Customer Reviews: Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat, Khaki, Large
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Size: Large|Color: Khaki|Change
Price:$35.99+ Free shipping
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on July 3, 2013
I've been working as a marine and terrestrial "field biologist," mostly outdoors in South Florida, since 1979. Exposure to this much sun is an issue, and the sooner you recognize and take measures to deal with that, the longer you'll be able to enjoy working and playing outdoors. A hat like this may seem pretty expensive to the young or inexperienced, but after the dermatologists start cutting bits and pieces off of you, you may realize a hat like this is very inexpensive health insurance. Below are some observations about the Sombriolet and competing "sun hats," based on experience in hot and humid coastal South Florida.

Ball caps are very popular, but they don't shade the back of your neck or sides of your face, and can actually pull hair back that might otherwise cover and protect your ears. There are a host of broad-brimmed solutions, but they each have their drawbacks.

Straw hats, "lifeguard" hats, and Panama hats are woven from a variety of "unprocessed" plant materials (various grass stems, palms fronds and similar plant leaves). Made from renewable resources, light-colored, lightweight, and naturally well-ventilated, straw hats are terrific... while they last. But, there's the rub: longevity. Don't get me wrong, straw hats protect the wearer from summer sun and heat just fine. But, if I may paraphrase the great Yogi Berra's malaprop ("It ain't the heat, it's the humility"); I'd say, with straw hats, "it ain't the heat, it's the humidity." Exposed to sweat or rain, straw hats quickly lose their shape. Add some abrasion from branches passed during a hike, and the hat most exposed edges get ragged looking in a hurry. When I wear straw hats, it is seldom more than a week or three before the hat resembles a shapeless "hillbilly hat," rather than something Bogart might have worn with class in Tangiers.

Another note on straw hats... real "Panamas" start near $50, but can cost hundreds of dollars. "Panamas" are the hats that made famous faces look cool in the heat: think of Edward G Robinson in "Key Largo," Sidney Greenstreet in "Casablanca," Gregory Peck in "To Kill a Mockingbird," Sean Connery in "The Man Who Would Be King," and of course, Teddy Roosevelt in... well, in Panama! I haven't tried the expensive versions, but as I said, similar hats I have worn quickly lost their shape. Even if you manage to keep your Panama (or any "straw" hat) out of the rain, I have never figured out how to remove sweat and dirty fingerprints from the brim... without damaging the fibers.

One of my two favorite sun hats is Henschel Hat Company's "Breezer." Available with a 3" or 4 " brim, the Breezer provides great protection of everything below the brim. Just three caveats: shrinkage, sweat (salt) stains, and compromised sun protection on sides of of the cylindrical portion of the hat's crown. Watch out if your Breezer gets soaked, the rugged cotton duck or twill material can shrink as it dries - especially if you allow it to dry while you are not wearing it. Carelessly leave a wet "Breezer" in the heat, say... under a car's windshield, and significant shrinkage is guaranteed.

As mentioned, Breezer hats can also soak up sweat. If you provide enough of it (and I do), it eventually wicks its way out to the brim. As it dries, white salt stains become visible (especially on darker fabric brims). Fortunately, the salt can be removed: soaking the hat in warm freshwater, especially rainwater or distilled water, removes salt stains pretty well. Add a little mild detergent (like Woolite), scrub with a soft brush and rinse, and some of the dirt will come away, too. Just "block" and shape the hat's crown with a bunched-up wad of newspaper, and protect the rim's shape... before allowing it to dry somewhere with good airflow but no heat, or it will shrink. Some of my formerly "extra extra large" (XXL) Henschel hats are now worn by friends with "medium" heads. Eventually even the rugged Breezer can lose its shape but, in my experience (with some care), that can be put off for two or three years. Above the brim, the Breezer's mesh compromises some UV protection to get air flow... okay if you still have a head full of hair, but not so good if your hair is very short, thinning or simply gone. My dermatologist was not impressed.

Finally, using modern materials and combining traditional with innovative design features, Outdoor Research has produced their Sombriolet, a sun hat that shades everything, from the top of your head down to the collar of your t-shirt. The synthetic fabric is tough and the colors seem to hold up to the sun. It even withstands gentle scrubbing with detergent in hot water, and there is NO shrinkage (none!). The crown has a better venting than anything else I've seen with this much UV protection, and the fit is nice... and the crown rides loosely enough over your scalp that bugs cannot bite you through the hat.

In the rain, the Sombriolet gets wet... and so do you. Some water will get into the crown and brim, but most of the rain runs off, collecting on the 4" wide brim, and is routed downhill... to the back of the hat. In steady rain, this creates a "Niagra Falls" of water streaming down your back (OR also makes a waterproof Seattle Sombrero, but either requires a raincoat or umbrella if you don't want a soaked back and seat.

