Monday, July 9, 2012

Buying a hat from 5000 miles away

The ideal hat: an Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat

Two days before leaving on my trip, I still didn't have a good sun hat. In her letters, the tour leader said to bring a good hat because the tropical sun is brutal.

I stopped my last-minute packing, jumped in the car and drove to REI Santa Rosa to look for a hat. After trying on several hats, I finally chose a broad brimmed canvas hat. Just to be sure I had the right one, I asked one of the REI employees "Would this be a good hat for the Amazon rain forest?"

"No. You've chosen a canvas hat. It will be wet, heavy and hot. I'd recommend getting one of the waterproof hats made by Outdoor Research." (The REI employee was right. The humidity is so high in the jungle that the canvas hat would have been wet, heavy, hot and unwearable within an hour. It would have been covered with white mold within a week.)

Back to the REI hat rack. All their Outdoor Research hats were gone. A quick search on my smart phone showed a big-box "sports equipment" store nearby.  I drove to the store. The bored clerks knew nothing about hats and cared less. I finally remembered Sonoma Outfitters in Railroad Square. Back in the car for a trip across town.  Sonoma Outfitters had the hat, and in my size!  I reluctantly paid for the expensive hat, returned home and finished packing.

Three days later I was in Peruvian jungle, where I learned what the locals wore. Baseball caps. Just like the one I left lying in the back of my car.

Moral, "Don't buy a hat from 5,000 miles away."

The hat the locals wear

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