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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Outdoor Research Radar Cap > Test Report by Jennifer Koles

Outdoor Research Radar Cap

Test Series by Jennifer Koles

October 22, 2009

Skip to my Initial Report- June 22, 2009
Skip to my Field Report- August 20, 2009
Skip to my Long Term Report- October 22, 2009

Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Koles
Age:  34
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: Orange County, California, United States

Backpacking Background

After getting into the outdoors scene camping while 4-wheeling and day-hiking, I switched to backpacking in the early 2000's. I have backpacked extensively in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho along with California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. I have slowly been cutting my base weight to be able to go longer in duration and distance. I have done so mainly by using better gear and dumping heavy luxuries. I backpack year round in all weather, and usually take a free standing tent and a gas stove on all my trips. I love trying out new gear.

The author

The author in the Narrows at Zion National Park, Utah.

Initial Report

June 22, 2009

Product Information

Product: Radar Cap
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer Website:
Guarantee: The Radar Cap has an infinite guarantee. From the manufacturer: "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."

Listed Weight (average): 1.8 oz (51 g)
Measured Actual Weight: 1.75 oz (48 g)
Sizes Available: Small 21 5/8 in (55 cm); Medium 22 1/2 in (57 cm); Large 23 1/4 in (59 cm); X-Large 24 in (61 cm)
Size Tested: Small
Available Colors: Burnt Orange, Slate, Khaki
Color Tested: Khaki
MSRP: $25.00 US

Radar Cap

Photo obtained from the Outdoor Research website.

The Outdoor Radar Cap is what I would consider to be a small billed cadet style cap. The manufacturer indicates on the product website that the Radar Cap is a street-styled cap. The key components of this hat are the Supplex nylon fabric, the TransAction headband, and the folding bill.

The Supplex nylon fabric has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30+. The UPF rating system measures the UV protection that is provided by fabrics. It is similar to the SPF rating that sunscreens use. The nylon fabric is lightweight and it reminds me of the fabric used in some of my other sun protection clothing.

Radar Cap Folded

The Radar Cap has an appealing style in my opinion. It has a small foldable bill measuring 5.5 cm (2.17 in) at the longest part. There is fold in the bill that has fabric reinforcement on the top of the bill. The underside of the bill is dark blue in color (the same as the hat lining) and has no stitching for the folding bill. On the underside of the bill, I can see a ridge under the fabric where the bill folds. The folding bill was designed to easily store the hat in a pocket.

The hat is constructed of two layers of the Supplex nylon. This material is soft to the touch and feels light in weight. The inner layer is dark blue in color. The inner layer has the same stitching as the outer layer, but they are joined together at the band of the hat. The entire hat is single stitched in the corresponding colors of the fabric pieces. There is a small patch on the rear center of the hat that is black with white lettering with the company name and logo. The rear of the hat has UPF 30+ embroidered just off-center in the same stitching color as the outer hat body. The front of the hat has the company name embroidered in tan (in the same color as the outside of the hat) along with the logo embroidered in blue (the same color stitching as the inside of the hat).

The TransAction headband is located around the entire inside bottom of the hat. The 3.5 cm (1.38 in) wide black band is sewn on one side along the base of the hat. The band seems to have some vertical stretch to it. The band is indicated by the manufacturer to provide comfort and moisture management.

There is a tag on the open end of the TransAction headband indicating that the Radar Cap was made in China. There are also care instructions on a tag in this same area. These instructions are the universal fabric care symbols. I had to look up the meaning of all the symbols and here is what I have found. The hat can be laundered in water that is 30 C (85 F) on the permanent press setting, no bleach, tumble dry low, do not dry clean, and iron on a low setting.

Back logo

Front logo

Radar Cap inside

Initial Impressions

I like the styling of the Radar Cap. Some of the other Outdoor Research hats have such large logos. I was pleased that this hat was tastefully designed without a large logo on the front in contrasting colors. The Radar Cap seems well constructed. There are no loose strings or tears in the fabric. The stitching is even and straight.

I was concerned about the sizing because my head measurement came out to 53.5 cm (21.06 in) with my hair squashed. My hair is naturally curly and I was wondering if the size small would be too tight on my head. It actually fits perfect and I am glad I did not go with a larger size.

A hang tag came with the Radar Cap. This tag has no information about the hat other than the name, style number, the color, the size and a UPC. The tag has information on the guarantee and mostly company/product information.

Prior to receiving the Radar Cap I browsed the company website to determine what size I should order. The website was easy to navigate and listed the key features of the hat and a sizing chart. There was a photo of the hat that was interactive allowing me to zoom in to view sections of the hat at a closer range. I was able to change the color of the hat in the photo by clicking on the fabric color swatches. This was kind of neat. It eased the color selection process.

Field Report

August 20, 2009


Testing Locations

During the past two months the Radar Cap was worn on one backpacking trip, four hiking trips, around town, and on the beach path (rollerblading and walking).

Wasatch-Cache Mountain National Forest, Utah: I wore the Radar Cap here on two day-hikes that turned into night hikes. There were downpours of heavy rain in the area and the Radar Cap became wet. The hikes ranged from 4 to 6 mi (6 to 10 km) in length. The temperatures ranged from the upper 50 F (10 C) range to the upper 60 F (16 C) range. The elevation ranged from 8,200 ft (2,499 m) to 10,220 ft (3,115 m).

Pineview Reservoir, Utah: The Radar Cap was worn here for a full day in the sun while walking and participating in kayaking and paddleboarding. The elevation here is approximately 5,000 ft (1,524 m). The temperatures were in the 90's F (32 C).

San Jacinto State Park, California: This was originally a backpacking trip that turned into a day hike, due to me having an injured toe. The high temperature was 78 F (26 C) and sunny skies. The Radar Cap was worn for the entire hike. The high elevation was 9,400 ft (2,865 m).

Yosemite National Park, California: Three days backpacking in Yosemite National Park. The temperatures ranged from 43 to 80 F (6 to 27 C) mostly sunny skies except for a thunder, rain, and graupel storm our first afternoon. The trails were mostly dirt, rock, and wet rock down the Mist Trail. The trip was approximately 20 mi (32 km). The Radar Cap was worn here in the daylight hours and then folded and stored in my pack or my jacket pocket. The starting elevation was 8,600 ft (2,621 m).

Mammoth Lakes Area, California: The Radar Cap was worn here at Mammoth Lakes, exploring a ghost town, and on day hikes around Mono Lake. The elevation at the ghost town was 8,375 ft (2,553 m) and the elevation at Mono Lake was 6,382 ft (1,945 m). The high temperature was 84 F (29 C) with sunny skies.

Radar Cap in Utah

Performance in the Field

I have enjoyed wearing the Radar Cap throughout the field reporting phase. I found the cap to be stylish and it complements my hiking attire. The color goes with practically everything. I love the cadet style of the cap. I think it complements my facial features well.

The Radar Cap fits my head well. In light winds it stays on my head, but in stronger winds it falls off. I wish that there was a cinch cord at the back of the hat for a few reasons. One, I could cinch the hat down when it is windy. Two, I could wear my hair a few different ways with the cap and it would still stay in place. Three, a cinch cord would just give me a little bit more security, due to fear of the cap falling off. Four, a cinch cord would be nice to hang the cap from to dry in the field.

The cap dries very quickly. In the sun light the cap dries in less than two hours. I had the hat exposed to some rain drops. They do seep through the top layer of fabric, but the water drops dry quickly. After the hat was exposed to water drops they dried in less than 30 minutes. In a soaking rain the two layers of fabric become wet.

The headband is comfortable and seems to help with sweat management. Perspiration did not roll out from underneath the hat on to my face. However, I had to wipe my forehead with a cloth in high temperatures, just because it felt wet. Since there is no mesh for ventilation I found that my hair at times would become damp while wearing the cap, especially in the back and sides where the headband was touching my hair. Since this cap has two layers of light weight fabric it would be nice to have some added ventilation with some mesh areas. I noticed that the cap is not too stinky when it becomes damp from sweat or when I wear the cap for a long period of time. It has a slight sweaty smell, but nothing too offensive.

