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Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > Buff Coolnet UV > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Buff Coolnet UV+

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - April 8, 2019

Long Term Report - July 13, 2019

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 230 lbs (105 kg)
Email address: kwpapke (at) gmail (dot) com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

I do most of my hiking in the desert Southwest, but occasionally get up into the Pacific Northwest and my old stomping grounds in Northern Minnesota.  I am a comfort-weight guy when it comes to most gear, trying to stay as light as possible but I don't go to extremes.  I have to make sure I cover my skin, especially when hiking in Southern Arizona.  I almost always wear a wide-brimmed hat, but I have still sun-burned my lips and neck while hiking.

Initial Report

Product Description and Facts

B02

This is an interesting product to try and summarize.  It is basically a seamless tube of fabric that stretches in all dimensions.  The model I am testing is designed for hot, sunny climes, as it is made from a high UV protective (UPF 50+) Coolnet fabric (Coolmax Pro).  The latter is a type of polyester, and I appreciate the fact that the product is made from recycled bottles (two bottles).  The packaging was made from 80% recycled paper.

The manufacturer claims that it has cooling properties, and even has an included tag that indicated who (Hohenstein Institute) and how (HL 17.1.14.0179) that was tested.  I went to their website but I was not able to access the testing protocol to see how the claim was established.

The manufacturer also claims that it has permanent odor control technology (Polygiene) which, according to their website "uses low concentrations of silver salt (silver chloride)".  Silver is a proven antimicrobial used in many garments.

An interesting aspect of the product is that it comes in so may colors and patterns.  I hike a lot in Arizona, particularly in the Grand Canyon so I was excited to test a garment that uses imagery from that iconic venue.

Care Instructions:

  • Hand or machine wash in warm water with mild soap
  • Do not use fabric softeners
  • Do not bleach
  • Do not machine dry
  • Do not iron


One of the virtues of the Buff products is they can be configured for wear a number of different ways, as shown by an illustration I found on the Buff Canada website:

b01

Product Information
Manufacturer
Original Buff, S.A. Spain
Manufacturer website
https://buffusa.com/
Products tested
UV National Parks
Country of manufacture
Spain
Color/pattern tested
National Parks Grand Canyon
Size tested
One size fits all adults
MSRP
USD $17.50 (sale price, normally $25.00)
Warranty
30 days
Materials
Recycled polyester
 Weight
Manufacturer: 1.4 oz (39.7 g)
Measured: 36 g (1.27 oz)
Dimensions
Manufacturer: 20.5 x 9.75 in (52 x 25 cm)
Measured: 20.75 x 9 in (53 x 23 cm)

Initial Inspection

b04Intellectually I knew from the manufacturer supplied dimensions that this thing is long, but I didn't fully appreciate it until I took it out of the package.  As can be seen in the photo at left this is one long piece of fabric.  But it looked so small bunched up on the packaging!

The only word I can think of to describe this fabric is gossamer.  It is incredibly thin and light.

I really like the colors, pattern and text printed on the fabric.  I will not be embarrassed to wear this along busy trails where lots of people will see me.

I am horrible at remembering knots, and preliminary indications are I am going to be equally horrible at remembering all the various ways to wear a Buff.  My guess is I will mostly use it to cover my lips and the back of my neck, which is very simple.  I just hope when I'm hiking down near Tombstone that no one thinks I am a robber!
b03


Summary

I am looking forward to getting this garment out into the backcountry and trying it out.  I am intrigued to experiment with it in different configurations, in particular I'm curious how much covering my mouth (and maybe my nose) impacts breathing.  The temperatures are warming up in Tucson already, so I'll be able to check out any cooling effects in short order.

Good Things:

  • Attractive.
  • Lots of options.
  • Very thin and lightweight

Concerns:

  • I have a healthy dose of skepticism about how cool this will be on 100 F (38 C) days, especially if I'm breathing through it.

Long Term Report

Testing Locations/Conditions

Date
Location
Trail
Distance Hiked
Altitude
Weather
May 5-6, 2019
Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Mountains just North of Tucson, Arizona
AZT: Gordon Hirabayashi TH to Hutch's Pool
15 miles
(24 km)
3622-4983 ft
(1104-1519 m)
Mostly sunny, slight breeze.  High of around 85 F, low of 46 F (29-8 C)
May 18-19, 2019 Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Mountains just North of Tucson, Arizona AZT: Marshall Gulch TH to Lemmon Pools
9 miles
(14.5 km)
7000-8000 ft
(2130-2440 m)
Mostly sunny, slight breeze, 36-60 F (2-16 C)
May 22-31, 2019
Various locations near Juneau, AK
Alaska Dayhikes
Dayhikes from 1-4 miles
(1.6-6.5 km)
Near sea level
Sunny, 50-65 F (10-18 C)
June 22-23, 2019 Mount Baldy Wilderness, near Pinetop, Arizona Mount Baldy Loop
20 miles (32 km) 9190-11142 ft
(2801-3396 m)
Sunny, breezy, temperatures 30-68 F (-1-20 C)
July 6-7, 2019 Tonto National forest, Pinal Peak just south of Globe, Arizona
Various
~2 miles
(~3 km)
7600 ft
(2310 m)
Partly cloudy, 55-70 F
(13-31 C)
B05

AZT to Hutch's Pool

Hutch's Pool is an iconic Tucson backpacking destination, and a welcome respite for Arizona Trail through-hikers as it offers a chance to have a dip in a mountain pool.  Despite having lived and backpacked here for 10 years, I still had not been there, so packed up and did a short overnight.  The trailhead is a memorialized prison camp used to inter Japanese Americans during World War 2, and now bears the name of the man who fought so hard against this unnecessary internment.

