Sunday, October 3, 2010

Essential Clothing: Wool Hat

     Turns out, our mothers were right!  You should never leave the house on a cold day without a hat.  This single, often overlooked, item can be a literal life saver.  Carrying a head cover around with you year-round can make a world of difference.  Cheap, and light, they can easily be stuffed in a pocket and forgotten until needed.  It is one of the best piece of outdoor clothing to have on hand.  By keeping the head warm during cold weather, you are saving upwards of thirty percent of your body’s heat.  The human body holds about fifteen percent of its blood's volume in the head at any given time, by keeping the head warm and covered, you can reduce the amount of heat lost through your head.  If stuck outside for an unforeseen long period of time (i.e. bus taking forever), or worst yet, if you have to sleep outside due to a disaster, having this one item can save your life.  During the hot months, you can keep sun exposure on your head to a minimum, which can shoot up your core body temperature and lead to sunburn.

     In New York City, the common city dweller can be outside for more than ten minutes just about everyday of the year.  New Yorkers are a part of the elements.  We don't go from home, to car, to office.  We go outside and walk to where we've got to go.  It's one of the things that I personally love about this city; we get to live an active lifestyle if we so choose, by walking to and from places (time permitting...)  It is something that a lot of New Yorkers don't seem to realize though: dressing properly, and functionally for all the changing temperatures we have in The Apple should be a top priority when choosing what to wear when leaving the apartment.

     My first post explaining essential clothing for New Yorkers, is about one of the easiest, lightest, functional pieces of clothing you can carry around.  The hat is such a basic addition to your wardrobe, and its size/weight makes it so easy to have on you.  As I mentioned earlier, this one piece of clothing can keep you much warmer, and is by far the best piece, pound for pound, of clothing to own.  I suggest the fabric wool for its amazing warming abilities, and added benefits.  I recommend looking for a wool hat that has a liner like fleece, or polyester to help 'wick' away moisture from your scalp.  You can also try a hat liner or beanie made of a wicking material such as polyester, as a base layer, similar to the three-layer system.  The head, like the feet often sweat, and get wet easily, so you definitely want to remove the hat if you start getting too hot.  Always remember to stay dry!   

     A hat is vital to being comfortable in any climate whether hot, or cold.  You should always have on you at least one form of head protection.  Here are some hats that I suggest:

     This hat by Patagonia is 100% wool on the outside, with a fleece lining on the inside.  I own one and suggest it.  It is by far one of the warmest hats I have ever owned, and has stood up to some very cold temperatures like a champ.  The fact that it is all wool, and that the whole inside is lined with fleece was the biggest selling point to me.  *Unfortunately they are sold out right now, but I'm going to leave the link hoping it comes back next season.*

     This is the military version of the wool cap, that has been used for years.  It is cheap, well made, and makes a great all around beat on hat.  The one problem is that they are uncomfortable against the skin, but that can be easily fixed by wearing a hat liner below the hat.

     I have done a post on these before, and can't say enough about their usefulness.  They can be used in many configurations, but one of the more useful ones is as a head liner.  I carry these year-round, as they make great liners or neck warmers in the winter, and they are amazing at sopping up sweat in the summer.  The post gives a bit more detail if your interested. 


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