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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Buff Headgear - High UV Buff > Test Report by Thomas Vickers

High UV Protection Buff

Initial Report -May 16, 2007
Field Test Report - August 7, 2007
Long Term Report - September 28, 2007

 

Thomas Vickers

39 years old
Male
5 ft 11 in tall (1.8 m)
175 lb (79 kg)
redroach@pobox.com
Southeast Texas, Houston Area


Tester Background:
I grew up in the piney woods of southeast Texas. Camping was a quick trip into the mosquito-infested woods behind the house. My style has evolved and over the last 4 or 5 years, I have begun to take a lighter weight approach to hiking gear (I still use sleeping bags and tents, just lighter versions). While I have flirted with lightweight hiking, I feel that I am more of a mid-weight hiker now. My philosophy is one of comfort, while carrying the lightest load possible.


Initial Report
May 16, 2007

Buff and Hang Card

 

Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Original Buff, S.A.

Website: http://www.buff.es

Sizes available: Adult, junior, baby

Year Manufactured: 2007

MSRP: NA

Information From Tester:
(all measurements approximate)


Color/pattern: Gantes

Weight : 1.50 oz (42 gm)

Measurements: 19.5 x 9.5 in (50 x 24 cm)

Size: Adult

Tester's head size:
23 in (58 cm)

Initial tester expectations:
After visiting the Buff website I had a lot of questions in my head. My questions were mainly about the construction. I wondered how  they create a seamless tube of Coolmax? How elastic is it?  The Buff comes across as a simple tube of that has a variety of uses as headwear. I am hoping that it is just as simple as the website describes and just as useful.

Buff

Description from the manufacturer:
Buff® is the brand of an innovative, useful, comfortable, fun, multi-functional garment that will keep off the sun, wind or cold.. The brand’s success consists of having created a product that didn’t exist before 1992, which meets a significant need among sportspeople and outdoor activity practitioners who are seeking functionality, quality and design.

Our best known piece is the original, multi-functional, seamless, tubular headgear that, because of its high quality, means you can perform any activity in total freedom and comfort.

Tester's Description:
This is a simple tube of Coolmax Extreme with a printed pattern on the outside. The inside of the fabric tube is white in color. It is fairly stretchy and lightweight piece of fabric. I don't know how else to describe it. The High UV Protection Buff is simple.

Impressions:
The High UV Buff is neat.  It arrived attached to a bright red hang tag which touts its benefits as "dries faster, highly breathable, uv protection."  The fabric (Coolmax Extreme) is stretchier than I had imagined and the print is only on one side of the fabric. I am used to Coolmax being very slippery, but the Buff fabric has more stretch than slipperiness to it.  The only thing that I found interesting was the ends of the fabric tube are not finished. It appears that a long tube is manufactured, then cut to length for Buffs.  I had kind of expected these ends to be hemmed or stitched in some way, but they are not.  This worries me about its durability, but after several days of use, there are no tears or loose threads showing. I will definitely be watching these edges closely as testing proceeds.

Test Strategy:
Here are some questions that I plan on using as a guide for my testing of the High UV Protection Buff:

Fit:

1. How well does this item fit? This seems like an easy question, but a seamless tube of microfiber fabric which stretches might be too tight or too lose upon my pointy bald head.

2. Are there ways to wear the buff that don’t work for me due its size/fit?

3. How fashionable will I look on the trail?

Use:
1. Does it really only weigh 2 oz (57 g)?

2. The website lists 12 different ways to wear it. Can I use all of them? Are there other ways beyond the "12" that I can use this item?

3. How well does it protect my head from the sun when worn as a cap/head covering?

4. Can I wet the Buff and then wear it as a cap in order to keep my head cool and covered during the summer heat? How long does it stay wet?

5. Is it thick enough to keep my head/neck warm on cool evenings/nights?

6. Does it provide any type of protection from biting insects? Or can they bite through the fabric?

7. Will it work as a trail towel? Wash cloth?

8. Can I use it to handle hot cups of tea or hot bowls of food?

Durability:
1. Does the buff stretch out? How well does it hold its shape/elastic qualities over time?

2. Does it develop nasty odors? Can the odors wash out or air out without too much lingering stink?

3. How resistant to snags and pilling is it?

4. Do stains wash out easily?

5. What are the washing care instructions? Are they easy to follow in the field?

6. Can I treat the buff with insect repellant?

Final thoughts:
I am excited about this test. I have already worn the High UV Protection Buff everyday that I have had it. I am constantly experimenting with how to wear it and I can't wait to see how well it protects my bald head. My annual head shaving is coming up within the next couple of weeks and I am depending on the Buff to keep my head safe and protected.

