Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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The first thing we did after school was over was to find a few summer essentials for my 9-year old daughter who grows faster than I can keep track of. She needed a new pair of lightweight hiking shoes, a new pair of convertible hiking pants, and new sun hats. Like her dad, she has a big head and most kid-size hats don’t fit her anymore. That’s how we ended up in the adult department and found these caps for her summer suitcase.
I knew Outdoor Research as I’ve been using the their Seattle Sombrero hat for five years now and I’m super happy with it. I can fold it, squeeze it in a backpack, sit on it – it always keeps the same shape and keeps me nicely protected from the sun. So I thought both would be good picks for my girl.
Women’s Switchback Cap
My daughter is not a fashion freak but if she doesn’t like an item of clothing, she won’t wear it however much she needs it. So I had to make sure she’d like the cap and fortunately, the Women’s Switchback Cap had two things going for it that other caps didn’t – the color blue and a zipped pocket. Most of the outdoors caps come in earthy tones and cotton, two no-nos in my girl’s book and mine. While I’m fine with earthy tones, cotton won’t cut it with this all-weather mom. I need to know the hat my girl’s wearing will dry quickly even if she takes a dip with it, walks in the rain or splashes in a stream. For my girl, earthy tones can be an issue and I have to say, most caps we saw were quite unflattering with weird-looking materials.
What a relief to find this electric blue cap in the summer hat pile – my little girl loves blue! Though I would have preferred wide brims for her, she’s definitely more of a cap gal so I respected her choice. However what really sealed it for her was the zipped pocket. I’ve never seen that in hats before but this cap features a small zipped pocket on the left side. How do I know it was the selling point? As soon as we were out of the store, my daughter pulled it from the bag and asked to wear it – even though we came home on the tube where honestly, sun hats are not needed. I gave her a mosquito-repellent roll-on stick and she stuffed it in the pocket right away, then played with the pocket all the way home. I bet she’ll find other small thingamabobs to hide in there when the time is right. And I know the time will always be right to show her sister her cap’s got a pocket.
Other features I like as a mom: SPF 30 sun protection, lightweight quick-drying nylon, nylon webbing back-strap with buckle adjustment, easy storage with folding brim. Nicely priced, even more so as I bought it on sale. Only gripe: not waterproof.
Radar Storm Cap
The reason we picked a second cap is that the switchback cap looked too sporty for an afternoon in the garden and I kid you not, my daughter was afraid the electric blue wouldn’t be a good match for some of her outfits. With a pink and a blue cap, I think we’ve got most summer situations covered now.
I don’t know how well it shows on the photo but the cap is made out of checkered pink nylon material and as such, stylish and light. Though its street-style might suggest it’s a good city hat, this pink cap is surprisingly outdoors-smart. Built with a waterproof and breathable fabric, it works both for sun and rain, or sun and rivers as the case may be. I know my daughter won’t hesitate to take it on hikes, though if it’s windy she might stick with the Switchback cap because there’s no way to secure the Radar Storm cap with a ponytail. It’s loose hair all the way in the absence of adjustable strap at the back.
Unlike the Switchback, the fabric is not treated for sun protection but like most Outdoor Research hats, storage is a breeze. Simply fold the covered bill and stuff it in your pocket. Done. It’s slightly pricier than the Switchback cap but looks really cool with a simple summer dress or hiking shorts.
Disclaimer: Outdoor Research did not send me these caps to review. I purchased them for my daughter and she really likes them.