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Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat with Insect Shield

Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat
Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat

I’ve gotten extra paranoid about Lyme Disease this year and upgraded all of my hiking clothing to garments and accessories that have been pre-treated with Insect Shield (Permethrin). The latest addition to my “fashionable” khaki-colored outfit is Outdoor Research’s Sentinel Brim Hat with Insect Shield. 

Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat

Insect Protection
Sun Protection

Dependable Sun and Insect Protection

The Sentinel Brim Hat provides excellent sun and insect protection. Pre-treated with Insect Shield, it helps reduce the risk of Lyme Disease and has a UPF rating of 30 to protect against sunburn.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 2.5 ounces
  • Machine wash
  • Material: Nylon
  • Insect Shield: Good through 70 washings

Given how serious the threat of Lyme is this year and the explosion in the deer tick population, you ‘d figure that makers of baseball style brim hats would offer a wide selection of hats that were pre-treated with Insect Shield – Not!.  Instead, I was forced to switch to a hat with a wrap-around brim, something I’ve always avoided I guess, because I thought big hats looked unwieldy and dorky.

That turned out to be a misconception and I rather like the wrap-around brimmed Sentinel Hat which has proven fine for all of the different types of hiking I do from bushwhacking to backpacking and even provides more sun protection than billed caps. I am past the thinning hair stage and I also worry about sun protection on my face and neck, especially when I’m above treeline.

Top Vents and External Drawstring Size Adjustment
Top Vents and External Drawstring Size Adjustment

Made out of nylon, the Sentinel Brim Hat comes with top vents and a removable chin cord which is a must-have in the windy places I hike. The brim is stiffened with foam, so it’s not floppy, but it’s nowhere as firm as the brim on a ball cap. I briefly considered getting a brim style rain hat but decided I didn’t really need to wear it for every hike I do because the hood of the rain shell I carry has a bill on it and is perfectly sufficient to keep the rain out of my eyes.

I have a small sized head and finding hats that fit right is a big headache for me. This is exacerbated by the fact that the online size guides published by retailers never match the hat you want to purchase. But a size-small fit me fine, and the headband can even be adjusted on this model by pulling on a drawstring that runs inside it. If you are sizing for best fit,  make sure to get a hat that is slightly too big rather than slightly too small, because this hat does not stretch out with wear.

Underside of Sentinel Brim Hat
The underside of the Sentinel Brim Hat

While this hat has an internal “wicking” headband, I find that sweat still drips into my eyes if I’m climbing up a steep hill, just like it did with my old GoLite billed hiking cap.

What about using a head net? This hat work great with my Sea-to-Summit Insect Shield Head Net because the brim keeps the mesh off my face and neck.

But does a wide brim hat treated with Insect Shield work for keeping biting insects away. Heck yeah! I think moving from a billed hat to a wide brim provides a larger “zone of safety” around my face and the added sun protection is a big win too.

Disclosure: Philip Werner owns a Sentinel Brim Hat and purchased it with his own funds. 

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  1. Perhaps this is nit picking but … Regarding Phillip’s closing statement: “But does a wide brim hat treated with Insect Shield work for keeping biting insects away. Heck yeah! I think moving from a billed hat to a wide brim provides a larger “zone of safety” around my face ”

    While much commercial product description of permethrin contains the word “repellent”, I’m pretty sure that all the technical literature will confirm that it is an insecticide, not a repellent. It kills insects rather than repels them.

    Indeed, our military uses both permethrin and DEET together in buggy conditions.

    Never the less … folks I know who’ve used permethrin treated clothing report being “bugged” much less and I have a family member being medicated after finding a bulls-eye rash so we’ll be using permethrin treated clothing next time we head for the woods.

    • No you are absolutely correct Jim. Permethrin (insect shield) does not repel bugs, it kills them. I also carry DEET but I avoid putting it by wearing long pants, gaiters, and a long sleeve shirt. In fact, I almost never have to apply it. I think part of the reason that a wide brim repels has nothing to do with permethrin but with the shape of the hats. Bugs go for the high point of your body. You can test this by raising your arm above your head in a heavily bug infested area. It’s actually a trick to get them out of your face. A wide brim hat may keep the bugs out of your face by blocking their descent from the top of your head down to eye level. The permethrin may just be an added bonus. Revenge is sweet. :-)

  2. Whether permethrin functions as an insecticide or as a repellant depends on the type of insect, I believe. Permethrin is toxic to ticks but only repels mosquitoes, I think. I could be wrong, of course.

    I had a good experience with mine as far as keeping the bugs at bay—“zone of safey is a good way of putting it.” Things can get awfully warm during a long climb, though. http://flic.kr/p/bZF7UA

  3. I prefer Tilly hats my self, but do they make that spray so you can treat your gear at home? Because I loathe ticks, insect-crab vampire monsters from hell and some of them have nasty Lyme disease. Did I mention I hate ticks. If they make that stuff in a spray bottle that would be the trick.

  4. I like the look and style of this hat – sort of a classic boonie hat. While I am generally not a hat wearer except when needed, I adopted a baseball cap as part of my backpacking kit. Last year EMS had a Tilley hat on sale for $30, so I sprang for it. These are the full brimmed style with vents at the top, much like this OR hat. I did think these hats were somewhat dorky and old mannish, but hey – I am approaching old man territory anyway. The hat has really grown on me and now I look for reasons to wear it.

