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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > OR Highpoint Cap > Test Report by Andrew Henrichs
Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap
Test Series by Andy Henrichs
March 30, 2009
The Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap features an "ultralight, water-resistant/breathable 30D Pertex Endurance fabric exterior" and a thin fleece lining. The cap also has a Pertex Endurance-covered brim, which feels as though it is made of cardboard, that protrudes 2 in (5 cm) at it's center. This brim is actually comprised of two equal-sized pieces. These pieces meet in the center, allowing the brim to be folded in half, which aids in storage of the cap. The Highpoint has earflaps that extend 3 in (7.6 cm) below the "traditional" hat line. These two earflaps are connected in the back with another piece of fabric that wraps around. This piece extends 2 in (5 cm) below the "traditional" hat line. There is a piece of elastic that measures 3 in (7.6 cm) long by .5 in (1.3 cm) wide in the lower edge of this connecting band. This elastic band snugs the back of the cap to the base of the wearers head. Also in the back of the cap (at the "traditional" hat line) is an "external drawcord adjustment". This drawcord runs through an enclosed channel around the perimter of the cap and inserts on each side of the brim. This drawcord allows the cap to fit a wider range of head sizes. There are four small magnets located in this cap: one in the lower edge of each earflap and one on each side of the cap. These serve to secure the earflaps up and out of the way. The front and center of the cap features a slightly reflective "OR" logo. Inside the cap a care tag is sewn into the back. Care instructions are as follows: wash at 86° F (30°), tumble dry low, iron on low temperatures, do not bleach, and do not dryclean.
When I first put the cap on it seemed a little snug. I had measured my head carefully and ordered the cap according to the sizing chart on the Outdoor Research website, but it was a tiny bit tighter than I'm used to. After wearing it around the house for a few days, I found it had stretched enough to not be an issue (or else my head had shrunk). To test for future versatility, I put on a thin wool balaclava followed by the cap. I found that the cap fits quite well over the balaclava. The grey fleece lining of the cap is very soft and fuzzy, but it isn't quite as thick as I expected. I haven't worn it out in any cold conditions yet, so I don't know how its relative thinness will affect warmth. The description on the Highpoint Cap page of the Outdoor Research website reads "on those frigid winter days when you feel the cold deep in your lungs but the pull to get outside is stronger, the Highpoint Cap keeps you covered." Hence, I expected this cap to be more insulated. On the Fleece Headwear page of the OR website, the brief description reads "ultralight, fleece-lined rain cap." I didn't notice this secondary description until the cap arrived. To me, these two descriptions seem to be at odds.
The earflaps completely cover my ears and easily flip up out of the way. This should be a nice feature for when I need to let off some steam, so to speak. Based on the already-snug fit of the cap, I don't anticipate using the drawcord to tighten up the cap. That said, the cap has already loosened up a bit. Perhaps I will find the drawcord useful after more prolonged use. I was a little worried that the location of this external drawcord adjustment might interfere with my ski goggles, but the goggle strap seems to naturally fit above the toggle. I'm impressed with the water-resistant qualities of the Pertex Endurance fabric so far. I've put it through my standard faucet test and it passed with flying colors. Basically, I put the hat under my faucet and turned on the water on. I even let some water pool in the top of the hat. The fabric didn't soak any water up; it all ran right off. I like the folding brim. While the breakpoint in the brim is noticeable (it peaks a little bit), it's not excessive. Being able to fold up a hat and stuff it in a pocket could be a handy feature.
I have tested the Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap throughout Colorado. Elevations on these trips have ranged from 6,000 ft (1830 m) to nearly 13,800 ft (4200 m). I’ve worn the cap in subalpine pine and aspen forests as well as above treeline. Temperatures have ranged from 40° F (4° C) down to 0° F (-18° C). I’ve experienced a wide variety of weather on these trips, including sun, clouds, heavy snow, and strong winds up to 45 mph (72 kph).
I've worn this cap on two day hikes and seven backcountry ski trips. One of the backcountry ski trips was an overnight hut trip in central Colorado. Despite this amount of use, I'm still trying to decide whether I like this cap or not. Despite my initial concerns about fit, I am now quite happy with how the Highpoint Cap fits me. It seems to have stretched even more over the past two months and now does not feel uncomfortably tight at all. Despite this stretching, I have still not had to use the external drawcord adjustment. This drawcord is actually a little obnoxious. Because of its placement, I can't lie down with the cap on; if I do, the drawcord digs into the back of my head. As such, I need to remember to bring an extra hat along whenever I will be camping or sleeping in a hut this winter.
