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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research BugAway Bucket > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes

Outdoor Research M's BUGAWAY BUCKET  hat
Test Report Series
Initial Report: June 18, 2009
Field Report: August 20, 2009
Long Term Report: October 17, 2009

or bugaway
The cat in the hat...errr, I mean the author sporting the OR BugAway Bucket


Tester Coy Starnes
Gender Male
Age 47
Weight 250 lb (118 kg)
Height 6 ft (1.8 m)
Hat Size
7 1/8
E-Mail starnescr@yahoo.com
Location Grant, Alabama, USA

Tester Biography
I live in Northeast Alabama.  I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities but backpacking is my favorite pastime.  I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo.  I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer.  My style is slow and steady and my gear is light.  However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability.  A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.

Initial Report: June 18, 2009

Product Information
Item M's BUGAWAY BUCKET hat
Manufacturer Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture 2009
URL http://www.outdoorresearch.com
Listed Weight Avg. Weight: 1.6 oz (45 g)
Measured Weight my size L: 1.8 oz  (51 g)
Color Khaki
MSRP $35 USD


Product Description
The BugAway Bucket is a simple hat with a narrow brim that goes all the way around the hat.  The brim measures 2 in (5 cm) wide but since it angles down it does not provide a lot of shade.  It is listed as 100% nylon. I've heard this type hat called a floppy hat, a boonie hat (usually in camo and a wider brim), a slouch hat and a bucket hat, but since Outdoor Research calls it a bucket hat I'll go with that.  To me, the neatest feature of this hat is "This bug-repelling hat is treated with Insect Shield® to protect skin from the discomfort of bug bites and insect-passed diseases."   It also features "SolarShield™ UPF 30+ construction and lightweight, moisture wicking fabrics, you’ll stay protected and cool on adventures in hot climates."  The website list the following features, some which I already mentioned.

+ Insect Shield® clothing repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and no-see-ums for ultimate insect protection
+ Odorless, safe, EPA-registered Insect Shield® protection lasts through approximately 70 washes
+ SolarShield™ construction; UPF 30+
+ Supplex® nylon fabric
+ TransAction™ headband for comfort and moisture management
+ Dark fabric under bill reduces glare
+ Sewn eyelets for ventilation
+ Chin loops for chin cord

The website also mentions an Infinite Guarantee and under that it says Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever.  But I assume that since the info for the BugAway states that the insect treatment will remain effective through 70 washes that the insect protection part is not guaranteed forever.  Still, 70 washes is a lot of washes in my book.  I have hats several years old that have never been washed...  Anyways, here is a photo that shows the tags located inside the hat as well as a couple of the hang tags that were attached to the hat.

hang tages
Info provided on the hat and attached hang tags

One other note: the website does not say what the insect treatment used is, other than it is odorless, safe, EPA-registered Insect Shield.  However, the tag inside the hat does list Permethrin (0.52%).  I have used a Permethrin spray to treat my clothes in the past and had fairly good results.  It did not stop all bites but it was a lot better than nothing and I prefer not having to spray insect repellent directly on my skin.

Fit
I like the way the Large BugAway fits.  The website provides detailed fitting instructions but I was concerned a Large might be a little big because my head measurement fell right between the Medium and Large measurements listed.  Regardless, I opted for the Large and it does not seem to be in any danger of falling off, nor does it slide down on my forehead any further than I want it too, and just from wearing it around in the yard awhile and on a short hike, I think it will take a pretty strong breeze to blow it off.  Plus, if needed I can find a string and use the chin strap loops.  That said, testing will reveal whether this is needed or not.

Care Instructions
As I have already mentioned, the BugAway insect protection is supposed to last through 70 washes.  However, the care directions on the hat tag say do not wash with other garments.  An attached hang tag said to wash as normal laundry.  Since I doubt I would wash just a hat in the washing machine I think I will just hand wash this hat if needed.

Early Testing
I've worn the hat for several hours in my garden and around the yard as well as on one hike to the hollow behind my house.  I had on gym shorts and a short sleeve tee both times and I did get bitten a few times on my legs and arms but not on my face or neck.  On the walk to the hollow a horse fly got after me but must have noticed the insect treatment because after a few minutes he left me alone and went to torture my dog.  I finally managed to swat him on the dog's back and we finished our walk in peace.   This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report: August 20, 2009

sweating while wearing the bughat
Sweating while wearing the BugAway Bucket, notice
the sweat ring around the hat just above the brim

Testing Locations and Conditions
All testing was done on local trails and waterways here in northeast Alabama. These outings consisted of several day hikes (about a dozen in June and 4 in July and 2 in August), several kayaking and one canoeing trip (7 total) on Guntersville Lake plus kayaking the Flint and Paint Rock River.  Normally, June and July weather can be summed up in two words; hot and hotter.  However, June was one of the hottest on record and July went down as the coolest on record.  That said, it has never been really cool except for a couple of July mornings which registered in the mid 50s F (around 13 C).  The hottest weather encountered was 96 F (36 C) back in mid June.  Hot weather returned in August and the last few weeks have been miserable as for as getting out and doing much hiking, especially since I am still not completely over my bout with Bronchitis.


