The pith helmet originated somewhere around the 1840's, and was popular among travelers to Africa, India, Europe, and the U.S. The traditional pith helmet was made of pith bark (then cork) and covered in khaki canvas twill. The purpose of pith helmets is to create space between the hat and the head. This helps to keep the head cooler on the hottest conditions. The pith helmet should be worn with the strap up front.
There are literally dozens of styles of pith helmets produced through out the twentieth century. The English and French styles of piths were among the most popular for both style and practicality.