I’m not a hat guy. Definitely not. But on a recent trip to the Brokedown Palace, an independent outdoor gear shop in central London, this really jumped out at me.
Maybe this is a sign that I’m getting old or perhaps getting too into my outdoor gear, but I looked at it and thought, wow, that’s a very practical looking hat.
I’m in the very fortunate position, as editor of this gear review website, that I get sent a lot of kit for free, but when I saw this hat, I decided to get my wallet out and buy it right there and then.
So what was it that made it jump out at me? I think it was first and foremost the ear flaps, but the stiffened peak was definitely a draw as well. Don’t get me wrong, Patagonia is a trendy brand, but I don’t think that influenced me. Trendy counts for nothing on a Brecon Beacons moorland.
And that’s precisely where the hat and I have just returned from. We’ve been hiking the Beacons Way, a 95-mile trail from the far west of the Brecon Beacons National Park, over to the far east.
Throwing up a total of 6,719m ascent, it’s a tough old hike, and February is certainly an ambitious time to decide to spend five nights out camping rough in the mountains of Wales. But I had this hat to get me through it all.
And it really was perfect. The Synchilla fleece lining was warm and cosy without getting itchy (my normal complaint with hats), and the nylon shell fabric never really let any water soak through, all thanks to the polyurethane coating and DWR.
I’ve got quite a lot to say about the ear flaps, so please bear with me. I’ve worn them in three ways. Firstly, I just have them over my ears for warmth – the standard approach. Then, when I’m, say, walking uphill and warming up quickly, I just flip the ears up. When the sun comes out and the temperature is consistently warm, I fold the ears inside the hat to turn it into a cap. Simply brilliant stuff.
On top of South Wales’s highest mountain, Pen y Fan, I cinched the strap at the back and the whole thing stayed on securely with what felt like zero threat of blowing off, even though I was faced with near gale force wind.
It’s a tried and tested style of course. Based, I believe, on the original Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap. That version had the edge over this one by Patagonia in that it was (is?) completely waterproof. I’ve actually read stories online about people folding it inside out and using it as a water bowl for their dog or to transport water to their campsite from a river.
For now, I’m happy with this non-waterproof one from Patagonia. I hate the word game changer but… well, actually a hat is never going to change the game is it, however I will say that what we have here, in my opinion, is a very, very good hat. I’ve even written my phone number on the label in case I lose it. Heaven forbid.