Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Columbia Schooner Bank Cachalot hat > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Columbia Schooner Bank Cachalot Hat
By Raymond Estrella
May 11, 2008


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Image courtesy of Columbia

Manufacturer: Columbia Sportswear Company
Web site:
Product: Schooner Bank Cachalot hat
Made in Vietnam
Year manufactured: 2005
Weight listed: N/A
Verified weight: 2.7 oz (77 g)
Size: Large, One size fits all
Color reviewed: Fossil
Other colors available: Suede and Sage

R & D on the JMT

Product Description

The Columbia Schooner Bank Cachalot hat (hereafter called the Schooner or hat) is a light weight sun hat. It is a six panel hat, meaning that the dome is made up of six even triangular panels sewn together in a circle. Each panel has a grommet in the center to add some ventilation to the hat. A panel on one side sports an embroidered Columbia logo while one on the opposite side has a sewn on patch with the company name. The Schooner is made of 100% nylon Perfecta Plus cloth which feels very much like cotton, but has the properties of nylon (more later) and boasts an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30.

A stiff 3.7 in (9.4 cm) brim extends from the dome to provide shade and protection for the eyes. The underside of the brim is covered in black fabric to alleviate reflected glare as can be seen in the photo below. (My favorite hat models Ray and Emma wanted to help again.)


As can be seen above, a 5 in (12.7 cm) section of fabric drapes down the back to provide sun protection for the neck and ears. A plastic security clip at the end of a nylon cord can be attached to a shirt as shown or, as I often do, to the grab loop of my backpack. I only do so when the wind is blowing hard.

The Schooner may be kept on my head when the wind is not blowing too hard by tightening the adjustable drawcord that runs through a toggle at the back of the hat as seen below. This tightens an elastic cord around the head. When pulled tight it makes my eyes bulge…


On the inside of the Schooner is a white terry cloth sweat band and some tags with normal product info in five languages and the washing instructions in icon form only. I believe they mean "wash cool and air dry".

Field Data

It is hard to say all the places this hat has been. It has been on almost every backpacking trip, fastpack and dayhike in the past few years. From the south up it has been carried and used in the following parks and forests.

Cleveland National Forest, San Jacinto Wilderness, Mount San Jacinto State Park, San Bernardino National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park, San Gorgonio Wilderness, Death Valley National Park, Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia National Park, Domeland Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. (Whew)

Elevations have ranged from sea level to 14500' (4419 m) and temperatures have been from below freezing to 120 F (49 C). Here is a shot of it on my favorite local peak.



As can be seen I have used the Schooner a lot. This is because a few years ago my sister and brother-in-law started getting on my case about how bad I would get sunburned on hikes. As most of my trips are at high elevation and see long times spent on the trail I used to get quite red on a regular basis. My sister bought me a hat and made me promise to start wearing it or she would not let Dave hike with me any longer. (Funny, she never pushed me around when she was a kid…) I bought the Columbia Schooner soon after as I liked the cut better.
clipped cord
The use of the hat, along with my wife's insistence that I add sunblock to the mix has seen a drastic reduction in the occurrence of Red-faced Raymond. And I have come to really like it.

While it feels like cotton it does not hold water as cotton does. I regularly dunk it in creeks as I cross them to try to cool my head off. The Schooner does not absorb much and dries very quickly. I have used it as a rain hat many times during the afternoon thunderstorms that are quite common in the mountains during the summer. While it is not waterproof it will shed the worst of the rain while keeping it out of my eyes. And once the downpour stops the Schooner will dry fast.

I carry it folded and stuffed in either a side pocket or, more commonly, in the back stuff-it pocket of my pack when not needed. Because of this practice it has developed a permanent crease slightly off center in the brim.

Because I don't like having it clipped unless absolutely necessary, and I don't care for the security cord just dangling, I often will attach the clip to its cord near the top as seen here.

I can not begin to guess how many times the Schooner has been washed. I usually wash it after each trip. And with easily over 1400 miles (2250 km) of hiking distance logged with the Schooner along it has seen a lot of abuse. Yet it has held up very well. Just this year it has started unraveling along the front of the bill prompting me to semi-retire it to Minnesota where I spend 9 days a month and keep still useful hiking gear for use there. I may see if I can find another Schooner to accompany me on the next thousand miles (1600 km) or so of hiking.

There is only one thing that I can think of that would make this hat even better. The toggle that the adjustment cord runs through would be more useful tethered to the hat with a piece of cord or strap. This would allow one-handed adjustment which is easier when using trekking poles, and would be quicker for sudden increase in wind speeds. I leave with a shot of it with my wife's favorite mountain in the background in aptly named Grand Teton National Park.

Nice Tetons...

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Columbia Schooner Bank Cachalot hat > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson