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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Outdoor Research Mithril Beanie > Jennifer Koles > Test Report by Jennifer Koles



April 12, 2007



NAME: Jennifer Koles
EMAIL: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 140 lb (63.50 kg)

I started taking overnight backpacking trips last year in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah. I found myself taking entirely too much gear. I am finding out slowly how to minimize my needs and not require extra luxuries. My previous outdoor experiences consisted of 4-wheel-drive camping in primitive areas and day hiking. I use a four season convertible tent or a three season tent for my shelter. I plan to take more trips, increase my duration, and reduce my two to three day backpack base weight below 17 lb (8 kg).



Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Mithril Beanie
Photo obtained from manufacturer's website.

Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: USD $28.00
Listed Weight: The manufacturer list an average weight of 1.5 oz (41 g) (size L)
Measured Weight: 1.40 oz ( 40 g) (size M)
Sizes Available: Medium 22.5 in (57 cm), Large 23.25 in (59 cm), X-Large 24 in (61 cm)
Size Tested: Medium
Colors Available: Black and Coffee (dark brown color)
Color Tested: Coffee
Warranty: The hang tag on the product states that Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever.

Manufacturer's Description: "Waterproof soft shell fabric and a warm fleece lining give this beanie winter performance. It is seam-taped for complete protection from wet weather. The fleece stretch panel conforms to the shape of your head."

Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology; warm fleece interior
Fully seam taped
100-weight Motion Fleece™ stretch panel
Welded construction


The beanie looks as pictured and described on the manufacture's website. The color of the hat is almost exactly the same as what is pictured on the website. There were two hang tags on the hat when I received it. One stated that the Ventia is waterproof/breathable by construction. After doing some further research on the website I learned that Ventia is the fabric that the beanie shell is constructed of. The other hang tag lists the contact information for Outdoor Research, guarantee information, along with a listing of types of products the company manufactures.

There is a tag on the inside of the hat with the company's name embroidered on it, along with care and washing instructions. The hat is to be washed separately and can be dried in a dryer with low heat. The hat is not to be bleached or dry cleaned. The hat can be ironed according to the product tag with low heat. I iron almost everything, but I do not see myself ironing a beanie.

The beanie has a soft shell that is slightly stiff, but it is smooth to the touch. It feels like a waterproof material. When I handle the hat the fabric of the shell makes a noise like a stiffer fabric would. The soft shell is made of the Ventia fabric that is claimed to be waterproof and breathable. The hat appears to be constructed of quality materials and fabrics.

The four seams of the soft shell are seam sealed on the inside of the hat. There is another seam seal just above the base of the hat on the outside. The seam seal on the outside of the hat is black in color and adds some character to the design of the hat. The seam seals are in place and there is no lifting noted. The stitching of the hat appears to be good quality with no fraying noted.

There is a black piece of stretchy fabric that is placed on the back of the hat towards the base. This black stretchy material has the company's logo imprinted on it on the right side when it is placed upon my head. The imprint of the logo is not very noticeable on the hat. This stretchy material is what the company refers to as the fleece stretch panel. This is supposed to enable the hat to conform to my head.

The inside of the hat is lined with a soft fleece material. The fleece material appears thin. There is a seam that shows on the inside of the hat where the outside seam seal is located and where the black stretch material is stitched to the soft shell. The rest of the seams on the inside of the hat are seam sealed.


The design of the hat resembles a swim cap or a skull cap on my head. The hat does fit snug. It is easily donned and doffed. I need two hands to don the hat. However, I can use one hand to doff it. The stretch fleece panel allows the base of the hat to stretch some while donning it. The hat felt comfortable and the fleece lining felt soft against my head. I did not notice any initial pressure points on my head or temples while wearing the hat. The brown color of the hat does complement my curly auburn locks. I particularly do not like the style of this hat for everyday wear.

The hat does not cover my ears entirely. Only about 3/4 of my ears are covered when wearing it. I am concerned that my ears are not completely covered. My ears do tend to get very cold in cold temperatures or when they are exposed to wind and snow. The front of the hat does cover my entire forehead to my eyebrows.

I did expose the hat to snow and a snow/rain mixture of precipitation for about 35 minutes. The water from the precipitation beaded on the soft shell fabric of the hat. There was no leaking of the seam seals or wetting out of the fabric noted. The hat remained in place on my head for the duration of this initial wearing trial.


X-Country Skiing
X-Country Skiing
The Mithril Beanie has been worn the past two months approximately seventeen times while participating in various outdoor activities. I have worn it while backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and x-country skiing in the Utah Wasatch and Uinta Mountains.

The elevation ranges in these locations were 5,300 ft to 10,200 ft (1,600m to 3,100 m). I encountered various temperatures during the testing period ranging from -11 F to 41 F (-24 C to 5 C). The field conditions consisted of snow, light rain, sunshine, cloudy skies, and wind on various days.


Fit: The beanie does not fit me so tight that it gives me a headache. It has a comfortable, but snug fit. I have worn it with several types of sunglasses and I have not experienced any ear pain, pressure areas, or headaches. The beanie does not irritate or cause any itching on my head or scalp. Nor have I experienced any soreness while wearing it. I have worn the beanie to sleep and I did not find it to be too snug, just the opposite. I did encounter the beanie sliding and falling off my head during the night. It did not stay in place at all while sleeping. Therefore, I woke up several times in the night to reposition it on my head to prevent my head being chilled. Since the beanie does not adequately cover my ears they were cold most of the night.

