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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > White Rock Gear Outback Classic Hat > Test Report by Andrew Buskov


White Rock Outback ClassicWhite Rock
Outback Classic
White Rock's versatile cotton Hydro Cool hat.
Andrew Buskov

Initial Report: Dec 2, 2008
Field Report: Feb 2, 2009
Long Term Report: Apr 2, 2009

Tester Biographical Information

Name: Andrew Buskov
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email: Rescue(at)Corridor9(dot)net
City, State Zip Madisonville, Kentucky  USA

Backpacking Background:

I've been hiking since I was around 10 and have hiked in all kinds of environment and terrain: snow, rain, and steamy heat; desert, mountains, as well as grasslands. I prefer hiking in the colder weather and snow, but will get out any time of the year. My typical pack weight is roughly 25-30 lbs (11-14 kg) and usually includes a tent or hammock. I prefer comfort over going ultra light, though having lightweight items in my pack sure makes the hike more enjoyable.  Additional information about the author can be found at http://www.corridor9.net.

Product Information:

Item: Outback Classic
Manufacturer: White Rock
Website http://www.whiterockoutdoor.co.uk/
Year of Manufacture: 2008
MSRP: N/A
Measured Weight:4.2 oz (119 g)
Size (Available):L (S-2X)
Color: Khaki
Additional Colors:Stone, Navy, Grey, Olive, Dark Grey

Product Overview:

White Rock SideThe White Rock Gear Outback Classic hat is a wide brimmed summer hat. It arrived to my door with only an attached hangtag. It looks just like the classic Australian style hats seen on tv in many hunting shows. Made from 100% cotton, this hat has a number of features that set it apart. On each side of the brim is a snap that allows the user to fasten the brim sides to the top of the hat. There are also four vent holes on the top of the hat with metal screens that allow the the head to breathe. Inside the hat is a pocket that is large enough for a passport, money, or credit cards and also a long elastic drawcord with a single clip located in the middle that allows the wearer to fasten the hat tight to their head.

Some of the features that this hat incorporates include (from website):
  • SPF30+/UPF50+
  • Hydro Cool Crystals
  • Teflon Coated
  • Bug Off
  • Anti-Bacterial Headband
  • Passport/Security Pocket

Initial Impression:

The White Rock Outback Classic arrived with a single hang tag attached to a grommet on the backside of the brim. This hangtag gives wearing instructions that include reactivating the Hydro Cool crystals, as well as washing instructions. It also has information about the UV protection of the hat, the Impregnated Bug Off protection, and stain & water resistance information. The only warranty information to be found is "If this hat ever falls to pieces, send it back and we will replace it". Hopefully, this will not happen during the life of the test.

Starting from the top of the hat it appears that all seams are very well sewn together, all grommets and fasteners are nice and tight and the drawcord seems to hold well in its stitching. The brim of the hat is approximately 4 in (10 cm)  in width, as is the height of the hat. On the inside, there are two stiff seams and what feels like a piece of plastic embedded in them that keeps the hat body from collapsing. The only identifying mark on the hat is a small sewn in tag that bears the manufacturers name. It is quite stylish and doesn't detract from the hat in any way. Stitched into the pocket on the inside of the hat is a sizing tag and washing instructions.

White Rock InsideThe drawcord itself is rather long though. I have measured it to be roughly 38 in (97 cm) in length; rather long in my opinion. I haven't figured out why it is such a long length, but have found it to be a bit cumbersome at times. I was wearing this hat the other day to the store and had the drawcord tucked behind my back when driving. At almost every bump I hit, I could feel the drawcord tugging at my head as it was pinched between my back and the seat of my vehicle. I'll keep my eye on this throughout the life of the test.

There are a few things that intrigue me about the Outback Classic. One is the Hydro Cool beads that are embedded into the front of the headband. I've read that these are supposed to help actively cool the wearer and simply need to be activated with water for roughly 3 minutes. This seems a novel idea during the summer, but  I'm curious how this is going to work out during the winter months while I'm sweating? I'm also interested in the use of the pocket in the top of the hat. As I don't have a need to carry a passport or papers, I am curious if this pocket will work well carrying a heating pack during the winter.

