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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Radar Cap > Test Report by Shawn Wakefield

Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap
Test Series by Shawn Wakefield
Initial Report: June 21, 2009
Field Report: August 20, 2009
Long Term Report: October 26, 2009

Reviewer Information

Name: Shawn Wakefield
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Hat Size: 22.5 in (57 cm) - US 7 1/8 (Med)
Email: shawn@wakefieldsoft.com
City, State, Country: Tishomingo, Oklahoma, United States

Backpacking Background: I started camping and backpacking about 25 years ago as a teenager in the Boy Scouts. I have more recently gotten very interested in backpacking again, and I really enjoy going lightweight now. My wife and I take frequent backpacking trips together, and our kids (all under 13) go occasionally. We like to hike in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas for short trips, but enjoy Wyoming and Colorado for longer trips. My current pack averages 18 lb (8 kg) including water and three days' food.


INITIAL REPORT: June 21, 2009

Product Information

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2009
URL: http://www.outdoorresearch.com
Listed weight: 1.8 oz (51 g)
Weight as delivered: 1.7 oz (49 g)
MSRP: $25.00 US
Material: Supplex® nylon fabric
Color: Available in Burnt Orange, Slate, Khaki
Color as delivered: Khaki
Size as delivered: Medium

Product Description

The Outdoor Research Pocket Radar Cap is a lightweight fabric cap with a bill on the front. A unique feature of the hat is that the bill is designed with a fold point in the middle, so that it can be folded in half and carried in a pocket. The Supplex® nylon material is thin and lightweight with a UPF 30+ rating. The Outdoor Research website describes the hat as having a "Transaction™ headband for comfort and moisture management".

For the size medium, the top of the cap is section of fabric roughly oval and 7 in (18 cm) from front to back and 6 in (15 cm) from side to side. Another band of fabric is sewn to this to form the sides of the cap and seamed in the back. The bottom band of the hat around the bottom edge is approximately 1.25 in (3.2 cm) and also seamed in the back. The bill is then attached to this bottom band. The bill, made of rigid material, is 2.1 in (5.3 cm) at its widest point - right at the folding seam. The inside of the cap is another layer of nylon, sewn together much like the outside of the cap, but in a dark grey color. The bottom of the bill is also this same dark grey fabric. The black headband around the inside bottom of the cap is black, and is sewn to provide two layers - it is only slightly stretchable. All of the nylon material is very smooth.

Tags inside the cap list the care instruction icons, the material ("100% nylon"), as well as the place of manufacture ("Made in China"). Care instruction icons decode to: wash on permanent press in 30 C (86 F) or cooler water, do not bleach, tumble dry low, iron on low temperature, and do not dry clean.

The seams on the cap are sewn with thread that matches the fabric, both on the inside and the outside. All of the stitching appears to be very tight and consistent. On the left front side of the bottom band, it is embroidered with "OUTDOOR OR RESEARCH". At the back center of the cap, a black tag with the Outdoor Research logo and name is sewn on, and just off center on the back of the cap is embroidered with "UPF 30+".

Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap - Top
Top View
Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap - Inside
Inside View

Initial Impressions

The cap is very compact when folded. After folding the small bill in half, I can fold or wrap the fabric portion of the cap around the rigid bill and easily fit the cap in my pants pocket, or even a shirt pocket. The nylon fabric and the headband are smooth and soft. I don't often wear a standard ball cap when camping or backpacking, but when I do wear one, I don't have a good place to put it if I take it off. This cap, with the folding bill, solves that problem. Since the bill is rigid, and the fold point also causes parts of fabric and seams to fold, I will be watching the fold point very closely for wear or other issues due to repetitive folding.

The size medium is an exact, snug fit. Perhaps more snug than I prefer, but the large would have been too loose. I will be watching the cap to see if the fit changes as the cap gets wet from sweat or water or after it is washed. Right now, the fit is just right.

Both the information tag attached to the cap, and the website, advertise an "Infinite Guarantee". The website adds that if any product fails to meet my needs, they are happy to exchange it or let me return it. I don't anticipate abusing this cap to need a replacement, but I will see if there is some way I can check up on this claim.

I have been wearing the cap during my typing of this report, and so far, it still feels fine.

Initial Likes:
1. Lightweight
2. Compact

Initial Concerns:
1. Unsure about the durability of the folding bill

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.


FIELD REPORT: August 20, 2009

Field Use

7 Day Camping Trip: I was a scoutmaster with our Boy Scout troop at a week of summer camp in late June in southern Oklahoma. I wore the cap the entire week when I was outside walking, hiking, resting, watching scouts, etc. Temperatures ranged from 75 F (24 C) to 100 F (38 C). It was hot, humid, and sunny for the entire week.
 
3 Day Hikes in Utah: I wore the cap on three different day hikes in northern Utah in mid-July. The weather was sunny, and the humidity was low. Temperatures ranged from 75 F (24 C) to 90 F (32 C).
 
Amusement Park: I wore the cap all day at an amusement park in Oklahoma City. It was sunny with a temperature around 90 F (32 C). The cap got sprayed with water several times, but dried quickly in the sun.
 
2 Day Hikes in Mexico: I wore the cap on two different day hikes in western Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta, in late July. It was sunny, with high humidity, and the temperature was around 85 F (29 C).
 
