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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > OR Highpoint Cap > Test Report by James E. Triplett
by James E. Triplett
Initial Report - November 26, 2008
Field Report - January 27, 2009
Long Term Report - March 31, 2009
Personal Biographical Information:
I am an
experienced hiker, backpacker, and camper, and am gaining more
experience with winter camping every year. I hike every day,
backpack when possible, which leads to many weekends backpacking and
camping each year. I try and take at least one annual
backpacking trip in addition to many one to three-night weekend
trips. My style can best be described as
not at the cost of giving up too much comfort. I generally
in a tent, and seem to be collecting quite a few of them to choose from.
Additional Highpoint Cap information:
(from the Outdoor Research website)
November 26, 2008
The Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap came in a Tyvek type envelope which seemed rather small and extremely light for a cap. But that's what was in it. A 2.3 ounce (65 gram) rather bright orange cap. The orange is attractive, and rather "Dreamsicle" in color. Unfortunately the size medium was too snug for my noggin. I have worn size 7 1/8 caps for as long as I can remember, but before specifying a size I measured the circumference of my head to be sure. 22 1/2 inches (57 cm), as expected, which according to the size chart was a size "Medium", the smallest size offered. The cap was too snug around, and not really tall enough to leave any room above my head and still have the ear flaps extend fully. I measured my head again, this time using a metric tape, and it measured 57 cm (22 1/2 inches). The "medium" should have fit. I contacted Outdoor Research and an exchange was arranged without incident. The web-based return authorization worked nicely, and I received return instructions via e-mail within 12 hours. About a week later I received a replacement, in the same attractive color, this time in size "Large".
Attached to the cap were two hang-tags with some brief information. One was the OR (Outdoor Research) tag which simply had a sticker with the size, style, and color information, as well some generic OR information. Included in the generic information was the line "Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever." Nice! The other tag was a Pertex tag which touts the key attributes as being 100% windproof, highly water resistant, and very breathable even at low temperatures.
The Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap is rather sleek, with some nice features. One is the split bill (shown above) which allows the cap to be folded without ruining the bill. I like this feature as I from time to time fold my caps and put them in my hip pocket. Another feature is the drawcord at the back for tightening up the fit of the cap (shown below).
The interior of the cap has grey fleece throughout, covering all areas which may come in contact with my head, including the earflaps. The only interior area not covered with fleece is the under-side of the bill.
I guess I didn't study the product description well enough initially, because I discovered four little rings, about the size of a US dime, imbedded in the earflaps and the sides of the cap. My first inclination was that they were for some sort of ventilation, but later discovered that they are actually magnets, which are used to hold the earflaps in the up position. They are not overly powerful magnets, but from my initial observations seem adequate for their assigned task of holding the flaps up. (Picture below.)
Unfortunately the OR sizing chart seems to be incorrect, so I needed to exchange the cap for a larger size. The replacement cap fits quite well. With the earflaps extended low enough to fully cover my ears, there is still a smidgen of room above my head, which I find desirable. I can't really get in there to measure it, but I would guess it's around half an inch (1.3 cm) or a little more. Without the drawcord pulled, the cap still fits quite comfortably. The previous size was a tight fit, so I am much happier with this Large size. Pulling the cord seems to tighten the cap, without bunching it up anywhere. The fleece lining is quite comfortable against my somewhat polished dome.
My test plans include evaluating the Highpoint Cap for fit and comfort, warmth and water resistance, throughout the test period, at least when it is appropriate for the temperatures I will be hiking in. This will primarily be in Iowa, although I have one trip scheduled to North Carolina and another to Missouri. The average temperature and precipitation data for Eastern Iowa is in the table below. The elevations here range from around 480 feet (145 meters) near the Mississippi river, to around 800 feet (245 meters) around my house.
Initial Report Summary:
The Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap exterior is made of Pertex Endurance fabric, which is slick to the touch. The interior is soft, fuzzy, grey fleece. Initial fit and comfort seem to be quite good. The cap is well constructed, and, well, is guaranteed forever! As the weather has dropped below freezing this month, I am anxious to give this winter weather cap some cold weather testing.
