Headgear is one of the most distinctive features of a military uniform and most of the time it’s more ornamental than functional. After all, a beret isn’t actually good for much – it just indicates what unit you’re in to anyone who can’t look at the rest of your uniform.
That’s barracks headgear though. There are plenty of other hats around that serve a practical function. Choose the right one and it can do a lot to keep you comfortable and effective. It can even protect you from injury, illness or death. Obviously in the military you’re going to be told what to wear a lot of the time, but sometimes you’ll have more freedom – and contractors can usually make their own decisions on that sort of item. Let’s have a look at some of the more popular duty hats and what works best in different situations.
In hot climates sunburn is a serious risk – it’s painful and can even put you out of action. On extended patrols, serious sunburn can get infected if the skin’s badly enough damaged. Even a minor case is distracting – and the back of your neck is particularly vulnerable. Sunblock is essential but it’s not always enough and, quite often in hot weather, it doesn’t hang around all that long.
One of the most common choices to protect against the sun is a baseball cap. This is a smart option and also a practical one. A baseball cap is light, doesn’t get in the way and its bill is extremely good at keeping the sun out of your eyes. That reduces dazzle and, longer term, eye strain. It’s a lot easier to stay observant when you’re not squinting against the glare. If baseball caps have one drawback it’s that they keep the sun out of your eyes, but they don’t keep it off anything else.
On the other hand, a boonie hat will throw some shade over your neck and ears, keeping the worst of the sun off. Look for one with a wide brim and vent holes to keep your head cool, plus a chinstrap – to avoid heat buildup it’s best to get one that’s not too tight fitting. In wet jungle conditions, a water-repellent spray will help keep the rain off.
When it’s cold, your head will really appreciate some insulation; that’s when the classic watch cap is your best bet. Avoid cheap ones made of synthetic yarn. The traditional material is wool, and it’s still a common choice. Wool soaks up water and takes a while to dry though, although it does retain most of its insulation when it’s damp. A lighter, more water-resistant option is a fleece beanie. These also fit well under a helmet, keeping your head warm when the threat state is high.
Choosing the right hat for the conditions will do a lot for both comfort and effectiveness. They’re also compact items, easily squeezed into a corner of your gear. A watch cap should be one thing you always carry. Boonie hats? They’re not just for the boonies. A long day on the range can also leave you feeling a bit red behind the ears by the time you’re done. At the end of the day your head’s your most important piece of equipment, so make sure you have the hats you need to protect it.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.