(pictured above: FAST helmet replica with usual ton of unnecessary but cool-looking accessories)
Helmets are an interesting topic when it comes to airsoft.
The most obvious benefit to wearing one is the extra protection it provides not only from shots to your dome, but also from miscellaneous tree branches, building structures, and other such things you may bump your noggin into. Impressionists and gear nuts (like ourselves) will argue that wearing a helmet adds a greater sense of “realism” to the sport – most soldiers (aside from hardcore ninja special forces types) wouldn’t leave base without their helmet on, so why should you?
Naysayers will say that the protection may be necessary against bullets but not against BBs – if you get hit in the head, then shrug it off, buddy! They will say that it’s too much weight on your head, that it constricts your ventilation, or that it makes your head a more visible target (which is true with non-painted lids).
Valid points on both sides. My (long winded) thoughts after the break.
I didn’t always wear a helmet – I got my first replica MICH 2001 about halfway through my first year of airsoft when Juicy started wearing a MICH 2000 and I thought hey, well, I want to look cool too. At the time it was less about physical protection and more about looking cool. It was another bit of kit to make me look more like the dudes in Modern Warfare 2.
Over time I’ve come to wear a helmet regularly. I’ve picked up a lighter MICH 2001, and then one of my favorite bits of airsoft kit – the FAST helmet you see above. I’ve also recently picked up a MICH 2000 replica to round out my MARSOC impression.
I think airsoft helmets have become a way for me to really get into the airsoft “mindset”. I used to play a lot of hockey, and as a goalie my mask was something I took a lot of pride in – I looked long and hard for a design I liked, and I added a custom cage, throat protector, and strap system. But more importantly, I wasn’t geared up until I put that thing on. Right before faceoff I’d close my eyes, put the mask on, then open my eyes again. At that point I was fully focused on the game and throwing myself in front of frozen rubber.
Perhaps some of that has carried through to airsoft. I put my first and second line on, sling my primary and holster my secondary… but I’m not “geared up” in my mind until I put my helmet on. I guess that’s why I wear a helmet: it gets me into the zone.