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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Columbia Sportswear Duck Key Hat > Owner Review by David Wilkes

April 12, 2008


NAME: David Wilkes
EMAIL: amatbrewer@charterDOTnet
AGE: 42
LOCATION: Yakima, Washington USA
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 298 lb (135.00 kg)
SLEEVE LENGTH: 20 in (51 cm)
CHEST: 42 in (107 cm)

I started backpacking about 13 years ago when I moved to Washington State. Since then I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I have usually only managed time for 1-3 trips a year averaging 2-5 days, and as many day hikes as I can. I am currently getting into condition to summit some of the higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, California. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. My current pack is around 30 lbs (14 kg), not including consumables.


Manufacturer: Columbia Sportsware Company
Year of Manufacture: [purchased spring '07]
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: [not available see review]
Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 3.2 oz (91 g)
Other details:
The Columbia Duck Key hat is a booney style hat constructed from Nylon (Perfecta Plus™ according to the manufacturer's web site) with a terry cloth sweatband around the entire perimeter. The hat features a 3 in (7.5 cm) brim, adjustable chinstrap, and adjustable draw cord (to adjust size). The hat is advertized as being quick drying and having a UPF factor of 30. It is intended for sun and rain protection. The hat comes in one size. The manufacturer's web site indicates that "One Size" for adults as being 6 ˝ -7 ˝. The is available in three colors: Sage [a light tan, this is the color I have], Fossil [white], and Suede [tan].
My hat has a black terry cloth sweatband and the underside of the brim is also black.
My head size is 7 3/8 American (59 Metric), and I normally wear this hat with the draw cord just slightly shorter than its maximum length.

The Columbia Sportswear web site does not list an MSRP. They do provide links to retailers who do carry their products.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Sportswear


I purchased the hat early in '06 to replace a similar hat I had owned for some years and it has seen quite a bit of usage. Since I am 'getting a bit thin on top', I make it a point to wear a hat whenever I expect to be out in the sun for extended periods. I have worn this hat on two family camping trips (2 nights each) in the Washington Cascades (South of Clear Lake) at around 3000 ft (900 m). The first trip was sunny and warm but damp in the mornings. We (my two daughters, 5 & 9 years old) did a few short hikes in the woods and along some of the nearby roads, and we spent a few hours collecting morel mushrooms. The second trip was a bit cooler with a few light showers. Again, we did a few short hikes while camping. During these trips, I wore the hat almost continually throughout the day, switching to a knit cap at night when it cooled off. The hat was comfortable even after hours of wear. Since we were in dense woods for these trips wind was not an issue so I did not have to utilize the chinstrap, and while I could have loosened the draw-cord size adjustment due to the lack of wind, the hat was so comfortable I never had to. The one time I wore it in the rain, it was for such a short time and the rain so light its effectiveness regarding rain protection was not really tested. The area we camped was heavily wooded, so sun exposure was also not much of an issue, however its effectiveness at sun protection, while not tested on this trip, became evident soon enough.

I also used this hat during a 3 night backing trip with my 9-year-old daughter in the Washington Cascades around 4500 ft (1400 m). This trip started out hot and sunny, as such I wore the hat from the time we started out in the morning until evening when it started getting cold. I wore it off and on throughout the rest of the trip as the temperatures fluctuated from warm in the middle of the day to around freezing at night. Again, during this trip full sun exposure was limited and there was no rain, so the sun/rain protection of the hat were not tested. However, it again was extremely comfortable and did an excellent job at keeping sweat from running down my face. Just how good a job this hat could do would be put to the test soon however. One thing that was evident was that the hat did a very good job of shedding, or at least not showing, dirt. Parts of this trip were very dusty and I dropped and/or laid the hat on the dirty ground a few times. I was able to smack the hat across my thigh a few times and most of the visible dirt would be gone. The only exception was the black underside of the brim, where it took some rubbing to remove most of the dirt, but some evidence of it remained. The sweatband did pick up some bits of bark at least once after being set on the ground, but this was easily removed with a quick brush of my hand. The packability of the hat became evident on this trip. When I found it too chilly to wear the hat, I would fold it in half twice, so it was kind of pie shaped, and fold the soft upper part of the hat over. I could then stuff it into just about any pouch or pocket of my backpack and even in the cargo pocket of my pants.