I have always liked my hats a bit large. I know that my head size is normally a medium. However, when hiking I prefer my hats a bit larger as that makes them more comfortable when my head is bounding along the trail. I usually have to stick a small safety pin in the headband to snug it up a bit during initial wear. While the Outback Classic is a tad large, it isn't overly large as to be uncomfortable. I'm quite glad that I received a size larger than normal.

In all, I am very pleased with the quality of construction incorporated into the White Rock Outback Classic. I see myself getting plenty of use out of it, hopefully both during the summer and winter hiking seasons. I'd like to thank White Rock and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.


Field Report: Feb 2, 2009

Hanging from PackField Conditions:

Throughout this phase of testing, I was able to wear the White Rock Outback Classic hat on a number of occasions. My primary backpacking trip occurred in mid November when I took a 2 day jaunt to the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky. As part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, this area has roughly 36 mi (58 km) of trail with an elevation ranging from 700 to 1300 ft (200 to 400 m). Temperatures for this trip ranged from 40 F to 20 F (4 C to -6 C) with precipitation in the form of freezing rain and snow. Additional testing occurred on various day trips to my local park for exercise as well as wearing this hat around town in rain, snow, and sleet. Naturally these trips around town were without my wife as she still thinks I look funny in this hat. Temperatures for day hikes and additional outings ranged from 50 F (10 C) down to 5 F (-5 C).

Performance:

While the White Rock Outback Classic is primarily a summer hat, I have been fortunate enough to test this during the off season. When I started this test I had reservations about testing a summer hat of this design. I was worried I wouldn't be able to test all the features this hat offered due to the cold weather. However, I have found that this hat performs rather well in both hot and cold weather. No matter the conditions I've subjected the Outback Classic to, it has stood up to the punishment.

Covered in IceAfter wearing this around town during the Initial Report phase, I thought it would be good to get some field use on this hat. I wore it on occasion during my day hikes to keep the sun off my face and it performed really well for this task. Even the light misting that I saw while running errands around town was kept at bay. However, I needed weather that was significantly worse before I would consider this hat anything more than a glorified sun visor.

I received such weather on my outing to Red River Gorge. From the onset it was clear that the weather would be bad. We needed to get a permit to enter the park, but the rain was so heavy I didn't want to get out of the jeep. The Outback Classic kept water from dripping down my back or soaking my head while running the 100 ft (30 m) to the ranger station. We were in there for a while and I thought for sure the hat would be soaking wet on the inside by the time we left, but it was dry as could be.

Hiking through the brush, the hat stayed nice and dry on the inside. However, I did notice that the perspiration from my forehead was soaking into the cooling beads located inside the sweatband. I felt as if I was getting a brain freeze from eating ice cream too quickly. My perspiration was causing the cooling beads to actively cool my head down. This would have been nice in the summer, but the headache that I got wasn't all that pleasant in the winter.

Wearing the OutbackWhen this hat was exposed to freezing rain, I thought for sure that it would be soaked on the inside, but once again I was wrong. The ice that formed on the top of the had remained on the top, and the underside was still nice and dry. Even after clipping the hat to my hammock ropes and letting freezing rain layer ice on it throughout the night, the inside was still dry. All I had to do was to work the hat a bit to free the crusted ice and it was good as new.

The chin strap worked well in keeping the hat on my head in strong winds. I did notice that the excess strap that was hanging around my chest did ice up a bit though throughout the day. This wasn't too much of a problem as a simple shaking removed this quite easily. I also noticed that the vent holes tended to stay iced over more than other parts of the hat. I'm not sure if it was because of the vent being metal or what, but breathability of the hat was compromised due to this.