2 Days Working Outside: I wore the cap in mid-August while working outside in southern Oklahoma on my property. I was clearing brush and trees and burning some limbs. One day was sunny with a temperature around 90 F (32 C), and the other day was cloudy and rainy with a temperature around 80 F (27 C).
 
Other Day Hikes: I wore the cap on about six or eight other short day hikes near my house in southern Oklahoma.
 

Field Performance
Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap - Worn

The main function of the hat is for sun protection. The solid fabric (no mesh) does provide good sun protection for the top of my head, and the bill provides shade for my upper face and forehead. The bill is a bit small, compared to other caps I wear, so it does not provide quite as much sun protection for the face. I tended to wear the bill lower, just above my glasses, and this worked pretty well.

The advantage of the smaller bill is that it allows the cap to be compact when folded. I can quickly remove the cap, fold the bill in half, then fold the fabric in half over the folded bill, and it easily fits in my pants pocket. This worked extremely well on the Boy Scout summer camp trip, where I was always going inside a building or the dining hall.

The headband did a good job of prevented sweat from running down into my face. When working outside, it was very hot and humid, and I was definitely sweating a lot. The headband prevented sweat from getting into my eyes much better than without a cap. My hair did get sweaty. Since the cap is two layers of fabric, it does not breathe very well.

Although the cap is not advertised for rain protection, I did wear it in the rain once. It took about 15 minutes of light rain showers to soak through both layers of the cap. The bill retained its form perfectly, and still kept rain off of my face.

I have washed the cap once by hand, once in the rain, and about five times in the washing machine. I let it air dry each time, but it was nearly dry after coming out of the washing machine's spin cycle. I do not see any fading or issues with stitching after washing. The bill retains it shape perfectly when wet and after drying.

I really wanted to test the customer service of Outdoor Research, since they advertise an "Infinite Guarantee". I had an Outdoor Research hat that had been worn about 3 years. The brim was not holding its shape anymore, and it had a small hole. This particular hat is no longer made, and I did not have any receipt or proof of purchase. I decided to use this old hat to test the guarantee. I emailed customer service on July 31, and had a reply within 12 hours. I sent the old hat back under the provided RA number. I received a free replacement with a current model most like my old hat, and they let me choose the color. The new hat arrived within 10 days. I felt completely satisfied with the customer service I received, and I am confident that if I had to return the Radar Pocket Cap in the future, for any reason, that I would not have any problems.

Likes:
1. Great customer service
2. Compact when folded
3. Still looks new

Concerns:
1. Bill is somewhat small

This concludes my Field Report. The Long Term Report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.


LONG TERM REPORT: October 26, 2009

Field Use

Trail Work: I wore the cap during an afternoon of trail work and maintenance at the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge in southern Oklahoma in late August. Temperatures were around 95 F (35 C). It was hot, humid, and mostly sunny for the trip.
 
Overnight Trip: I wore the cap during an overnight trip to Rock Creek in southern Oklahoma in early September for camping and rock climbing. Temperatures ranged from 70 F (21 C) to 85 F (29 C). It was sunny for this trip.
 
Day Hike: I wore the cap during a family day hike trip of about 4 miles (6 km) at the Sulphur National Recreation Area in southern Oklahoma in early September. Temperatures were around 80 F (27 C). It was sunny for the trip.
 
Day Hike: I wore the cap during a morning day hike at the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge in southern Oklahoma in early October. Temperatures were around 48 F (9 C). It was overcast for the trip.
 
Day Hike: I wore the cap during a family hike of about 8 miles (13 km) at the McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area in southeastern Oklahoma in late October. Temperatures were around 70 F (21 C). It was sunny for the trip.
 
Other Day Hikes: I wore the cap on about three or four other short day hikes near my house in southern Oklahoma.
 
Canoe Trip: I had planned an overnight canoe trip as well, but heavy rain the week before caused dangerous river levels and the trip had to be cancelled.
 

Field Performance

The cap continued to perform very well for the long term test phase. The compact, lightweight cap proved extremely easy and convenient to carry in my pocket and use whenever necessary. My concern from the beginning of the test had been the durability of the folding brim. I was worried that after repeated use and folding, the fabric at the fold might wear and fail. However, this has not been the case. The fabric has shown no signs of significant wear or failure during the course of this test.

I have also washed the cap an additional four times in the washing machine, and let it air dry. It will dry very quickly. The brim and cap still look very good after repeated use and washings, as can be seen in the photo below. I am confident that the cap will continue to be durable for a long time. No new issues were discovered during this long term test phase.

Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap - Long Term

My only issue is the small brim size. It does not provided as much sun protection as I would like, but this may be a matter of personal preference. The cap works very well where a compact and light weight cap are needed, but for trips with a large amount of sun exposure, I might opt for a hat with a larger or full brim to provide more sun protection.

Overall, I am very pleased with the quality and performance of the Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap. I will continue to keep it in my gear closet for use on future outings.

Likes:
1. Compact size when folded
2. Light weight
3. Quick drying

Concerns:
1. Small brim size

This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

- Shawn Wakefield
 


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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Radar Cap > Test Report by Shawn Wakefield



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