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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Loki Liner Hat > Test Report by Andrew Henrichs
Loki Liner Hat
Test Series by Andy Henrichs
August 1, 2009
The Loki Liner Hat is a fleece hat capable of functioning in several different forms. The hat can serve as a typical hat, a vented hat (or headband), a balaclava-style mask with the facemask either up or down, and a neck gaiter with the facemask either up or down. It is constructed from a thin fleece material which is doubled up for extra thickness around the circumference of the hat. It features a cylinder of material approximately 9 in (23 cm) tall. Sewn into the inside of the top of the cylinder is the hood portion of the hat. This construction is best illustrated in the "Mask position" picture below. There is a thin strip of fabric enclosed in the seam along the top of the cylinder of material. There is an external cordlock on this strip of fabric and it is used to cinch the top. This cordlock forms the traditional hat position. The lower front edge of the hat features an embroidered Loki logo. Sewn to the inside of this hat is a care label. Washing instructions are: "Warm wash. Tumble dry low. Do not use bleach. Avoid use of fabric softeners. Do not iron. Do not dry clean." The hat seems to be fairly well constructed. When examining the inside of the hat, there are a few loose thread towards the ends of the seams. They appear to be more cosmetic, but it is something I will actively watch.
The cardboard sheet attached to the hat lists the six ways the hat can be worn. It also gives brief instructions on how to switch between the various types of wear. The instructions are clear and the adjustments are fairly intuitive, so it is pretty simple to learn how to adjust the hat. To wear the hat in the traditional hat position, one cinches the cordlock with the hood stowed inside, flattens the hood fabric inside, and wears the hat with the logo in front. To wear the hat in vented hat position, one uncinches the top and positions the hood material in back. To wear the hat in mask position, the top in fully open and the hat is pulled onto the head with the logo in front. The hood coverage can be adjusted by tucking the edges into the lower section. From this position, one can simply pull the mask down to wear it in open mask position. To wear the hat in gaiter position, one opens the top, pulls the mask below the nose, pulls the hood back, and tucks in the loose hood fabric. From this position, one can pull the mask above the nose to wear it in raised gaiter position.
The versatility of this hat is quite impressive. It's very easy to figure out how to adjust positions. I was happy to discover that even when I don't take extra time to smooth out the hood material when wearing it as a traditional hat, there didn't appear to be any excess lumps of fabric bulging out of the hat. I have not yet worn the hat outside, but I'm anxious to discover how much warmth it provides. The thin fabric makes me think this may be better suited for cool, not cold, temperatures. According to the packaging, this hat is "helmet friendly". I've tried it under my ski, bike, and climbing helmet and found that it is helmet friendly only in certain situations. When wearing it as a traditional hat, the cordlock is centered at the top of my head. This prevents me from comfortably wearing a helmet as the cordlock digs into my head. This is easily rectified by sliding the cordlock so it hangs just past the perimeter of the helmet. Unfortunately, this opens up the top of the hat slightly, which will result in some heat loss. In this position, I'm able to pull the hood material forward which I'm hoping will limit heat loss. In the other five positions, the hat works very well with helmets. When wearing the Loki Liner Hat as a traditional hat, I also get a little annoyed by the excess cord hanging down. The excess hangs down to my nose and often falls in front of me. I've found that I can avoid this by tucking the excess cord into the top of the hat just before I completely snug it shut.
I have been able to wear the Loki Liner Hat multiple times during the Field Report phase. I wore it at least eight times while making my daily 2 mi (3 km) bike commute home from work due to the relatively cool spring we had. Temperatures on these rides home ranged from 20° F (-7° C) to 35° F (2° C). While most of these rides were dry, I did experience rain and light snow on several rides. I have worn the hat on approximately four morning runs. These runs have ranged from 3 mi (5 km) to 5 mi (8 km) and temperatures have typically hovered around 25° F (-4° C). I have also been able to wear it on four backcountry ski days. All of these ski days took place in the Sawatch Mountains of Colorado. Elevations on these days ranged from approximately 10,000 ft (3050 m) to 13,500 ft (4110 m). Temperatures dropped as low as 5° F (-15° C) one morning and ran as high as 38° F (3° C) one afternoon. These were extremes; the average temperature ranged from a low of 20° F (-7° C) to a high of 30° F (-1° C). I encountered moderate snow on two of these trips; the other two featured cloudless blue skies. Finally, I wore the Loki Liner hat on two overnight backpacking trips. One was a traditional backpacking trip at an elevation of 7500 ft (2300 m). While temperatures were relatively warm during the day, they plunged to 20° F (-7° C) at night. We didn't encounter any precipitation at all on this trip. The second overnight trip was an igloo-building trip and was spent in a clearing near Monarch Pass, Colorado at an elevation of 11,100 ft (3,400 m). I wore the hat while constructing and sleeping inside the igloo. While temperatures outside the igloo dropped to 15° F (-9° C), the temperature inside stayed steady at 35° F (2° C). I was constantly in and out of the igloo while cooking dinner, exploring around camp, and reading inside, so I was able to quickly transition from one temperature to another while wearing the hat.
I have been very happy with the Loki Liner Hat so far. The combination of its light weight and various forms has made it an excellent choice for spring skiing and backpacking. I continue to be happy with the fit. The fabric is relatively stretchy and never feels like it is too tight. As I mentioned in my Initial Report, the fabric of this hat is rather thin. That said, I've found that it provides adequate warmth down to approximately 15° F (-9° C) when I am active. When I am inactive, I have found that I begin to desire more insulation around 30° F (-1° C). The versatility of this hat increases the upper comfortable temperature limit, although I have found that I would usually rather take the hat off than vent the top. The only time I have worn the hat with the top vented was while running in cold conditions. This let me cool off a bit while still keeping my ears warm. In most of my active situations, I have found that I will typically remove the hat once the temperature rises to 35° F (2° C). When inactive, I can comfortably wear the hat until temperatures rise to 45° F (7° C).