Field Test Results
I have not been all that surprised that the hat worked but I have been surprised at how well it worked. I have used permethrin spray on socks and backpacking clothes before and knew it worked to some degree but I still got several bites, just fewer than those around me without protection. 

During June I used BugAway Bucket hat on several hikes with a buddy who likes to go with me. I told him I was testing a new hat and he was curious to see if it worked or not.  It wasn't long after we hit the woods when he mentioned that the gnats were really going crazy and he had already gotten one in his eye.  He said, "If they are not bothering you then I guess it works"  I replied that I had noticed a few buzzing about but that so far none had landed.  I finally did get a bite on my neck on a hike a few weeks later but considering the many hikes in which I got no bites on my face or neck during all this time I was very pleased with the protection the hat gave me. 

I got sick in  early July and missed several hikes but still did manage a few.  I am still fighting off whatever it is (the doctor says Bronchitis) but regardless, I was slower on these hikes and had to stop and rest a lot more than normal.  However, this led to a discovery I might not have made otherwise. I kept noticing that the insects (gnats mostly) would be flying around close to my face and even occasionally bumping me, but when I stooped to catch my breath they would disappear in just a matter of seconds.  This is usually just the opposite of what happens as I have often started hiking again before I was ready just to get away from the bugs.  I call it the delay windsheild wiper effect.  When hiking along it was like I was in a light sprinkle.  When I stopped it was like turning on the wiper.  As long as I stayed stopped the bugs stayed away.  The when I resumed walking they came back.  I'm not sure why it happened but just to be sure it wasn't just a one time phenomenon I tried it several more times on a few more walks and it happened pretty much the same way.

As I've already mentioned, a severe case of Bronchitis really put a damper on my hiking, but I still managed to go kayaking several times before getting sick and on three more occasions while sick, mainly because I thought these trips were going to be easy. The trips in June were typical 2 or 3 hour paddles around the lake with some local kayakers.  Then, oddly enough, the trips after getting sick were pretty long with the longest at 10 miles (16 km) and the other two roughly 6 miles (10 km) each.  One of the trips was downriver for 3 miles (5 km) and then back.  And let me tell you, it was tough paddling back up river.  Before long I was coughing pretty much non stop.  But the BugAway Bucket served me well on all there paddles.  Not only did it help with insects, it provided good shade for my eyes.

wearing the bughat while kayaking
Wearing the BugAway Bucket while kayaking

taking a snack break
Taking a snack break, notice the way the
BugAway Bucket is shading my eyes

I do need to mention the heat again.  As I said earlier, June was very hot and muggy, July was unseasonably cool but it did reach the low 90s (around 33 C) a few times and it was nearly always very humid.  So far August has been cooler than normal  but it has reached the mid 90s (around 35 C) several times.  On several hikes I got soaking wet with sweat and the BugAway Bucket was really more than I needed hat wise.  I even felt the need to take it off a few times.  And in doing so I was again impressed with how well the hat worked because as soon as I pulled it off I would get more bugs flying around my face and even a few landing and biting.  Also, to help deal with the heat, I tried dipping the hat in the creek.  It did feel good for a few minutes while the hat was still cold but I think it actually made me feel hotter after a few minutes.  Besides, I normally got it plenty wet from sweat when I headed back up the mountain.  On that note, the sweat band works great at wicking and even the hat part above the sweat band soaked up quite a bit of sweat, but I'm not sure it helped much as far as keeping my head cooler.  It did help reduce the sweat getting in my eyes which is always a good thing.  One thing I did notice was that the hat still seemed to work for bug protection even when wet.  Besides dipping the hat in the creek a few time, I have not really felt the need to wash it but I did just wash it a few days ago.  I hand washed it in the sink with a little liquid cloth detergent mixed in the water and rinsed it several time afterward.  I haven't had a chance to test it out much since then but it does seem to still be effective.  I may go ahead and wash it again to see how it does after two washing.

Summary Thus Far
The BugAway Bucket hat does what it says it will do, as in keeping the bugs away.  I did notice it worked better when I was either moving fast or not moving at all, but when hiking at a slow speed (say up the side of the mountain) I did have more bugs buzzing me.  Still, it was working as the bugs were even worse when I removed the hat.  It also provided good shade.  This was less important when in the woods but came in handy on my paddling trips. And last but not least, the hat could use a little more ventilation in my opinion because bugs are worse in hot weather and a hot weather hat for bugs needs to be one I wont be wanting to take off for very long to cool my head down a bit.  This concludes my Field Report for the BugAway Bucket hat.

