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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Swift Cap > Test Report by Roger Ault

IR OR SWIFT CAP
TEST SERIES BY ROGER AULT
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 19, 2009
FIELD REPORT - July 22, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 25, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Roger Ault
EMAIL: chance4272@yahoo.com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Spencer, Indiana USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 276 lb (125.00 kg)

I have been camping for several years. I had limited chances as a child but have been camping a lot the past 20 years. I love backpacking and consider myself moderately equipped although I can never have enough gear. I want to spend more time winter camping. I typically carry 25 - 45 pounds (~11 - 20 kg). I generally use a tent for shelter. I generally hike in the woods and rolling hills of Indiana.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

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 oz (57 g)
Colors Available: White/Slate, Flare, Slate, Burnt Orange/Khaki, Khaki/Dark Grey. The color I am testing is the Slate.
Other details: The Outdoor Research Swift Cap (hereafter either "the cap" or "the Swift") has an adjustable fit that is said to be "one size fits all". The sizing chart shows that it is adjustable from 21.5 to 24 in (57 to 61 cm). I can actually adjust to 27 in (69 cm) but the cap starts to distort and I wouldn't want to try to wear it when adjusted that far.

Courtesy of OR
Courtesy of Outdoor Research

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Swift came in a cardboard box with some paperwork and a sticker. I received the slate colored cap. It came with a hangtag attached that lists other categories of gear from OR. It also states that OR has an infinite guarantee. "Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever". The tag also lists a phone number for OR. From the picture on the website I assumed (mistakenly) that the cap was only mesh panels on the side and the top was a sewn in solid panel. In reality the top is a loose flap of nylon material that is attached at the front and rear that provides added protection from the sun. The mesh underneath is full coverage and is not sewn in as a panel. "OR" is nicely stitched in the front. I cannot actually see the plastic bill under the material, but that is what the manufacturer says it is. I can bend it to reshape it but it tends to stay bent a little more than I usually wear my caps. I noticed a little "puffy" pocket on the bottom of the bill. There are two rows of stitches in an arc about 5/8 and 7/8 in (16 and 22 mm) from the outer edge from the bill. The material inside this arc is puffed out about 1/4 in (6 mm) from the plastic and is stretched taut. If I straighten the bill out flat the material then touches the bill. I plan to watch to see if this material stays taut or becomes loose over the test period. I was surprised to find that there is a quick release buckle on the adjustable band at the rear. I am not certain why I would ever need the quick release on a cap.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There are three tags on the cap. One simply says "1 size", another says "made in China" and "100% nylon" the third says "wash separately". The third tag has some symbols on it that appear to indicate how to care for the Swift but I do not understand the symbols. I would like to see better care instructions either on the label or on the hangtag that comes attached. I was unable to locate any instructions on the manufacturer's website.

A further search on Google produced a site that explains the symbols. The instructions, according to this site, indicate care to be as follows:

Machine Wash, Cold, Permanent Press - Initial water temperature should not exceed 30C or 65 to 85F. (This conversion is erroneous because 30 C converts to 54 F. To be safe I will simply use cold water.)

Do Not Bleach - No bleach product may be used. The garment is not colorfast or structurally able to withstand any bleach.

Tumble Dry, Normal, Low Heat - A machine dryer may be regularly used at a maximum of Low Heat setting.

Iron, Low - Regular ironing, steam or dry, may be performed at Low setting (110C, 230F) only.

Do Not Dryclean - Garment may not be commercially drycleaned.

The information above is from textileaffairs.com. I would prefer clearer instruction to be provided by the manufacturer.

TRYING IT OUT

The Swift appears to be a good quality product. When wearing it for the first time outdoors at approximately 75 F (24 C) I noticed I could feel the breeze coming through the mesh. The wind was blowing 5 - 10 mph (8 - 16 kph) It is also quite light and very comfortable. I stopped at the local outfitter to pick up a new cartridge for my water filter and the employees there were impressed with the cap.

TESTING STRATEGY

I plan on watching the puffy area mentioned above. I will be seeing how the cap handles moisture and if it stains easily from sweat. If it stains can it be cleaned? I will also be testing for durability by wearing it a lot during my daily activities this summer. I will be looking for a use for the quick release buckle. I will be seeing how it handles getting wet and how quickly it dries.

I will be going to the Deam Wilderness for three days and two nights over the Memorial Day weekend. I may extend this to three nights by going in Friday evening. The weather forecast is for mostly sunshine and temperatures from 55 to 81 F (13 to 27 C). This should be great weather for testing the Swift.

I have several weekends off from work from mid-June through late July. I am sure I will be taking advantage to go on a few weekend trips. Summer officially begins June 21, 2009 and I believe summer is when this cap is designed to perform well.

SUMMARY

I am quite pleased with the overall appearance and feel of this cap.

Pros
Lightweight
Mesh
Easily adjustable

Cons
Lack of clear instructions for care of the cap

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

I would like to thank both Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Swift Cap.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

My first trip with the Swift was to Charles C. Deam Wilderness in the Hoosier National Forest near Bloomington, Indiana. This wilderness area is comprised mainly of hardwoods, but also has some nice Pines. The weather for this trip started out dry and sunny and ended up raining for the last day of 4 days and 3 nights. Temperatures ranged from 55 to 85 F (13 to 30 C). This was about a 30 mi (50km) hike through hardwood forest on Memorial Day weekend. There are a lot of ups and downs with many switchbacks on the trails. They also allow horse use on most trails and they tend to tear up the trails and make lots of muddy places. There were lots of bugs out the first two days. I was sweating a good deal in the wilderness.

