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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero Hat > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes

Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero
Initial Report: September 2, 2016
Long Term Report: February 2, 2017

Chaos Stratus Sombrero
Author trying on the Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero

Tester Coy Starnes
Gender Male
Age 54
Weight 236 lb (107 kg)
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)
Location Grant Alabama USA

Tester Biography
     I live in Northeast Alabama.  I enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing and kayaking.  I enjoy hiking with family and friends but also hike solo occasionally.  Most of my hiking has been in the Southeastern US. I hike throughout the year but actually enjoy late fall or early spring the most with some winter hiking mixed in. I don't like hot and humid weather of summer unless I can escape to the mountains where it is cooler.  My style is slow and steady and my gear is light.  I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability to a degree. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food and water.

Initial Report: September 2, 2016

Product Information
Item Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero
Manufacture Chaos
Year of Manufacture 2016
Listed Weight N/A
Measured Weight 5 oz (142 g)
Materials 100% Polyester
Color Skydiver/medium grey (other colors available)
MSRP $42.99 USD

Product Description
     The Stratus Sombrero by Chaos is in the CTR line of hats which are made more for the active outdoorsman while still being stylish.  The website says "CRT equals premium fabrics and blends that are geared towards moisture-wicking, water-repellency and Ultra-Violet sun protection, while offering a strong but clean design and color story." Of course being a sombrero, this hat has a huge brim and is probably the least stylish of all the CTR lineup.  That being said, it still looks like many of the hats I see backpackers and kayaker wearing for maximum sun protection.   The brim is light grey on both sides and measures approximately 3.25 in (83 cm) wide all the way around.  The hat is slightly longer front to back measuring 12.5 in (32 cm) wide and 15 in (38 cm) in length.  The brim is one continuous fabric except for a seam at the back.  It is lined with some type of stiff material and not really fold-able.  It does say it will float so I think there is some type of foam in the brim. The top of the hat is a blue color and has a thin mesh like liner.  There are vents on both sides but no way to hold them open.  I'm sure they will vent a little but testing will see if it will be enough. They measure 5 in (13 cm) long and 2 in (5 cm) tall at the widest point in the middle and are shaped like a flattened skinny football. The outer layer is lined with a waterproof breathable membrane called HYDROMAXX.  Chaos claims it will resist water penetration but is highly breathable.  There's a silver CTR logo on the right side of the hat.  Along with a couple of hang tags on the hat were 6 color swatches, but not the blue my hat is, so I guess that means there are seven colors available even though the website only shows four.  The hat has a small bungee like cord around the perimeter that can be tightened with a small barrel lock and can be further secured with a retention (chin) strap that can be removed if not needed.

Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero
chin strap closed

Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero
chin strap almost undone for removal

The website lists the following as key features of the Status Sombrero.  I did notice it left off listing the UPF rating which was given as UPF50+ on the closest looking hat (Summit Expedition) but is listed as 40+ and 30+ on other hats.

    Waterproof and breathable sombrero with laminated performance fabric
    Sealed seams
    Flotable 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

Trying it on
     The Stratus Sombrero is available in M, L, and XL.  I could not find a size guide so I requested a Large and hoped for the best. It looks like I chose correctly because without cinching the size adjustment cord it fit perfectly.  Not too tight where it would irritate me but not very loose either.  It would take a pretty strong breeze to dislodge it. The brim stays up so it doesn't obscure my vision.  The top of the hat is pretty form fitting but not tight against my hair.  It does not stick up in the air so the only thing I'll need to worry about bumping against things is the wide brim.  Well, I don't want to bang the top of my head against anything either but the hat won't contribute to that.  I have checked and I can wear my backpack while wearing this hat but this is more of a function of the backpack I'm using.  This means I'll be able to wear the hat while backpacking without having to put on a rain jacket and at least keep my head dry.  Since it is not really a packable (crushable) hat I'll have to find a way to secure it when it's too hot to wear it.  I see no reason I can not just hang it on the outside of my pack with a small carabiner.  I'll also wear it while kayaking and just out working in my yard etc.

Long Term Report: February 2, 2017
Stratus Sombrero
Hiking along the Pinhoti Trail

Testing Locations and Conditions
Most of my use was near my home in North East Alabama. I wore the Stratus Sombrero while hiking, kayaking and as a sun hat while mowing my yard, watching football games and just being outside.  Temperatures ranged from highs close to 100 F (38 C) to lows in the mid 20's F (-4 C).   It did not rain at all during the first couple of months I was testing the hat but it has been a different story lately.  I wore it during stormy conditions while on a three day hike along the Pinhoti Trail which is located in East Central Alabama.

Long Term Test Results
I found the Stratus Sombrero to be a great sun hat but it was also a little on the warm side if I was doing anything strenuous on the hotter days.   I wore it often while mowing my yard with a riding mower and would be fine but had to push mow part of the yard and would immediately get pretty hot wearing the hat, enough so that I would stop to take it off.  I also wore it several times while kayaking but avoided the hottest part of the day or went on cooler fall days.  I could take it easy enough so that the hat did not feel like it was causing me to get hotter than I normally would.  When I wore it hiking I found it was just too warm except on the coolest days or days when it was raining.

I did like that it would keep my head dry in a pouring rain.  On a recent three day hiking trip I was forced to hike for an hour in a pretty steady rain and really liked wearing the Stratus Sombrero for that.  It was about 55 F (13 C) and I didn't notice getting too hot but I was also worried about the thunder (lightning) that was rumbling in the distance.  I did have on a rain jacket/pack cover but left the hood off my head just to test the Sombrero.  When I arrived at my truck and took off the hat I touched the underside and it felt dry.  The top felt damp and looked wetted out but apparently it was not letting rain through. During most of the trip it rode hanging from my pack because the hat is really not packable and I didn't need it for sun or rain protection. I did discover that the hat was heavy enough that it would slowly open the zipper pull I had hung it from and had to find a different location to hang it.  Fortunately the guy behind me noticed it before I lost anything from that pocket.  I also used the hat in an unconventional way on this trip.  It was really windy and blowing straight into the shelter we were using to cook supper in on the first night.  Anyways, I was looking for something to block the wind and had my hat handy since rain was coming so I just propped it up in front of the stove.  It blocked the wind nicely! 

Using the Stratus Sombrero as a windbreaker

The durability of the hat has been very good but I have been careful not to wad it up since it has a very wide brim which does not lend itself to that kind of treatment.  I also noticed a sweat ring on the top side of the hat but apparently wearing it in the rain washed the stain away.  I half expected the wide brim to become floppy after several wearings but the hat looks almost as good as it did when new.  I usually stored it hanging by the chin strap on a coat hanger by my front door so it would be handy as I headed outside.  As a result I wore the hat quite often. 

Sweat ring that washed away after hiking in the rain

The Stratus Sombrero proved to be a good solution for providing both sun and rain protection.  In the summer I would prefer a more breathable hat and just use the Stratus Sombrero for rain protection but if hiking and limited to just one hat then this one would be a great choice.  This hat is about as close as I can get to wearing an umbrella in the rain without all the hassle of having to hold it.

I would like to thank Chaos and for this testing opportunity.

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Chaos CTR Stratus Sombrero Hat > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes

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