Long Term Report: October 17. 2009
bug hat on a day paddle
Author wearing BugAway Bucket on a
paddle (or letting wife tow me)

Testing Locations and Conditions
Testing occurred on local trails and waters.  Conditions over these last two months has been cooler most of the time but with some real hot days of around 90 F (32 C) on occasion.  Factor in the high humidity and it is a recipe for a good sweat.  That said, temperatures have slowly cooled off since fall has arrived but I have not experienced anything really cold.  However a couple of the rains were what I like to call cold rains.  They occurred on days in the mid 50s F (around 13 C) when I really had to push myself to get outside and do any testing.  We have had lots of rain and the rain was more than just light sprinkles on several occasions.  In fact, the area of testing was under flood warning on several occasions.  Sitting around drinking coffee seemed like the better option but I did enjoy the coffee more after getting out in the cold rain a few hours.  For the most part though, the weather has been great, with crisp mornings seeing temperatures at around 60 F (24 C), then warming up to the mid 70s (around 24 C)) by mid afternoon.   I have used the hat on several more dayhikes and two overnight camping trips, one by canoe and the other just a short hike to my campsite.  I also wore the hat several more times just around the yard and a couple of kayak day paddles.

Long Term Test Results
The BugAway Bucket has remained effective at reducing the numbers of bugs flying around my face and pretty much eliminated me getting bitten on the face and neck.  In fact, I had no bites during this phase and only one during the earlier Field Test phase.  I am still noticing the same pattern I noticed earlier where bugs would be swarming close to my face while I was hiking but would move away after stopping.  

One use I did not expect was as duck poo protection. I was on a short a kayaking day trip with my wife and daughter.  We were paddling along the bank when I spotted a duck up ahead.  The duck decided we were getting too close and  I think it intentionally flew over me and let loose a stream of...well you know...   Anyways, most of it hit on my hat.  I simply took my hat off and gave it a quick dunk in the water and all was well.  After the paddle was over I gave the hat a good soap (dish detergent) and water bath in the sink at home, then rinsed several times and left it out on the deck to dry.
 
inspecting damage
Inspecting for damage after the duck bombing incident...

I mentioned going on a canoe camping trip.  The paddle to my campsite was only a couple of miles (3 km) and it took me just over an hour to reach camp.  I wore the hat on the paddle to camp and then while setting up camp.  Since it was after dark by the time I arrived at my campsite I used my headlamp to find the place I needed to land and then while setting up my camp.  The bugs really were attracted to my headlamp but I didn't get any landing on my face.  However, it did not seem to phase two armadillos that seemed determined to run over me.

On several dayhikes I experienced rain and managed to get the bug hat wet several times.  On one particular hike, I took the hat off after it was soaked and put it in the pocket of The Packa  ( a rain jacket with built in pack cover) I was also wearing.  I forgot about it and the next time I went hiking, I couldn't find my hat.  I just left the house without it, or so I thought.  I was using The Packa over my pack but failed to notice my BugAway Bucket hat in the pocket until I needed to use The Packa after it started to rain.  I soon noticed the hat in the pocket of The Packa and when I pulled it out, I was immediately struck by the sour odor it was emitting. I sure was not going to wear it...I didn't even want to put the hat back in the pocket it came out of, but also didn't want it in my pack so it went back in the same pocket for the rest of this hike.  I hand washed it as soon as I got back home in the same manner as before.
washing the hat
Third and last  hand washing during testing period

To recap, I  washed the BugAway Bucket hat the hat right before the end of my Field Test, then a few weeks later after the duck poo encounter  After those two washes, it performed very well at repelling insects over the next month and a half..  However, since the third washing, bugs have really thinned out, so it  is hard to say if the last  washing has diminished the effectiveness any.  But on the plus side, the hat is showing no signs of wear or fading after three washings.  In fact, it still looks pretty much like it did from day one.

Summary
After using the BugAway Bucket hat for just about an entire bug season I am pleased to report that it works!  I did find the hat too warm for hiking on the hottest days of around 90 F (32 C), but even then, the bug relief was welcome.  It really shines when used for more casual recreation like paddling when it was hot, but was fine for hiking once the temperatures cooled off to around 80 F (27 C).  I did find the hat has enough venting to make it manageable on hot days.  It went through three washes but I can only report effectiveness after the first two due to bugs no longer being a problem.  But if the first two washes are any indication, the claimed efectiveness for up to 70 washes may be fairly accurate.  I plan to use it again next spring when bugs come back out. 

This concludes my reporting for the BugAway Bucket hat.  I would again like to thank Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test the BugAway Bucket hat.  I hope my findings are beneficial to all who read the report. 



    
 


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