I was a little skeptical about this Snoqualmie cap from REI, with its doggie-ear flaps and a shape I usually associate with hunters tramping through the woods wearing bright orange. This puppy is one comfy hat though.
My home town got hit with a bracing cold snap this week, giving me a chance to really test this cap with the thermometer below freezing. As I scraped off the frost from my windshield and later walked around the neighborhood seeing my breath in front of my face, I realized that this may be the most comfortable winter hat I've ever worn. It keeps my ears warm without smothering them and with a soft fleece lining, it doesn't get scratchy when my head gets warm.
I'm all for renewable resources, but you've got to admit modern science results in a step up in comfort and features. This Snoqualmie cap uses eVent fabric that is waterproof and windproof (up to 60 mph), but has venting properties that allow the sweat to ease on out---reportedly twice as fast as typical wicking waterproof fabrics. The hat is as light as any plain fleece cap, but is lined with soft fleece and has a brim to keep the sun out of your eyes. When you don't need the flaps, they snap to the body of the cap. It comes in the color pictured here and "graphite."
None of this technology and smart design come cheap though: the hat retails for $40. But what's your comfort worth on the slopes? Or while slogging through the streets of Europe in the winter trying to find your hostel?
In my experience, REI-branded products are not a screaming bargain, but they're generally a fair value compared to gear with similar features from the likes of Patagonia, the North Face, or Columbia. I plan on using this hat for years to come whenever I'm headed off to a cold place. My ears will thank me, even if I do feel like begging for a bone-shaped treat.
Get the REI Snoqualmie Cap with eVent Fabric - Men's