January 27, 2009
The Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap has become my trusted companion whenever venturing out for a hike since receiving it in November. This has included one overnight backpacking trip to Pinicon Ridge Park, as well as daily hikes in the nearby woods, which have provided a multitude of temperatures for evaluation. The trail conditions have been typical for the fall/winter season in Eastern Iowa, that being dry air and wet to dry trails, followed by frozen trails, followed by snow and ice covered trails. I estimate that I have worn the cap for 36 hours while hiking, and another 12 to 14 hours around camp and doing other outdoor activities.
Shortly after Thanksgiving we received a blanket of snow, and the ground has been white ever since. From the middle of December through the middle of January there was a stretch of 27 days where the highs were below freezing. But the amazing period was during the second week of January, where we set an all time record low, for any date, of -27 F (-33 C). And the following day we broke that record, with a -33 F (-36 C) low. I would estimate the temperature range of actually wearing the cap while hiking to be from 35 F (1.7 C) down to -30 F (-34 C), using various layering techniques as outlined below.
When I first received the cap I quickly learned how warm it is. Through some trial and error it appears, for me, that I will overheat when backpacking with the hat in above 40 F (4.4 C) temperatures. Even around freezing the hat is warm enough that I push the earflaps up and still manage to perspire into the fleece lining of the cap.
Where it gets interesting is in the cold temperatures. I don't know about you, but I'm not used to hiking in sub -30 F (-34 C) conditions. I intended to use the Highpoint Cap as much as possible during the winter, and so far have managed to use it in quite extreme (and below "normal") conditions.
I don't normally think about layering head-wear, although I have combined caps and hoods on occasion. To use the Highpoint Cap in a variety of conditions I discovered some unique layer techniques, which turned out to be quite successful. I have used earmuffs, a freestanding hood, and a facemask, and some combinations thereof, along with the cap. The temperature ranges shown below are just approximations, and varied depending on what layering I was using on the rest of my body.
Just the Highpoint Cap: 35 to 20 F (2 to -7 C)
Wearing just the cap with the flaps down. In general I've decided that if it is warm enough to start out with the flaps up then the cap will be too warm. So if it is cool enough to start with the flaps down, I do so, and then I can raise them to cool off a little when my core temperature starts to rise.
Earmuffs: 25 to 12 F (-4 to -11 C)
These are actually headphone earmuffs that I got for Christmas. My daughter is a skier and says that these are what they wear on the slopes. They add quite a little extra warmth to my ears and around the back of my neck. (And they sound pretty good with my iPod.)
Hood: 12 to 0 F (-11 to -18 C)
The temperature range for the hood is actually wider than I have indicated because of the draw-cord adjustments, and the ability to pull it down as a neck gaiter. This is a hood I also got for Christmas. It's basically an oversized fleece sweatshirt hood, without the sweatshirt. It works well with the cap in fairly cold temperatures helping the earflaps retain even more warmth, and sealing any drafts on the back of my neck.
Facemask: 0 to -30 F (-18 to -34 C)
This face mask is very warm, and also covers my ears and part of the back of my neck. When it is combined with the Highpoint Cap only the slit around my eyes is exposed. For temperatures lower than -20 F (-29 C) or so, I have used both the hood and the facemask with the cap. A little cold? Yes. But I have been able to hike up to an hour with this configuration in -30 F (-34 C) temperatures. Unfortunately whenever the facemask is used my glasses fog up, so I have to leave them off.
Field Report Summary:
The Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap is a dandy piece of gear. It is warm, soft, and comfortable. I just love it! It has kept me warm (sometimes with a little help from other gear) in sub-zero temperatures. I have sweated in it in some of the coldest temperatures. The perspiration dries from the cap fairly quickly, especially if left in the wind or near a fire. I haven't noticed any perspiration stains as of yet, and I haven't washed the cap. I plan to wash it at least once before the Long Term Report. The Pertex Endurance fabric exterior has repelled snow without a problem, and has seemed quite breathable.
So far I haven't used the folding bill feature as I have had the Highpoint on my head each time I have hit the trail. I also haven't had occasion to use the rear drawcord, as the cap is plenty snug without it. The only time I notice the drawcord is when wearing a headlamp and trying to decide if the headlamp band should go above the cord lock or below it.
As shown above, the fit of the Highpoint Cap is such that the bill can press against the style of glasses I am wearing. This is sometimes more problematic than others, but if it is cold and I pull the cap down tight, I notice my glasses digging into my nose after a short while.
