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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Swift Cap > Test Report by Chad E. Fike

OUTDOOR RESEARCH SWIFT CAP
TEST SERIES BY CHAD EMERSON FIKE
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 19, 2009
FIELD REPORT - July 22, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 24, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Emerson Fike
EMAIL: chadfike"at"hotmail"dot"com
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Oakland, Maryland USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I have gone camping, usually very close to home, since my teens but only started seriously backpacking around age 30. I do mostly weekend trips and often take dayhikes. My backpacking experience has been mostly in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. Each trip has been a learning experience about techniques and equipment. I try to balance weight, durability, and cost with my gear choices.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

swift cap
photo from www.outdoorresearch.com

May 19, 2009
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: US$20.00
Listed Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g)
Measured Weight: 2.1 oz (60 g)
Color Tested: Khaki/Dark Grey (other colors available)
One Size

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

rear view
REAR BUCKLE ADJUSTMENT
The Outdoor Research Swift Cap arrived with a hangtag providing some general information about Outdoor Research and indicating that the color of the cap is Khaki/Dark Grey and the cap is "1 Size". The hangtag also indicates that the product has an "Infinite Guarantee: Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever." An Outdoor Research sticker was also included with the cap.

The Outdoor Research website provides some additional information about the Swift. The khaki front and top panels of the hat are made of "quick-dry, nylon Supplex fabric". The top and bottom of the "shaped, plastic-stiffened bill" are also covered in this material. "OR" is stitched in silver thread on the front of the hat and a black tag reading "OR Outdoor Research" can be found on the rear of the cap. The dark grey sections of the cap are made of a mesh material. I first assumed these sections were merely side panels sewn to the khaki material, but the entire cap is actually made of this mesh material.
side view
SIDE VIEW
The khaki material then "floats" above this mesh liner, only being attached at the front and rear of the cap. In the side view photo of the cap I have attempted to illustrate this by allowing the interior mesh material to sag below the khaki top panel. The backside of the grey mesh material is a lighter silver color. The contrast of the lighter silver peaking through the darker grey mesh causes the exterior of the material to have a slightly reflective quality. The inside of the cap is lined with a "TransAction headband for comfort and moisture management". The rear of the hat has a plastic quick-release buckle adjustment attached to nylon webbing. There is a small slit that allows the excess webbing to be pushed inside of the hat between the headband and the exterior mesh material. There are three tags inside the cap. One indicates that the product is "Made in China" and "100% Nylon". A second reads "Wash Separately" while the third specifies "1 Size".

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Swift Cap fit me very well straight out of the box. It feels comfortable and I really like the style and the way it looks on me. I did not have to adjust the rear buckle, but it appears to work easily. The plastic buckle is very thin. The ability to stow the excess webbing inside of the headband is a nice feature. The webbing stores very neatly and I did not even notice it until I examined the cap closely to see how the rear adjustment worked. The nylon khaki top panel that "floats" above the interior mesh lining is an interesting design. This could potentially allow for some air flow between the materials, but when I pull the cap on it fits tight against my head and the two materials sit flush against each other and there is not really any gap to allow for air flow. Other than the stiffened bill, the cap is very flexible and folds and bends easily. The cap does not have a stiffened front section like some baseball caps.

The hat appears very well made. I do not see any loose stitching or obvious defects. The only negative I noticed is that the pre-curved bill was a little crooked when the hat arrived, but the bill can be reshaped.

SUMMARY

The Outdoor Research Swift Cap appears to be a high quality product that is well made. It fits me very well and I really like the way it looks. The only minor negative I could find is that the bill of the cap was slightly crooked when it arrived.

This concludes my Initial Report on the Outdoor Research Swift Cap. The Field Report will be amended onto this report in around two month's time and will include field testing data. Please check back then for further information on the Swift Cap.

Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 2 Field testing of the Outdoor Research Swift Cap took place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park in Maryland and Blackwater Falls State Park and the Canaan Mountain, Flatrock/Roaring Plains and Dolly Sods Areas of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4800 ft (762 to 1463 m). The Swift was worn during 4 dayhikes ranging from 4 to 8 miles (6 to 13 km), while kayaking 3 times and during one 2 day backpack trip. I also wore the hat for casual use and before and after several bike rides. Testing occurred at temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 F (10 to 27 C) with an average temperature around 75 F (24 C).


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Outdoor Research Swift Cap fits me very well. The cap feels good as soon as I put it on and remains comfortable after hours of wear. In general the fit is rather snug and the material touches directly against my head. This helps the Swift feel very secure. During a kayak trip on a windy day I felt sure I would eventually need to grab the hat during several wind gusts but the hat stayed in place. Only while hiking along a windy rock outcrop did I have to grab the hat when it was moved by a strong gust. The Swift seemed to provide good protection from the sun. The curved bill is low enough to block the sun but does not interfere with my glasses. I slightly tightened the rear webbing on the hat once but otherwise the webbing did not need readjustment. I used the quick-release rear buckle attachment to quickly attach the hat to my backpack shoulder strap.

I really like the style of the Swift. It has a sporty look yet is casual enough to use around town or while getting a bite to eat after a hike. I found the cap useful for taming helmet hair after several mountain bike rides. The khaki color is dark enough to hide some dirt but not so dark as to absorb heat from the sun. Since the bill is the only stiff part of the Swift, the cap can easily be crammed into a pocket or pack. The white tag inside the hat is very large and visible through the mesh sides of the cap. If I had purchased this cap I would most likely remove this rather obtrusive tag.