I wore the hat during a trip to Bishop Pass, a 12000 ft (3658 m) pass in the Eastern Sierra mountains just West of Bishop California, where I did a day hike with my sister in law, my 9-year-old daughter, and 72-year-old father in-law. It was in the 90's F (32 C) in Bishop, in the 80'sF (27 C) at the trailhead, and by the time we got to the summit, we had moderate winds, light rain, fog, and even a little snow. The hat protected my head in all of these conditions while remaining comfortable. In addition, the draw cord kept it firmly on my head without the need for the chinstrap. I also wore the hat on a summer (company sponsored) hike to the Mt St Helens Crater Summit where the weather was clear and warm. Since of the 10 people (all co-workers) in our group, only two of us were experienced hikers, and only one (not me) had hiked this route before, the last thing I needed was issues with my equipment. As I had become accustom to, the hat was comfortable, kept my head cool, kept the sweat (and sun) out of my eyes, and protected my head, face & neck from being burned. At the summit we encountered a bit of wind, so the chin strap came in handy.
I'm the fat one on the right

The real test for this hat came last summer ('07) when I finally got around to re-landscaping my back yard. I broke up (by hand) and hauled away my old patio, about 4 tons (3600 kg?) of concrete, and built a large wood deck in its place. I replaced the chain link fence with a cedar fence, and pulled out all of the shrubs/flowers and sod. As luck would have it the time and finances needed for this job coincided with the hottest days of the year, where we had temperatures over 100 F (38 C) with the hottest 2 days at around 115 F (46 C). During the week, I could only work in the evenings but due to time limitations, I would work throughout the day (7am - 8pm) on the weekends. Growing up in Hawaii left me with a fairly high tolerance to the sun, but even though (or maybe because of) some half hearted sun screen usage I developed a few slight sun burns on my arms and back. However, my head & neck, where I am most prone to burning, did not burn at all thanks to the hat. However, the real "WOW" moment for me was the first time I noticed water dripping from the brim of the hat while I was bent over fighting some particularly obstinate roots. It did not quite register at first, but after a few minutes, I realized that despite the fact that I was perspiring heavily, there was no sweat running down my face or neck. Then the water dripping from the hat made sense, the sweat from my head was being absorbed by the sweatband and transported out to the edges of the brim.

In addition to the above-described use, I have worn this hat countless times; on lots of day hikes, virtually every time I have worked in my yard (mowing, etc), 2 trips to Southern California, and most recently during a week on the island of Kauai Hawaii. While on Kauai I wore the hat almost continuously during the day, taking it off only when body surfing or snorkeling. As I have come to expect it was exceptionally comfortable and protected my head from heat and sun. During this trip, the chinstrap finally got a real workout. I used the chinstrap on a few occasions when we encountered some brisk winds while on the island, but it was when I wore the hat while standing on the bow of a catamaran, doing 15 knots, into a 20-knot head wind, that I was sure this hat could remain comfortably on my head in just about any conditions. It was a good thing too, since it was unlikely I could have let go of the railing long enough to adjust my hat without being pitched into the water.


This hat is one of those items that is rarely far from me, and I would not consider hitting the trail without it. It has become one of the first items I reach for when going out for almost any recreation, and any time I am working outside. I keep it hanging by the door when I am home, with me in my work vehicle during Spring/Summer/Fall and either on my head or within easy reach when camping or hiking. Despite quite a bit of use and only a few (2?) washings (where I just tossed it into the washer with my other clothes and laid it flat to dry) it looks almost new and has only one stain.
I have not had much of an opportunity to evaluate how effective the hat is in the rain, but I must note that when I rinse it out it dries very quickly. I look forward to finding out if it is as effective at moving rain out to the edge of the brim as it is with sweat. Maybe I will get the opportunity to evaluate this in the near future. If so, I will append my experience to this report.


Read all of the above.


…uh…er…oh yea, the toggle on the elastic draw cord is positioned so it sits right on the back of my head. If I forget, and rest the back of my head on something, such as the headrest of my truck, it is annoying, and can even hurt a bit.



This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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