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Hoo-Rag Seamless Bandana
TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN
The Hoo-Rag is very different from the standard square piece of cloth that makes a regular bandana. This is a tubular bandana. Yup, not a triangle in sight. Because of that, it offers some unique options for wearing it, as well as being a very flexible accessory for the fashion conscious backpacker.
My three Hoo-Rags arrived in a cellophane wrapping with one of those handy seams across the back which allows one to open the packaging without destroying it. I discovered this seam after cutting the bags open. Ah well, I'm not keeping the packaging, so no loss.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled my Hoo-Rags out of the packaging was that there is no hem on the edges. That struck me as astounding: normally when a piece of material is cut, it will fray quite badly along the edges if not hemmed, but there's no sign of that with the Hoo-Rag.
It was only when I looked closely at a Hoo-Rag that I could see the join between the two pieces of material. It looks almost as if the pieces are woven together rather than stitched. It really is a neat piece of work, and means no irritating seams pressing into my head. I like that a lot. There were no loose threads or imperfections in any of my Hoo-Rags.
There's a lot of give in the material width-wise, with up to about 30% stretch possible, so it will fit over some large heads without too much effort. There is virtually no stretch length-wise.
The patterns, or motifs, printed on the fabric appear to be colour-fast from my early tests - no runny colours on a sweaty head yet. Hoo-Rag have over forty designs to choose from, from skulls to a giant fish, and a lot of more feminine designs too. If that's not enough choice, it's possible to custom design a Hoo-Rag and get it printed as a premium service. Nifty!
The material feels soft to the touch and water spilled on it just beads up and runs off. Maybe this would give some protection from light showers but I'll have to see if that water-resistant property remains after washing the Hoo-Rag.
There were no instructions with the Hoo-Rag, however, I did find a few very hard to read pictures on the back of the cellophane wrapper giving an indication of some of the ways it can be worn. The graphics were under the label and printed backwards but there really isn't much need for instructions as wearing the Hoo-Rag is fairly intuitive, at least in 'traditional' modes.
The Hoo-Rag web site contains a great video showing how to wear most of the styles, and how to manipulate the bandana to make them.
The label on the cellophane gives the washing directions as: "Machine wash your Hoo-Rag in warm water and hang to dry." It couldn't get much simpler than that. A bunch of symbols across the back of the packaging reflect the international symbols for washing instructions and a quick internet search revealed the following interpretation: Warm machine wash at 40 C (104 F), do not bleach, do not iron, do not dry clean, and don't tumble dry.
So how does it fit? The answer is, it depends on the style worn. My reason for wanting to try the Hoo-Rag is because I have a pointy head. I find it really difficult to get bandanas, headbands, or beanies to stay on - they usually end up creeping up my head to form a little bunch on top. I've tried lots of styles and shapes, but still have difficulty. Another common problem is that I get too darned hot wearing any kind of head wear. Let's face it, I'm a sweater. No healthy glow for me - I just leak like a sieve, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to try the Hoo-Rag; to see if it will keep the sweat from my eyes and allow me a modicum of dignity.
So far, I've managed to keep the Hoo-Rag on using a number of the recommended styles making for a happy Cone-head! A couple of the styles seem a bit tight and result in the Hoo-Rag creeping up my head, but I'm finding there are enough ways that do work to keep me smiling.
Another potential nightmare for me with this type of headgear is that it makes me look like I'm on chemotherapy. I have been told I have a great face for radio, so I was concerned that people might fall off the trail laughing as I pass by. I'm happy to report that hasn't happened so far, and the Hoo-Rag is flexible enough to find a few styles that are radio-face friendly. The bright colours and sheer amount of material help in that regard.
My big concern was that the polyester material would be too hot to wear, and although I haven't had much chance to test it yet, it does seem reasonably cool when worn as a single layer, and warmer when folded as a double layer. There are certain fold styles which result in a double layer of fabric, and other styles which result in a single layer.
In spite of the large size of the Hoo-Rag, there are a couple of styles I have trouble fitting on my head. The first is the cap; basically the Hoo-Rag is twisted in the middle and the two resulting sections are put over each other to form a double layer beanie. The second is caller the "Pirate Rag" where a knot is tied in the material so it fits the head and leaves excess material hanging down in a tail. It looks cute, but I'm not sure it would stay on my head in anything other than calm conditions. I'll be experimenting more with all the styles in the coming months and will provide an update in my Field Report.
The Hoo-Rag is a breathtakingly simple concept which appears to be well executed. While it's certainly bigger than a traditional bandana, it's also so much more versatile. I'm looking forward to getting to know my Hoo-Rag better.