Field Test Report
August 7, 2007

Field locations:
Sam Houston National Forest
W.G. Jones State Forest
Other areas of Southeast Texas

Field conditions:
Daytime temperatures: 80 F to 92 F (27 C to 33 C)
Overcast to bright sunshine

Activities:
Trail running
Dayhiking
Extended hiking trips
Hanging out in the sun

An introduction to daddy's hat:
I started off wearing the Buff everyday just to see how I liked it and what were the best ways to wear it. I wanted to figure out the easy part before I shaved my head and put my trust in the UV protection portion of the Buff. After I shaved my head my daughter wouldn't come near me. My baldness scared her. I started wearing the Buff around the house and she didn't seem to notice the shaved head. When she would wake me up in the morning though, she would normally run out of the room screaming, then slink back in with the buff in hand. She would smile, hold the Buff out to me and say "Daddy's hat." At least it was one piece of gear that my two year old seemed to appreciate.

How to wear this thing:
The first thing I discovered was that the Buff slid on very easily over hair, but once I shaved my head and the stubble grew back, it was rather difficult to pull the Buff onto my head. I worked around it, but it was something interesting I discovered. 

The first way I found comfortable to wear the Buff was what I call "the beanie".

The Beanie

I turn the Buff inside out, pull it down on my head, twist it a bit on top, then fold it back over my head. I tended to fold the both ends of the Buff into a headband of sorts to allow it to soak up more sweat.  It took some practice to perfect "the beanie" but I liked it because I could pull it down to cover my ears if I needed to or pull it up to expose more of my neck.

The next way I took to wearing the Buff was what I call "the Hair Net". 

The Hair Net


I simply pulled one end of the Buff over my head and let it drape down over my head and neck.  I also tended to roll the end of the buff around my head into a head/sweat band to help it absorb more moisture in high sweat activities.

The last way I tend to wear the Buff is the "sweat band".

The Sweat Band


When it is hot out and burning my noggin isn't a worry, I simply roll the Buff up into a band and pull it around my head. This lets my head breathe and it keeps a whole lot of sweat out of my eyes.

How to make it work:
One thing that I learned very early on in this part of the test was that the Buff is great when soaked in water, then worn. The colder the water, the better it feels, but water of any sort is often much better than a dry Buff.  No matter how I wore it, direct sun tends to dry the Buff out in about twenty minutes or so, which means that I have to rewet it quite often, but that has never really been a problem. Just take it off, pour some water on it and put it back on.

Other than a hat, I have also used the Buff as a sweat rag, hanky to blow my nose on, and a cloth to wipe my spoon with. It is a really multiuse device that doesn't add any real weight to my pack.

Additional ideas:
I have worn and used the Buff nearly everyday during this test phase. It has replaced my normal hat that I wear during the summer and I have no real complaints. I do not like to wear sunscreen on my head and ears and so far this summer, I have not worn any while using the Buff. I am happy to report that the UV protection must work pretty well since I have not had sunburned ears or a sunburned scalp.  I was leery of turning my bald head over to the Buff, but it paid off. I found something that is easier to wear and use than a bandanna and something that I like way better than a hat.

Despite my constant wear and use I have not really washed the Buff yet. It has been dunked, soaked, and other wise wetted on a regular basis, but it has never been washed with detergent.  There is no visible wear or tear nor is there any smell that I can detect.  It has held up to a lot of sweat and wear and I am happy to report that I haven't worn it out or damaged it yet.

Final thoughts:
The High UV Protection Buff is a simple piece of gear that I really like. I have no qualms about wearing it in public (I look really cool with it on) and it does a great job of keeping the sun off my neck, head, and ears.  There are a variety of ways to wear and use it and each one makes the Buff an extremely flexible piece of fabric.  I can't wait to keep testing this as the summer ends and the fall rolls around. I know I can keep cool in it, now I want to see if it can help keep the noggin warm in cooler weather.

Long Term Report - September 28, 2007

Field locations:
Sam Houston National Forest
W.G. Jones State Forest
Other areas of Southeast Texas

Field conditions:
Daytime temperatures: 80 F to 96 F (27 C to 36 C)
Overcast to bright sunshine

Activities:
Trail running
Dayhiking
Hanging out in the sun

Buff and climbing helmet

Hanging out in the Buff:
It has been HOT and bright in Texas over the last couple of months.  This means that I have been wearing the Buff quite a bit during a variety of activities.  My most common way to wear the buff has been as a beanie. I have been outdoors at the ropes course a lot and I was able to soak the Buff in ice water, but it on as a beanie and then put on my climbing helmet.  The Buff usually stayed wet to damp for about 20 to 30 minutes this way and it felt really nice under my helmet.

Wear and tear:
The Buff has been washed about five times and it actually doesn't smell as bad as I thought it would. Being a synthetic material made me wonder if it would develop a nasty funk to it, but either it is highly funk resistant or my constant dunking in water kept the funk off. Either way,  I was more than happy that it did not start smelling like road kill during the testing period.

