Gear Guy

What headgear is best: Hat or hood?

Great burning bush of the gear desert, Marmot Precip hat or urban sombrero? I want to buy a good waterproof hat; hoods are cool and all, but they're sometimes a pain in the fanny pack. I have read that you often prefer hats to hoods. So, would you choose the Marmot Precip Safari Hat, the Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero, or something different altogether? Please help me before I do something dumb—like ask someone else. Jay Eugene, Oregon

A: I do prefer hats to hoods, although I'm not sure why. Partly, I just don't think hoods work all that well. They always seem a hassle in some way, blocking the view when you turn your head, or some other irritating thing like that. They have their advantages of course, including A) they work well with helmets, B) their neck coverage, making them more weatherproof (particularly windproof), and C) the fact they're always attached.

Actually, one of my very favorite hats is Outdoor Research's Seattle Sombrero ($56). It's a Gore-Tex, seam-sealed hat with stylin' adjustable brim. Unless the wind is really blowing the rain sideways, it does a great job keeping the rain off your head, neck, and shoulders. It's also light and stowable. The Marmot Precip Safari Hat ($29) is really very much the same thing, although it's a little lighter and uses a non-Gore-Tex laminate. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the Safari Hat—it's an excellent buy—but I just think the Seattle Sombrero performs better in almost all conditions.

By the way, I'm really a fan of Outdoor Research's Hat For All Seasons ($48), a short-brimmed Gore-Tex hat with a removable pile liner and ear muffs. It's the essential hat for cold conditions. I wore one up Denali when I climbed it some years back, and I basically never took it off. Great for Rainier, winter cross-country skiing, all sorts of things.

Does the bush burn brightly in this case?

The Seattle Sombrero is available from REI here.

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