Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lightweight Hats

It seems like the topic of hats is a bit of an idiotic discussion for a backpacking blog, or at the very least, an underappreciated topic. The reality is, the right hat can make quite a bit of difference and can do everything from block the heat and damaging UV rays from the sun, offer shelter from the rain and snow, sweep sweat from your eyes, keep branches from poking you in the face, repel wind, mosquitoes and other bugs, make a good barrier against spider webs, and can even serve as a container in a pinch for water or berries.

To some, any hat may seem “good enough”. This blog isn’t dedicated to “good enough”; it is dedicated to making smart lightweight choices. Fortunately, there are some options worth discussing.

Tilley ( is a Canadian manufacturer who offers a variety of full coverage hats. As far as I know, they are also the only hat manufacturer which boasts an owner’s manual, has insurance, floats, and offers lifetime replacement. I can say with certainty that it is the best hat I’ve ever owned and has made a tremendous difference from that of a standard baseball cap. Worth mentioning is my own acknowledgment that I look like an idiot wearing one. Some people look good in hats, I don’t. In fact, I tend to argue that I look my best from a far distance, in poor lighting, and with heavy fog. Fortunately, backpacking doesn’t require a tremendous sense of style and the functionality of the hat far outweighs any personal desire I have to otherwise look good. Tilley hats come in a variety of sizes and styles with different colors and breathability options. I’ve found that the Mesh option works best for me as it keeps me cooler and still handles most rain events.

The GoLite Mesh Cap ( is a great breathable option for people who wish to use a lightweight baseball cap style hate. The colors from GoLite have always been poor in my opinion, but again, it is a very functional hat.

Head Sweats ( is a manufacturer which caters to the running crowd. They offer all kinds of lightweight and breathable hats and visors to include some with drop tails consisting of cloth to protect the neck area.

Outdoor Research ( offers a product call the “Seattle Sombrero” and others which offer full protection in a Gore-Tex shell. I’ve found this hat to be impervious to rain even in a downpour and is amazing in the snow as it is like having an umbrella overhead.

If you really want to use your hat to its greatest capacity, treat it with Permethrin, a synthetic chemical used in insecticides and insect repellant. It won’t hurt you or most mammals or birds and lasts for weeks.
And yes, I know the words run into the picture on this particular blog, I don't know why, I just know that the automatic settings on makes me mental because there are so many code issues which a general user can't resolve. Oh well.

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