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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Mithril Beanie > Shelley LaClair > Test Report by Shelley LaClair

Long Term - MITHRIL BEANIE
TEST SERIES BY SHELLEY LACLAIR
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 21, 2007

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Shelley LaClair
EMAIL: adkhiker (at) gmail.com
AGE: 43
LOCATION: Albany, New York
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 152 lb (68.90 kg)

I have been backpacking since 2000 mostly in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and have my New York State Guide License. I have completed several long distance thru-hikes including the Northville-Placid Trail, New York; Long Trail, Vermont; Cohos Trail, New Hampshire. Most of my backpacking is on the weekends during spring through fall. I carry a medium to light-weight pack trying to stay under 25 lb (11 kg) for gear, food and water. In cold weather, my pack increases in weight and bulk. I have experienced many weather conditions; usually finding shelter in a lean-to or tent.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: Outdoor Research
MSRP: US $28.00
Listed Weight: 1.5 oz. (41 g) Large
Measured Weight: 1.4 oz (39.7 g) Medium

IMAGE 1
Mithril Beanie

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My Mithril Beanie arrived in excellent condition. The Mithril Beanie looks just like its picture on the website. The color of my beanie is called "Coffee". It is a rich deep brown with black trim. There were two hang tags. One was the company's "Outdoor OR Research" tag saying that it has an "Infinite Guarantee - Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever." The tag also tells about other items they sell. The second was a simple tag saying: "Ventia - waterproof/breathable by construction".

The beanie is constructed using four (4) pieces of waterproof/breathable material. The seams lay flat and smooth. There is black stretch head band with "OR" on the back. The logo is very faint so I'm not sure if was meant to be like that or if it is a flaw. It could be reflective to light. I'll have to check that out. The black stretch headband is on the rear half of the hat to give a comfortable fit at the neck. The seam that goes around the bottom front of the beanie is seam sealed with an attractive black band that contrasts nicely with the coffee color.

The interior is pieced together like the exterior but is made of black fleece which is very soft. The seams are flat on the upper portion of the interior of the beanie. There is a finished edge around the headband but doesn't seem scratchy.

At the back rear and bottom of the beanie is the Open Research Logo tag as well as two tags showing the care of the beanie. One says "Made in China/Fabrique A Chine", "100% Nylon". The other tag has the international symbols for care.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Well, it's a hat so no instructions on use. I'm going to put it on my head.

The washing/drying care symbols say:
Machine wash - cool water; do not dry clean; iron - low; no bleach, tumble dry - low.

TRYING IT OUT

When I put on the beanie it was very comfortable and fit the circumference of my head just fine. The only thing that is a concern is that the black stretch head band does not completely cover the very bottom tips of my earlobes. This may be a problem in cold, wet weather. The headband does cover most of my ears but when I move my head the beanie slides up just a bit after a little while revealing most of my earlobe. I'll have to find out if this is going to be a problem.

The material stretched and conformed to my head and the black fleece on the inside is very comfortable. I haven't noticed the seams.

I have worn the beanie in cold windy weather walking through the city. It seems to be totally wind proof and kept my head nice and warm. A small splattering of rain showed that the Ventia material seems to be waterproof and the water beaded nicely. I'll have to see how it holds up to really wet weather though.




TESTING STRATEGY

I will be testing the Mithril Beanie in multiple situations. I plan on wearing it when out and about town but the real test will be the five day hike through the Ocala National Forest in Florida, USA. From December 26 - December 31 I plan on wearing the beanie while I hike when it is cool and also wear it to sleep in. I want to wash it at least one time on the trail to see how well it will wash and dry.

I will also be testing the Mithril Beanie while snow shoeing and alpine skiing in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and as well as in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

During my testing I will investigate and answer the following questions:

Fit & Comfort

• Does the beanie cover my ears comfortably? Does it keep the wind out
of my ears?
• Is the fleece soft and comfortable or does it feel scratchy after extended wear?
•Are the seams noticeable or do they rub against my head at any time?
• Does the beanie keep me warm if it gets damp/wet with sweat?
• How comfortable is it to sleep in? Will it keep me warm and cozy?
• Will I sweat in it during the night?
• Does it wick and breathe?
• Is the Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology truly waterproof?

