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Mini Review: Outdoor Research Water Bottle Tote 1L

It is pretty much standard for modern hiking packs to have water bottle pockets on one or both sides of the pack. However, many of these water bottle pockets are difficult to reach without stopping and taking your pack off which is why I either lash a bottle to my shoulder strap or carry one on the waist belt of my pack with an Outdoor Research Water Bottle Tote.

The Water Bottle Tote attaches to your pack via a hook and loop flap that is semi-rigid. This attachment system is versatile and fits a wide range of pack belts and webbing sizes or even your pants belt. I have been able to figure out an accessible and functional way to attach this pouch to every pack I have tried it with. The semi-rigid flap also seems to help the pouch bear weight without sagging.

It has proven to be very durable. I have used mine for years and, apart from some trail dust, you wouldn’t know it. It is also relatively light at 1.6 ounces. That isn’t exactly ultra light territory but it doesn’t cost like an ultralight pouch either.

It is sized well for most 1L bottles. I have even carried very tall, narrow bottles like the Smart Water bottles that I like to re-use for the trail. The cinch top allows the user to secure just about any bottle that will fit in the opening of the pouch.

Water bottle pouches are probably the least exciting thing you will read about all day but… This one is simple, versatile, durable, readily available, affordable, and it works. Believe it or not, that isn’t necessarily an easy-to-find combination of attributes for a water bottle pouch. This isn’t sexy gear but it is good, functional, and necessary gear (for me at least).

If you are lucky, you might be able to find these at a local outdoor retailer. If not, I bought mine from Amazon: OR Water Bottle Tote on Amazon. This is an affiliate link.

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Review: Outdoor Research Frostline Cap

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:

  1. It had to have a synthetic outer shell to help shed moisture.
  2. It had to be warm.
  3. 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.

Warm

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.

Review: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

I’ve always liked Outdoor Research’s caps and I’ve owned a number of them over the years. The Sun Runner Cap in particular stands out as my favorite. It just works for me and the things I do outdoors better than any other cap I’ve tried.

Overview

The Sun Runner Cap is, as the name implies, designed to keep the sun off its wearer. The cap itself has 6 panel construction which is very comfortable to wear. The large panels on either side of the had are made from mesh while the top and front panels are made from the same thin Supplex nylon that OR uses in many of their caps.

The stiffened and preshaped brim is shorter and rounder than a typical ball cap. It also features two snaps that allow the Sun Runner to mount the included cap which is also made out of Supplex nylon.

Observations from Use

One of the biggest reasons I like this cap is the fit. OR offers the Sun Runner in 4 different sizes: S, M, L, and XL. I have a big head and finding caps that fit well can be a challenge. The Sun Runner offers plenty of adjustment. The fit is perfect and even comes down low on my head (below the tops of my ears) which is rare for me.

This hat also breathes and wicks perspiration extremely well. I own the hat in White and Hydro (Blue). The White one in particular feels cooler than my uncovered head! It reflects the sun’s heat and the side panels allow the hat to breath so that you actually get some evaporative cooling action from the hat band. Speaking of the hat band, it does a great job of keeping sweat out of your eyes.

The Sun Runner also does a great job of dealing with the sun – especially for shooters. The underside of the brim is a very dark grey that cuts down on glare which is nice when your eye is buried in an optic and your trying to pick out a distance target. OR purposely uses a dark color under the brim on all the Sun Runner colorways. The included cape drapes down and covers the back of your neck even when you drop into the prone which is a godsend if you are in a precision rifle class and spending a lot time in the prone. If you find that the cape is interfering with your cheek weld, just flip the removeable chin cord back behind your neck and tighten it slightly. This will keep the sides of the cape back and away from your face while still providing full neck coverage.

I should also note that this cap lacks a “button” on the crown like those found on ball caps. It also fits very close to the head which makes it very comfortable to wear with over the ear hearing protection. You can even attach the cap over your ear muffs with a little work but I usually just let my ear muffs hold the cape back or use inside the ear hearing protection.

I also use the cap extensively for hiking. It’s relatively lightweight at around 3 ounces (less if you don’t need the cape). It is very packable thanks to the compact brim and unstructured top. It even fits in most pants pockets though a cargo pocket works best. It’s a great three season cap in my area where we deal with lots of sun and heat in late spring through early fall.

Wrap Up

I like the Sun Runner Cap so much that I bought two of them. It deals with sun, heat, and sweat better than any other cap I’ve owned. It’s perfect for a carbine class, hiking, and working outside. If all that isn’t enough, you feel like Lawrence of Arabia when you wear it with the cape attached and that is worth something.

I bought one of my hats locally but I got a much better deal on the second one by purchasing it online at Amazon. OR occasionally discontinues certain colors which usually results in deep discounts so keep an eye out for that. OR Sun Runner Cap on Amazon

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