Maybe it's just an old habit, but I've found that I don't switch between different ways of wearing the hat. When I do remember to, it works great. Switching from hat to mask position has often made life much more comfortable while taking a rest break on a cold, windy ridge. Conversely, switching from hat to vented hat position during the aforementioned run has prevented me from turning into a puddle of sweat. Bulky gloves make the transition a little more difficult, but I can usually slip out of my gloves, transition the hat, and have my gloves back on in just a few seconds.
Even after an estimated 18 uses, the Loki Liner Hat looks great. I have not noticed any pilling, pulling, or loose threads yet. It has been stuffed in my messenger pack, backpack, pocket, dropped in the dirt and snow, and it still looks great. The fabric does not resist moisture but it is not designed to. Still, I have not noticed any decrease in warmth even when it is quite damp. Despite wearing it in light rain and snow for a significant amount of time, I have not been able to fully saturate it.
The one thing that I still find a little obnoxious is the strip of fabric used to cinch shut the top of the hat. As I mentioned in the Initial Report, it seems excessively long and dangles in front of my face when wearing the hat closed. Until this point, I've solved the problem by stuffing the excess cord into the top of the hat as I cinch it closed. This works but it also makes transitioning the hat to other modes a little difficult, particularly when I'm wearing gloves. I'm guessing this issue will resolve as temperatures warm and I'm not wearing bulky gloves in the backcountry.
I have worn this hat many times since I received it. I have worn it while on two overnight backpacking trips, five day hikes, a week-long whitewater rafting trip, several times while walking around town, and dozens of times while on my bike commute. The overnight backpacking trips took place in the Sawatch Range of central Colorado. The first trip was in the vicinity of East Cross Creek and I covered approximately 12 mi (19 km) during this weekend. The second outing took me up the Pine Creek drainage to Missouri Basin. From here, I hiked three high peaks and covered approximately 26 mi (42 km) over two days. Elevations on these trips ranged from 9,000 ft (2,700 m) to slightly over 14,000 ft (4,300 m). Temperatures ranged from a low of 40° F (4° C) at night to a high of 80° F (27° C) during the day. On these trips I experienced very strong winds and occasional light rain. The day hikes I went on ranged from 4 mi (6 km) to 15 mi (24 km). Four of these hikes took place in the foothills along the Front Range in Colorado. The elevation of these hikes range from 5,600 ft (1700 m) to 8,000 ft (2,400 m). All of these hikes featured generally mild conditions with an average temperature of 65° F (18° C), light winds, and plenty of sun. The fifth hike was a climb of Pacific and Atlantic Peaks, two high peaks near Copper Mountain, Colorado. The elevation on this hike ranged from 11,000 ft (3,400 m) to nearly 14,000 ft (4,300 m). This hike was quite cold; the average temperature never climbed above 35° F (2° C). I experienced strong wind, light snow, and very little sun on this hike.
In late June, I was fortunate enough to raft the Selway River in Idaho. Elevation on the river averaged about 2,000 ft (610 m). We had excellent weather with almost no precipitation, mild temperatures, and light winds. The rest of my use has been around the cities of Colorado Springs and Golden, Colorado. My daily bike commute was approximately 2 mi (3 km) one-way in Colorado Springs and is now 5 mi (8 km) one-way in Golden.
The Loki Liner Hat has continued to serve me well throughout the Long Term Report period. As temperatures rose, I found that I rarely used the hat in any form other than the traditional hat. Still, I was glad to know that I could easily convert it to a facemask (which I found to be the second-most-useful form) if necessary. For whatever reason, I feel like the hat didn't provide as much warmth as I would have liked several times during the Long Term Report period. This seemed especially pronounced when it was windy, and I frankly feel as though I didn't experience much wind until this test phase. While I never got dangerously cold, the wind seemed to steal away enough warmth to make me slightly uncomfortable. It was those times that reminded me this is indeed a liner hat and is marketed as such.
Despite occasionally not providing as much warmth as I would have liked, I am very happy with the Loki Liner Hat. It has proven to be very durable, looking like new despite dozens of uses and dozens more times getting stuffed into a pack. All of the seams remain intact and I have not noticed any pulled threads. As I mentioned in my Initial Report, the hat does work with a variety of helmets but not always well. I had to adjust the plastic cordlock to prevent it from digging into my head when worn with my climbing and skiing helmet. My biggest complaint lies with the strip of fabric used to cinch the hat closed. It has the tendency to swing in front of my eyes when I'm wearing the hat in the traditional hat position. I will probably cut several inches off of this fabric now that the test is complete. This should reduce, but not eliminate, the annoying excess cord dangling in front of my face without impacting the transition of the hat between modes.
All in all, this is an excellent liner hat. The fabric is relatively thin so it only provides so much warmth. That said, it provides me with a very good amount of warmth when I'm active in cold weather. When I'm inactive in cold weather, I often wish for a warmer hat, especially if it is windy. The various wear modes provide a great deal of versatility and has saved me from carrying a separate balaclava and thin hat. I will continue to use the Loki Liner Hat, especially as a second hat when exploring the backcountry in winter.
Thank you to Loki and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the opportunity to test this hat.
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