Durability

• How long does the Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology hold up
under normal wear and tear?
• Do the seams leak?
• After numerous washings, how is the color? Does it look the same or
does it fade quickly?
• Is it easy to wash on the trail if needed? How long will it take to dry?
• Following the manufacturer's instructions for care will it stay waterproof?
• Does it start to smell easily? If it does start to smell does the odor wash out or does it
stay with the material even after washing?
• Will the beanie shrink after washing?
• Will the beanie stretch out of shape after washing or wearing?
• Will the fleece stay soft after wearing it numerous times?
• Will the fleece "pill"?

SUMMARY

Overall the beanie looks to be well made. My initial impression is "I like it." I look forward to wearing it more extensively through my daily walks and my back country hikes.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have tested the Mithril Beanie in multiple situation, from daily wear walking down the streets of Albany, New York to wearing the beanie during a five day thru-hike of the Ocala National Forest in Florida, USA from December 26 - December 31. 2006. I have also had the opportunity to wear the beanie during the Valentine Day Blizzard of 2007 in upstate New York. (2/14/07) During the blizzard there were heavy periods blowing snow and sleet and temperatures of 8 F (-13 C) to 12 F (-11 C). Most of the weather conditions this winter have involved mostly freezing temperatures with many windy days and very little precipitation.

During my December 2006 thru-hike of the Ocala National forest, the trail traversed a wonderful range of natural areas which included open prairies and ponds, extensive stands of longleaf pines and scattered areas of hardwoods, sand pines and other short leaf pines. There were prairies that were burned and starting to come back to life with palm trees and shrubs. There was not much gain or loss of elevation but the region does have some rolling hills.

During the hike the average temperature during the day was 73 F (40.5 C). Temperatures at night ranged between 32 F (0 C) to 50 F (10 C). The daily temperatures did not warrant wearing the beanie as it was too warm. I did wear it every night to bed as well as in the evenings and early mornings. I stayed at established campsites sleeping inside a two person tent with my husband.




PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Because cold and wind easily bothers my ears it is very important to me that my ears are protected from the elements. The beanie starts out covering my ears but as I became active sometimes it slipped up and then the bottom of my earlobes were uncovered. It does cover most of my ear and keeps the wind out. I would like to see the sides made a little longer so it would consistently cover my entire ear. I did notice that after wearing it for a week straight while I slept it did stretch out just a tiny bit. It is still very comfortable and conforms nicely to my head. It has not caused the beanie to shift on my head during normal wear any more than it did when it was brand new.

I have to give the beanie Kudos for keeping my head warm in all kinds of cold weather! This winter in upstate New York has been all about freezing temperatures and windy days. It has been an ear saver to me on many occasions. The interior fleece has continued to stay soft and comfortable and with extended wear I haven't noticed any discomfort from the lining nor have the seams been noticeable or rubbed against my head. Best of all my head has been toasty warm. It is very wind proof.

From December 26 - 30, 2006 I slept in the Mithril Beanie during my thru-hike of the Ocala National Forest in Florida. I have to say just how comfortable I found it. It stayed on my head the whole night except for the last night when it slipped off once and I had to put it back on. The temperature in the tent went down to 32 F (0 C) the first night and my head was warm and comfortable. I did not sweat in the beanie during the night even though the temperature increased over the following nights. I continued to stay comfortable. I was also able to wear the beanie underneath my baseball cap and under my head lamp.

Beanie  - Head Lamp
The beanie was comfortable while wearing my headlamp


One of the questions I had for the beanie was "Does it breathe and wick away moisture?" During the Valentine Day Blizzard I wore it as my only hat. I slaved away clearing snow from my and the neighborhood sidewalks with my snowblower . We had up to 18" (46 cm) of snow so I worked up a good sweat doing this. I did notice that the top of my head was damp from sweat but not from the elements. I also noticed that the black comfort stretch band did get damp from perspiration but it was not uncomfortable. The band appears to wick away the moisture around my neck and forehead.

The Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology is truly waterproof. During the mornings in Ocala, Florida, it was very misty causing things to become damp easily. The beanie stayed dry inside. I also did a test on the seams. I turned the beanie inside out and filled it with water. No water dripped through any of the sealed seams. It held water so well you could use it as a makeshift water carrier or bowl for a dog. Of course, the stretch comfort band is not waterproof so this does become wet. With that in mind, I probably wouldn't use it to tote around water unless I had enough time for the stretch band to dry before I had to wear it again or it was an emergency. I am very impressed with the Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology. I have not noticed any decreased waterproof capabilities with normal wear.

