Saturday, May 16, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: REI Vented Explorer Hat

When I went down to REI for their garage sale, I had another target in addition to the bargains I was obtaining. I needed a hat. I wanted one that had a full brim, not just up front. I'd looked at some of what Gander Mountain and Fleet Farm had to offer and came away disappointed. Something about the good quality ones at GM left me feeling too much like a park ranger. The clearance ones didn't appeal any more. But I knew I'd be at the Madison REI soon enough. So while I waited for Bob to finish picking over the ramp, I made my way to the hat section.

I was shocked to see just how much you could spend on a hat. There were options climbing into the $90 range. At that price, I'd want the hat to not just shield me from the sun, but play music and dispense beverages. I'm all for buying a quality hat, but that just feels excessive. Fortunately as with the trekking poles I got, REI's house brand comes to the rescue. Their vented explorer hat has small mesh vents in the top to let the heat out, but provides plenty of shade. a sturdy cord makes sure the hat won't just blow off your head unannounced. It's got snaps on the side to pin the sides of the hat up, but I'm not entirely sure what circumstances I'd use them in. 

It does brush a bit against the lid of my pack when it's full, but the brim is flexible enough that this is no problem. The one I picked out fits perfectly when I've got hair or I'm wearing my Columbia neck gaiter as a headband. With my hair trimmed down, and no gaiter on, it swallows up my head a little bit, but even that isn't too bad.

I'd definitely recommend it to someone who was looking for a similar hat. Like many items, it's partly dependent on personal preference and fit. But I'd definitely encourage considering it. If you're interested, the only place to go is REI.

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