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on October 23, 2011
Update March 13, 2014: It's been over two years since my initial review. I'm still loving this hat and use it regularly. But there have been some times when the heat in the unventilated hat has been too much, even in the normally cool northwest area. So I finally added 6 grommets along the top rim - PROBLEM SOLVED! The grommets have made a significant difference and I like the hat even more now. See the picture with the red writing and arrows I added to the customer photo gallery. The grommets are cheap, easy to install and come in solid brass or a silver metal.

I bought the hat a few weeks ago in anticipation of my trip to Puerto Vallarta. That's where I am now and I have really put the hat through its paces for almost two weeks now. I was torn betweens the Helios and the Sombriolet but I think I made the right decision. It's the most comfortable hat I've ever owned. The Large size fits my big head really well thanks to the clever adjuster on the back. The top part of the hat is a very light weight material. The brim is heavier and stiffer which is good in the windy weather. There is only minimal, almost negligible, flapping in winds of 10-15 mph and the brim provides excellent coverage. I've spent hours on the beach and in the water with the hat and have experienced zero sun burn from the neck up using only minimal sunscreen. That's the main reason I'm glad I didn't get the sombriolet with the wider, goofier looking brim. Just don't need the extra shading.
OK, now for the "but". We've had temperatures here in the low to mid 90's with humidity in the 80-90% range. The hat has no venting and the material doesn't breathe very well. I tested this by pressing the hat to my lips and blowing. The air doesn't flow freely in either direction making for a sweaty, sometimes uncomfortable experience. Thankfully, like I said, it's a light material. I think these conditions are in the "extreme" category, so the hat should perform much better in more normal temperature and humidity ranges. I'm sure I will be even happier hiking with the hat back home in the great northwest.

- good looking hat
- very comfortable fit
- lightweight
- it floats
- excellent adjusting mechanism
- effective sunscreen protection
- good value (high quality, reasonably priced}
- no vents and low breathability of fabric (probably only an issue in these very hot/humid conditions}

Bottom line - I like the hat very much. I would have rated a 5 except for the lack of vents. Maybe I'll modify and create my own vents in the future.
Hope this review is helpful.
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on August 2, 2012
I wore this hat for hiking in 90+ degree, hot, and sunny Nevada, Utah, and Arizona in the summer. It does make you very hot. Go for one that has vents. The string around the neck is annoying. Luckily, it has a strap that is adjustable around the crown that can be tightened.
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on August 1, 2010
This hat runs very hot.

One the first day of my trip I wore this hat in 100f+ days (direct sun, no clouds) to protect myself and stay cooler. I couldn't drink enough water I was sweating so bad. The fabric the top is made out of doesn't breath enough, it actually needs some holes (which I debating making on the 2nd day).

On the second day of my trip I started cycling between wearing this hat and not. I found even on the hottest parts (open rock faces and 100f+ temps) I was always cooler without it.

Come the 3rd day this hat was just another thing to carry.

I shouldn't have bought this hat and wish to worn others.

Maybe it's good for folks looking to block the sun on cooler days. For me, this hat might as well have been made from wool. Hot hot hot!
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on June 9, 2008
I have used this hat for over two months in all type of weather and situations and it has been holding up very well. The only problem I have noticed is that it shrunk slightly after a cold wash and now feels very snug.
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on October 7, 2008
This hat has lived up to my expectations - high quality, great sun protection, foldable, and good looking. Having lived in Africa for over nine years, I wish I had bought one years ago.
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on March 11, 2011
I can't say much about the Outdoor Research Helios sun hat that other reviewers haven't said; in summary, it's a righteous lid.

We all have different shaped heads and wear hats slightly differently, but wearing the Helios low on my brow and fairly level, it's very comfortable and light. I barely notice it on my head and I imagine the fit will only get better as it gets broken in.