Even after a fair amount of use, I have not found any signs of wear on the cap. There are no loose threads, no abrasions, and no fuzzing of the inner fleece. It's a little dirty in some spots and there are sweat stains along the base of the brim, but that's it. After a little more use I will try washing the cap and see how it turns out. The Pertex is still performing wonderfully. Despite being out in heavy snow, I have not had any precipitation penetrate the shell. I have, however, sweated enough to soak parts of the cap on a couple of occasions. While the Pertex seems to breathe well, I can produce more heat and sweat than it can transfer. I have never felt clammy while wearing the cap, but perspiration does accumulate in spots. These damp spots dry quickly in the arid Colorado climate.
At this point in my testing, I'm a little torn about the brim. I absolutely love the fact that it folds in the center. This allows me to easily stow the cap in any available pocket. The length of the brim is another matter. I'm not sure that it is long enough to truly be effective as a sun hat. In many circumstances it works well; it does an adequate job of shielding my eyes from the sun, particularly around midday. When the sun is closer to the horizon it loses a fair amount of effectiveness. The brim annoys me when I'm wearing the cap just before dawn or around dusk. When there isn't much light, I think I'd prefer that there not be a brim just above my eyes. This may be a totally personal thing, but it's something I've noticed.
I'm also ambivalent about the warmth and temperature range provided by the cap. When active, I tend to output a great deal of heat. As a result, I like my gear to shed that heat relatively quickly so I don't start sweating and cause problems later in the day as the temperature drops. This cap is quite warm. Between the fleece lining and Pertex shell, it does not release much heat. This is a great advantage in very cold weather but becomes a little annoying as temperatures rise. Flipping up the earflaps makes a tremendous difference and expands the temperature range of the cap by a good amount. Unfortunately, this exposes my ears to the elements and I've found that they get cold rather quickly. I feel like I'm getting a better handle on how to deal with the temperature range of this cap, but it is still a work in progress. There have also been times when the ear flaps don't seem to seal well around my ears when they are down. It almost seems like the earflaps have a "memory." If the cap is stored with the bottom of the earflaps turned out, they will lie that way when on my head. It sometimes takes some finagling to get them to seal well below my ears.
I have continued to test the Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap throughout Colorado. Elevations on my trips have ranged from 8,000 ft (2,400 m) to over 12,000 ft (3,800 m). I’ve worn the cap in subalpine pine and aspen forests as well as above the treeline. Temperatures have ranged from 50° F (10° C) down to -10° F (-23° C). I’ve experienced a wide variety of weather on these trips, including sun, clouds, heavy snow, and strong winds.
I have worn this cap in seven additional backcountry ski trips. One trip was an overnight backcounty ski hut trip.
As I mentioned in my Field Report, I have had a difficult time determining if I truly like this hat or not. I feel like it is excellent in certain situations and less than ideal in many others. After significant use in a wide variety of temperatures and weather, I feel like this cap is most useful on very cold, bright, and highly active days. It is incredibly warm and the brim offers adequate shade from the sun. When active and sweating, the Pertex shell does an admirable job of breathing and I've found that I don't get chilled even if the inner fleece gets wet. As the temperature rises, the usefulness of the cap decreases. When wearing this cap, I found that I get overheat sooner than I do with other hats I've used. When this happens, I flip the ear flaps up. While this helps to reduce the heat retention, this also exposes my ears to the cold. Since I get too warm much sooner in this cap, the temperature is still low enough to freeze my ears. Therefore, I'm stuck with the decision to ski around with numb ears or ski around sweating profusely. Not exactly a pleasant choice.
In addition, I continue to have some of the same concerns I discussed in the Field Report. The presence of the brim and external drawcord makes this cap unsuitable for sleeping in and necessitates bringing another hat on overnight trips. The brim is adequate for shielding my eyes from midday sun but is not long enough when the sun is closer to the horizon. Around dawn or dusk, the brim seems to block what little light is available, which further hampers my ability to see. After extended use, there were visible sweat stains around the perimeter of the hat, but I was very impressed with how well the cap cleaned up. I threw it into the wash and it came out looking like new. I have not noticed any fading, peeling of the logo, or pulled threads.
Overall, I don't see myself using this hat too often. It simply isn't versatile enough for the climates and conditions I typically experience. I may continue to use it when it is very cold out, but it will rarely be the first hat I reach for.
Brim works to block midday sun
Brim folds for easy storage
Excellent construction and durability
Often too warm
Brim isn't long enough when the sun is closer to the horizon
Brim and drawcord prevent one from wearing the hat while sleeping
Flipping up ear flaps often results in cold ears
Thank you to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the opportunity to test this cap.
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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > OR Highpoint Cap > Test Report by Andrew Henrichs
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