Thursday, October 1, 2009

How To Wear A Boonie Hat

Tips For Comfortable Wear of a Boonie Hat

Most of the complaints about a boonie hat are related to the annoying retention strap string, the leather brake on it, or the width of the band. Here are my comments on these potential sources of irritation, at least party illuminated by the practices of one of my brothers-in-arms who spent some time in places he never visited, depending on whom you ask about where he was at the time.

Note: under most reasonable conditions, a boonie hat which fits will stay on your head. Boonie hats were not made to be worn by persons operating in reasonable conditions.

There are a lot of modifications you can make to a standard-issue boonie hat. Some companies have "improved" upon the original design. Installing double bands for holding camo on the head, maybe I can go along with, but it would make the hat hotter to wear. Velcro patches and interior document pouches, the same thing. But when you go changing the string, you're asking for trouble. A removable string will get lost. Not might, will. The plastic sliding adjuster like on your ski jacket WILL break. Narrowing the brim defeats the purpose of having one.

What to do with the retention strap: (hint - the last is the best)

Wear it loose, behind the head, for retention from rear. This keeps the hat from blowing away completely when you catch a tailwind or updraft from the rear. Look down when you go through the downdraft from a helicopter's rotor. The string flopping around back there will eventually get under your collar (as shown) and irritate the back of your neck, even if you have a high, close-fitting collar. Worst case is that the hat could snag your weapon when you really needed both the hat and the weapon where you planned for them to be.


Wear it loose, in front of the head, so it looks like a necklace. This is good if you are constantly facing into the wind. Remember to pull the hat off before unassing a helicopter. If you catch a tailwind the hat is gone. If you catch a snag, it could be a garrote. If you tighten it under the chin, it is a hassle to put on and off, and we all know how uncomfortable a tight chin strap gets.


Wear it tied up over the top of the hat
. Look like a cowboy, and get sunburned ears. Lose the hat with any sort of wind, or if anything at all snags on the hat ("wait-a-minute" vines, branches, briars, etc).


Wear it over the head, under the hat. Unless the hat is WAY too big, this will be very uncomfortable. Murphy says it will eventually fall out right when you needed it to stay in place

Worse yet: Cut the dam' thing off! This is a bad move. The strap is useful.


Be like VFD:


Be like VFD: Tie a knot in the strap, at the back of the head. Done properly, this will prevent your hat blowing off in even a very stiff wind. It needs a special flip of the wrist to put the hat on, but when you have the hang of it it is just as fast as not having a string. You will know the knot is tied properly when there is just a little pressure from the string against the bottom of the occipital bone (the bulge at the back of your head). This is not any more uncomfortable than wearing clothes in the first place. The little "tail" sticking out of the knot does rub the back of the head and neck (a little, sometimes), but mostly it stays outside your shirt's collar. The best part is, you have to be trying to pull the hat off (hint: pull up on the brim in front).

What to do with the stupid-wide brim:
I really fail to see why this is a problem. I prefer the wide brim on my boonie hats, for all the reasons they were specified on the headgear in the first place. The boonie hat is a universal umbrella and sunshade, and it helps dissipate the "hey look there's a guy over there" human-head-recognition factor. If you can't see, there is one super-easy thing to do:

Tilt the hat on your head. Tilt it forward to block a rising or setting sun. Tilt it back to clear your upward peripheral vision. Tilt it sideways to block sidelong illumination sources.

Cutting the brim means you will have to tilt it to an extreme amount if you are looking at something backlit by a low rising or setting sun. Not cutting the brim means you have to tilt the hat or your head a little bit to get the brim up. If you need to look straight up at something, look up already.

1 comment:

KnightDWF said...

I have no problem with the hat taking off in a stiff breeze even if it blows from the side or front, if I cinch it down from the back. I've had some stiff winds here in Kuwait and if done right the hat stays put.