The crown is slightly squarey and short like a boonie hat and not as round as the stock Amazon or Outdoor Research photo shows. For me the shape is perfect. The brim is stiff and made from a more dense foam than the Seattle Sombrero I have. Like the photo shows, the brim has some waves which will change depending on the shape of your head and how you wear the hat. The lower portion of the crown near the brim has a drawcord with a small amount of elasticity. The cord is held by a fabric-wrapped stop in the back, where it attaches to the crown. The drawcord cinches the hat down and allows a degree of adjustability depending on fit preferences and conditions.

I imagine if its hot and stagnant one would keep the hat more loose, but if the wind picks up, crank it down. Like other OR hats, the chin cord (for lack of the proper name) is attached with knots to small loops where the brim meets the crown. The cord is the same sort of line as other hats with a simple rubber stopper. I keep the cord behind my head cinched down like a military/police campaign hat ("Smoky the Bear hat") which keeps it out of my way and will help hold the hat in place in strong wind. The elasticity of the cord and design of the hat allows it some give. I can pull it away from my forehead by the brim once in a while if I need to.

The seams and overall construction are on par with other OR products and what I would expect from a high-end company. Time will tell if the construction and materials hold up as well as the design.

While other reviewers found the brim to be floppy and limp, it seems to be rather sturdy to me. It may be the way it fits or a design update, but it's stiff. It seems to be more stiff than the brim of my Tilley hat and overall the hat is lighter.

I tried the hat on in a Whole Earth Provisions store in Austin, Texas, and then bought it on Amazon with some other gear. I'm in the process of gearing up for Burning Man, which is still a few months away. Living in Texas, the sun is brutal -- more so than NYC or Connecticut where I spent the first 33 years of my life. I can't imagine not having a hat on here, and definitely not a black one. As I wear this hat more I'll add to my review. And when I return from Burning Man, I'll review the hat again, assuming I remember. So far the hat is so comfortable, I can see completely forgetting about it until it's not there.

Thanks for reading, now turn off your computer and go outside!
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on March 25, 2014
Wide brim with a very comfortable adjustable band. I tried this hat in a store to get a feel for sizing. Bought it at Amazon because it was $10 cheaper. My hat band size is 7 1/8. Medium is perfect. Hat stays on my head without having to use cord. This hat is crushable. I put it in my carry on bag when flying and it always pops back into shape. I have 2 Tilley hats which are slightly more sophisticated looking which I wear to church and when I want to be a bit dressier--- I wear my OR Helios Sun Hat for all other daily.
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on September 20, 2008
Sense I am prone to skin cancer from too much sun exposure; I need a hat that covers as much area as possible. This hat has a rating of UPF 50+ and flat does the trick. It is light weight and has a wide brim that protects the neck and forehead. It also has a chin strap that is very convent. When you go to a restaurant or shopping you can just flip it off and it is held on your back without having to hand carry it. I've been wearing it for over six months had have not had any incidences if skin cancer on the covered areas. I highly recommend it.
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on April 3, 2016
I wore this hat during a long mountain hike on a sunny day. I get burned easily and this hat gave me all the protection for my face and neck. I still recommend sunscreen if you are high risk, but this hat will provide extra protection. The fit is nice, especially with the string to keep it from blowing away. Packs easily also.
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on August 27, 2014
As a bald male who burns easily, this hat has saved me countless times. On rare occasions, when the sun is just right, the tip of my nose may burn or, possibly my lower neck. Generally, this hat is my favorite for outdoors in the summer sun. There have also been a few times that I've been caught in the rain with just this hat and it performed better than expected (not as well as the Seattle Sombrero in heavy rain though).

When I recently purchased a second Helios, I also picked up a Sombriolet thinking that the vents may be great in hot weather. I will have to compare over time to see if my preference is swayed from the Helios. In comparison, the Sombriolet has a wider brim and vents. The front and rear vents should be rain resistant due to the overlap of the opening - the side vents don't have the overlap though so, water may get in if there is rain...
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