Some Imperial Space Marines in Warhammer 40K are shown with long hair and/or long beards - the Space Wolves in particular. This must get in the way if they ever have to put on a helmet quickly, in the event of a chemical attack, decompression, etc. enter image description here I get that this is sort of a "rule of cool" thing, but has there ever been an instance in the Warhammer 40K novels (or other game fluff) of a marine trying to put on their helmet, and having trouble due to their hair or beard?

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    They clearly just turned off the "Show Helm" option in the settings menu!
    – Skooba
    Jan 25, 2019 at 19:27
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    If you look at the game miniatures, the heads are the same size as the helmet. Apparently, a Space Marine's head eventually gets big enough it doesn't fit inside the helmet.
    – T.J.L.
    Jan 25, 2019 at 19:37
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    Not the same type of helmets, but many bikers in real life have beard and long hair...
    – Taladris
    Jan 27, 2019 at 8:53
  • Their outfits aren't sealed at the neck, though. They can put their hair down the backs of their necks. Jan 27, 2019 at 15:53

4 Answers 4



  • 'Rule of Cool' applies.
  • Helmet necessary situations are rather limited in universe.
  • Not having the ability to use your helmet would limit effectiveness and capability...
  • There is no instance of 'having trouble' that I can recall.

So you are correct. The 'Rule of Cool' applies 100% in this situation. Models and images that we see are bursting with the impossibility of donning a vacuum seal helmet when the situation arises.

However, the chances of such a fatal situation happening do seem to be rather remote. Just about all known, un-Chaos modified, chemicals have no effect on Space Marines thanks to their Multi-Lung and the same organ grants the ability to breathe in low oxygen environments, such as decompression.

In addition, the Mucranoid implant allows Space Marines to secret a substance that creates a barrier on the user's skin for environments such as vacuum. While I have never read anything from the Black Library stating its use there is a chance the organ could also protect a user that is not wearing a helmet in a pinch.

And while there is the option for other situations that may arise where a helmet would be advisable, honestly the two you state are the not only the most obvious, but the most common as well. Vacuum aside, fighting on ships involves the same potential risks as fighting planet side. And poison aside the only advantage to having a helmet I can see would be in a situation where normal vision is completely obstructed, such as a really heavy fog or when communications break down and smart optics, like thermals, are paramount.

In universe, I would argue that not having the ability to don your helmet would limit your effectiveness and your deployment capabilities in certain situations. Should there be a need to fight in vacuum or underwater the Marine would be useless. While we don't explicitly 'see' the method of a Space marine donning their helmet, I would say there is a procedure in place to account for a Space Marine's individuality; custom helmets or some other adjustment.

And the few times that I have read of a Space Marine donning their helmet there has never been any issue. I will have to find the passage/book, but as I recall, during Warzone: Fenris all the Space Wolves fighting on Midgardia had to use their helmets to filter out a plague created by Mortarion. At some point they also found Logan Grimnar's helmet leading them to believe he was lost in battle. Depending on the image/model Grimnar himself has a great deal of excessive hair that would make wearing a helmet impossible. If he couldn't have even worn the helmet I am sure he would not have brought it with him.

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    Fair enough. I remembered the multi-lung, but had forgotten about the space mucus sheath thing. It still seems silly to me not to take advantage of the helmet, or at least have it ready and accessible. I guess my fatal flaw was trying to apply logic to the ridiculousness that is 40K. Jan 26, 2019 at 20:26
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    Yeah, obviously there are situations where they have their helmet at hand and when they don't it never comes back to bite them... I feel like there was a time when Ragnar had to use his helmet as well, but I can't remember for sure. You are completely right though; Rule of Cool is the primary reasoning.
    – Odin1806
    Jan 26, 2019 at 20:46
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    "the only advantage to having a helmet" -> you mean other than deflecting bullets? I get these guys are tough, but I'm pretty sure their armored helmets are more bulletproof than their skulls.
    – Erik
    Oct 11, 2019 at 19:38
  • Haha, obvious skull saving advantages not included!
    – Odin1806
    Oct 12, 2019 at 0:39

The majority of space wolves don't put on helmets, instead preferring to display their long locks as intimidation.

From the wiki:

Originally the VI Legion of Astartes raised by the Emperor at the dawn of the Great Crusade, the Space Wolves are renowned for their anti-authoritarian ways and their embrace of their homeworld Fenris' savage barbarian culture as well as their extreme deviation from the Codex Astartes in the Chapter's organisation.

Thus, they are hardly representative of the average space marine. They are savage and barbaric, going into battle adorned with hunting trophies.

models showing figures not wearing helmets with long hair

As to your second question, I don't think such a situation has ever been depicted. Most marines with long hair forgo helmets altogether.

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    I get why they they typically eschew helmets; I'm wondering how they would deal with a situation where they'd have to put their helmet on or die. The models you've shown don't even have their helmets on their belts, which would be bad news in a situation where they'd need to be sealed up. Jan 26, 2019 at 18:25
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    @Vanguard3000 I think it was explained away by magic bodies which allows their lungs to act as natural filters better than any gas masks. It's just a lot of rule of cool and "Insanity is power".
    – Neo Darwin
    Jan 26, 2019 at 19:18

I always figured the helm sealed to the chest armor, not to the neck. The helmet doesn't seal tight around the neck, it seals at a ring between the helmet and body armor. So you could tuck a long beard down into the neck and chest of your armor then seal the helm over all of it. Think more like a deep sea diving rig than a skintight suit of armor, it's not tight around the neck so there's room for extra beard.

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    Are you basing this on any canon evidence, or are you just guessing? If it is based on evidence, you should edit this answer to cite your source/s. Jun 23, 2021 at 20:33

Based on the information in this article Power Armour

it seems that since the Mark IV armour the helmet is not directly attached

The Mark IV suit's helmet was a completely new design, the basic shape inspired by the sweeping front of the Mark III. In Mark III and later versions the helmet was no longer fixed to the armour's neck plates, but moved with the wearer's head while still maintaining an environmental seal.

More relevant there is a section about the No Helmet option, with particular reference to the space wolves:

Amongst the Astartes, it is the Space Wolves who are the most fervent practitioners of this custom. In their case, it is no mere show of courage as the Canis Helix gifts them with a preternaturally acute sense of smell, rivalling that of natural wolves or trained scent-hounds. Many Space Wolves are able to follow their targets, or the very flow of battle, thanks to minute changes in scent when fighting helmetless. The Space Wolves consider the added risk of a well-placed sniper shot to the head acceptable when equated with the ability to scent ambushes or the very moment an enemy will break or charge. This habit of gaining information about a situation by scent is so natural to the Space Wolves that many feel slightly disoriented and claustrophobic when forced by circumstances to don their helmets.

In summary, it would seem that the power armour and helmets could probably accommodate the long hair, but the space wolves would probably still just not wear them

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