Wednesday, May 15, 2013

$9.92 Wal-Mart Wide-Brimmed Hat

Introduction to lightweight backpacking is often an eye-opening experience. I recall my own transformation which was through reading and study versus mentorship as the “movement” was in its infancy at that time. I remember the feeling that a burden had been lifted and replaced with a hopeful zeal filling my spirit ready to try new techniques and gear.

Nowadays, information on lightweight backpacking can be found fairly easily through books, videos and seemingly endless opportunities on the internet. What I figured out quickly, and succumb to equally quickly, was that pushing the limits of light and ultralight backpacking could quickly get expensive. In fact, I’d argue that many backpackers who go through the transformation from a traditional backpacker to a lightweight backpacker can visibly see their progress based on credit card statements. Prior to or when learning, REI and other brick and mortar stores fill the statement. While and after learning, cottage stores found mostly online fill the statement and spending limits have increased.
It is with this appreciation of my own spending habits that I am particularly excited when I find a functional bargain at a local Walmart.

I had been looking for a wide brimmed summer hat for quite some time. I have a Tilley, and the reality is that it is somewhat heavy and doesn’t breath as well as I’d like. I have an Outdoor Research Gore-Tex broad-brimmed hat, and it breathes so poorly that I barely use it even in winter. Styling of other options wasn’t desirable to me. Otherwise, my hat choices typically fall between a simple nylon baseball cap (which dries quickly, but doesn’t breathe well) and a Headsweats-style baseball cap which has been my go-to for quite a while. Any baseball cap-style hat generally does an adequate job, however in exposed areas, it doesn’t cover the neck area. This means I need to supplement my hat with a bandana or small towel. This is an entirely find solution and a visible reminder of how backpacking gear choices should focus on gear that has more than one function. But still, a wide brimmed and breathable hat is often more practical in some environtments and for some people than a baseball cap with limited coverage.

At my local Walmart, I found a wide-brimmed polyester hat with a mesh top, adjustable chin strap with toggle and neck drape. One element I really liked is the fact that there was a small pocket with a Velcro closure within the brim to fold up the neck drape when it wasn’t desired.  Having worn it for a short time now, I really appreciate how breathable it is too. The cost…$9.92. To my scrutiny, the quality was hardly different than some of the extremely expensive hats on the market (Tilly, Sunday Afternoon, Outdoor Research, REI, etc.). While I may or may not wear it on every outing as I’ll be the first to admit that sombrero-hats have the potential to look silly, the price and design is such that I’m honestly pretty excited to own it.

I looked on Walmart’s website for a link for the purposes of this blog and couldn’t find one. So the best I can do is to provide readers with information from the tag and photos. There are three tags on the hat. The first says “Tuck-Away Neck Drape”. The second says “Protect Your Skin. Wear Your Hat.” The third, the actual Walmart tag, reads, “Paddler With Vent”, “UM13202”, with a UPC of (8)874393164(1).


Dave said...

You're right it does look kinda big on you, but for under $10 with a velcro pocket and neck cover it's a great find.

Jolly Green Giant said...

@ Dave - The hat actually fits me fine. In the picture, that's my 5 year old.

Gerald said...

My son and I have one each and love them. Walmart by us has stopped selling them. We are looking for on for my wife. They called them paddlers hats.

Gerald said...