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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero Hat > Test Report by Brett Haydin


Initial Report - September 22, 2016
Long Term Report - February 12, 2017


TesterNAME:            Brett Haydin
EMAIL:            bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE:                43
LOCATION:     Madison, Wisconsin, USA
GENDER:         M
HEIGHT:          5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT:         200 lb (90.70 kg)
HAT SIZE:        7 3/8 US

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips. I plan several longer trips each year in different parts of the US, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.

Initial Report

Product Information & Specifications

Chaos Stratus
Photo: From Chaos Headwear's website
Manufacturer: Chaos Headwear
Year of Manufacture:  2016
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $42.99 US
Listed Weight: n/a
Measured Weight: 4.8 oz (136 g) 
Color Tested: Citronelle/Medium Grey (also available in black, khaki, seaport and forest)
Size Tested: Large (also available in medium and XL)
Material: 100% Polyester
Warranty: Will accept returns for 30 days

Other Details provided by Manufacturer

    • Waterproof and breathable sombrero with laminated performance fabric
    • Sealed seams
    • Floatable brim
    • Side vents let air in
    • Anti-microbial and wicking mesh liner
    • Wicking sweatband for perfect fit
    • Removable chin cord
    • One-handed size adjustment system

      Product Description

      The Chaos Stratus Sombrero is a waterproof, breathable sombrero-style hat. Sombreros have wide brims to help block out more sun, in this case, the brim is oval and measures 13 by 15 in (33 by 38 cm). For my sombrero, the color is two-toned with the brim sporting a grey color and the hat a bright shade of green called citronelle. The brim is made of some sort of firm material, similar to cardboard, but still flexible. I suspect it is some type of foam since the hat is supposed to float. There is a logo for CTR, which the website states is a Chaos Hats brand.

      The hat itself is made of a Polyester fabric that is lined with HYDROMAXX, a waterproof, breathable membrane. There are also two flaps that cover mesh opening for ventilation on a hot day. The flaps cannot flip open, but perhaps the ability for moisture and heat to escape will be enough. There is a pull-cord on the rear of the hat that can adjust the fit with the pull of one hand. The lining is a thin, stretchable mesh that is very smooth to the touch. It should feel really nice on my head! The manufacturer states that the headband is "wicking." There is a tag sewn into the headband with the sizing and fabric information. It also states that it is made in China.

      One neat feature is a removable chin strap. The strap is held in place by interlocking plastic clips. The chin strap can be pulled using a simple plastic slide. The hat comes with several hang tags. One is a CTR tag with the style and UPC code. Another states "CTR available swatches" and has a number of fabric swatches in various colors. The other has information on HYDROMAXX.

      Initial Impressions

      Note the gap and overhang of fabric
      The hat is reasonably well-constructed. The stitching is even and there are no loose threads that I could find. The hat fits as I would expect. Unfortunately I received the wrong size so the hat fits me a little large. I'll need to exchange this before I hit the trail! The fabric is nice to the touch. There are some minor flaws that I have found, however. First, the vents are slightly uneven. One flap does not entirely cover the vent so I am concerned that rain may end up getting in. Also, some of the finishing work is not what I would expect. There is 0.25 in (6 mm) of fabric beyond the stitching which is not bad by itself. The problem is that when the flap hangs down, the fabric can stick out. The image to the left shows both issues. Finally the sweatband is not sewn into the hat on both sides. I am concerned that it may bunch up and not provide the best wicking that it can. Overall this hat is a nice hat, and these flaws are just minor in my opinion.

      Reading the Instructions

      The hat did not come with any formal instructions, but I do like to comment on the information on the website. The website is a very simple, attractive design. It was easy to navigate, but impossible to find my hat. Only by using a search engine was I able to find the hat and the information on it. Once there, it was easy to go about ordering the hat.

      Long Term Report

      Field Conditions

      Hiking with the Chaos at Joshua Tree
      Since receiving the Stratus, I have been on four backpacking trips resulting in (8) days in the field backpacking. I have also worn the hat on (7) other day hikes, all in similar conditions to the trips outlined below. My first trip was an overnight along a section of the Ice Age Trail backpacking 23 mi (37 km) in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. The terrain was fairly hilly with elevation gain on some hills over 300 ft (90 m). That isn't a lot compared to the mountains, but western Wisconsin is not flat! Temperatures were a little more moderate between 58 and 72 F (14 and 22 C). It rained most of the afternoon and into the evening on my first day.

      My next trip was a 9.2 mi (14.8 km) loop in the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California. The temperatures were between 60 and 80 F (16 and 27 C) with no precipitation. The terrain was rocky, mountainous and breathtaking!

      My third trip was an overnight trip in Southern Wisconsin in the Kettle Moraine State Forest along the Ice Age Tail to Whitewater Lake. We had some unseasonably warm weather so I took advantage of the break in the cold to take the 8.9 mi (14.3 km) hike and soak in the views. The temperatures were between 45 and 65 F (7 and 18 C) with no precipitation. The trail was hilly and dirt-packed.

      My final trip with the Chaos Stratus Sombrero was an overnight in the Joshua Tree National Park in California. I hiked 8 mi (13 km) along the Boy Scout Trail which was rocky, dirt-packed desert hike among the iconic trees. There was a moderate amount of elevation gain - 1,000 ft (300 m) - since I did just a shuttle hike. Typical of Southern California, I saw no rain with temperatures between 60-70 F (16-21 C) and an overnight low at about 40 F (4 C).


      The good news is I saw plenty of sunshine over the test series! And for sun protection I think I am in love with this hat. I have never worn a sombrero-style hat before. As a result even when wearing sunscreen I get sun-fatigued after being out in the sun all day. And while I may have been fatigued at the end of some long hikes, it was more my legs and not a red, sore face. I never realized how nice the extra shade would be!

      I was a little concerned about how easy to pack the hat would be, specifically if it would hold its shape after being crammed in a pack. I am pleased to report that the hat does a good job of returning to its original shape. And so far there are no permanent creases! The flap that I noted in the initial report still flairs out from time to time.  I actually noticed it more when I loaned the sombrero to my son on one hike. I could tell that it just doesn't sit quite right. I have not noticed any other defects.

      The hat did a fair job of keeping the moisture off of my face. If I had one piece of feedback, the vents would be better served if they could remain open. I have worn other caps with similar vents and they stayed "open" allowing my head to stay cool. While not uncomfortable, the Stratus does get warm under the sun. I would rather put up with a little extra warmth than a sunburn any day, however.

      The Stratus really performs well in the rain. The sombrero sheds water easily and the wide brim made it so the water didn't get into my jacket. I did not find the vents to leak at all as well.


      I was looking for a hat that would protect my head from the elements and I found just that! I will definitely continue to use the Chaos Stratus Sombrero on my future hikes and backpacking trips.

      : Attractive, functional style. Fabric is of good quality and does a great job of shedding rain and protecting my face from the sun.
      Cons: Minor flaws in the manufacturing process, vents would work better if they could fold open.

      This concludes my test series. I would like to thank Chaos Hats and for allowing me to be a part of this test series.

      Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

      Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero Hat > Test Report by Brett Haydin

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