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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat > Owner Review by Michael Mosack

OR HELIOS SUN HAT
TEST SERIES BY MIKE MOSACK
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 22, 2010

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Mosack
EMAIL: mosack(AT)earthlink(DOT)net
AGE: 46
LOCATION: San Diego, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 240 lb (109.00 kg)
US SHOE SIZE 14 (EU) 48

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, doing solo and group trips, with and without kids. I do day trips, weekenders and week-long or longer trips throughout the year. I backpack in all climates and seasons, from summer desert trips to Spring/Winter camping in Michigan, Canada California and Grand Canyon, Arizona to Afghanistan and rely on my backpacking equipment constantly. I prefer to go lighter whenever possible and am always trying new items. Quality and reliability of items I carry are paramount to me over price and weight


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: US $30.00
Listed Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Other details:
Solarshield construction with UV resistant fabrics for a UPF 50+ Rating
Sizes available are Small, Large and Extra Large (S, L, XL)
Hat size tested is XL.
Material: Ripstop nylon/polyester blend
Foam stiffened brim that the manufacturer states floats.
TransAction™ headband for comfort and moisture management
External drawcord adjustment
Removable chin cord with cord lock
Product Guarantee: The manufacturer's website states, "Infinite Guarantee - Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever."

This hat is available in two colors, Sand and Khaki which are shown here.
IMAGE 2
Sand color image from MFG

IMAGE 3
Khaki color image from MFG


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I received the sand color version of the OR Helios Sun Hat hereafter referred to as the "hat". My initial impression was that the hat is a quality item with good stitching and sturdy construction.

IMAGE 5
Actual hat tested




Product description: According to the manufacturer's online videos, the OR Helios Sun Hat is an alpine designed hat, but made in a lightweight version. I've found that the materials are soft to the touch, yet strong to the feel and resistant to stretch. The crown of the hat is a single layer of Ripstop nylon material and all seams are reinforced. Inside the crown of the hat there is a black colored headband, (or as I call it a sweatband) that can be seen in my photograph below. The foam stiffened brim encircles the entire crown of the hat providing 360 degrees of sun protection. The brim is approximately 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide and the manufacturer states that it floats. I will test this feature during the field test. The brim is stiffened, but the hat also can easily be rolled, folded, squished or whatever, to shove it into a pocket when not worn. The hat has a removable chin strap which is a feature I like already as I am one who usually cuts those off. The chin strap is adjustable with a friction slider. The hat also has an external drawcord adjustment also shown in my photograph below. This adjustment allows for a snug fit around my head.

IMAGE 6
External drawcord Adjustment

IMAGE 7
Removable Chin strap

IMAGE 8
Chin Strap adjustment


READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The only instructions I located for this hat are the washing instructions found inside the hat's band which state to wash separately in 30 C or (86 F) degree water. There are international type diagrams for washing instructions, but I only know what a couple of them actually mean. One is to not iron and another is to not wash in water over 30 C or (86 F) degrees. I believe one is to drip dry and to not machine or tumble dry and I have no idea what the last one would mean.

There are two online videos that feature products that include this hat. The videos are short and describe the hat and its features, but do not cover washing instructions.

TRYING IT OUT

I tried the hat on and found that it fit perfectly. The hat is lightweight and seems well made. The adjustable chin strap and external drawcord work as described. I would prefer if the foam stiffened brim was a bit stiffer so that I could mold it to a shape I could control, but this is not something I feel is a deal breaker. I look forward to testing this hat in the months ahead.

SUMMARY

I look forward to testing and reporting on this hat. I have already taken it with me to the Sierras and will report on that field use during the field report. I like the lightweight feel of this hat and the adjustments. I can't wait to see how this performs in very hot temperatures in the Afghanistan desert!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS & CONDITIONS>

IMAGE 10
Yosemite National Park

I traveled to the Sierras and Yosemite National Park in California and Nevada USA, for a 10 day trip. I wore the hat daily. The terrain consisted of grassy fields, swamp lands and rocky and snowy mountainous areas. The weather there consisted of sunny and clear to partly cloudy skies and temperatures from 58 F (14 C) to 85 F (30 C). Elevations I have traveled during this test period have ranged from sea level to over 9800 ft. (3000 m).

I have also worn this hat approximately 30 times during my daily travels in Afghanistan. The temperatures have ranged from 55 F (13 C) at night to 131 F (55 C) during the day. This is a desert type terrain with a surface ranging from a fine powder type dust to very rocky areas and bright clear sunny skies throughout.
IMAGE 11
Sierra Nevadas

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have found so far, that the hat is comfortable to wear and is lightweight. The 360 degree brim definitely blocks the sun during the harshest part of the day and provides relief for my eyes even as the sun gets lower in the sky. The underneath side of the brim is dark grey in color and this reduces reflection. I have found that I don't have to squint nearly as much when wearing this hat. The light sand color of the hat I am testing reflects the sun's heat and helps keep my head cooler as a result. For added cooling, I have dunked my hat in the water and worn it wet, which allows me to stay cooler during the Afghanistan desert summer heat that has reached well over 100 F (38 C) for many weeks at a time. I have yet to actually wash this hat, but I will during the next phase of this test and report my findings.
IMAGE 12
Qalat, Afghanistan

SUMMARY

So I have taken this hat with me on a few trips and have worn it daily for the last couple of months and during this time, I have found that I like the hat. It does not score well in my wife's eyes for style, but I am more a function over fashion guy and she just isn't. It packs well and is very light weight so it is easy to forget that I have it with me.

Please return for my long term report. I want to thank Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest .org for the opportunity to test this hat.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During this testing phase, I have worn the hat approximately 40 times in Afghanistan. Each time was for a duration of a minimum of 2 hours and usually for at least 4 hours and on 7 occasions, I wore the hat longer than 12 hours continuously. The temperatures ranged from approximately 55 F (13 C) to 105 F (40 C). I did not have any days during this testing period when I could have worn it during rain and all of my experiences during this time were under clear or partly cloudy skies and very low humidity. The elevations were from approximately 1100 feet (335 m) to over 6500 feet (1980 m) above sea level. The terrain here in Afghanistan consists of rocky, sandy or fine powder dusty desert environment which we like to call "moon dust".

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I found that the hat is comfortable when worn. It conveniently covers my face and neck at the same time with its 360 degree brim. The hat is ventilated which keeps me from overheating. I found that its light color, reflects the sun's rays and/or heat much better than when I do not wear the hat and under direct sun. The removable chin strap works well and I have found that I prefer to go without the chin strap. I am not one that likes to let my hat hang from my neck and the adjustable fit of the hat is good enough that I have really not had any issues with the hat being blown off of my head.

I have taken the opportunity to wash my hat both by hand washing and in a machine. I did not machine dry it however, allowing it to dry naturally by laying it outside or while wearing it. I have found that the hat did not shrink or get misshapen, making sure I flattened out the brim when laying it out.

IMAGE 13
See you on the trail!




SUMMARY

I like this hat. Its deceivingly light weight materials gave me the initial impression that the hat might be fragile, but I have found this was just not the case. The hat has taken everything I gave it and still looks and wears like new. My only negative would be that the brim, if stiffer, would allow the hat to retain its shape for molding or forming a "style" and keep the brim from flipping up or down during windier days. I choose to roll my hat for packing to keep the potential for creasing the brim down to a minimum. The hat has found a permanent place with my pack and I plan to continue to wear it often.

I want to thank Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this hat.


This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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Read more gear reviews by Michael Mosack

Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat > Owner Review by Michael Mosack



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