I have not noticed any stretching of the fleece stretch panel and it does conform to my head initially. I did notice that the beanie does have a tendency to migrate up and have dead space in the top of it. This tends to happen when I am active. I have not noticed any stretching of the soft shell fabric during the initial two months of testing.

I have not experienced any issues of it blowing off my head in wind gusts. I just experienced issues of it slowly riding up while I wear it. The beanie does stay in place when I wear my goggles with it. This seems to prevent it from migrating. I am unable to pull my hair back and stick it up underneath the beanie. I was able to pull my hair back and have it hang out. When I pulled my hair up under the beanie it caused even more beanie migration issues. It would just not stay on my head with my hair pulled up. There have not been any issues of it sliding down over my eyes and occluding my vision.

Backpacking while wearing the beanie.
Performance: The beanie does a good job of keeping my head warm. However, it does not cover my ears entirely and therefore they are cold. I have worn a lightweight balaclava and a headliner under the beanie to help keep my ears warm. I have not encountered any instances that the beanie wet out from precipitation. Hence the fabric has proven to be waterproof. No water has leaked through the seam tape. I was able to test the beanie in windy conditions and I did not notice any wind entering through the fabric. The front of it did ice up in snowy conditions especially while x-country skiing. This did not cause the front of my head to become cold.

I found that while participating in somewhat strenuous outdoor activities the inside of the beanie would become moderately wet and my hair on the top of my head was damp. I especially noticed this while x-country skiing. The moisture build-up did not exit the fabric. This did not happen with mildly strenuous activities. I did find that with these types of activities the fabric became damp on the inside band of the beanie and on the stretch back panel.

Quality/Care: I have washed the beanie approximately eight times in a machine washer with a mild detergent, following the manufacturer's directions. On some occasions I would dry it in an electric dryer, with no shrinking noted (thank goodness). I have not noticed any stains on the fabric of the hat. The beanie does completely dry overnight at room temperature. The soft shell fabric and the fleece still feel soft to the touch. However, the fleece does not feel as soft as it did when the beanie was new. The fleece lining is showing some wear with some slight pilling. There are no snags in the fabric, even though the beanie was rubbed against trees and a rock. The stitching and the seam tape are still in place, with no fraying or lifting noted. The beanie does not omit any abnormal odor after wearing it. It just smells like a sweaty beanie.

Miscellaneous: It can be rolled up and stored easily in a jacket pocket or a pocket in a backpack. I like the fact that I can drop the beanie in the snow and I do not have to concern myself with the possibility that the inside of the beanie got wet. I dropped it several times in the snow and the inside remained dry. I do not like the way the beanie fits under my mountaineering helmet since it does not cover my ears. I found it to be too thick for my liking under my snowboarding helmet.

I have not encountered issues of my hair standing straight up after removing the beanie. Most of the time my hair is slightly damp when I remove it. So I just end up with hat hair. When the beanie was worn in completely dry conditions with no physical activity my hair was not full of static after removing it.


I have found the beanie to have a waterproof and windproof exterior shell. It is warm in the areas that it covers my head. Since my ears are mostly exposed while wearing the beanie they become cold. The beanie has a tendency to migrate up when I am wearing it. The only way I have prevented this is by wearing goggles or a lightweight balaclava under it. The fabric is very durable and has not shown any signs of abrasion after being rubbed against trees and a rock. I did have issues of moisture build-up on the inside of the beanie while participating in moderately strenuous activities such as x-country skiing.


During the last two months of testing the beanie was worn eight times while backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and x-country skiing in the following locations:

San Jacinto State Park in California (two day snowshoeing/backpacking trip)-The high elevation on this trip was 9,200 ft (2,800 m). The low temperature during this trip was 20 F (-7 C). The field conditions were sunny on both days.

Utah Wasatch and Uinta Mountains-The elevation range encountered in this area was 6,200 ft to 10,100 ft (1,890 m to 3,078 m). The temperatures ranged from 19 F to 45 F ( -7 C to 7 C). The field conditions consisted of snow, sunshine, cloudy skies, and wind on various days.


Wearing the beanie while snowshoeing.Now that the beanie has been used for four months it still appears to be in excellent condition. The inside has some pilling of the fleece lining and the OR logo on the fleece stretch panel. Other than that it looks like new. The logo was barely noticeable to begin with anyway. The seam seals are all intact with no rolling or lifting of the tape. The soft shell material is still soft to the touch. I can not tell if any stretching occurred in the fabric. If so it is very minimal.

While trotting along on the trail I bumped my head on a tree branch. I thought the beanie got snagged just from the sound of the branch scraping my head. I was proven wrong. There were no snags in the soft shell material.

Well, I am still not very happy that the beanie does not cover my ears, it migrates off my head, and that it falls off when I am sleeping. I know that this is not the BackpackGearTest fashion site, but my friends think the beanie looks funny on me. Yes, they have made comments on the trail. They notice it falling off my head as well. If I wear my headlamp or my snowboarding helmet the beanie does stay put.

Moisture still has a tendency to build up inside the beanie and along the band during high intensity hiking, snowshoeing, and x-country skiing.

I do like the waterproof and windproof features. I would just rather have my ears covered and a more appealing style.


The soft shell fabric properties


General fit
Migrates up while I am wearing it
Moisture build-up inside of it
Does not cover my ears


This concludes my testing of the Outdoor Research Mithril Beanie. Thank you Outdoor Research and for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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