GearReviews

Sun Hats: Simms’ Solar Sombrero


Over this last year, I’ve been in the market for a sun-hat. As typically done when looking for new gear, I start my research with on-line reviews and trips to local shops for a little hands-on assessment. Problem is, playing with it in the local fly-fishing shop isn’t going demonstrate much.

The challenge is finding a hat which fully protects you from the sun, keeps you cool, is offered in reasonable colors, is secure in high winds, stays intact after multiple washings, can fold up in the gear bag, and doesn’t look lame when wearing it.

After looking at more than eight of the most functional fly-fishing sun-hats available by many of the top manufacturers in the UPF garment industry, I settled on the Simms Solar Sombrero. For comparison purposes, this hat falls into the “floppy wide brim UPF packable” class of hats. Below are a few highlights on the hat’s functionality after several months of environmental impact.

Sun Protection – The hat truly offers a full 3″ brim. For intents and purposes, the brim sits completely horizontal, offing maximum shade from vertical sun.

Keeps You Cool – The hat is constructed from 100% super-light nylon – it has a very soft and airy nylon feel. Not sure how the top vents, but I stay cool through the hottest part of the day. The super-light nylon upper is nice, especially when I use the upper portion of my sun-hat to store the knot when tying/ securing my Columbia UPF Bandana.

Offered in Reasonable Colors – The Solar Sombrero is offered in Light Grey, Gunmetal, and Tan. For comparison purposes, others may call these Taupe, Putty, and Beige. All colors are light and neutral and coordinate with other major manufacturers of UPF clothing (i.e. Columbia, Patagonia, ExOfficio, Under Armour, etc.). A nice feature on the hat is the black underside of the brim. This dark underside cuts down on additional glare reflecting from the surface of the water.

Secure in High Winds – Still amazed with how this hat holds on in high winds. Simms has built in several ways to secure this hat when worn. A soft elastic band will lightly secure the hat. For higher winds, an additional small gage integrated bungie can be tightened to provide reasonable holding power. Simms does provide a well made chin-strap/ cord for those who prefer its functionality. If removing this strap/ cord is important (as I typically do), Simms made it very easy to remove. I use a different sort of leash all together.

Wearability – After researching quite a few UPF garments over the last year, I have noticed a common disclosure in the fine print on many manufacture’s tags. The UPF rating is often guaranteed for the life of the garment. Question is, who really defines the “life of the garment”? Most garment tags now state the garment life is defined as 35 washings, or so. We know the garment will last longer – manufacturers are only guaranteeing the UPF rating for up to a specified amount of washings. Remember, in most cases the UPF barrier is applied to the material, not necessarily inherent to the material.

Packability/ Collapsability – For those who love to ravel, having a hat which collapses or folds into tight spaces can be nice. This hat will not only pack completely flat, but will also fold up when needed. I like to keep the super-light foam brim flat – I feel it better maintains the integrity of the hat.

Design – So many hats on the market fluff up in the wind, are too flimsy, are too stiff, or simply look lame. Finding a hat with a progressive look and a design enhanced by its functionality was an added value. After using it for several months, I still find it is the best looking sun protection out there.

Cost – Last but not least, the Solar Sombrero comes in at under $30. If a fly-shop is charging more than $30, they are gouging. Many on-line resources will have what you’re looking for and reasonably priced.

If you have a favorite “floppy wide brim UPF packable” hat perfect for fly-fishing, please share! We all are looking for various functionality in hats – sharing your solutions make Fly Mastery better for all of us.

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