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Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat Review

Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat

The Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat is a waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex rain hat with a wide brim. While it’s billed as a rain hat, it can do double duty as a UPF 50+ sun hat, especially for water sports where its floating brim is a handy feature to prevent accidental loss. The hat has velcro tabs on the sides so you can fold up the brim for greater visibility and comes with an adjustable chin cord to keep it secure in stormy weather.  If you can barely tolerate the crappy hoods on hiking rain jackets, hiking with a rain hat might just change your mind about hiking in the rain.

Specs at a glance

  • Weight: 3.2 oz
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Width of Brim: 3″ Front and along the sides; 3.75″ in the rear
  • Waterproof/breathable: Yes, Gore-Tex 3 layer
  • Seam-taped: Yes
  • UPF Rating: 50+
  • Adjustable: No
  • Chin strap: Yes
  • Sizing: S, M, L, XL
  • Material: Crown: 70-denier plain weave nylon; brim: 70-denier plain weave nylon with PU coating
Velcro tabs on the sides of the crown let you fold up the sides of the hat.
Velcro tabs on the sides of the crown let you fold up the sides of the hat.

The Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat is an excellent alternative to using the disappointing hoods that come with many hiking rain jackets. Most have to be worn with a billed cap to keep the rain off your face and/or they’re massively oversized in order to accommodate ski and climbing helmets. A rain hat can instantly upgrade a rain jacket with a crappy hood by eliminating the necessity for the hood’s use.

For example, the Seattle Rain Hat has a much wider front brim than a rain jacket (if it has one at all) and is much better at keeping rain off my face and glasses than a closed hood while providing much better peripheral visibility. The foam-stiffened brim is 3 inches wide in the front and along the sides and 3.75 inches wide in the back to keep the rain off your neck and the hood of your rain jacket if you’re wearing one. As a glasses wearer, the added ventilation that comes with using a wide front brim is a godsend because it keeps the rain and condensation off my lenses completely. The brim serves double duty for sun protection on my face, my head, and the tops of my ears. If it’s buggy, the rear brim keeps my insect head net off the skin on the back of my neck where an insect might still get me through the mesh.

Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat

Waterproof
Brim Size
Sizing
Sun Protection

Better than a Rain Jacket Hood

The Seattle Rain Hat is a waterproof/breathable wide brimmed hat with a floating brim that will keep rain off your head, face (and glasses) while providing better ventilation and protection than most rain jackets.

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With the Seattle Rain Hat, I can also unzip the top of my rain jacket’s neck and upper chest so I perspire less inside, I can use it to keep my head warm or wick away perspiration, and the hat doesn’t interfere with my sense of sound when I walk in the wilderness. That said, the Seattle Rain Hat is not a magic bullet in all conditions though, but is best used in light to moderate wind so its large surface area doesn’t become ungainly and flap around loudly. In high winds, you can use your rain jacket hood because that’s when it’s actually the better tool for the job (assuming it has hood controls that let you get a snug fit.)

You can even fold up both sides of the hat if you’re feeling like Crocodile Dundee.
You can even fold up both sides of the hat if you’re feeling like Crocodile Dundee.

The OR Seattle Rain Hat comes in four sizes, based on the circumference of your head. I simply measured my head, picked the corresponding size, and it fit perfectly. The differences in circumferences between sizes is very small so you can get a very good fit if you measure your head. Just wrap a string around the crown of your head and measure it. It’s that simple. From what I understand, the previous version of the Seattle Rain Hat had an adjustable headband, but that feature was dropped in the current model.

Recommendation

The Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat is a wide-brimmed waterproof hat that provides rain protection and is an improvement over the disappointing hoods that come with many hiking rain jackets. It can also be used as a sun hat with a rating of UPF 50+, particularly on the water since its foam-stiffened brim floats. The improved ventilation inherent in using a hat open on all four sides instead of a hood enclosed on 3 sides makes should be readily apparent. But it also means that you can vent the top of your rain jacket more easily in order to perspire less inside, something that’s impossible to do when wearing a jacket hood. That’s a huge benefit when it’s raining and you’re trying to stay dry, both inside (your jacket) and outside.

I actually used to own an Outdoor Research Seattle Rain Hat some 20 years ago just as I was getting serious about hiking and backpacking. Somehow, I got waylaid over the years and started using rain jackets with built-in hoods instead, even though they’re a poor substitute for a wide-brimmed hat. That realization came flooding back to me as soon as I put on the Seattle Rain Hat and started hiking with it in the constant rain we’ve been having this spring. How did I ever get by without a rain hat, I wondered?

Disclosure: The author purchased this hat.

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5 comments

  1. “…flooding back to me…” Nice play on words, Grasshopper. Grandpa is proud of you.

  2. I’ve had one for many years and works well for the rain but I find it a little too hot just for hiking in the sun, 60-70 and above.

  3. I also got the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Storm hat. The advantage is the back is longer and soft which helps when you look up, it doesn’t hit the backpack or the PFD.

  4. Very D’artagnan looking with one side folded…

    I have used one of these a few times, I agree they don’t work well in windy alpine areas but for cool temperate rainforest they are far, far better than a hood.

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