA marked ones, therefore you have a 1960’s date. Notice on many covers that they were made by the Minneapolis Society for the blind.


The headband is a leather covered web strap provided with 6 metal clips and a buckle for attaching and adjusting the headband to the liner. The clips lock around the webbing that goes around the inside of the helmet. The open ends of the clips should be pointing up when the band is on your head. It is easier to adjust the band by fitting it on your head before you put it into the helmet.

Helmet Band

An elastic cotton webbing placed around the helmet. It was designed to hold foliage in order to blend the helmet into the surrounding terrain. In Vietnam, however it was more commonly used to hold personal items such as cigarettes, toilet paper, insect repellent or a spare magazine.

1st Pattern Nape Strap or Neckband

A web strap with studs to attach to the back of the liner to give support to the neck. It has a buckle for adjusting the headband.

2nd Pattern Nape Strap

The neckband is a web strap with a long adjusting tape sewed to each end and a short adjusting tape sewed to the middle. Designed to be fitted to the 2nd Pattern helmet liner. This helped to hold the helmet at the back of your head, keeping the thing from pitching forward on your forehead or nose. These were often discarded by the troops.

Helmet Chin-strap.

A cotton web strap attached to the sides of the helmet, utilizing a ball and hook type closure (clasped together in this picture).
Commonly worn over the back of the helmet. The ball and hook was designed to release the helmet should undue pressure be exerted on the helmet thus offering some protection from neck injury (overpressure from a blast or the helmet being grabbed or snagged thus yanking the wearers head back). There is a different chin-strap for paratroopers that is designed to hold the helmet securely on the soldiers head during a jump (below).

9 responses to “Headgear – Soft and Hard

  1. zak christensen

    i have all my gear for a rifleman impression and an rto impression. do you reenact with blanks or airsoft I really would like to join a unit around the midwest thank you

  2. On Saturday, 12 September, Leavenworth Kansas will have a living history program from 0800-1400 hrs in the center of town. Quality reenactors and living historians are needed. Periods from 1827 – Vietnam War are required. We will provide a lunch meal and have asked for gas. Up to four men per period are needed. The objective is to tie the history of the period to Fort Leavenworth’s history and do interpretive programs. Please let me know if you are interested. David Brubaker has my email. We welcome any participation from the “Last Patrol”.

  3. Dave

    So why was the fatigue cap so unpopular ? Was it that it where too ugly or something ?

    • m151dave

      I do not know, I wore them and it beat the heck out of the older “Castro” type hats. Some said they fit funny. I must have had an average head, mine fit fine.

      If you want a fashion statement in the Army, you are in the wrong place. Ugly was not an issue soldier!

  4. saturnblue

    i have a m1 nam helmet.the liner has initials witten on the suspension system but a name is written on the plastic tag on the suspension system. reads V. Scott in what order were these names written? last name first or last? thanks.liner is dated may 1969.

    • m151dave

      It would be First initial and last name. Never initials for last name unless you are using all three initials together, first middle last.

  5. Saturnblue76

    Hi I have p stamped chinstraps on my airborne m1 helmet. Nam helmet.

  6. Noor Iskandar Zakaria Alexsdu

    Whenever I wear the M1 helmet, it tend to ‘amplified’ sounds, especially the wind. As if I’m hearing soft moving air in a cave. Very audible.
    Does everyone have the same issue?
    Could it be because the liner I have for the helmet is the plastic reproduction?

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