As a wide brimmed hat, the White Rock Outback Classic performed well. On multiple occasions this hat kept my back and neck safe from falling snow. Numerous times I had to crouch under snow covered trees but not once while wearing the Outback Classic did I get snow down the back of my coat. I was forced to remove the hat and shake off excess snow every now and then, but that is a small price to pay for a dry neck.

In all, I am pleased with the performance of the Outback Classic. It has proved to be a hat suitable for both cold weather and warm. My only suggestion so far would be to have the ability to remove Hydro Cool beads in the winter months. I feel that this would provide a better comfort level for the wearer in various conditions.

Long Term Report: Apr 2, 2009

Field Conditions:

Over the entire 4 month testing phase, I have been able to wear this hat for approximately 25 times during overnighters, dayhikes, trips around town, and other outdoor activities. This hat has been used in wintry snow and ice, sweltering heat and sunshine, and heavy downpouring rain. During this last testing phase, I took 2 day hikes at the local park wearing this hat. Temperatures fluctuated between 40 and 50 F (4 - 10 C) both days due to varying sunlight and wind. There was no rain either day, but there was quite a bit of wind at times. In addition, I wore the hat on multiple occasions around town during varying weather conditions.

Performance:

During the past few months, I have continued to be impressed by both the quality of the White Rock Outback Classic, and the use I've received from it. I've always been one to regularly wear a hat. From keeping the sun off my face during sporting activities, to keeping rain at bay in times when I had to be out in inclement weather, to just covering my balding head; I'm no stranger to wearing a hat on a regular basis.

However, looking like an Aussie was something totally new to me as I usually throw on a baseball style cap. While it's true that my wife refuses to be seen in public with me while I'm wearing it, I myself have grown attached to the style of the hat quite fondly. I have no problem anymore snapping up the sides and heading out during a sunny day of running errands, or grabbing it when the clouds look ominous.

In short, while it took some getting used to on my part, this is definitely something that I'm apt to grab on my way out even if I don't think that I'm going to need a hat during the day. Having it "just in case" is something that I've caught myself doing on multiple occasions. It's also something that I can see myself grabbing for quite a while to come. Style, protection, and comfort keep me grabbing this over any standard baseball cap.

The durability, use, and comfort of the Outback Classic is wonderful. I tend to sweat profusely during any amount of  physical activity. I even have a tendency to sweat when I'm chilled for some reason. This hat has soaked up its fair share of perspiration quite well. Even though I have not washed the hat during the entire 4 month period that I've worn it, I can say that while it has obviously been worn there is no stink or odor of any type that lingers after wearing. In addition, all the threads remain nice and tightly sewn, and the elastic cord remains pliable and stretchy after repeated use. The snaps have not begun to rust yet, and the cooling beads remain in their original shape rather than feeling like gel. When I'm wearing this hat, I hardly notice it anymore. It's still just a tad big for my head, but very comfortable and much nicer than having a tight fitting cap on when I begin to sweat profusely.

As mentioned before, the only negative aspect that I had with the Outback Classic was the active cooling beads in the hat band. Like I discussed, wearing this during cool weather still has a tendency to produce headaches; exactly like a brain freeze I get when drinking a slushee or eating ice cream too fast. This can be a bit painful at times, and there have been a couple of occasions that I have removed the hat during foul weather simply because I couldn't take the pain anymore. I don't anticipate these problems during the summer, but it would be nice if the active cooling beads were in some sort of removable package to allow for a more comfortable experience when using the hat in colder weather or when wearing this while hiking through areas of great elevation change, and therefore temperature change.

In all though, I consider the White Rock Outback Classic to be a great hat. It provides protection from all the elements nicely, is well constructed, durable, and comfortable. It has so far outperformed any hat that I currently own in all types of weather conditions. The many features that it incorporates make it a very valuable tool in any hikers arsenal.

I'd like to thank White Rock, and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in testing the Outback Classic.

Read more reviews of White Rock Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrew Buskov

Reviews > Clothing > Hats > White Rock Gear Outback Classic Hat > Test Report by Andrew Buskov



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