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I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent two months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2 to 3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
Description & Initial ImpressionsThe Hoo-rag is a tubular bandana made from a soft polyester microfiber. It is intended to be worn in a variety of styles, depending on the need of the wearer at the time. The Hoo-rag is seamless, with no hem on the edges and no stitched seam connecting the fabric into a tube. I can visually see where the fabric is connected lengthwise on both sides; there is a crease in the fabric and the pattern doesn’t quite line up. I can feel the connection as a crease, but not on the inside of the Hoo-rag. The Hoo-rag has very little stretch length-wise, but stretches a lot width-wise; I’d guess it stretches to about twice its original width. It springs back to the original shape, but I’ll keep an eye out for permanent stretching as I test. The fabric is soft and smooth, with no loose threads or other imperfections.
The Hoo-rag came nicely packaged in a cellophane wrapper with a label on the front. The label detailed the care instructions (machine wash warm, hang to dry), and on the back of the label were a series of pictures and small text showing the different ways the Hoo-rag can be worn. Unfortunately, these images, viewed from the back of the package, were backwards, which made for challenging reading. The Hoo-rag website has a video showing some of the styles, and I’m pretty sure I can figure most of them out.
Trying It OutI promptly started fiddling with my Blue Vortex Hoo-rag when I got it out of the packaging. I tried it as a beanie (a toque for the rest of this review), and found that it was easy to get on and comfortable. If anything, it’s a little big for me, as I have a very small head. I also folded it up as an Alice Rag, and found it to be a bit bulky behind my ears but otherwise fine. I wore the Alice Rag style around the house for a while and it was comfortable enough that I forgot I was wearing it.
SummaryThe Hoo-rag appears to be a well-made tubular bandana, and I can’t wait to try out all the styles on the trail. I am also looking forward to seeing how it performs in the elements, especially as the temperature drops through autumn and early winter.
Field ConditionsDuring the testing of the Hoo-rag, I used it on four backpacking trips and ten dayhiking trips. In addition, I used it for five trail runs, two cross-country skis, and four days of resort skiing. Temperatures ranged from 20 C (68 F) down to -15 C (5 F), and I wore the Hoo-rag in sunshine, clouds, and snow.
I used the Blue Vortex and Nu Blue Hoo-rags, and washed them each about 5 times. I washed them with my regular laundry and hung them to dry.
The Hoo-rags show no major signs of wear. They don’t appear to be faded and have no frayed edges or other indications of wear. The edges are starting to roll, which I can feel while I’m wearing them, but doesn’t really affect the function.
SummaryThe Hoo-rag is a versatile piece of gear. It easily switches between styles as conditions change. The durability seems to be good, and it is comfortable to wear.
Easy to carry once removed
Decent amount of warmth
Fiddly to fold into an Alice Rag
Rapidly gets damp with condensation when breathing into it
Thanks to Hoo-rag and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test this bandana! It has earned a place in my pack as a multi-functional item.
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