Independence Day included a trip to Hickory Hills Campground, just north of my home a few miles. I backpacked in and stayed two nights for a fireworks show the first night and a day hike the next day. Friday was warm and sunny and Saturday we got a steady rain all day and night. Temperatures were from 64 to 87 F (18 to 31 C). The trip was a lot of walking on roads to avoid trespassing on private property with a few passages through wooded areas. Got lots of rain Saturday but fortunately it was just a day hike with my gear safe at camp.

July 16th to July 19th saw three more days and nights use. Hiked into Lawrence County Recreational Park, located 12 miles Southwest of Bloomington. Indiana, and set up camp Thursday. Temps were pretty low most of the weekend. I think it got to 85 F (47 C) on Thursday and we saw lows near 50 F (28 C) on Saturday night. This was actually a large festival on 400 acres. I did get in a couple of dayhikes as well as walking all over the grounds the whole time.

It has also been a daily wear item whether going to work or just for a walk.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During my trip to Charles C. Deam Wilderness the cap performed very well. I put in several miles and it was quite warm. While I did sweat a good bit, I rarely had to wipe my forehead. The TransAction headband has done a very good job of wicking moisture from my forehead to the Supplex fabric. The brim never got wet past about an 1 in (25 mm) from the headband. I am not certain what the humidity was but it was not extremely high. In Indiana the humidity does not usually get really high until late July.

I have noticed that the cap does an excellent job of wicking moisture and allowing the moisture to evaporate without ever getting into my eyes. In the rain it doesn't hold a lot of water and the bill sheds water well. When the rain stops it dries quite quickly.

The Swift has done a good job of keeping the sun off of my forehead. My hair covers my head so I can't really attest to that part. Due to the cap style it cannot be expected to protect my ears and the back of my neck.

The bill shows some light sweat stains but is not noticeable unless one is looking for it. The stain goes out the bill approximately 1 in (25 mm) from the headband.

SUMMARY

At this point I am well pleased with this cap. It is extremely light and has been durable so far when tossed into my pack. The taut puffy area I have been watching has not changed so far. I had feared it may stretch and get loose but this has not happened.

I have washed it with a mild detergent by hand in cold water. I was successful in cleaning some of the stain mentioned above.

I still haven't needed the quick release buckle. I can see that it provides a convenient way to adjust the cap for fit.

IMAGE 1
Quick Release Buckle


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

I would like to thank both Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Swift Cap.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have worn the Swift on a couple of overnight trips to McCormick's Creek State Park in early August. The high temperature was about 85 F (30 C) and the humidity was pretty high. The park is located near Spencer, Indiana and has an elevation of approximately 700 ft (200 m).

I went to the Bean Blossom Bikefest in Bean Blossom, Indiana September 11th through 13th. I left work on Thursday September 10th and started walking for several hours that night. I made camp that night and continued walking the next morning. I arrived at the Bill Monroe Music Park, where the festival was held, mid-day on Friday after about 21 mi (34 km). We had a high of approximately 82 F (28 C) and a low of about 56 F (13 C). Humidity was between 55 and 60 percent. Elevation here is also 700 ft (200 m).

I spent the night of Friday September 18th thru Sunday September 20th at McCormick's Creek State Park. It was approximately 72 F (22 C) and fair when I arrived. We had fair weather and a low of about 50 F (10 C) until it started raining Sunday morning about 5:00 AM. It was quite steamy as I was heading home and I was thankful for the cap and the ability it has to transfer moisture (by this time there was a break in the rain).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On some of the really hot and humid days I have noticed the sweat not evaporating very fast and building up in the headband and on my forehead. I feel this is not a problem with the cap. When humidity is really high nothing evaporates well and the sweat in the cap has no place to go.

On my last outing at McCormick's Creek, I was leaving in very high humidity and the cap was able to help wick moisture from my head. I did notice a good bit of moisture building up in the bill area but it did not prevent it from wicking moisture from me.

I was skeptical about the cap being so light that it might be fragile. It has proven to be fairly tough and has no tears to date.


SUMMARY

The Swift has performed quite well for me. I was lucky to have both hot summer weather and also some cooler fall weather during testing. The hot weather, as I have previously stated, is when this cap works best. I can usually feel a breeze through the cap if the air is moving outside. Other than some slight discoloration from sweat stains the cap appears as good as new. There has been no fraying around the edges of the bill. All materials have held up well so far.

I am hoping for th Swift to last through a couple more seasons as long as nothing happens to damage it. This fact is actually quite impressive given that I have worn it nearly everyday since I received it. If worn only occasionally, I believe the life expectancy could increase greatly.

Normally I would hesitate to spend $20.00 on a ball cap. The Swift has convinced me that it is worth the price.

Even though I do not consider this cap rainwear, I have worn it under the hood of my rain jacket and it does help deflect water with the plastic bill.

CONTINUED USE

The Swift Cap will remain part of my kit anytime the weather is reasonably warm. Once the weather cools it will be put away until the temps rise again in the spring.

I can't help but wonder if this cap would benefit from a folding bill such as is available in the Radar Pocket Cap from Outdoor Research. Since this is a warm (and even hot) weather cap I believe the ability to fold and put into my pocket would be nice.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

The Good:

lightweight
comfortable
wicks moisture quite well
well ventilated
more durable than I expected at first

The Bad:

Although not really "bad" I would like to be able to fold the Swift and pocket it.

I would like to thank Outdoor Research and backpackgeartest.org for allowing me the opportunity to test the Swift Cap.

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

Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Roger Ault

Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Outdoor Research Swift Cap > Test Report by Roger Ault



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