Outdoor Research Nomad Sun Hat
A very solid option for warm weather treks and keeping the sun off your face. Generous vents and lightweight fabrics also make it a very cool option due to lots of air flow on top. I also like how robust the cord and cord lock are. Primary gripe is limited sizing options.
- Sun protection
- Easy to keep secured
- Big vent holes = less sun protection?
The Outdoor Research Nomad is a hat made for sun protection and warm weather. It sports a three-inch brim, generous mesh ventilation panels, a cord and cord-lock to keep it from flying off your head, and only weighs about three ounces.
Outdoor Research says this hat is made from 60% recycled nylon, and that it’s water resistant, breathable, lightweight, wicking, quick to dry, and UPF 50+ sun protection. OR also touts its TransAction Headband (the headband is made from a soft, stretchy synthetic material). The hat is available in two sizes: small/medium or large/extra large. My size L/XL weighs 3.2 ounces on an electronic hand scale.
This was the most important criteria for me, and the sun protection from this hat is very good for the most part. UPF 50 is excellent, blocks over 98% of harmful sun (UPF measures the amount of protection from UVA and UVB rays). The brim is wide and stiff enough to protect your face, and I think the darker underside of the brim helps on very bright, sunny days.
The only potential caveat, which I did not experience, is that the vents are so large that they could conceivably compromise sun protection on parts of your head if you don’t have much hair.
Outstanding, among the best I have worn. I wore the Nomad on a number of steamy hikes in the DC metro area—very high heat and humidity—and really appreciate the large mesh vents. The top materials are also very lightweight nylon. If there is any breeze, you’ll feel it.
The main weakness of this hat is that it’s only available in two sizes. The L/XL fit OK, but it’s a tad large on me, and the brim is pretty stiff, not a lot of ‘give.’ The hat tends to ride low on my head as a result, yet I’m sure that S/M would have been too tight. Outdoor Research makes some of its other sun hats in M, L, XL, and it would help if they did so with this one too.
It’s helpful that the brim is lined with a soft material that absorbs moisture a bit.
Regardless of how the hat fits, the cord and cord lock keep the hat secure, even if it’s quite windy. I had no issues on top of decent-sized mountains in a good breeze.
HOW DURABLE WILL IT BE?
The only concern I have is the mesh panels, to the extent they might snag on a branch. That hasn’t happened after a couple months of wear. Otherwise, this hat seems very well-built and has no issues getting squashed and stuffed in a backpack. I didn't attempt to roll it up; I either hauled the cord short and clipped it to my pack or stuffed it in; the brim bounces back nicely after getting stowed. The cord, cord lock, brim, and other nylon materials feel high quality, and I expect this hat will last a long time.
Though the brim is water-resistant, the top is not, and the mesh panels obviously let rain in. On a hot day, I really don’t care if my head gets wet. It’s worth mentioning that I don’t consider it to be a rain hat, particularly if you anticipate cooler temps where you might want better protection from wet conditions.
The brim is a good size for backpacking, just short of where it could bump into the top of a large backpack. If hats with wide brims bumping against your pack annoys you, though, you may prefer a narrower brim or a baseball-style hat with a neck cover (I prefer wider brims to neck covers, which always get sweaty and clingy when I have tried them). The Nomad would also work well for other outdoors activities where sun protection is important—fishing, boating, canoeing, and so on.
HOW I WORE IT
The Nomad became my hat of choice for all hikes over the past 2-3 months. That means a couple of days in cooler (50s) weather and many, many days in the 80s and 90s and humidity in the 80s and 90s too. Except for the brim being ever so slightly wavy from getting stuffed into a backpack, it shows virtually no signs of wear, and I have enjoyed wearing it this summer.
I think it’s tough to find the perfect sun hat, because almost every hat I have tried has some inherent compromises. The hats that provide the most protection tend to suffer in terms of ventilation and can have annoyingly wide brims or long neck coverings; more ventilation can mean less protection and, potentially, less durability.
The Nomad combines great ventilation with a nice, wide, protective brim, and I didn’t have any issues with sunburn due to those big vents. I would love to see Outdoor Research improve the sizing options to help people with different-sized heads get a better fit.
About three months of hiking in warm to extremely hot and humid weather, including some rainy days.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(sample for testing and review provided by Outdoor Research)
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Current Retail: $21.00-$42.00
Historic Range: $19.99-$42.00
2.6 oz / 75 g
bluesign approved 60% recycled nylon 40% nylon underbrim