I don't usually list likes and dislikes, but it seems like a fitting way to end the Field Report section, especially since my summary got a little long. So in closing…
Long Term Report
March 31, 2009
I have continued to wear the Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap on a daily basis. Daily for hikes of 2 to 4 miles (3 to 6 km) in the woods near my home, and three 1-night backpacking outings. One to Pinicon Ridge Park near Central City, Iowa, and two to Palisades-Kepler State Park East of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In total, this has probably amounted to at least 100 hours of wear (including a couple of full-day stretches) for the final testing period. Many of the day-hikes in January and February have been snow-shoeing excursions, including an unexpected trip last weekend as we received a late six inches (15 cm) on snow.
As mentioned in the Field Report section, we saw a record low of -33 F (-36 C) in January. Since then the temperatures haven't fallen that low, but there has been a nice mix of testing conditions from -10 F (-23 C) up to 55 F (13 C). (It got warmer than that on a couple of odd days, but too warm for wearing this fleece cap.) Trails have been snow covered, and then as the spring thaw arrived they became quite muddy from the melting snow. In the last few weeks that has improved to damp but not muddy trails, although the recent snow may reverse that trend for a while. Hiking and backpacking has been done in snowy, rainy, and clear conditions.
Fit and Comfort:
The Highpoint Cap is ever so slightly on the small side, but continues to be comfortable to wear. The fleece is soft and I haven't experienced any discomfort or annoyances in wearing the cap throughout the entire testing period. It is lightweight, fits well enough, and is warm!
I have worn the Highpoint Cap not only for hiking and backing during this phase of the test, but also for snow shoveling, wood gathering, and other outdoor activities around my house. When I leave the house, I put on the Highpoint. Primarily as the temperatures have become less severe, I have worn the cap by itself, although were several cooler days where I wore earmuffs as well, as shown in the Field Report section.
As it turns out, this test period aligned perfectly for my ability to test the cap. Over the past couple of weeks it has gotten as high as 75 F (24 C), although the normal high is around 50 F (10 C) and the normal low about 30F (-1 C), but mostly it has been on the warm edge of temperatures where the cap could still be worn. I am still somewhat amazed at how warm this cap is. I mistakenly headed out with the Highpoint on when the temperature was above 50 F (10 C) and quickly developed "sweaty-head". For the most part I wear the Highpoint Cap up to freezing, or maybe as high as 40 F (4 C). While hiking and exerting energy I prefer the temperature to be at or below 20 F (-7C) to make the cap comfortable.
The Highpoint Cap has done an excellent job of shedding falling snow. The slick nylon outer material causes the snow to slide right off. This also indicates the insulating properties of the cap as the outer surface remains cool enough to not cause the snow to melt and dampen the cap. I have worn the cap in light to moderate rain for short periods and felt well protected. The outer nylon did dampen, but I didn't have any experiences where moisture reached the inside of the cap.
The folding bill is a nice feature. I have found myself removing the cap and tucking the bill of the cap in a rear pocket, or under a strap, while the cap part remains loose. This works well. It is also easy enough to slip the folded cap into a side compartment of my backpack.
The magnetic latching earflaps work well enough, although I haven't used them a tremendous amount. There's a little bit of hide-and-seek when trying to align the earflap magnet with the mate in the side of the cap, but it can still be done easily enough. The magnets are not very strong, but once the flaps are up and aligned they tend to stay that way. From an actual use vantage point, once I am too warm while wearing the Highpoint Cap, I am more likely to remove it than to put the earflaps up. The fleece is so warm that even though removing the flaps from my ears does make it cooler, the balance of heat retention capabilities of the cap is too much. Oh, and I have worn the flaps down over ear-bud type headphones, and the magnets don't interfere with the sound.
Care and Cleaning:
I have become majorly soaked with sweat while wearing the Highpoint Cap. And yet, the cap still looks and smells practically like new. I really expected to see a band of sweat around the edge between the bill and the cap part, but so far nothing. Consequently, to this point I have not washed the cap. I am impressed! (I do plan to wash it before taking it out of service for the warmer hiking seasons.)
I have nothing but good things to say about the Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap. It is warm, durable, lightweight, water and snow repellant, and is just goofy enough looking to gain some odd expressions from the people I run into while wearing it. It also keeps out the wind on breezy mornings. For my use the drawcord is unnecessary, but if Outdoor Research would fix their sizing chart this cap would be darn near perfect.
This concludes my reporting on the Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap. Thank you Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.
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