If you’re here reading this article, then chances are you’re wondering why leather fire helmets are so expensive and if they are worth it. They can cost up to $1000 bucks, which is a huge expense. I will answer these questions for you in this article. You should also know that there are alternatives to the leather fire helmet, and I will explain them too!
So why are leather fire helmets so expensive? The main reason why leather fire helmets are so expensive is due to the material which is leather and how it is sourced. The labor involved in making leather fire helmets also adds to the cost. This is because most leather fire helmets are usually handmade which then adds to the total cost of producing them.
To learn more, keep reading this article.
What is a Leather Fire Helmet?
The leather fire helmet is an old-fashioned helmet that was first used in the 1800s because they were more lightweight and could be worn for longer periods than other types of helmets.
They are made out of natural animal skin (typically cowhide) with short hair on the inside to resist heat and give it a soft texture.
The leather is soaked in water and boiled, then stretched tightly over an iron frame before being let dry out of direct sunlight until it becomes hard like plastic. So, how do you know if a Fire Helmet is Leather or not?
If you’re unsure about your fire department’s equipment standards, just ask. Some departments will tell you that their helmets are made out of leather, while others might claim they’re all synthetic.
If the helmet is labeled as “synthetic,” it’s most likely a fiberglass or nylon shell with an inner lining to make it more comfortable against your head and face.
Why Is Leather Fire Helmets So Expensive? – Details
Below are the details on why leather fire helmets are so expensive when compared to other fire helmets made of other materials.
1. The Source Of The Materials Used
One of the key reasons why leather fire helmets are seen to be expensive is largely due to the sourcing of the material. It also has to do with cost, as leather prices are on a continual rise.
Leather is sourced from the skins of animals. Some of these animals are cows, pigs, sheep and goats. The skin is then tanned to make it more durable for use with clothing or equipment such as the leather fire helmet.
The process of tanning starts by soaking the animal skins in liquid made from pine bark or other sources of natural chemicals like chromium oxide. The chemical solution helps preserve the hide so that the final product, leather, does not decay or decompose.
While some animal skins will take about 3-6 months to turn into leather , some animal skins can take up to 18 months.
Once the skin is turned into leather, it goes through an additional process called “currying.” Currying refers to cleaning and softening the leather material or in this case, making a hard hide more supple for use on clothing such as a fire helmet.
The final step of the tanning process is called “dressing.” Dressing refers to the final stage of the tanning process where the leather goes through a drying phase and then it’s ready for use. All of these processes adds to the overall cost of the leather fire helmet.
2. Most Leather Helmets Are Handmade
Another thing that contributes to the cost of a leather fire helmet is the fact that these helmets are usually handmade.
This means each piece will be made by hand, as opposed to in an assembly line fashion like some other types of clothing and apparel.
The process typically takes about a week per one individual helmet. The bulk production time has been cut down by half over the last century thanks to advances in technology but there’s still much more work involved with a single firefighter’s head gear compared to something mass-produced for consumers.
When you take into account cutting patterns, assembling, stitiching or joining, and then finishing the helmet with rivets and lacquer coating for durability it’s easy to see why these helmets are so expensive.
The high demand means that there are fewer craftsmen who can hand-make a quality leather fire fighter.
3. Leather Fire Helmets Are More Durable
Leather is a durable material that helps to protect the head from bumps and scrapes. They have been used for centuries because of their durability. Leather fire helmets are not only durable but offer some unique features that make them one of the most sort after helmets for fire fighters.
There are a combination of features that makes leather fire helmets so desirable to buy. Some of these awesome features include the fact that leather fire helmets are lightweight and comfortable.
Leather fire helmets also offer greater protection from the heat of a fire due to their ability to absorb some of that heat. The outer layer is resistant to water and easy for firefighters to remove in case they have been soaked with water during an emergency situation.
Leather can also be used again after being washed so it’s more environmentally friendly than other types of helmets. It doesn’t need any type or quality of care but just needs air drying, which makes them cheaper in the long run if you compare them against non leather models.
All of these awesome qualities makes leather the premium material for fire helmets and with such premium qualities come a premium price.
4. Type of Fire Helmets
The type of fire helmet contributes to how much it costs. There are many different types of helmets, and the price varies depending on what type you want, as well as its features.
