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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > White Rock Gear Outback Classic Hat > Test Report by Andre Corterier
White Rock Outback Classic HatTest Report by André Corterier
Initial Report May 2008
Field Report August 2008
Long Term Report October 2008
Year of manufacture: 2007 ?
The website of the manufacturer makes several claims in describing the features of this hat, and I'll go through them:
Hydro Cool Crystals:
"These hats will actively cool you. There are special ‘water loving’ Hydro Cool crystals stitched into the front of the inner headband of the hat. If you need to cool down simply soak the front section of the headband in water for about 3 minutes - the crystals will absorb and retain the water. Put the hat on and feel the immediate cooling effect. Depending on the temperature the Hydro Cool crystals will keep cooling you for days and are fully re-useable – simply re- hydrate the crystals as above. The Hydro Cool crystals are non-toxic, non-flammable and non-hazardous."I'll be very interested to see the effect of these. Of course, I am given to wonder why they are stitched only into the front of the headband, though I admit that it's probably where they'll do the most good. I'm used to relying on evaporative cooling by wetting the hat I'm wearing, particularly if on the water or at a water resupply point. However, I've been partial to the type of techy material that provides good rain protection as well, and have found that these hats don't soak up much water, thereby reducing the possible cooling effect. The coming months should provide ample opportunity to test just how much cooling this feature is able to provide and I'll be sure to report on it.
Upon delivery, there just appears to be something inside the headband which feels like a lump of sugar. Soaking it for a few minutes turns this into a gel-like substance which I was able to spread around the larger part of the inside of the front headband (by feel). Wearing the hat thereafter does cool, though this feels cool simply in the way wetting the headband does. I went and mowed the lawn with it and have to admit that the headband felt wet (and therefore, slightly cool) for the entire hour and a half I spent out in the sun.
"These hats will keep you dry. The fabric is Teflon coated and is therefore water and stain resistant."Well, when I soaked the inside of the headband under the tap, I ended up with the inside of the hat full of water and can report that the water did not penetrate the fabric of the hat. It looked more waterproof than -resistant, for which I'm happy. We'll see about stain resistant...
Bug Off Feature:
"These hats will help repel insects. They are treated with Bug Off which uses mentho glycol, one of the most effective natural insect repellents in the world today."Well, I have to take their word for it (for now). I'll be sure to wear this hat along the little creek in the valley nearby this summer, which is always rife with mosquitoes and will report on the perceived efficacy of this feature (or lack thereof).
X-Lite Micro Fibre:
"30% less weight and a great soft feel."I'm a little surprised at this statement. My old rain/sun hat (which I lost on a weeklong hike last year) felt softer and was lighter. However, it was also quite sloppy while the White Rock Outback Hat has a nice, stiff brim which I appreciate already. The hat feels quite solid. It also has a tag inside which says "100% Cotton". The feel of the hat corresponds to heavy cotton canvas, so that's what I assume it's made of.
SPF 30+/UPF 50+:
"These hats will help protect you from the harmful effects of the suns [sic] radiation. All materials used have been tested according to British Standard 7914:1998 by the National Radiological Protection Board and by the A.A.T.C.C. in the United States and were awarded the highest possible sun protection rating."Well, that's nice to know. The fabric sure seems thick enough not to allow sunlight through, so I'm pretty sure I won't get sunburned where I'm actually shaded by the hat. I'm almost certain hats fulfilled this function long before the advent of high-tech fabrics and modern testing standards simply by virtue of providing shade. Which is kind of the point of a sun hat. But, hey - I do believe the material protects from the sun and am happy to see that the brim is wide enough to keep my face and most of my neck in the shade as well. Whether the extent of coverage is enough for my skin is what I'll be testing.
"The hat will stay ‘sweet’. The inner headband is anti-bacterially treated which means it will reduce odour."Okay. I'm not sure how to test for this specifically - I wore a hat all day in weather reported to have been 45 C (113 F) in the shade, with the only shade I had been in for much of the day having been produced by said hat, without it smelling bad. But I'll be sure to give this hat's headband an experimental sniff after periods of hard use and, specifically, towards the end of the Long Term testing period four months from now.