Over all the Mithril Beanie looks brand new. The only wear that I really see is on the very faint logo "OR" that is on the stretch band. The letters have stretched and have not gone back into shape. It is not very noticeable unless I look hard for it. I did test to see if the logo might reflect light. It did not. I'm not sure why the logo is very faint but that seems to be the way they designed it.

I have only washed the beanie once because even after wearing it for a month it has not smelled at all. I did not notice any shrinking or stretching after it was washed. So far the fleece is virtually pill free. The lining is very comfortable and soft against my skin. I did get some salt and dirt from my car on the outside of the waterproof material but it washed away with no problem and the material did not stain.

SUMMARY

In summary I am very happy with the Mithril Beanie. The warmth it provides is excellent. Coupled with a scarf I have been able to brave freezing temperatures, snow, sleet and wind.

The only drawback is that I wish they made the sides a bit longer to completely cover my earlobes at all times. The beanie typically starts out covering all of my ear but sometimes it slides up just a bit to show the very bottom of my ears. Even with this said the beanie still covers most of my ears keeping the cold air and wind out of them.

As far as fashion goes I like the color. I wouldn't wear it out to be fashionable because I look kind of goofy in a close fitting hat. It's not the hat's fault I look kind of goofy in most hats. Just ask my husband. It does give me a good case of "hat head" but my short hair doesn't stick up when I take it off, it just makes my hair flat.

TESTING STRATEGY

I will continue to test the Mithril Beanie wearing it in as many situations as possible. Now that we actually have snow, I want to wear it while I am snowshoeing. I will also be starting a test of multiple washes to see how the beanie holds up after being washed in a washing machine and by hand. I will be following the manufacturers suggested care instructions.

Continued observations of fit, durability of the Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology will be noted in my Long Term Report as well as the over durability of the fabric and seams.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Due to an unusually dry and mostly snowless winter, I had limited time to try the beanie out in extreme weather. I wore the hat when I went for hikes mostly on level terrain in valleys. The weather, although mostly dry, was very cold with temperatures below freezing.

During the few snow storms we had, I was able to test the beanie for warmth, weatherproof abilities and windproofness.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Mithril Beanie's performance was excellent. It is a very waterproof hat that is comfortable to wear. Even with heavy exercise I felt warm but not too hot and my hair didn't really get very damp. The black stretch band dried quickly if it did become damp from perspiration. I feel its wicking capabilities are fair to good.

The fleece inside stayed soft with very slight pilling. It is very comfortable. Since I have a shaggy dog that does shed some, like most fleece, it seemed to attract the dog hair if I left the beanie where he could lay on it. Of course, this could be completely remedied if I didn't leave the hat on a chair that the dog liked. The dog fur was easy to remove and didn't cause any damage.

After numerous washings, both by hand and by machine the beanie looks practically brand new. There was no noticeable color fading or fabric wear and tear. The Waterproof Ventia™ soft shell technology is still effective and the stretch band and fleece washed nicely. I put the beanie in the dryer and there was no noticeable shrinkage. I was happy with the way the it held up under the multiple "wash/dry" tests.

SUMMARY

I still like the Mithril Beanie. The only suggestion I would make to the manufacturer would be to make it a little longer so it will completely and consistently cover the entire ear. I didn't have much problem with my ears being covered as my head is fairly small. My earlobes would sometimes be uncovered if the beanie slipped up a bit with movement, but most of the time I didn't even notice it and it wasn't a problem.

My head stayed warm and dry. I would recommend the Mithril Beanie to my friends.

CONTINUED USE

I know I will be packing the beanie in my backpack throughout the spring and summer. It was very comfortable to sleep in and it kept me warm on cool and cold nights. Since I tend to sleep cold, even in the summer, I know I'll be wearing the Mithril Beanie.

Since the beanie is so easy to stuff in a pocket or my pack and is light weight, it is no bother to have it ready for use in a moments notice. I will continue to use it next season during the winter whether it is while I'm shoveling the driveway or snowshoeing in the Adirondack's of New York State.

In conclusion, I am very happy with the Mithril Beanie. Even though it's a winter hat, I have no doubt of my continued use of the beanie throughout most seasons. It has been a pleasure testing this.



This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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