81454OR - Kakadu Soaka Hat - Kathy Waters
- Jul 1, 2012Dear Editors,
It's been so blasted hot here that I've actually been avoiding physical
activity in the great outdoors, however, I have been wearing this hat any
time I need to walk more than a short distance in the blazing sun. Which
reminded me to finish this OR.
Great hat! Text is below and HTML is at: http://tinyurl.com/72l2kdt
Ready for your edits and comments.
KAKADU SOAKA HAT
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
July 1, 2012
NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to
backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land
bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other
gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my
husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers,
rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New
Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is
comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed).
Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
Manufacturer: Kakadu Traders Australia
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kakaduaustralia.com
MSRP: US $34.99
Listed Weight: Less than 5 oz (150 g)
Measured Weight: 3.5 oz (99 g)
Colors Available: Black, Brown, Cherry, Grey, Khaki, Lilac, Mushroom, Olive,
Pale Blue, Pink, Red, Rust & Sand
Color Reviews: Red
Sizes Available: Small to XXL (21.5 to 24.6 in/55 to 63 cm)
Size Reviewed: Medium (22.3 in/57 cm)
Fabric Type: Soaka micro-suede (100% polyester)
Developed in Australia.
Made in China
Photo Courtesy of Kakadu
The Kakadu Soaka hat is an Australian cowboy style hat with a flat top and
brim. The brim is just shy of 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide and the crown is 3.5
inches (9 cm) high. The front of the crown comes to a well-defined point.
The Soaka is made from 100% polyester in a soft brushed micro-suede which is
smooth to the touch.
There is a three-strand thin braided hatband which loops through itself and
ends in a 3 inch (7.6 cm) "tail" at the back of the hat.
A soft woven (feels like cotton to me) chin strap is looped around the front
of the hat's crown, is fed through two eyelets on the alternate sides of the
crown and then is tied together at the ends. There are clear aglets to
prevent unraveling. The two sides of the chin strap are threaded through a
small wooden bead that slides up and down the two straps. Sliding the bead
upwards tightens the straps so as to secure the Soaka against the wind.
There are 3 eyelets in a triangular shape on each side of the crown for
While there isn't a full, all-around the hat sweatband, there is an extra
layer of micro-suede in the interior front of the crown where the hat rests
against the forehead.
FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
Yellowstone National Park
I have to confess. When I first spotted the red Kakadu Soaka hat on display
I just had to try it on. I certainly wasn't thinking about backpacking at
all - just how attractive it looked. Hats are my guilty pleasure and with
this bright red beauty, that guilty pleasure certainly isn't a secret one!
After I stopped ooo-ing and aaah-ing, I found out that "Soaka" wasn't some
odd Aussie style name but that "Soaka" had a built-in feature making it a
perfect backpacking hat. I can "soak" this hat in water and then wear it to
cool off when I'm on the trail baking under the sun. Neat! This I had to
try, so I took the Soaka home.
Before I actually tried the cooling action of the Soaka I had worn it on
numerous occasions "dry". In addition to lots of casual wear, the hat
accompanied me on several backpacks, including day hikes in Yellowstone
National Park, an overnight in Grand Teton National Park and two days in
Dinosaur National Monument in October 2011. It also kept me warm while
snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park In December and Utah's Solitude
State Park in January. During my October backpacks, the weather was damp,
drizzling much of the time and I was very pleased with how the Soaka kept me
from getting chilled. Even in a light drizzle, the hat didn't wet out.
Hmmm. If a drizzle didn't wet the hat how would the Soaka work in the heat?
I decided to experiment by soaking the hat at home where a possible failure
would not pose any problem. When I put the top of the Soaka under the
kitchen faucet water initially rolled right off but within a half minute or
so, the color started to darken and I could tell the fabric was getting,
well, soaked. I continued to let water run over the Soaka until the color
was uniform. Now I had a dripping hat in my hands! At this point I
remembered I was told to just "flick" the hat to remove the excess liquid. I
did that and a spray of water was released from the hat. The Soaka was now
ready for use so I jammed it on my head and was pleased to immediately feel
The very next opportunity to wear the Soaka on a backpack came up in early
March when Colorado started to have some warm spells - which certainly
haven't abated yet. My husband and I packed up for an overnight just north
of where we live in the Cooper Mountain range near Canon City and wearing my
Soaka hat, we headed for the hills. Shortly into our uphill climb as is
usually the case, I started to get hot. Unlike most people, I can't just
abandon wearing a hat when I heat up. I have eye challenges that require me
to keep my eyes shaded. A brimmed hat is mandatory almost always. So as the
sweat started to bead up on my forehead, I took off the hat and poured half
of a 1 L bottle of water into the upturned hat, making sure to run the
stream of water down the sides of the crown. Voila! Cool relief!
Using a bottle of water isn't the most ideal way to soak the hat, a stream
or lake works much better when in the backcountry, but sometimes (most of
the time) there isn't that option, so I've gotten quite adept at pouring the
water into the hat in the most efficient manner so as not to waste my water.
And if it is hot when I start my trekking, I'll soak the hat before I even
In the high desert, evaporation causes the Soaka to dry out in a matter of
90 minutes to 2 hours or so depending on the temperature. When the
temperatures top 90 F (32 C) - like today - the hat is dry within an hour.
The Soaka fits nice and snug around my 22 inch (56 cm) forehead, so if I
keep my head down a bit I can keep it on my head in all but the windiest
conditions. When the cruel winds blow though, the chin straps have been a
real boon. Most of the times, I flip the cord up and over the brim where it
rests nicely out of my way, but when it really starts a 'blowing, I quickly
pull them down and cinch up the adjuster. Then I can go about my hiking
holding onto my trekking poles and not my hat. The Soaka's chin straps
remind me of my childhood cowboy hats.
All this wetting and drying hasn't affected the look, shape or fit of the
Soaka hat. The brim is still straight and properly stiff and the crown
hasn't gotten lumpy, stretched or shrunken. It hasn't developed any musty
odor either. And while I have had my 11-year-old, 55 lb (25 kg)
granddaughter accidently sit on it, I haven't ever crushed it up and stuffed
it in the corner of a backpack. Oh, and thankfully, the Soaka color hasn't
faded or worse yet, run!
When I am not wearing it on the trail, I let it rest on my back with the
chin straps around my neck, but mostly I've got it on and I plan to continue
to do so for a long time.
1.) Keeps me warmer in winter, cooler in the heat.
2.) Chin strap can withstand windy conditions.
1.) When worn wet, I get a serious case of "hat head"!
I love hats! I particularly love the look of cowboy-style brimmed hats. The
Kakadu Soaka hat sports that western look I adore - with an Australian
flavor - and it has function above and beyond that of all my other headwear.
Not only does the Soaka keep my noggin warm when it's cold outside, but it
cools me down when Old Sol is a' blazing hot! One quick dunk in a stream or
lake and the Soaka is ready to go no matter what the mercury reads (and so
am I)! This versatility makes the Soaka a valuable backpacking hat for me.
The Soaka is not my only Kakadu hat; I have another style as well. But it
certainly is my favorite! I just might have to get me another one. I'm kinda
hankerin' for a lilac hat. Or maybe pink. But I like the pale blue as well.
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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