If you are going to hike the John Muir Trail you have to have something to keep the sun off your face. I’ve tried a variety of hats. The one I was most pleased with I bought at a drug store in Mammoth Lakes! (Not the place I would recommend for camping gear shopping.) It looked like this:
It provided good shade due to the extremely wide brim, was comfortable, and had a chin strap to prevent it from departing from my head in windy weather. There were three problems, though:
1. It was white and the fabric from which it was cut would stain easily. Even just the sweat from your hands combined with a little dust from the trail would leave marks.
2. See that brown strap across the base of the taper? It is part of the chin strap. It would NOT stay where it is in the photo. It had a habit of climbing up the hat and looking goofy. As is obvious from the photo, I don’t need help looking goofy.
3. Most troublesome was the fact that the brim was so wide that it often bumped up against the upper portion of my backpack.
We all have pieces of gear that are like this: good enough, but not perfect, something that we are not totally happy with but are reluctant to replace because it seems like a waste of money. I’d been making due with this hat for years and then…serendipity! This year my birthday brought an REI gift certificate from my mother-in-law. (Thanks, Mom!)
My new favorite piece of gear is the Sunday Afternoons Charter Hat from REI.
Thus far, this little guy has been outstanding. Here’s why:
~ It looks good on me (not an easy thing to accomplish!).
~ It is made of 100% nylon that is difficult to stain.
~ It has an effective chin strap which does not wrap around the outside of the hat.
~ It has a vent around the top of the hat. (The vent isn’t super effective, but it does help.)
~ See that little slot at the base of the taper? There is one on the other side as well. You can slip your sunglasses (or reading glasses) into those slots and hold them there securely and out of the way.
~ The brim, while wide enough to keep the sun off your face when it is highest, is not so wide to interfere with a backpack. The brim also slants down to make it more effective and to keep it from hitting the backpack.
~ It has a little pocket on the inside for a few bills, a couple credit cards, or, perhaps, a card with emergency contact information.
One final point. Even though I am a big guy I have a small head. (With my new very-little-hair hairstyle I’ve been sporting, it’s even smaller.) This hat only comes in medium and large sizes. I ordered the medium and still had to tighten the adjustment strap considerably to get it to fit.
If your milliner has been letting you down you may want to check out this model.
Good hiking, Ray