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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

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Outdoor Research

Helios Sun Hat

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - November 24, 2010

OR Helios
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Jul 8, 2010

Sept 21, 2010

Nov 24, 2010

July 8, 2010

Reviewer Information

Backpacking Background

Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  45
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below came from Outdoor Research's
product packaging and website.

Helios Sun Hat
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Manufacturer website:
Place of Manufacture: China
Year Manufactured: 2010
Materials: SolarShield™ UPF 50+
Ripstop nylon/polyester blend
(86% nylon / 14% polyester)
Foam-stiffened brim
Colors Available: Sand
Sizes Available:

7 1/8 US -- 22.5 in (57 cm)
7 3/8 US -- 23.75 in (59 cm)
7 5/8 US -- 24 in (61 cm)
[To Determine Hat Size: Measure from center of forehead around fullest part of head.]

OR’s Infinite Guarantee™

"We believe so strongly in the quality of what we make that if, at anytime, our product fails to meet your needs, we are happy to exchange or return it. Because of this solid belief, our products are guaranteed forever and are designed with this in mind. Your total satisfaction in our product is our goal."
MSRP: $30.00 US [per website]

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  
Average Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Tester's Actual Measurements  
Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g)

Product Description:

The Helios Sun Hat™, hereafter referred to as "hat" is a broad-brimmed sun hat. The hat is constructed of SolarShield™, UV-resistant fabrics, which provide a UPF 50+ rating. The hat has a high-tech headband intended to move moisture away from the wearer's skin. In addition, there is an external drawcord adjustment in the back (see photo below left). This drawcord is to enable the wearer the ability to secure the hat snug to the head. There is also a removable chin cord (see photo below middle) with cordlock (see photo below right). The brim has a foam stiffener. The fabric is light and airy and feels smooth to the touch.

drawcord removable chincord

Sewn under the headband in the back of the hat are four product tags. These include information on where the hat was manufactured, its fabric, size, and international laundry symbols. The laundering instructions are simple:

  • Machine Wash, Cold (Initial water temperature should not exceed 30 C or 65-85 F)
  • Do Not Bleach
  • Do Not Iron
  • Do Not Dry Clean
  • Drip Dry

Initial Impression:

OR sent me the Sand (light khaki) colored hat to test. I was immediately pleased with the light color. Next, I liked the light airy feel of the hat and the smooth, almost slick, feel of the fabric. Finally, I liked the foam brim which should enable the owner to roll or fold the hat without concern of deforming the hat. Testing will provide proof of this assumption.

The Helios appears to be a great sun hat. I look forward to putting it to the test. I am especially interested in seeing whether this hat, with its UPF 50+ rating, provides any better protection for my bald head than a similar style sun hat that I currently own.

Initial Testing:

The first thing I did was try on the hat; it fit nicely. Next, I played with the chin cord adjustment; it slid smoothly. Finally, I noticed the external drawcord adjustment. I fiddled with it a bit to snug the hat to my head. It was easy to use and I believe it will be especially helpful in this part of the country where the wind blows frequently.

Initial Likes:

Initial Dislikes:

  • quality of workmanship
  • feel of fabric
  • cord adjustment
  • none

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September 21, 2010


During this phase of the test series, I wore the hat approximately 25 days. This included a week-long backpacking trip in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • quality of workmanship
  • feel of fabric
  • cord adjustment
  • none

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

helios_winds helios_winds_1
After receiving the hat, I wore it around town and while working in the yard. I also wore it on a week-long Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Venturing High Adventure, which included backpacking/hiking/fishing in the Popo Agie Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest on the east side of the continental divide in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. We entered The Winds via the Worthen Meadows Trailhead. At 8,840 ft (2,694 m) above sea level, the Worthen Meadows trailhead is approximately 13 mi (21 km) from Lander, Wyoming. Over the course of the week, we covered approximately 50 mi (80 km), with trail elevations up to 11,000 ft (2,694 m). Temperatures ranged from highs in the low 90's F (32 - 35 C) to lows in the upper 40's F (4 - 7 C). Skies were clear to partly cloudy with rain sprinkles a couple of times. I carried a 50 lb (23 kg) pack at the start of the trip and wore the hat most of the time; both with and without a head net.

I also wore the hat three days while installing a waterline at a friend's cabin in Palisades, Idaho. The elevation was approximately 6,000 ft (1,829 m) and the temperature was in the low 90's F (32 - 35 C).


The hat has performed very well thus far. Its light weight is one of the things I really like. Another feature that I really like is the adjustable drawcord for snugging the hat to my head. Additionally, I like how well this hat has protected my balding head from the sun's rays. I have both folded and rolled the hat to put it in my backpack and back pocket. The hat has retained its shape nicely; the foam-stiffened brim even retained its shape. While hiking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, the headband did absorb the sweat. However, I sweat so profusely that the high-tech headband could not keep up. Each time I would bow my head; there was a steady stream of sweat dripping from the brim. This is a common experience for me with nearly every hat I wear when on a strenuous hike.

In addition to protecting my head from the sun, in conjunction with a head net, it protected my head from the mosquitoes in The Winds. The mosquitoes were miserable. I wore the bug net over the hat and the foam-stiffened brim held the net far enough away that the pesky bugs could not bite my head.

I have worn the hat approximately twenty-five days thus far without washing it. That is not to say that the hat could not benefit from a good laundering to rid it of dirt, etc., because it could. But, I must say the hat does not shout "WASH ME" via a malodorous smell or an overly soiled appearance.

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November 24, 2010


During this phase of the test series, I wore the hat an additional 10 days. Primarily while working in the yard. However, I did wear it on a day hike in Hell's Half Acre.

Likes Dislikes
  • quality of workmanship
  • feel of fabric
  • cord adjustment
  • none

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In mid-October, I wore the hat while hiking in Hell's Half Acre National Landmark. The elevation is approximately 5,300 ft (1,615 m) above sea level. The temperature was in the 50s F (10 - 15 C), winds were calm, the sky was overcast and there was a slight rain on the hike. Hell's Half Acre is a 66,000 acres (267 km2) lava field and is the youngest of the eastern basaltic lava fields of the Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho. The lava rock is extremely sharp, glassy and fragmented, with open cracks, lava tubes and caves. Hiking Hell's Half Acre is a unique and somewhat surreal experience.

I also wore that hat an additional nine days while mowing the lawn and working in the yard.


launderedDuring this phase of the test, the sun has not been as harsh. Therefore, the need to wear a hat of any sort has been minimal. The days I did wear it, however, the hat performed well: as in the earlier portion of the test series. I must say that I really like this lightweight, airy hat.

I decided to launder the hat at the end of this test series. My wife put it in our front-loading washing machine with like-colored clothes and washed in cold water with a mild detergent. The hat came out almost perfectly clean. I say almost, because there was a small spot, about the size of pea, on the top that did not come fully clean. This spot was the remnant of a lager spot of pine sap. Pine sap can be very difficult to get out of clothing. My wife treated the spot by hand, using mild hand soap. With minimal effort, the pea-sized spot came out.

There are no signs of fraying or pilling. However, there is one small loose thread on the underside of the foam-stiffened brim. Nevertheless, the hat looks nearly as good as the day I received it. I like the OR Helios better than a similar, albeit non-UPF hat (from another leading U.S. sportswear manufacturer) that I have worn for years. Whether it be backpacking, fishing, hiking, or simply doing yard work, the OR Helios will be my go-to hat to protect my bald head from the harsh sun spring through fall.

This concludes my OR Helios Sun Hat test series. Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to participate in this test.

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Read more gear reviews by Ryan Lane Christensen

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

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