I spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter. Some of that is by choice doing things like snowshoeing or hiking. Some of that time is not by choice doing things like clearing snow off our driveway which we accomplish with a 74″ snow blower mounted to the rear of one of our tractors. If you have ever cleared snow with a tractor mounted snow blower (with no cab), you know that you end up covered from head to toe with snow as the wind swirls and shifts. This means that you not only have to deal with cold temperatures, you also have to deal with lots and lots of moisture. You are soaked in short order.
The above situation, coupled with a warmer than average year in which we have seen plenty of wintery mix, wet snow, and more than our share of winter rain sent me on a quest for a hat that was warm, purpose built, breathable, and that would shed water. Any time I am looking for a technical, outdoor-oriented cap, I start at Outdoor Research.
Here is what I needed from the cap:
- It had to have a synthetic outer shell to help shed moisture.
- It had to be warm.
- It had to work with a head lamp since it gets dark around 3PM here at the height of winter.
The Outdoor Research Frostline hat seemed to fit the bill and then some. I purchased one before the worst of the snow flew and I have been wearing it almost daily since. This hat is a serious multi-tasker and has done exactly what I have needed.
Dealing with Precipitation
This hat seems purpose built to deal with winter precipitation. The outer shell is constructed from breathable and water-resistant 30D Pertex Endurance fabric. After almost a full season of wear, water still beads and rolls off of mine. There can be some slight seeping at the seams when the cap is getting absolutely soaked but it is more than enough to keep my head dry in most conditions.
The Frostline also has a really well designed flip down brim. It is held up with a magnet and stiffened with a relatively soft foam (like what OR uses in many of their hat brims). The brim is short and flips down at a very severe angle which is great for keeping sun out of your eyes and channeling the water running off your hat away from your face.
This cap is warm. The Pertex Endurance outer is lined with pile fleece that has good loft and wicks well. The fleece lines the hat completely including the bottom of the flip down brim and the ear flaps (which can be folded up and secured on top of the cap when they aren’t needed).
The Frostline also has a built in facemask that tucks away inside of one of the ear flaps in a zippered compartment. It is easy to access with gloves (though putting it away is a little bit of a pain) and does a great job of keeping your comfortable when the air is so cold and dry that it hurts to breath. There is very little exposed skin when the face mask is deployed.
Works with a Headlamp
This may seem like a weird requirement for a headlamp but it gets dark very early in my area. Many caps with brims just don’t work well with headlamps. The Frostline is different. When the brim is up, it doesn’t get in the way at all. When it is down, the angle is severe enough that you can still place your headlamp above it without shadowing.
I have Outdoor Research dealers near me but none of them had the Frostline in stock for me to check out. I was able to pick up mine at Amazon on sale for about $20 less than I could find it elsewhere: OR Frostline on Amazon.
This cap has become my go to for cold weather outdoor activities and I especially like the fold up ear flaps for use with over the ear hearing protection! I like it so much that I may pick up a second one. Even my daughters have asked for their own Frostline cap.