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Hands-on Gear Review
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Review
Cons: Less durable than Tilley, not great for backpacking
Bottom line: Good protection from the sun and excellent wind performance makes this a great choice for days spent out on the water.
This top performer takes our Top Pick Award for Boating. We took the Outdoor Research Sombriolet out on the water in different craft and discovered it was our first choice for those activities. It has great sun protection and holds fast in strong winds with its stiff brim and drawcords. The Sombriolet is comfortable and has an understated style that our testers preferred. Take it out on the water with you, or on any leisure activity you can think of.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sun Hats for Hiking
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Outdoor Research Sombriolet has excellent coverage, an anti-glare brim, and is stiff enough to withstand high winds, making it an ideal choice for boating. It is our top choice for wearing when spending time out on the water.
The OR Sombriolet stood up to the competition and scores high in protection, comfort, breathability, and style.
With 50+ UPF protection, the Sombriolet has the best coverage (from the sun) of all the full brim hats in our fleet.
Its brim measures 4" in front and back, 3.25 sides. The Horizon Brimmer is a close second in this department, measuring 3.75" all the way around. The hats with "neck capes", like the Outdoor Research Sun Runner and the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure, do have more protection on the back of the neck but look somewhat less stylish. The Sombriolet's brim is the stiffest in the bunch and stands up to winds well. It won't flop up, exposing your face to the sun, like we experienced with the Horizon Brimmer. It has a drawcord you can tighten around your head to keep it on snugly, and for extra protection from losing it, there is a removable chin cord you can deploy in the gustiest of situations. We also noticed the underside of the Sombriolet's brim is a darker grey color and discovered that this is mean as anti-glare protection for your eyes and face. This prevents reflections from water and snow surfaces bouncing back on you.
The Sombriolet is a very comfortable hat - more comfortable than its women's counterpart the Outdoor Research Women's Oasis Sun Sombrero.
This may be because the size we tested was slightly loose. Our tester's head measures 21.5, " and we chose a size medium which measures between 22 ¼" and 22 ⅞". The small size measures 21 ½" and 22" and would probably fit our tester fine, but the brim may have pushed into our head more. We think the more significant size added to the hat's comfort and did not look too big. We believe the Arc'teryx Sinsola and the Ultra Adventure are among the most comfortable contenders. The most comfortable hats we tested were also extraordinarily lightweight and made of soft materials. This hat is only slightly heavier than those; weighing in at 75 grams, the Sombriolet is on the lighter side, and you barely notice it on your head. It is not as soft as the lightest of hats because of the excellent mesh ventilation the gives you the comfort of not having a super hot head.
In comparison with the Oasis Sun Sombrero, the Sombriolet is much more breathable.
It has a mesh-lined crown and has vents along the sides, front, and back for excellent ventilation. The Oasis disappointingly has no vents - we're not sure why Outdoor Research chose not to include any vents in their women's version. The Tilley model is very breathable as well, with a ¾" mesh panel around the whole crown allowing for ideal ventilation. The Afternoon Hat has large mesh panels as well, which allows for exceptional breathability.
The Sombriolet is quite durable for how stiff the brim is. We put stuffed it in a small ziplock bag for 30 minutes, and it bounced back well.
The Tilley LTM6 bounced back event quicker during this test and seems to be the most durable. However, the Sombriolet appears to be okay, and you could stuff it in your bag with little consequence. It comes in a variety of muted colors which will hide dirt and stains well. The least durable hat we tested is the Arc'teryx Sinsola, as the material is quite thin and the black color we tested started to fade. A hat with less sun protection but more durability and packability is the OR Sun Bucket.
We think the Sombriolet has an understated, low-key style. We like the shape of its brim, which is not too wide to stand out while still giving ample coverage.
We also like that you can remove the chin cord to reduce the dork factor that sometimes happens with wide brim hats. It is not as stylish as the Sinsola, and doesn't have the Indiana Jones feel of the Tilley but you can wear it and not feel embarrassed about how you look. We do think that some hats are just unavoidably dorky and you may lose street cred if you are wearing them, like the Adventure Hat - if you care about that kind of thing. Unfortunately, the Sombriolet doesn't come in as many colors as the Oasis, so you'll have to choose from muted earth tones and blues.
The Sombriolet wins our Top Pick Award for boating. We took this hat out on the water a lot, from sea kayaking on the ocean to sailing on freshwater lakes. The Sombriolet stands up well to high winds and won't expose your face to the sun by flopping up - and will stay on your head with its sturdy drawcord and cinchable chin strap. If you're looking for a hat to wear for a low key day at the beach, we think the Horizon Brimmer is a better choice. We would not recommend the Sombriolet for backpacking as the back of the brim sticks out too much and will hit your pack. Our favorite model for backpacking is the Editors' Choice Ultra Adventure.
Retailing for $42, the Sombriolet is a great value, much more so than the similarly priced OR Oasis - it has more vents and was of better quality. The Tilley LTM6 Airflo is another great choice for boating but is much more expensive, retailing for double, at $90.
We love having this hat with us out on the water. It offers exceptional coverage, has an anti-glare brim that is a darker color underneath to minimize reflection on the water, and has a stiff brim that will resist winds and stay on your head. The Sombriolet is comfortable and has an understated style that our testers appreciate. It is a great value at $42.
— Jessica Haist
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