Santa Hat

I have completed the first draft of the guide for this hat. Please feel free to make any suggestions to it.

Santa Hat Guide

So this hat is borrowed from Kavu and Joe over at Zpacks. Joe made his own hat like this for his CDT and PCT thru hikes, and I loved the idea. He was even nice enough to warn me of some of the problems he faced using and making his hat. Thanks, Joe. Hopefully I solved some of the problems he faced in my own hat.

This hat is primarily meant to be part of my rain system for my upcoming AT thru hike this summer. I have to wear glasses to see, and so when it rains, I need some sort of head covering to protect my glasses. However, I hate hoods. I know they can add warmth when used in a system, but I can’t stand the restricted feeling I get when I wear them and warm is seldom needed in the summers on the AT.

Another reason for the designs is that I am transitioning to a hammock and underquilt for this thru hike, so I wanted a sit pad now that my sleeping pad is gone.

With this in mind, I made the hat out of a blue foam pad that I purchased at Walmart for about $6 long ago. It should be thick enough to stand up to the wind, which was a problem Joe warned me of. It is formed by two strips of velcro, so when I want to use it as a sit pad, I can just undo the velcro and sit on it comfortably. I also made a silnylon slip cover for it to help keep the rain from slipping through the tiny crack left when forming the hat.

The headband is made from 3D spacer mesh, which turned out to be comfortable enough. And I solved the issue of it sliding around by wrapping in some shockcord that goes behind my head and keeps it snug front to back.

The slip cover still definitely could use some work, but I think it is very usable. Overall, the hat cost me nothing, because I had scraps sitting around the house, but I think it may come up to be about $20. If you use something besides 3D mesh for the headband (like a sweatband maybe), you could drop that in half almost, I bet. The hat is not totally flat around the bill because of how the foam has been rolled for such a long time. It doesn’t bother me too much, but it does make it look even a bit more comical.

In the end, I think I am going to take another page from Joe’s playbook and match this hat with my own MYOG silnylon CloudCape (minus the hood and probably quality) and silnylon rainskirt. I think this system will be airy enough, but also dry enough for prolonged summer rains on the AT.


After using the hat in prolonged rain, I know for a fact that is works amazingly well as a rain hat. I still need to work on the stability of the hat, but I will get that dialed in in the future. Also, the final weight of the hat, including the slip cover, is 4.3 oz, making it a great, lightweight, multiuse piece of gear.


6 thoughts on “Santa Hat

  1. WOW I have no idea why I have never come across your blog before. You got some totally cool posts here!! Subscribed for sure!! 🙂

    What is the weight of this hat? I have been using the kavu chillba for a few months and it is at the 8oz mark, which is ok when its on my head, but still way heavier than the OR Sun Runner that I prefer, but offers very little sun/rain protection.

    1. John, thanks for the support.

      I can’t believe I forgot to post the weight of the hat. I weighed it, and it comes out to 4.3 oz. I’m glad I could cut so much weight from the Chillba. I’ve updated the post to have this information as well.

      1. Howdie, thanks for the response!!

        I was totally incorrect in my comment above about the weight of the kavu… it was bugging me yesterday (that feeling I said something wrong) so I went and grabbed my scale. It turns out that the Kavu Chillba is 137 grams (4.83) ounces and not the 8oz I mentioned previously.

        So you are still coming in under the weight of the Kavu, and more importantly, saving yourself a fair amount of money!! Plus, not sure how durable the Kavu would be for using it as a camp sitting pad – probably not very durable. There have also been reports of people saying the Kavu looses its form in really hot weather, not something that would likely happen with the CCF of the blue pads.

        With a little bit of work you (or anybody else) could probably get below the 4oz mark without sacrificing hat size. Maybe just by switching over to some 0.34 CF for the slip on cover could cut a chunk of the 0.3 ounces and make it a bit more waterproof.

        Thanks again and totally awesome DIY piece of hiking gear!!
        John B. Abela

  2. I’m interested in making a hat like this, but was thinking of also incorporating it into a gravity filtration system. Any ideas for how to do this? I would need it to be waterproof both inside and out, and somehow have a Platypus attachment on top with a barb that would feed into a Platypus tube. I would invert the hat, add water, and let it filter. Hope that makes sense.

    1. I haven’t worked with a gravity filter system before, so I don’t know the best manner for attaching the hose, but I think setting it up to work like this would be easy enough. For making it waterproof, I would focus on just the fabric, instead of the foam. All you need to do then is ensure you use a waterproof fabric and seam seal the one seam on it in whatever way you find best. Tape maybe if it is cuben, or just silnet for silnylon.

      When using it as a water filter bag, there will be two choices – foam in or foam out. I’m not sure how well foam in would work. But you could take the foam out of it and hang it by a couple of loops that you sew onto the fabric cover, fill it with water, and filter.

      This would mean that when the cover is on the hat, there is a hole in it at the very center, but I don’t think that would end up being a big deal in the long run, as the foam by itself can keep most water from leaking through.

      As for making it lighter, there are a couple of ways that Joe accomplished this:
      1. Use a lighter weight foam. However, this makes it more flimsy and susceptible to wind.
      2. Use a visor to attach it to your head. From what I remember from our email about it, Joe ended up attaching his foam hat to a visor in his latest version of the hat. This would help it keep structure and stay on his head well. This does eliminate the headband and toggles though.

      In the end, I don’t think either of the steps matter much. I generally wear the hat on my head all of the time, unless it gets very windy. So in the course of the day of hiking the approximately 4oz resides on my head for all but maybe 30 minutes tops so far.

      It is definitely a good hat, and very easy to sew. Don’t let any concerns about your skill sewing stop you from making one of these.

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