Please check back in around two months for my Field Report.
This concludes my Initial Report on the Hoo-Rag Tubular Bandana. I'd like to thank both Hoo-Rag and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
I've used the three Hoo-Rags on at least thirty occasions over the last four months in a wide variety of locations and conditions. Mostly, I've used the Hoo-Rags around the home whenever I've been doing anything strenuous, but I took them on my recent fourteen day trip to Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and on three other camping trips. The first was a three night trip to Platypus Flat camping area, the second was to the Bongil Bongil State Forest for one night, and finally a two night trip to Kew State Forest on the mid-north coast of New South Wales.
Conditions varied from overnight lows around 5 C (41 F) to highs of 32 C (90 F) during the days. Humidity has been a major factor for testing the Hoo-Rags, and has varied from a very dry 30%, to a soaking 90%. I used the Hoo-Rag as a balaclava/beanie two cold nights, but most commonly I've worn it during the day.
Terrain has varied from sea level to approximately 335 m (1100 feet) above sea level, and from dry grasslands to wet subtropical rainforest.
Okay, let's say it up front: I love the Hoo-Rags! They have proven to be versatile, easy to use and reliable. I've worn the Hoo-Rags at home quite a lot when I've been gardening, mostly to keep the sweat out of my eyes. Although it's not a backpacking activity, I wanted to test the Hoo-Rag by wearing it as much as possible. I've found that by pulling it low so it virtually covers my whole forehead down to my eyebrows, I can catch and wick away almost all of the sweat before it gets in my eyes. This is a real bonus when mowing the lawns!
I've also found the Hoo-Rags are great at keeping my fly-away hair out of my face and eyes. On a number of occasions, the winds on Kangaroo Island were quite strong, and walking was made unpleasant by my hair constantly getting in my mouth and eyes. Using the Hoo-Rag as an Alice Band kept my hair under control, allowing me to concentrate on just how magical the scenery was.
On two nights, I wasn't really expecting it to be so cold, and used the Hoo-Rag as a balaclava to help keep my head warm when in my hammock. I was surprised at just how effective it was considering the material is quite thin. Conversely, I've also found the Hoo-Rag is thin enough that it doesn't cause me to overheat during the day, which is a common problem with hats.
There's no delicate way to put it, but I sweat like a horse, so the Hoo-Rags have often become wet enough to wring out. Still, they absorb and wick the moisture away and actually help cool my head when there's a breeze to aid evaporation. One important factor is that they haven't, so far, become smelly. When hung up to dry overnight, they don't have any noticeable odour in the morning. That was a benefit when spending twelve days in close proximity with someone!
As for washing, I've washed the Hoo-Rags on a number of occasions, either with hand-soap and a rinse, or just rinsing in water. They dry very quickly and were completely dry by the morning. I usually just flop them over a line - no pegs, and they take care of themselves. I have noticed the ends are rolling a bit, but this does not affect their function. Fortunately, the instructions say "Do Not Iron", not that I take an iron hiking, so rolled ends are fine by me! I'm also pleased to say the colours are just as vibrant as when I first opened the packages, despite considerable wear. There's been no running of the colours and they've never left a coloured tattoo on my forehead.
I have used the Hoo-Rag as a towel a couple of times and although it's quite small it absorbs quite a lot of moisture.
So far, I've still not seen any fraying of the edges, and the central seam appears to be as strong as ever with no visible signs of stretching. I also mentioned in my initial report that the material seemed to have a certain amount of water repellency and I'm pleased to say this has remained even after washing a few times. It's not going to keep me dry in a storm, but it will manage a light shower. It seems a bit of a contradiction considering how well it wicks the moisture away, but there it is.
I seem to have settled on using just a couple of the many styles the Hoo-Rag can be shaped into. Firstly, and most commonly, I use the "Alice Band" to keep the hair out of my eyes when it's windy. Secondly, I use it as a bandana pulled low across my eyebrows to keep the sweat out, and thirdly, I use it as a balaclava when the weather is cold. I've tried all of the other styles, but most are fiddly or won't stay on my cone-shaped head. Still, the styles I use are easy and work for me, so I really don't need more than those basic variations.
The Hoo-Rag is a simple concept which is very well executed. I hate wearing hats, but love wearing these. There are so many colours and designs to choose from, including the custom design option, that I can't imagine anyone being unable to find something they like. I've found the Hoo-Rag to be very versatile, comfortable and, best of all, I don't look like I'm on chemotherapy when I wear them!
This concludes my Long Term Report on the Hoo-Rag Tubular Bandana. Once again, I'd like to thank both Hoo-Rag and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
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