PASGT Kevlar Helmet

The Kevlar PASGT helmet was first fielded to U.S. military units in the early 1980s. The helmet, available in five sizes, provides ballistic protection for the head from fragmenting munitions. It is a one piece structure composed of multiple layers of Kevlar 29 ballistic fibre and phenolic PVB resin.

101st Airborne Troopers in PASGT Kevlar Helmets
101st Airborne Troopers in PASGT Kevlar Helmets.

The PASGT helmet came from research by the U.S. Army Natick Research Lab. Beginning in the early 1970's Natick was looking for lighter materials to reduce the weight of the Vietnam era flak jacket and the World War II M-1 Helmet a.k.a the "steel pot". They eventually decided that a Kevalr helmet and vest would provide increased protection at an equivalent, but not a reduced, weight. Kevlar vests and helmets were issued during the 1980s as the Personnel Armor System, Ground Troops (PASGT).

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PASGT Kevlar Helmet: Personal Armor System Ground Troops

Wearing the Kevlar Helmet, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers at Change of Command Ceremony for Task Force Eagle Commander, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 12 September 1996
Wearing the Kevlar Helmet, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers at Change of Command Ceremony for Task Force Eagle Commander, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 12 September 1996.

Many of the problems with the M-1 steel helmet had to do with the fact that it only came in one size. The Kevlar helmet is made in five sizes, including an XS (intended primarily for women) and an XL (rare, suitable only for men with a very large head). The unit weighs between 3.1 pounds (size XS) to 4.2 pounds (size XL).

The nylon webbing inside the Kevlar helmet is functional but not comfortable. There is a foam helmet insert, a "comfort pad" or "donut", used by most soldiers. The inner web suspension system, including a sweatband, is olive drab in color but outer components such as the chin strap or cover and cover band are issued in camouflage pattern cloth or camo-compatible colors such as olive drab or desert tan. The photo at top shows a camo cloth cover with an olive drab band and chinstrap. Unit patches and rank insignia are attached to the cover. Each helmet has its size molded into the unit and nomenclature, contract, NSN information printed near the inside rim.

In 2000, Army safety engineers tested whether the weight of the Kevlar helmet increased neck injuries or caused other problems in accidents. The evidence from real-world analysis shows that Kevlar helmets appear to protect against head injury, and are not necessarily associated with neck injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

PASGT Kevlar Helmet Suspension

The Kevlar helmet is fitted with expendable components: headband; chin strap; center webbing suspensions assembly and screws that can be individually replaced for maintenance. Each helmet is issued with an instruction booklet that includes a size chart and other data. The PASGT system has been subject to a number of modifications over its lifetime, including a newer lightweight version of the helmet shell and changes in the suspension system and straps. The photo at left is of the newer-style suspension.

The PASGT style helmet has been widely imitated and is now standard issue in many countries around the world.

Kevlar is a Dupont product, a manmade organic fiber that combines high strength with light weight.

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