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Military Headgear 101: Patrol Cap vs. Boonie Hat

military hat

Tactical gear helps military personnel survive and thrive in the wild. This includes first aid kits, tactical flashlights, navigational equipment, etc. Another essential part of any military uniform is the headgear. If you’re interested in knowing how to pick the right military headgear read on!

Compared to ordinary hats, military caps are significantly more compact, adjustable, and breathable. They come in several different sizes and include many features that come in handy when in the wild. Two of the most popular types of military headgear are the operator cap and the Boonie hat.

The Patrol Cap

The patrol/operator cap is a cap design that enjoys a rise in popularity in the modern era. As a result, these hats come in a variety of forms and material patterns for all outdoor activities. The kepi hat used by the French Army during the Napoleonic Era is where this tactical cap got its start. Prior to the American Civil War, the U.S. Army started using this type of military headgear. However, some alterations to the kepi resulted in the present patrol cap.

Connections Between the Baseball Cap and the Kepi

On the brink of the twentieth century, the kepi-style hat underwent a modification for use in baseball, which was then still in development. The biggest change was the addition of a soft, rounded crown that follows the head’s natural curve. Other baseball hats evolved into chic headgear that entered the fashion scene in the second part of the 20th century.

Many companies for sports goods currently create their own baseball cap for use when playing golf, going fishing, going hunting, jogging, or camping. This type of hat helps to protect the head and eyes from direct sunlight. The two-layered military surplus patrol cap is also intended to serve as an emergency water carrier and can contain up to one litre of water.

The Operator Cap

the operator cap
Source: pinterest.com

The operator military cap is essentially a patrol cap with a few modifications. It’s a cross between a baseball cap and a military patrol cap. Many people in the security industry, the SOF community, and outdoor enthusiasts favour these caps. The visors often include reinforcements, making them tough on the field. Manufacturers use high-quality breathable materials to make them and they’re usually thinner than the average caps. As a result, they fit easily in the outside pockets of packs or the cargo pockets of pants. The operator cap’s interoperability with tactical or hunting communication headsets makes it a useful pick.

The Boonie Hat

Many outdoor enthusiasts who live in forested regions prefer wearing tactical Boonie hats. These hats first appeared in the Vietnam War era (1955-1975). Their style was inspired by certain Navy hats with rolled brim.

The Patrol Cap vs. The Boonie Hat

Because of its adaptability, the Boonie hat offers soldiers access to crucial survival equipment when on patrol. In the jungle, the Boonie hat is preferable to the patrol cap. The fact that it conceals the head and face is the main advantage. It offers a great health advantage by allowing heat to escape from your head through the venting grommets on the sides. This aspect of the hat contributes to a decrease in heat-related health issues.

Commercial Boonie Hats

boonie hat
Source: airsoft-milsim-news.com/

In the realm of outdoor sports, there are hats similar to the tactical Boonie. Manufacturers of outdoor equipment often make their own variations of these caps. For instance, the Boonie hat’s qualities are included in the Fjallraven Hatfield Hat. Similarly, others started manufacturing their own versions of the Boonie Hat and dubbed them bucket hats.

The Benefits of the Boonie Hat

For hikers, backpackers, and military personnel, the Boonie hat offers benefits over the patrol cap. One is blocking the sun’s rays from the back of your neck. The other is that it lowers the possibility of being bitten by ticks that fall down from overhead plants. Additionally, you can roll up the Boonie hat and keep it in a backpack or fold it and tuck it into the cargo pocket of your pants.

What are Other Types of Military Caps?

Although the preferred types of military caps are the patrol and Boonie hat, there are a few other types that are worth mentioning. Each of these is functionally different and has its own pros and cons:

  • Watch cap: This cap is more tight-fitting and it’s usually knitted from wool, so it excels at keeping your head warm. Watch caps typically are constructed with enough added material along the bottom to let the wearer roll the excess upward to form a cuff.
  • Beret: The military beret hat is a soft, sloping cap with material gathered to one side. It’s made of felt, wool, cotton, or acrylics. The beret was among the first hats worn by the French military.
  • Combat helmet: A good helmet is comfortable and doesn’t shift position when the wearer marches, runs, dives for cover, jumps over obstacles, and engages in other physically demanding actions. No helmet is bulletproof, but those made of Kevlar and similar advanced materials are at least bullet-resistant.

Bottom Line

tactical caps
Source: threadcurve.com

Military troops all throughout the world love the Boonie and the patrol cap for their comfort and practicality. They may not be able to stop shrapnel and bullets, but they efficiently keep sun rays at bay.

Although intended for military usage, the Boonie is also worn by civilians who like its straightforward yet functional design.

By Anthony Hendriks

The life of the party, Anthony is always up for spending some time with family and friends, when not blogging of course! Ever since a child, his love for books of mystery, race cars and travelling keeps on growing so it's difficult for him to single out that one all-time favourite hobby. If there's one thing he hates, though, it's having pictures taken but you already guessed that from his choice of plant photo for the blog.