    I also just received a headnet from Peter’s headnets, which have garnered a lot of praise on the web. Peter Vacco seems to be quite a character. When I emailed him recently as to whether I could buy a headnet, and, if so, the type I wanted ( he had halted new orders due to demand), I did not hear back. However, within three days, a headnet was in my mailbox with a very humorous note / invoice telling me how much he would appreciate payment.

    I have not yet compared his headnet to my old sea to summit, but it does seem to be much more transparent.

    I only know one person who contracted Lyme disease, but it has been a major and chronic health setback for them. It is frankly my biggest concern about time in the woods of New England.

  5. There are a couple of brands of spray permethrin treatments on the market. One treatment lasts 4–5 washings or a month or so. You can also send items of clothing in for the kind of Insect Shield® treatment the Sentinel hat comes with: http://bit.ly/14epLOQ

  6. I have one of those hats and bought a matching one for my grandson. Soon, I wished I had gotten him a different color, however, he fixed that by spilling something on it which permanently stained it.

    The hat does look dorky but it buttons under the chin to stay on and helps keep the ears warm as well as the sun off.

  7. The hat I referred to above is the one Philip mentioned he wore on the Long Trail.

  8. They’re definitely a bit dorky, I don’t wear mine anywhere but on the trail, but when I’m out on the trail I’m glad I have it. When you’re dirty and sweaty a little dorkiness isn’t the end of the world :)

  9. I have bought several Permethrin treated clothing items thanks to recommendations I read on this blog site and have been happy with them. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would want to mess with that chemical for protection that only lasts a few washings, versus purchasing the items that last 70 washings.

    But it occurred to me recently that I have been operating on faith that the clothing actually works as advertised. So when my wife found a live tick last week, I placed it in an Insect Shield treated shirt, then stuffed it into a ziplock for a couple of days. At the end of the two days, I opened the package to check on the condition of the tick. Still living. Didn’t seem affected by its time with the shirt at all. Very disappointed, as this shirt has been washed only about 10 times, so it should have plenty of protection left in it.

    Now I am not sure what to make of the product. It seems possible that my decrease in tick bites might have more to do with wearing long sleeves and long pants than some properties in the material.

    • Maybe it wasn’t exposed long enough or it didn’t try to bite through the fabric. I’ll have to look into the pathway the insecticide takes to kill the bug – but Permethrin does work. No doubt about it. But wearing long pants/shirts also works pretty darn well too!

  10. I got over the “dorkiness problem” and started wearing a wide brim hat in the last year or so to avoid the sun exposure (I am tired of the angry chats with the dermatologist!). I have been using an OR hat with a removable Pertex rain cover (Sunshower Sombrero I think) which works for me because I can’t stand hiking in a hood.
    I still prefer to hike in a brimmed cap like the OR Swift but I am moving more and more to the wide brimmed hat. I think I am going to treat the hat with permethrin given your report- hadn’t thought about that one!

  11. In warmer months I wear a Tilley TH-5 Hemp hat that I have treated with Permethrin as suggested by Philip in his article. That keeps the bugs away from my head & face and my RailRiders shirts & pants which come pretreated with Permethrin take care of everything else.

    Permethrin makes me a happy warm weather hiker!!

  12. Phillip said: “Bugs go for the high point of your body.”

    Indeed! … drive past a golf course when biting insects are bad and witness folks walking the fairway holding a club vertically with a towel draped over the top end!

  13. Tilley makes a model with Insect Shield now too: http://www.tilley.com/LTM6IS-AIRFLO-Hat-with-Insect-Shield.aspx . Between the treatment and the neck protector I had no trouble with bugs on my head at a very buggy Boy Scout campout recently.

  14. Being hair challenged, I got over hats a long time ago, a scalp sun burn and scratches from branches (I’m 6’3″ and hit a lot of things others never seem to) will make your life miserable, and let’s not forget the long term possibility of skin cancers. So, my main concern is head protection from the sun etc. As to this hat, an alternative is the Boonie Safari Hat sold by the boy Scouts for $20, it doesn’t have the size pull, but for $20 it’s not bad at all. Add a bandana around the back of your neck and you can get through a lot of sun (Don’t forget you can wet the bandana and even put a second one under the hat to help keep you cooler.

  15. I always thought they were trying to be lightning rods. :-)

  16. If you are a ball cap type but still need some coverage on the sides and back, I have used the ADAMS HEADWEAR Extreme Outdoor – UV 45+ hat for many years when out on the water. 12-16 hour days will really burn you up and with the French Foreign Legion type neck skirt, my ears and neck don’t get burnt. I will also dunk the whole hat to help keep cool. When around town and not wanting to look “Dorky” the skirt folds up into the hat.

    The hat leash that clips to a shirt has saved it on many a windy day and it does have a head tighten cord.

  17. Damn Philip…not dorky at all….in that picture of you above, I almost expect to see that “shimmering alien” from Predator creeping up behind you!!! Lock and load your M-16, brother!

    In all, seriousness, I echo those above who speak of sun protection. I am 63. I spent my youth on the beach, followed by 4 decades on Navy ship bridge-wings — followed a second career as a game warden that included countless days on the water, shoreline, marshes, and snowy hills…slow-frying myself in bright sunlight. Since I turned 40, I have had three surgeries on my nose, and countless “things” cut, burned and frozen from my arms, cheeks, forehead, etc. I now count my semi-annual dermatologist visits equally important as my dental ones. To all of you—any of you who live to be in the outdoors—I say to you that skin cancer is insidious….I had a close friend go from “healthy to dead” in 16 weeks. Please all of you—take care to protect your skin! I’ll take “dorky” over the alternative.

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