After the weather (and your hat) dries up, this hat is ready to go and still fits like new. In fact, with the Sombriolet's tough but lightweight fabric, this hat dries faster than any other hat I wear. Another unusual plus... the fit is adjustable, with a drawstring hidden in the hatband. And, "XL" really means "XL." I had to tighten it a bit, and my hat size is 7 and 3/4.

There must be some (stainless steel leader?) wire inside the outer brim, as the edge is mold-able. When the hat gets folded the wrong way, it can usually be returned to its original shape, or pretty darn close. The brim is as wide or wider than almost any other "practical" hat I have owned, lined below with dark (glare reducing) material, and stiffened with a foam insert that adds buoyancy if the hat goes overboard. There is an adjustable and comfortable chinstrap, necessary because this hat becomes a sail if the breeze stiffens above ten knots.

Downsides? First: if you are walking or paddling into a stiff breeze, the brim collapses, either down over your eyes... or up over your forehead. In the latter case, at least it's out of the way... but no longer providing any sun protection. So, if going out in a stiff breeze, I'll usually wear my Henschel Hat's "Breezer," which has a very stiff brim and, fits so snugly, I seldom need the chin strap. But, most days, I wear the OR Sombriolet, with it's chinstrap tucked up into the crown of the hat or removed entirely. I learned (the hard way) not to loop the chinstrap up behind the crown, and over the back brim, as I like to do with my Breezer hats. Do that with OR's Sombriolet, and the constant tension-gradually reshapes the brim, permanently pulling the sides into an upward arc ("Aussie-style"). Unfortunately, this exposes the sides of your face and neck to more sunlight. I have never been able to get that first (khaki) Sombriolet's brim back to its original (and preferable) flat shape, but I've come to prefer my white Sombriolet, which I find a bit cooler when worn under the South Florida sun.

Another key bit of experience to share: in the heat of summer, I often spray DEET insect-repellent on the underside of the broad brims of my OR Sombriolet, and my Henschel Breezer hats. This means less chemical exposure for the skin of my face and neck, no DEET running into and stinging my eyes when I sweat, and the protection DEET provides is not wiped away if I do happen to wipe sweat off my face or neck. I find this system keeps mosquitoes, midges and deer flies out of a zone extending approximately 12 inches under the hat brim, protection that seems to last longer than if I spray repellent directly onto my skin. The DEET does react with the stiffening material (foam?) inside the OR Sombriolet's brim, which creates some minor distortion from the perfectly flat form it starts with. But, the effect is minor, and the benefit is outstanding.

Finally, don't forget, whichever hat you choose, you should still be wearing good sunblock or UVA/UVB sunscreen in south Florida where white limestone, water and boat decks all reflect a lot of sunlight back up at you.
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on July 16, 2008
I was looking for good shade, durability, and a quick-drying property. I got all those and more. Someone has done a lot of good design thinking about what is needed in a hat when you're out on the water. The wide brim provides lots of shade, the material is quick-drying and crush-resistant. The mesh and cut of the cap part of the hat provide ventilation. The neck strap has a sensible clasp and keeps the hat on in a very stiff breeze or traveling fast over the water on a jet ski. I felt that I was paying a bit too much sight unseen, but I got more than I expected and will seek out this brand again when I need a new hat. I will use it on the water and for hiking because of its light weight, as well as on the beach.
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on July 29, 2011
I live in the Midwest and I hate summer. There, I said it! I just can't take the heat. I get headaches from the sun beating down on my head and I'm ruined for the rest of the day. But, I am a geocacher. I enjoy using billion-dollar satellite technology to hunt for tupperware hidden in the woods. That requires a bit of hiking. This hat is perfect for protecting my brain from baking in the sun, and shades my face neck and ears from burning. It is lightweight but very sturdily constructed of high-quality materials. I like the adjustable chin strap so I can cinch the hat down to a snug fit on breezy days or toss it off to hang down my back when I'm ducking under low branches on a hunt. The vents built into the crown allow for circulation so my scalp doesn't get TOO sweaty. The fabric of the outer shell is nylon and doesn't breathe well but does a great job of blocking the suns rays. So the vents help but make no mistake- your scalp will still perspire on a hot day. Overall, this hat is ideal for shading your face, neck, ears, scalp and shoulders from burning in the sun. The brim is not floppy & limp but has just the right amount of rigidity so that it looks casual without being sloppy or stiff. The underside of the brim is medium gray slightly fuzzy fabric so I don't get a glare or reflection in my eyes. That was a great design bonus! Also, there is a elastic cord with a toggle in the back so you can fine-tune the fit. The toggle is on the outside, at the back of the rim under a protective flap so it doesn't look dorky or get snagged on branches. I got the khaki tan color and it perfectly matches my Merrell hikers. A fashion plus!
I wish the ventilation was more like air-conditioning because, in case I didn't mention it, I hate the summer heat and I hate to perspire, but otherwise this hat is perfect.
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on November 28, 2013
This is very good sun hat. It is vented to help keep you cool and does a great job of keeping the sun off you face and neck. I'm not supposed to risk sunburn and I really dislike sunscreen, especially on the face and neck. I'd rather put up with the goofy look than the greasy skin or staying inside. (That lawn ain't gonna mow itself sonny). I've had it for two years without issue.