There are three major types of fire helmets. They include half-face, full-face, and open-face (the most common). The main difference is in how much protection they offer from heat and flames to firefighters’ faces.
- Half Face Helmet – This type offers better visibility but less protection.
- Full Face Helmet – This type offers better protection but less visibility.
- Open Face Helmet– This type offers the best of both worlds in terms of safety and vision, so it’s typically chosen by firefighters who do more rescue operations than fighting fires or those on a team that does both types. The main downside is when wearing one for prolonged periods, it can get pretty hot.
Among the different types of fire helmets, the most expensive is usually the full-face helmet.
This type of fire helmet made from leather provides more protection than a typical firefighter’s helmet because they absorb heat and can withstand high temperatures for longer periods of time, which means firefighters are less likely to sustain burns on their faces during an emergency.
Although they offer the best protection from heat and flames, leather helmets can weigh up to 12 pounds when outfitted with all of their safety features which is taxing on a firefighter’s neck and back over time.
So Are Leather Helmets Worth It?
The key to determining if they are worth it or not will depend on what your priority is.
Are you looking for the best protection against heat, water and fire? Then a leather helmet is probably worth it to you. Do not forget that they also offer superior comfort as well.
If your priority is price then there are some cheaper alternatives to leather such as ballistic nylon or fiberglass which will be discussed later in this article.
All in all, I will say it really depends if you are willing to sacrifice your comfort for safety or not. On the one hand, leather fire helmets offer a lot of protection for your head in the event that you fall or need to jump from a high place.
On the other, more expensive than some alternatives like ballistic nylon which is also strong but lightweight. So it might be worth looking into if you don’t mind sacrificing comfort at all times.
If you’re still on the fence, then there are some safety tips that can help make your decision easier. When considering a helmet for firefighting or other hazardous work.
It’s important to keep in mind how often and what kind of hazards will be faced when wearing any type of headgear. It is best to find one with protection from all types of hazards.
One final thing before moving on: all of these helmets are expensive but what if your budget can’t afford them? Well don’t fret because I have gone ahead and found some of the top options so that no matter how much money you’ve got, somebody has an option for you! You’ll find more information about each one below.
Alternatives To Leather Fire Helmets
There are a few alternatives to leather fire helmets such as ballistic nylon and fiberglass.
1. Ballistic Nylon Helmets
This is a synthetic fiber that when woven together, forms the base of many different styles and materials. It can be much lighter than leather but offers less protection from heat, water, or fire damage.
The main advantage of these helmets are that they are much cheaper than leather, but their disadvantages outweigh the benefits in most situations. They do not offer a lot of protection from heat and other types of accidents at all.
These helmets absorbs moisture very easily which causes them to lose shape quickly over time. The only major benefit is that they sometimes come with replaceable parts for when the helmet becomes too damaged from wear-and-tear or impact.
The price range for these helmets are lower in comparison to leather as well with prices averaging out at about $100-$250 depending on where you buy them from.
The problem is that ballistic nylon will melt if you put it near open flame so they’re not regularly used by professionals who have to fight fires like firefighters do.
They still make some use of ballistic nylon though because even though its melting point is low (around 400°), it’ll stay intact around 500°. But sadly, they are not a viable fire helmet material for professionals because of the melting point.
2. Fiberglass Helmets
This option is one I personally recommend if possible since it offers better protection than any of the other options. The best thing about about the fiberglass fire helmets is that they are able to withstand 900°, which is the melting point of steel.
Even though they still melt at high temperatures (and will eventually lose their shape), it’s a lot more durable than ballistic nylon or leather and offers better protection overall.
Fiberglass has been used in helmets for years – from motorcycle racing down to construction workers who need added head protection while working on building sites with heavy machinery nearby.
Plus, the fiberglass fire helmet are lightweight and doesn’t add much additional weight when compared to other options like metal or wood that you may see some firefighters wear instead!
The price tag might be higher because it requires expensive production processes but if possible I recommend going this route since it’ll last longer without needing replacement.
Having said all the above, it is important to add that fiberglass is a very durable material but the main downside is that it can be heavy to wear for long periods of time. They are also more expensive than ballistic nylon and not as well-known in most communities or companies.