This Solar Roller hat is everything the name suggests - it's great for using in sunny conditions, with it's 50+ UPF rating, and it is totally flexible so it can be rolled up.
I spotted this hat at a trade show; it caught my eye firstly because of the bright colour, but on a closer look the lightness of the fabric and the technical details made me want to test it out. I have reviewed a few wide brimmed hats recently, and they all have their own benefits and this one is no different...
I love that this hat is really flexible. Many wide brim hats claim to be rollable, but in reality, when you do, the shape suffers, due in part to the rigidness of the brim, but this hat truly is that flexible.
You can roll and squash it, and the 7.6cm wide brim still holds shape due to the concentric circles stitched into the lightly padded brim. That said, it does hold it's shape, but in a wavy form, so if you're after a sun hat that that keeps it's brim in a taut outline I would aim for a sturdier more rigid hat.
The brim is also classed as a floating brim, meaning that if you're out on the water and accidentally drop your hat it will float on the surface, and if that happens you will be glad to know that it's also water-resistant. There are also air eyelets on each side of the crown to help keep your head cool, a wicking brow band on the inside and an size adjustment toggle on the back to make it fit perfectly.
As I've mentioned before, one aspect of a sun hat that is sometimes overlooked 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, like the Sun Sombrero, this Solar Roller also 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.
There are a variety of colours available, and they change each year, so you can get subtle to bright shades, and they also come in 4 different sizes, so can fit all head shapes.
Would it be my hat of choice?
I've used it when gardening, walking the dog and general hiking, and it has been great for all those activities, and has kept the sun at bay through all. There is one downside to it's flexibility, in that the brim can upturn in breezy conditions, which isn't the best when you are up hills or by the sea. If I was off hiking somewhere where wind would be a real issue I would probably choose a hat with a more sturdy brim, like Outdoor Research's Oasis Sun Sombrero, but if packing space is an issue I would definitely grab the Solar Roller.
Colours: various - seasonal
Sizes: S, M, L, XL (click here to work out your size)
Brim Width: 7.6cm (3")
Weight : 2.3oz / 65g
Fabric : 100% Supplex® nylon
Company website: www.outdoorresearch.com
Where to buy: www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk