I took my Outdoor Research Halo Sombrero out on a very rainy trip recently. I hiked for about 5 hours in a steady downpour wearing this hat and was really happy with how it performed.
First, let’s cover the most notable points:
The Halo Sombrero is constructed of ripstop nylon, so I didn’t have to worry about tearing a hole in it when I brushed up against thorns and limbs. The brim is lightweight foam, which helps it retain its shape after you crush it a time or two. Also, this makes it light enough to float in water. (Supposedly. I didn’t try this out since the currents were kinda swift and I didn’t want to be waving ‘bon voyage’ to my hat.)
The Halo weighs in at 3.1 ounces. It’s light enough for me to carry just in case I think I’ll need it and not feel like I’m suffering a huge weight penalty.
It has two magnets on the brim to let you flip up the sides and keep them there. I had a problem with the brim snapping back up onto the magnets at first, but I solved this by just pulling the brim down a little further, then holding it there for a bit. I’ll admit that I was strangely compelled to flip up just one side of the brim and scream ‘Yo Joe!’, as if I were channeling Recondo, the GI Joe jungle trooper.
There is a small air vent in the rear of the dome, which helped increase air flow and cool the top of my head well.
There’s also a brushed headband to wick sweat away and keep it from dripping down into your eyes, a mesh liner to help airflow (working with the air vent) and a cord to help adjust the fit if your head is a little small. (Note: The drawcord will not adjust it down a size smaller. In other words, an XL size can’t be adjusted down to a Large fit using this feature. ) I don’t have a ‘my hat is too big’ problem. My head is so big, it has it’s own Congressman. But despite having a huge noggin, the Large size was plenty big enough for me. (FYI, my cranial circumference is over 23 inches. I told you it was huge. It’s probably because my brain is so huge.)
Also, there’s a chin cord to help keep the hat secured to your head, in case it’s a big windy. This also makes it a lot easier to strap onto my pack when not in use.
OR says this is both waterproof and breathable, but I’m always a skeptic when I hear those two words put together. When I hear ‘waterproof’, I immediately think ‘Yeah, but for how long?’ Anything breathable seems like it leaks sooner or later. However, after 5 hours of rain, the top of my head was remarkably dry. The headband was a little wet, but that was from sweat, mostly.
I was wearing this with my TNF Venture rain jacket but without the hood pulled up. My glasses always get spotted up when I’m wearing just the hood. The brim of the jacket hood isn’t enough to keep my glasses dry, but the wide brim of the Halo sure does the trick. Also, I noticed the Venture seemed to feel damp inside before my hat did. This was probably due to sweat, if I had to guess. I’m thinking I may modify my Dri Ducks rain jacket a bit by trimming the hood off and just leaving it with a ‘high collar’, so I can have a decent rain jacket that I can wear with the Halo. The only bad part about wearing a rain jacket with a hood still attached, I found, was that you have to put the hood somewhere. I was able to get mine kinda bunched up so that it didn’t catch water like a bucket. However, a time or two, I felt like it was helping to funnel water down the back of my shirt.
If you’re a fan of Gore-Tex, check out the OR Seattle Sombrero. It’s very similar to the Halo, but features Gore-Tex in the construction and is two toned.
There’s something about wearing a brimmed hat in the woods that makes me feel dangerous, like a true adventurer. They could probably turn that into an effective ad campaign.
Also, I tried taking my hat off and throwing it like Mortal Kombat’s ‘Kung Lao’, but I’m happy to report no fatalities.