Always remember your hat.

Time to have a bit of a chat about equipment.

Tournament combat can be an equipment intensive activity. You need a set of armour to play. Your armour not only protects you from your opponents’ attacks it also is a critical part of your overall appearance and presentation. You should put some thought and care into your amour and associated gear. Look after it and it will look after you.

So, were to start? Possibly the most important and obvious item is your helm. This is what most people will identify as ‘you’. It is in a very real way you on field ‘face’.

I would recommend getting the best helm you can afford. They do not tend to get worn out as quickly as other pieces of armour and can last you many years.

Have a think about what style you like. Is there are particular time period or look you are after? If you are just starting off there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a new helm. Ask around to see if there is anything going second hand. New helms can be purchased for under $200 from the US.

Here are a few things to think about:

• Get a helm from someone who knows what the SCA is about. Do they have a good understanding of the armour rules and requirements? Chances are that they will know what you are doing and will be making helms that work well for what we do.

• Avoid some of the Indian/Chinese etc items. While these suppliers are fine for a lot of armour many of the helms are not suitable for SCA combat. Often the welds are poor and the material too thin.

• 2mm minimum. I would not use a helm with less than a 2mm thick skull. 1.6mm, while legal will just get dented. I make my helms out of 2.5mm and they last years.

• Chin straps. Many people put these too high. The best place is to have the attachment point in line with the back of the jaw bone just under the ear.

• Padding. You do not have to line the entire helm with padding. Some strips of padding that suspends the head is fine. Better yet is a horse hair or linen period liner.

• Breathing is more important than vision. Make sure you are able to breathe comfortably. While a lot of closed face helms look great, make sure you get some air, air is a Good Thing.

• Avoid moving parts. I generally do not like helms with too many moving parts such as visors, catches etc. These are all things that can break or go wrong. Remember that you are going to get hit a lot and your helm takes the brunt of this.

Let’s go shopping!

Take some time and have a good look around. Yes you can spend a lot of money on a helm but you do not have to. Take your time and get something that will work for you.

Here is a list of suppliers to get you started.