Outdoor Research Oasis Sun Sombrero

This Oasis Sun Sombrero hat from Outdoor Research isn't really for the fashionistas, but seeing as The Mud Life is more about enjoying the outdoors than swanking about town, this hat has been designed with you, the hot weather tourist, backpacker, hiker and adventurist, in mind.

It claims to be packable, and I think that means flat in your suitcase rather than rollable, as the crown lies flat, but I don't fancy seeing what the brim may look like after being rolled or squished for too long. At only just a smidge over 3oz it's a great lightweight hat that won't break your luggage allowance, and with its handy neck cord it can just as easily hang from your backpack when you don't need it.

I tested it out on a recent visit to The Game Fair at Ragley Hall. As usual for Britain the weather forecast said it would be raining, but I know from past experience to pack clothing for all conditions, which proved to be a wise decision as when we arrived the sun was beating down and threatening to fry us like crisps. I grabbed the aptly named Oasis Sombrero, popped on a bit of sun cream and was off.

With a 8.9cm front brim, a whopping 12cm back brim and a UPF rating of 50+ it kept those beating rays not only off my face, but off my very delicate neck too. The hat has some great features that were fantastic in the boiling hot sun: the crown has something called a TransAction™ Headband which is breathable, wicks away moisture and feels very comfortable. It also has an elastic cord sewn in the back half of the headband so that you can tighten it up if needed using the toggle on the outside at the rear. There were no rubbing or indentation marks on my head even after wearing it for 4 hours continuously.

The removable chinstrap was a useful tool when later in the day the weather turned. The wind blew in, and, with such a broad brim, I was expecting to have to fight to keep the hat in place, but, to my pleasant surprise, the brim didn't flip up like some other hats. Only twice did the hat get dislodged, by particularly vicious gusts, but because I'd pushed the locking toggle up to my chin, the hat didn't fly off, it just fell back off my face. If you'd have experienced that wind you'd realise how much of an achievement that was.

A hour later I also got to test it out in the wet, as, in good ol' British fashion, the heavens opened. The hat is classed as water-resistant, not waterproof, and it did resist during the lighter showers, but when it bucketed down I decided to head indoors, and although nothing had soaked through, the material did show a little sign that it didn't like being saturated. Even with being deluged with rain it proved to be quick-drying, and showed no signs that it would go out of shape; the foam-stiffened brim stood up to the task, and didn't flop.

One aspect of the hat that is sometimes overlooked, but I feel is one of the key things to look out for in a sun hat, is the colour of the fabric under the brim. The sun can be reflected from the surface you are walking on (which is how you can still get a tan wearing a hat), and when rays are reflected, and hit the underside of a light coloured brim, a portion of that ray will get reflected again, most likely into your eyes. If you are not wearing sunglasses extended exposure to these reflected UV rays can cause eye damage, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and photokeratitis, that can cause temporary vision loss.

The darker the colour of the fabric the more rays are absorbed rather than reflected, and this season's Oasis Sombrero has a dark grey plain under brim designed just for this purpose.

It also has what Outdoor Research call their 'Infinite Guarantee®'  which covers used gear that has a defect in materials, workmanship, or product failures for the lifetime of the product, so that's a bonus too.

Overall I loved this hat.

I didn't end up with a sweaty head, it stayed put under wild conditions, and kept the sun out of my eyes & the rain from dripping down my neck. It could be thought of as a tad geeky looking, but I would rather have substance over style when it comes blindingly hot weather. I like hiking and wandering about in the outdoors, but I don't want my face to pay for it, so keeping those face wrinkling UV rays at bay is a must.

This will definitely be the hat I add into my suitcase if we ever decide to go back to Cyprus and hike the Samaria Gorge again.

  • Colours: Raspberry, Sand, Fig(Purple), Khaki, Swell (Turquoise), White

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL (click here to work out your size)

  • Brim Lengths: Font & Side: S - 8.6cm, M, L, XL - 8.9cm - Back: S - 11.7cm, M, L, XL - 12cm

  • Weight : 3.1oz / 88g

  • Fabric : 86% nylon, 14% polyester (double weave ripstop mainshell - 100% Supplex® nylon, plain weave under brim)

Company website: www.outdoorresearch.com

RRP: £35

Where to buy:  www.climbers-shop.com