"Even in the strongest wind the hats will stay on when using the elasticated Chin Cord."The chin cord is present, it's a bit of bungee cord with a toggle on it. The strap is pretty long, it hangs down to my sternum when I wear the hat. The strap comes down over my ears, unless I've put on the hat at a bit of a rakish angle, in which case it comes down in front of my ear on one side and behind the ear on the other. It appears as though it's easy to set the toggle for a tightness that's still comfortable yet appears as though it would be conducive to keeping the hat on my head even in a breeze. Of course I'll have to check just how well that works once I encounter a real breeze.
"The hat contains a ‘hidden’ pocket in its crown, big enough to hold a passport or money."Well, yes. It does. I've checked to find that even my entire wallet fits in there, though it then rests uncomfortably on the crown of my skull. The pocket is a second layer of the heavy canvas material the hat is made of, apparently also Teflon- coated (when I soaked the Hydro Crystals, this pocket filled up with water and it took me a while to get it all out). The flap closes with a hook-and-loop fastener.
I guess I'll try carrying something in there for a while for testing purposes, but am pretty sure it won't be my passport or money. I find a hat *way* too easy to lose. In fact, I may be tempted to cut out that layer in order to reduce the weight on my head once the hat is mine, but for now I'll see what kind of use I can make out of this pocket. It does contain the chin strap rather nicely when I don't need to fasten it.
Field Report06 August 2008
Now, I'm not terribly miffed at this. I don't currently have a similar hat with a simple cotton headband to compare. But I seem to recall from past experience that a simple cotton headband stopped cooling sooner. So the "Hydro Cool Crystals" may be doing something to prolong the evaporative cooling effect. It's just a lot less pronounced than I would have liked.
Another down side (though admittedly a marginal one) is that the crystals take several minutes to absorb a full load of water. I'm used to just dunking my hat, shaking it once and putting it back on my head. These days I put water into it and begin carefully sloshing it around in the hat, trying to get maximum exposure of the headband without spilling too much of it. Which just feels like wasted time to me. That may just be me. Anyway, for me personally the inclusion of the "Hydro Cool Crystals" hasn't resulted in an increased convenience factor. I'm given to wonder whether a thicker cotton headband or one made of the stuff they make backpacking towels of would have served the same result at less weight and complexity. On the other hand, it also certainly hasn't impacted me negatively and I guess it does extend the cooling for a bit. So I'm so-so on this feature.
This protection does not appear to be absolute, however. I do note that the hat's brim becomes less stiff when it rains. This causes its outer edge to droop a little under the water on it. This is good - that way, water rolls off it rather than collecting inside its brim. Plus, it gets more of an Indiana Jones look (at least I like to think so). But it's been similar to silnylon (which stretches when wet while remaining waterproof) in that it hasn't let any water through to a degree that it contacted my head. I like that. While nothing protects me from stormy weather like a well-fitting hood, to my mind a hat is far superior in 90 % of the rainy times. It makes me feel less enclosed (and I hike, after all, to get out there) and keeps the water off my glasses far better (and raindrops on my glasses really annoy me). So I've been very happy with it as a rain hat!
But I *have* been quite annoyed by flying bugs before. This has *not* been the case when wearing the hat. That I had been waving them away from my arms, but not from my head only occurred to me afterwards, so I didn't have the presence of mind to take off my hat and test whether they'd bother me then. Nevertheless, I can say that I've found the hat to offer some protection in this regard, and I'm quite happy about this!
As should be obvious from the photos, the hat's protection does not extend to the shoulders. It does extend to the neck - most of the time. Particularly when mowing the lawn I tend to look down a lot, so if I have the sun behind me (and the plot is oriented so that I invariably do, for much of the time), I have to be careful to push the hat way back so that it rests less on top than on the back of my head. I deduce from this that I should take similar care when following trails with uncertain footing (which I haven't done much in the Field test period, at least not out in the open while heading away from the sun).
I have not had issues with the back of the hat's brim riding up backpacks I was wearing (I haven't been wearing that kind of monster pack in some time). It has, however, bumped against the brim of the hat my younger daughter was wearing when she was in the child carrier. This has been slightly annoying a few times, but no real hassle. It usually didn't bother me long, anyway - looking at the photo I guess that's because the White Rock hat won the competition for brim space.
Long Term Report
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and White Rock Gear for the opportunity to participate in this test.
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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > White Rock Gear Outback Classic Hat > Test Report by Andre Corterier
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