The brim is pretty flexible and will flop around in the wind. If you don't wear the chinstrap when it's windy out, expect to chase the hat unless you have quick hands. The brim does give you good coverage though.

It is made in China, so if that's an issue you'll want to look elsewhere. Other than that, if you have a need for a good sunhat, this is a good choice.
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on February 13, 2011
I bought this hat before a trip to Tasmania, where I was going to be doing a fair amount of hiking and other outdoor activities - and I'm glad I did! It's comfortable and doesn't overheat your head (important, during the Aussie summer) and it's easy to tuck the strap behind your ears to keep it out of the way of your face. It protected my face, neck and most of my shoulders from the weather, whether it was hot and sunny or pouring rain. I got caught in a downpour while hiking and the rain just rolled right off, keeping my vision clear. (As an added bonus, the hat was dry within an hour of when I got in out of the storm, despite being closed in a damp car.) If the wind really picks up, it does have a tendency to want to fly off, but that's going to be the case with any lightweight hat - and that's what the strap is for.
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on July 18, 2015
This is ultimate sun hat I have ever worn, that provides the most comprehensive protection. It is pretty lightweight, and is made of materials that claims to offer UPF 50+ sun protection. According to me, following are the features that sets it apart from the other sun hats you have in the market.

This one has the widest brim that I have ever seen on a hat, especially on the back side. I have tried to give you an idea of the measurements in one of the images I uploaded. This means that only minimal sun rays finally gets to your face and neck, even in extreme conditions.

This one has vents and mesh lining in the crown which helps keep your head cool and aids in moisture management as well.

This is an important feature for me that i have often found missing in the other hats. There is a drawcord adjustment towards the back side of the hat which helps in adjusting the fit and makes sure that it sits firm on your head even in windy conditions. There is of course a chin cord adjustment as well, which if you don’t want to use, can be easily tucked away towards the interior of the hat.

So it’s not just made for the sunny days in my experience, this could be worn even during the rains and it protects your head and neck from getting wet. Just dry off the soaked hat and its ready to be worn again.

All in all, the best all-rounder hat I have ever purchased..!!
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on August 5, 2009
I love this hat. I wore it on a 50 mile MS Challenge Walk and it kept the sun and sweat off of my face. The only problem I ran into was if I was walking into any type of breeze the front brim would flip up. I can't imagine wearing this hat on a boat going faster than a couple of MPH and not having to hold the brim down.
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on May 27, 2012
I am bald. I don't wear hats much of the time. But when outdoors for prolonged periods, I'd be foolish not to. I like baseball caps when hiking, and stocking caps when I sleep outdoors. This is the first wide brimmed hat I have owned. I live in Texas now, and the sun has been hitting me hard, and it was about time I found more protection. I ordered this thing on account of that and the reviews I found here. Really accurate reviews. It is a hat I may grow to love. It does a great job of shading my neck and ears and parts of my shoulders. It is very lightweight, and can be crumpled into a cargo pocket. I must say, it is hot on my bald head, because it sits right on the flesh. I adjust it up and it can maintain a bit of space. It fits well, just transfers heat pretty directly. The venting is really not as much as I'd like in this 90 to 105degree weather... but I think they drew a thin line, trying to afford rain, or colder weather, protection as well...? The price is really fair, and most of all, my sweetheart loves it on me... so there you go... send a dozen more. It's going to Yellowstone in a couple months... along with a baseball cap and stocking hat. Bald guys need hats. Oh yeah, a bandanna in my pocket as well.
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on February 5, 2013
I ordered this sun hat a couple of years ago and have been very happy with it. So happy, that I ordered another one. The new one is not the same quality as the orginal. It was so obvious that I noticed the difference before I even took it out of the the plastic bag. I thought I had ordered the wrong model, size, etc., but the order was correct. I'll keep the hat but was very disappointed in the quality.
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on July 4, 2012
Get the large if your head size is 7 1/4 - 7 1/2. I ended up paying over 6 additional dollars for the return but very happy as this hat has an adjustable head band and now it fits perfect and not too tight. When the winds pick up it will flap but so what! Its light, offers great shade and water repellency. I use it for the beach, kayak fishing and when mowing the lawn. Great value for the money... I've always bought cheap straw hats and this is the best hat I've owned yet. Buy it!
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