Day one of the hike was pretty hot, and the Arizona sun unforgiving.  I used the Buff to keep the sun off my neck as shown in the upper left photo.  After the picture was taken, I started dunking the Buff in every stream I passed.  I found that it would stay wet an hour before it dried up.  It worked wonderfully when wet to cool me down.

When I started cooking dinner in camp that night I was swarmed by gnats.  They have been terrible this year, the copious winter rains led to a bumper crop of grass which leads to gnats. I put the Buff up over my ears and mouth where the gnats were swarming.  Worked great!  Later on when I ate my dinner I just pulled the Buff down over my chin.  It allowed the gnats to get at a little more of my face, but this is unavoidable.  The above photo at upper right of me wearing it while preparing breakfast the next morning.  The gnats were really bad in the morning, so I kept my mouth covered as long as I could (before eating).

I hadn't planned on using the Buff as a bugnet, but I'll be darned if I didn't find an unplanned use on my very first outing with it.  This is an auspicious start!!

AZT To Lemmon Pools

Another overnight to a stellar but little-known water feature in the Catalina Mountains.  There is a reason I am doing so many of these this year: we had great winter & spring rains, and the mountain pools are spectacular.

I wore the Buff continuously for the two days I was on the trail.  I even slept in it.  When I get sick it often starts in my throat, so I like to keep my neck warm.  I used a quilt in my hammock on this trip and it was pretty chilly at night, and the Buff did a serviceable job of keeping my throat warm during the night as well as protecting it from sun during the day.  It did not do bug protection duty on this trip.

In the above photo, my use on this trip is shown in the lower left picture.  I wasn't careful on this trip during the day to make sure all of my neck was covered as is visible in the photo - we hiked a lot in dappled shade and I wasn't too concerned about sunburn.

Interestingly enough, several other hikers on this trip also had Buffs.  I didn't know they were a "thing"!!

Alaska Dayhikes

This week-long Alaskan cruise departing Juneau included daily shore, kayak and skiff excursions. We were early enough in the season that the bugs were not horrible yet, but they were certainly a factor.  I wore the Buff on all the daily hikes, not so much to keep the sun off my neck but in case I had bug issues.

The main hike I needed it on was a short bushwhack to a muskeg, which is very swampy.  The mosquitoes were bad enough that I put the buff up over my head and face like a snorkel.  See the above photo at lower right.  I looked a little silly, but I used no bug repellent yet had fewer bug issues than the folks I was hiking with.  This made me feel very satisfyingly smug.

Though the number of hours I wore the buff on this trip were small, I was very glad I had it with me.  Well worth the weight!

Mount Baldy Loop

I have lived in Tucson, Arizona for 10 years, and never visited, much less hiked, Arizona's White Mountains.  Mount Baldy, Arizona's second-highest peak is located there, and I needed some high-altitude training.  I drove 5 hours to the trailhead early Saturday morning, hiked until I could no more, then got up the next morning and completed the loop before driving back. I was pretty beat that night when I arrived home.

I wore the Buff all the time I was hiking.  This was a very high altitude hike, and at these elevations the sun can burn the skin very quickly.  I never had to pull the Buff up over my face on this trip to protect myself from bugs. This is an equestrian as well as hiking trail, and there were lots of horseflies near the trailhead.  I hate horseflies, but they love me.  They trailed me for miles, but were never able to bite me in the neck because the Buff was in place.  I think I am starting to understand the value of wearing this article of clothing.

Pinal Peak

This was an overnight car camping trip to a campground I had never been to before, despite being less than 3 hours from my house by car.  I did some short day hikes up at the peak, but the Ponderosa pines had me going in and out of the shade all the time. I wore the Buff, but I was in no danger of serious sunburn.  The temperatures were perfect for wearing it though.

Summary

OK, I'm a believer now, a reformed skeptic.  The Buff kept me cool when it was warm by keeping it wet, it kept me warm when I was cold at night, it kept the horseflies off my neck when in equestrian territory, and kept mosquitoes and gnats off of my neck, face and ears.  The only thing I didn't use for was to blow my nose, but I think I'll try that on my next trip.

The Buff looks pretty much like it did the day it arrived despite hours in the Arizona sun and repeated washings.  It has held up well.

This is a warm/hot weather accessory, though I had my doubts up-front.  I won't take it on all my hikes, but I will take it in place of insect repellent on many of my future hikes because I hate using the stuff.  I am glad to have an alternative!


Many thanks to Buffwear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.


Read more reviews of Buff Wear gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Clothing > Accessories > Buff Coolnet UV > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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