The Humble Boonie Hat
I’m a big fan of fancy hats. I discovered the joy of a well-made and stylish hat a couple years ago with the Duluth Oil Cloth Packer Hat. After that hat died, I tried others. My current favorites are the Tilley T3 and the (locally made) Filson Tin Cloth Packer. But as great as those hats are, sometimes it’s nice to get back to basics.
If all you want to do is keep the sun off, it’s hard to beat the boonie hat. It’s lightweight, cheap, and compresses down to fit into a pocket.
Being cotton, I find these hats to be useless in the rain, but I do tend to have a hooded hard shell with me for that purpose.
This particular boonie hat happens to be MultiCam. I bought it back when MultiCam was new and I could fool myself into thinking that it was low-profile. “Hey, nobody actually issues MultiCam, so it’s not like this hat looks very military-like. If anything it makes me look like a harmless airsofter.” Something along those lines. Now that everybody and their grandma is issuing MultiCam, it’s maybe a little more military looking. I sewed a Rebel Alliance patch on the top to make me feel better about it (and because rebelling against empires is always the cool thing to do).
The other modification I made to this hat was to sew a little velcro on the pocket. After getting my Tilley hat, I became somewhat addicted to having a pocket in the top of my hat. Most boonie hats have them, but they’re just a slit, with no sort of closure. I don’t trust them to hold small items. Having added the velcro, I can feel sure that whatever I put in there won’t fall out.
What I keep in all my hats that have pockets in them is the same: in one ziploc bag, an emergency $20 bill (using this is to be avoided as much as possible). In another ziploc bag, I keep four AquaMira water purifying tabs and a repair kit.
This particular hat weighs 122 grams (4.3 oz) with added patch and velcro. Including the contents of the pocket, the total weight is 134 grams (4.7 oz). A nylon hat like a Tilley LT5B could save me an ounce, but for the money it’s hard to beat the boonie.