Gear – Outdoor Research (OR) rain & sun hats

Many years ago I got turned on to the Outdoor Research (OR) line of rain hats. They were basically big GoreTex boonie hats. What was appealing to me was that they were available in somewhat military colors (forest green), were waterproof, and could be crushed into a small baseball-sized bundle that could be stuffed in a bag or BDU pocket. I bought a few of them and when they made a multicam versionI bought that too. I’ve found them to be excellent for their intended purpose.

I spent a week in Puerto Rico last month. While the rain hat was useful for those days when the rain blew in off the ocean, most of the time was bright sun and clear days. Unfortunately, I had no suitable hat for the occasion. I decided that when I got back to Montana I would order up a suitable hat for those sunny days.

As it turns out, Outdoor Research makes a sun hat that is basically a non-rain version of the rain hat I love so much. ( Helios Sun Hat, Multicam)

The main differences between the sun hat and the rain hat, obviously, are construction. The rain hat uses different materials with an eye towards waterproofing. The sun hat is geared towards being lightweight and providing shade. Could the rain hat be used to shade your head and face? Absolutely, but if its suny and hot enough to need to do that then its also sunny and hot enough that the hat will make you sweat like a hooker in church.

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(L.) Sun hat, (R.) Rain hat

I suppose that you could pick up a ten dollar no-name boonie hat somewhere and be set for the sunny outdoors….thats what I did for a number of years. I had some woodland boonie hat that I could drag through a creek and plop on my head to keep me cool during a day of fishing, etc. But..now that Im a bit older…I like nicer things, and a lot of my newer gear is moving in the direction of multicam, soooo…….

The rain hat, though, I highly recommend. I actually recommend both hats but folks are more likely to cheap out on the sun hat and thats fine. But the rain hat…you wanna spend the extra bucks there and get a nice one like this.

Trying the new Gen III ECWS

Bloody cold today. Actually, it’s not that cold…it’s simply what its pretty much supposed to be in Montana around this time of year. Currently? +3, although I expect below zero as the night progresses.

Since it was so cold during the day today, I figured I’d try out a new piece of cold weather gear. See, usually I wear my heavy Carhart coat in this sort of weather. It does a decent job, and its tough as nails, but it’s pretty bulky. I picked up a Gen III ECWS parka a few months back and this has been my first chance to try it out and I’m very pleased with it. Like most cold weather gear, it helps if you dress properly underneath it – you cant just put it on over a t-shirt and expect to be toasty.

gen3_level7_400x408One nice thing, right off the bat, is the compressability….the Carhart coat cant be stuffed down into a small(er) package the way this thing can. I was out this evening walking Nuke and I was wearing the parka over a longsleeve ‘waffle’ pullover and a ECWCS undershirt (which I recommend highly for its warmth and low bulk. Buy ’em cheap by the dozen on eBay) and was warm and comfy. I suspect I’ll troll eBay and pick up two or three extras for myself and one or two for the missus.

Not all military surplus lives up to the hype, but I have to say that thus far I’ve been pretty pleased with it. If you’re hunting for something warm but not overbearingly heavy/bulky you might wanna check these things out.