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My Arms & Armor

Circa 1300 Aluminum Mail

I fell in love with the idea of creating a crusades-era knight kit before I even considered getting plate armor. I love the style, and mail is a lot easier and cheaper to obtain or make.

I started out with a little bit of a misunderstanding, thinking that great helms were in wide use throughout the crusades. But in actuality, it wasn't until about 1275 that the barrel-style great helms started to become common, and some of the other plate elements didn't start getting added until early in the 14th century (maybe 1320's or thereabouts).

I'm not a real purist when it comes to complete historical accuracy. I just want my stuff to be a reasonable approximation. As such, this kit is really a renfaire costume more than anything, and so I'm being accurate only when it's convenient to do so.

Of course, one thing that nearly everyone gets "wrong" in this sort of thing (and I'm no exception) is that the armor is 14g butted rings, rather than flattened thinner guage steel with rivets. In my earlier incarnations of this kit, the rings were galvanized steel, which made the hauberk weigh about 40 lbs by itself, not including the coif. I only made it through an 8-hour day once (with an "off the shelf" non-taylored hauberk, nearly all of the weight is on just your shoulders, unlike plate armor which distributes it much better. Mail is suppose to be a second-skin that distributes well, but it has to be properly tailored to your body, not just large straight tube designs). The rest of the time it would come off earlier in the day.

Now I use my aluminum set that I've been gradually completing for years. I can wear it comfortably all day, and it looks almost the same (and with a better sheen). As I've started to add some of the 14th century plate/splinted elements, plus a shield and helmet crest, the weight is gradually coming back up, despite all the aluminum. The shield and helmet alone make a large difference in how (un)comfortable I am all day.

I tend to wear this set to faire more frequently than the plate armor since it's a lot more comfortable (with the aluminum) and is more temperature-friendly. It's also more resilient against rain.

Some of the most recent changes include the addition of riveted stainless mail chausses (leggings), ailettes (shoulder pieces to replace the less appropriate spaulders), new belts, and of course the heraldry.

The chausses are the first part to transition to more realistic riveted steel, but comparatively they're a real commitment to wear. They take about 20 minutes to put on, and make the entire kit feel a lot more encumbering to wear.


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