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I know some people will wonder why we’re doing another gear review of a hat, they simply sit on your head and keep the sun and rain out of your eyes. I also know certain people cringe when they see Velcro sewn on a hat. They say whats next, PALS sewn onto the sides for your IFAK?
To be honest, that’s what I thought of “tactical hats” when they started becoming popular. I figured that I could just wear my Local Motion Surf Co. hat and no one would pay any attention. It’s a different story when you have a MultiCam hat full of Pork Eating Crusader and Jolly Roger patches.
Some people seem to have a strange addiction to hats. There are a few threads floating around AR15.com and Lightfighter.net where people show off their hat collections and man do some people have a bunch! Hats are one of those strange things that people like to collect, like knives and flashlights (I have a good friend who has around 30 flashlights!).
But like any piece of gear, there’s a time and place where fashion goes out the window and being practicable takes precedence. This is where the 215 Gear Operator Hats come into play. They were designed by people who know function comes first and they truly excel in hot and humid weather climates like The Sandbox, or even here in Florida where I’m at.
215 Gear ELW
New at 215 Gear is the Operators Hat ELW (Extremely Light Weight). Unlike the Blended Operators Hat which has mesh panels sewn into the sides, the ELW is made entirely out of a close knit mesh. This takes light weight and breathability to the next level. While being lightweight, it feels nice and sturdy and definitely not cheap.
A great feature is the removal of the top button and the addition of a small 1″ x 1″ loop patch. This really helps when you’re wearing electronic hearing protection as the top strap doesn’t roll to the front or back. This also allows a square glint tape to be attached to the top.
I know you’re sitting there asking who really does this? One application besides the military would be a K9 handler who almost always works in conjunction with a helicopter. At night this would help if the spotter (or pilot) has night vision capabilities. FLIR is great if it’s working, but always have a back up plan.
Like its blended brother, the ELW has 2″ x 3″ loop panels on the front and back to throw on an American Flag or your favorite morale patch and hit work or the range. Both the Blended and the ELW hats seem to have a longer brim when you put them on, which seems to be due to the front top of the hat sitting low on your head because of the lack of structure found on some hats.
The front of the hat features a nice size/slope and doesn’t stick up like a cheap trucker’s hat. There’s also no stiffening added to the front, which is referred to in the apparel industry as a structured hat; this is an unstructured hat. I don’t like wearing hats that have a funky front and there are no worries with any of the 215 Gear hats.
Adjustment on the ELW is handled via a Velcro closure strap on the rear that features subdued 215 Gear embroidered text. If you’re not a fan of FlexFit hats then this type of adjustment is a great choice. The stitching is very nice and there’s no extra material hanging off anywhere.
The true benefits the ELW offers are the lack of weight and full mesh ventilation. All the material used in the construction of the ELW is ventilated mesh, even the material over the brim. The brim does have a plastic insert to shape it and to help keep the sun out of your eyes, but isn’t lined with loop velcro like the Blended Operators Hat. The only drawback I could potentially see is sun exposure if you’re balding or rocking a shaved head. I’m neither, so I can’t attest to whether it would even be an issue with the close-knit mesh used on the ELW.
With the ELW you may want to consider a lanyard if you are on a boat or vehicle that’s exposed to wind. The lightweight construction may cause it to go flying. I would say the ventilation is well worth it though. The Made in the USA tag is a great location on the inner back for a lanyard loop.
So there you have it. More than one paragraph on a hat review, amazing I know. If you live or work in a hot climate the ELW is definitely for you and comes highly recommended!
You can get the 215 Gear ELW in any color you like as long as it’s Coyote. Check out the 215 Gear online store for great hats that are well under $30. Everything that 215 Gear produces is made in the good ol’ USA and comes with a lifetime warranty.
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