IMAGE 1
SWEAT STAINS BEFORE CLEANING
My head sweats rather easily any time I wear a cap. Therefore it was not unexpected that I usually sweated while wearing the Swift but the hat did not feel uncomfortably warm. I could not feel an actual breeze moving through the mesh inserts of the cap but they seem to do a good job of releasing heat since I never felt like I was overheating. The soft "TransAction headband" inside the cap does a good job of absorbing moisture and keeping sweat from running into my eyes. Once damp from sweat the cap seems to dry rather quickly.

The Swift has remained durable. I do not see any loose seams or obvious defects. The first few times I wore the cap I had to readjust the slightly crooked pre-curved bill, but I seem to have it where I want it now. After the prolonged wear of a weekend backpacking trip I noticed some sweat stains around the rim of the hat. These stains grew worse on later hikes. At the end of this test period I gave the cap a quick soak in some soapy water, rinsed it and then hung it to dry overnight. In the morning the cap was dry and only a small and very slight discoloration remained in the fold where the bill and cap intersect.

SUMMARY

Overall I have been very pleased with the Outdoor Research Swift Cap. The hat is comfortable, stylish and fits me very well. The cap has been durable and, after washing away some sweat stains, looks nearly as good as new. Other than a bill that was slightly bent and took a while to get straightened out, I have no real negatives to report at this time.

This concludes my Field Report on the Outdoor Research Swift Cap. The Long Term Report will be amended onto this report in around two months and will include more field testing data. Please check back then for further information on the Outdoor Research Swift Cap.

Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Long Term testing of the Outdoor Research Swift Cap took place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park in Maryland and the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4800 ft (762 to 1463 m). Testing included dayhikes, one flatwater kayaking trip and one overnight backpacking trip. The Swift was also tested during a two week vacation that included around 65 miles of dayhikes in such places as Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, Mesa Verde National Park, Ice Lake Basin, Handies Peak, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The trip also included a short hike at Vedauwoo Rocks in Wyoming. The highest elevation encountered was during a hike to the 14,048 ft (4282 m) summit of Handies Peak. Testing occurred at temperatures ranging from 45 to 90 F (7 to 32 C) with an average temperature around 75 F (24 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1
SUMMIT-HANDIES PEAK, CO
I continued to be very happy with the fit and style of the Outdoor Research Swift Cap. I really appreciated how easily the hat transitioned from trail to town during the two weeks my wife and I spent on our road trip vacation. Our main goal was dayhiking but we also took time to visit some towns. The Swift has a style that is sporty enough for the trail but still casual enough for a coffee house or cafe. The hat remained comfortable even when worn all day.

For the most part the Swift was worn only in dry weather. During hot dry temperatures at Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde National Park the hat provided a good balance between sun protection and ventilation. I always sweat when I wear a cap, but even when temperatures rose to around 90 F (32 C) the Swift seemed to breathe well and I did not overheat. During the hike up Grizzly Gulch to Handies Peak I encountered occasional drizzle and some sleet on the summit. The hat provided protection from this light precipitation and I did not have to put on a heavier waterproof cap. Precipitation and sweat caused the hat to become a little damp but it did not become soaked or uncomfortable. In most instances the Swift seemed to dry out quickly. One of the few occasions that it seemed to dry slowly was during my Dolly Sods backpacking trip. The trip began with a steady uphill climb in light rain and I found myself sweating heavily. The "TransAction headband" did an efficient job of absorbing sweat and keeping it from running down my face. A combination of sweat and rain caused the cap to become uncomfortably wet by the time I reached camp. I stuffed the hat in an outside pocket of my pack and left it there throughout a humid rainy night. I found the Swift was still quite damp when I pulled it out of the pocket in the morning.
IMAGE 2
STAINS AFTER WASHING


The Swift remained durable over the final phase of testing. I still do not see any loose seams or obvious defects. I did have some more issues with the bill occasionally becoming askew. This is probably partly due to the bill being slightly crooked when it arrived and partly because the hat was tossed around and the bill was bent while I was using it. With continued use the hat also seemed to show more dirt and sweat stains, mainly in the fold where the bill and cap intersect. After being worn nearly every day during our vacation the hat was pretty grubby looking and required cleaning. The Swift also needed cleaning after I dropped the damp hat on the ground after a backpacking trip. On both occasions I rinsed the cap out in the sink but it failed to remove the more persistent stains. Running the cap through a cycle in the washing machine made it look much better, but some discoloration has remained. The rear webbing on the hat came loose a few times but it was easily tightened. The quick-release buckle stayed closed and never inadvertently came unfastened.

SUMMARY

After several months of testing I am very pleased with the Outdoor Research Swift Cap. The hat fits me just right, remains comfortable all day long and has a style that is a good combination of casual and sporty fashions. The Swift has been durable but the bill sometimes becomes bent and requires reshaping. I also found it hard to remove some persistent stains from the light khaki material.

CONTINUED USE

The Swift has become one of my favorite hats. I expect to continue using it for hikes and occasional casual wear. I plan to remove the large and conspicuous white tag from the interior of the cap.

This concludes my Long Term Report on the Outdoor Research Swift Cap. Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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