It is a little faded, but that doesn't surprise me. The Buff has been outside in the beating summer sun and there is very little that won't fade under these conditions.   I am also surprised and happy that it is still as stretchy as the day it arrived.   If I can't wear something out, then it is constructed pretty sturdily.

Questions answered:

Fit:
1. How well does this item fit? This seems like an easy question, but a seamless tube of microfiber fabric which stretches might be too tight or too lose upon my pointy bald head.
Fit was not a problem. The Buff went on my head and stayed in place no matter how I wore it.

2. Are there ways to wear the buff that don’t work for me due its size/fit?
No. The Buff is stretchy enough that I could wear it in a variety of ways without it falling off. It is truly one size fits all, at least in the adult sized Buff.

3. How fashionable will I look on the trail?
I look good. I haven't had that many compliments, but I know from the looks that I get that people are jealous. I have had at least one instructor at the ropes course comment on the Buff and tell me that he wants one for himself.

Use:
1. Does it really only weigh 2 oz (57 g)?
1.50 oz (42 gm) dry weight by my scale.

2. The website lists 12 different ways to wear it. Can I use all of them? Are there other ways beyond the "12" that I can use this item?
I only used it three ways. I found the three ways that were most useful to my uses and stuck with them during the testing.  They were easy to use and fitted my needs just fine.

3. How well does it protect my head from the sun when worn as a cap/head covering?
I shaved my head twice this summer and while wearing the Buff I never had to worry, my pasty white skull was never sunburned in any way or degree.

4. Can I wet the Buff and then wear it as a cap in order to keep my head cool and covered during the summer heat? How long does it stay wet?
I almost always wet the Buff when I wore it.  Depending on the heat and way I wore it, the Buff tended to stay wet about 20-30 minutes after a good soaking.

5. Is it thick enough to keep my head/neck warm on cool evenings/nights?
I have not had the chance to test this. The summer really didn't have any cool nights despite my fervent prayers.

6. Does it provide any type of protection from biting insects? Or can they bite through the fabric?
I wore the Buff almost exclusively in high mosquito areas. Despite its exposure, I didn't ever receive any bites on my head or neck where the Buff covered my skin.  I am going to have to say that it does keep bugs from getting to bare flesh. 

7. Will it work as a trail towel? Wash cloth?
Wash cloth, snot rag, and head covering were all pretty well covered by the Buff. It just wasn't big enough to dry anything larger than my cup or spoon with, so it was of no use as a trail towel when I took a bath on the trail.

8. Can I use it to handle hot cups of tea or hot bowls of food?
I chose not to. I was a bit wary of the Coolmax fabric melting around heat (bad sock experiences), so I decided not to try this experiment.

Durability:
1. Does the buff stretch out? How well does it hold its shape/elastic qualities over time?
I was surprised that even when not washed and dried regularly (in a machine), the Buff did not lose its shape or stretchiness. No matter how I wore it, the elasticity never suffered.

2. Does it develop nasty odors? Can the odors wash out or air out without too much lingering stink?
Despite my earlier experiences with Coolmax fabric, the Buff did not develop any nasty odors. This was not what I expected with this fabric so I was surprised. I also want to point out that the Buff never went more than a few hours without being wetted in water while in use. I do feel that this constant 'rinsing' kept some of the odors away, especially because it spent a lot of time soaked in sweat when it wasn't wet from me dunking it in water.

3. How resistant to snags and pilling is it?
I have not had it snag, rip, pill or any other such obnoxious behavior. I was really impressed that the ends/edges which were cut, but not stitched did not unravel or tear. This had been a worry of mine when I first saw the edges, but I am happy to report that they held up rather nicely over the testing period.

4. Do stains wash out easily?
I have to say 'yes' to this one. I got it dirty with food, dirt, and all sorts of other bodily secretions and all it took was rinsing in fresh water to clean it up. The Buff was washed with detergent in a machine, but rinsing was all it took to take out any stains that I managed to get on it.

5. What are the washing care instructions? Are they easy to follow in the field?
I could not find any washing/care instructions on the website or hangtag. I am not sure if this is something I was blind to, or if they just don't exist.

6. Can I treat the buff with insect repellant?
I never soaked the Buff in repellant, but it was exposed to liberal doses via a spray bottle.  After an entire summer of being spritzed with repellant and rinsed in water, I didn't see that there was any damage from the insect repellant.

Final thoughts:
The Buff is an innovative piece of gear. It is simple, easy to use, and best of all, it is versatile in the field. I was a bit leery in the beginning of the test because I wasn't sure that it was going to do much or fit into my normal hiking kit, but my mind has changed. I really don't like hats, but usually have to wear them to keep dry or keep the sun off of my head. The Buff has allowed me to get rid of hats for the most part and reduce my pack weight by while doing so. I am more than happy with the Buff's construction and performance and it will remain part of my hiking gear till I wear it out.

 

 

 

 



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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Buff Headgear - High UV Buff > Test Report by Thomas Vickers



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