The Radar Cap fabric still appears to be keeping its UPF properties, even after several washings. My head did not become sunburned while wearing the cap all day in the sun. I have to wear sunscreen on my ears while wearing the hat since they are completely exposed to sunlight.

The bill of the Radar Cap shadows the upper half of my face from overhead or direct sunlight (as seen in the picture below). The bill is rather small, but it does the job of shading my eyes from the sunlight. The folding bill is great! I just fold the cap in half and stuff it in my jacket pocket or one of the side pockets on my pack. The bill has retained its shape and there is no wear on the area that folds at the tip of the bill.


On the John Muir Trail

The Radar Cap has been washed at least eight times. I washed it by hand on occasion, but I mostly washed it in the washer. The bill has not become bent or damaged by washing the cap in the washer. I have never placed the cap in the dryer as I let it air dry. All the stitching is still intact and the headband has not stretched.

Long Term Report

October 22, 2009

Testing Locations

During the past two months the Radar Cap was worn on one backpacking trip, three hiking trips, around town, after mountain bike riding, and on the beach path (rollerblading and walking).

San Jacinto

San Jacinto State Park, California: I wore the Radar Cap here on a one night backpacking trip and to San Jacinto Peak. There was no precipitation and the temperature range was 60F (16 C) to 80 F (27 C). The highest elevation reached was 10,834 ft (3,302 m).

Red Rocks, Nevada: This was a two-day climbing/hiking trip. Sunny skies and the temperatures ranged from 58 F (14 C) to 66 F (18 C).

Orange County, California: I wore the cap here in Peters Canyon on a day-hike and in Limestone Canyon on a guided day-hike. On both hikes the temperatures reached the high 70's (25 C) with morning fog. I also wore the Radar Cap after mountain bike riding at Whiting Ranch, El Moro Canyon, and the Fullerton Loop.

Performance in the Field

During the long term reporting phase of testing I took the Radar Cap with me on almost all of my outdoor activities. I made good use of the cap while wearing it after mountain biking. My hair would be matted down after wearing a helmet and the Radar Cap was a good headwear option after riding to cover my messy hair. During this testing phase I continued to wear the cap on day-hikes, on one backpacking trip, rollerblading, walking, and around town.

I am very happy with the Radar Cap. It fits great, dries quickly, and protects the top of my head from sunburn. When the cap becomes wet it fully dries in about two hours when exposed to sunlight. Most of the time I washed it in the washer. The bill has retained its shape and there are no wear areas in the fabric from washing or general use.

My ears still become sunburned when wearing the cap. But, the cap is not designed to cover my ears. This is one of my favorite hat styles and not having my ears covered does not bother me. I just apply sunscreen to my ears and travel on.

I wish the hat was designed with a cinch cord, just to give it a more snug fit when needed in wind. I can bend over and look upwards and the cap does not fall off my head. However, with wind gusts the cap blew off by head. I think a cinch cord would solve this problem.

The fabric is lightweight and breathable. However, I think some mesh added to the design of the hat would allow for more ventilation, especially in warmer temperatures.

The integrated headband inside the hat does an excellent job of preventing sweat from migrating down my face. Even when the headband dries after wearing the hat in warm temperatures it does not stink of dried sweat.

The fold up styling of this cap is great. It packs down small and the bill retains its shape. I can fold it up and store it in a side pocket of all my backpacks. I even folded it and stored it underneath a cinch cord on my small waist pack that I use for rollerblading.

I am very happy with the Radar Cap and I intend to use it during many outdoor activities.

Things That Rock:

  • Folds compact
  • Light weight
  • Quick drying

Things That Are So-So:

  • No cinch cord
  • No mesh ventilation
  • The bill is on the small side
Red Rocks, Nevada


This concludes my long term reporting on the Radar Cap. Thank you Outdoor Research and for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.


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