No matter where you are, from the jungle to the desert, the hills to the beach, the boonie is the one item of headwear that is pretty much guaranteed to make at least one on your travels person go “I wish I had a hat like that”. They’re so cool, that my 17 year old apprentice told me “bucket hats are a vibe”… Whatever the fuck that means.
There are more styles of boonie than you’d expect; the yanks have their own wide brim boonies, us brits have our bush hats, Ibiza ravers and 17 year olds have their bucket hats, and the Aussies… Well, they’re the experts and have more than a few variants; the slouch, the giggle hat, wide brim, short brim, hats with poppers on the side and even those funky hats with corks/croc teeth on…
So when Platatac, an Australian tactical clothing company with a history of putting out great designs turns it’s head towards revamping the boonie hat, it’s something I consider worth looking into.
I’ve been meaning to grab a new boonie for some time, having had my old DPM bush hat for a couple of decades and never really getting along well with the several commercially made boonies I‘ve owned over the years.
The opportune moment came when purchasing a pair of Platatac’s DAX combat pants in the limited edition tiger stripe pattern. I missed out (along with many other people) on a Kurtz shirt, but I did manage to grab Platatac’s latest boonie design, the GBH-R hat. I ordered mine direct from Platatac in Australia as I was after a few bits from them anyway. Delivery took around 2 weeks from click to knock, and by setting up a U.K. delivery address, they work it out so you don’t end up paying VAT at both ends.
The Tigerstripe GBH-R is an evolution of Platatac’s older GBH and GBH-J range (Good Bush Hat/Jungle), and although the differences are minimal, it’s worth knowing what they are. As for the R designation? That stands for Recon, and with the latest version comes a few subtle differences.
The current version of the Tigerstripe GBH-R doesn’t have the internal pocket or orange/red ID band found on the other colour-ways which is a bit of a shame, but not a deal breaker. Another difference is that the Tigerstripe version also lacks a loop field for attaching glint tape etc to the top, although again, it’s not something I’m going to miss.
The hat is advertised as a short brimmed, medium crowned bush hat. Available in four sizes ranging from small (7” – 56cm) to XL (7 3/4” – 62cm), I can confirm that its generously sized, so even those with melon sized heads should be able to find a hat that fits comfortably.
The 4.5cm brim is flexible and without the rigid reinforcement seen in some commercial models, but it does have sufficient material and stitching to hold it where needed. The underside of the brim is also made from the same material, so should you wish to wear your hat “Aussie” fashion with one side up, it won’t contrast.
The main section of the hat is lightweight to the touch and unlike the other bush hats, Platatac have omitted the usual brace of metal vents others use to aid air circulation. I have to say, they’re not missed and I’ve yet to notice any excess heat building up whilst the hat is worn. The cool feel of the hat is probably due to the ultra low profile, slanted vents on each side. They’re subtle, but they appear to work very well.
A band of material is formed into loops where the brim meets the body of the hat. These loops can be used to attach local vegetation, providing additional camouflage to the wearer.
The loops are close fitting and shouldn’t cause a snagging issue when not in use, the band is made from the same material as the main body of the hat, meaning that it blends in rather well and doesn’t interfere with the camouflage effect, something that often happens when manufacturers use webbing.
The inside of the hat is home to a mesh liner around the inside of the crown, this is held in place by a sweatband made from the same Tigerstripe material as the outside of the hat, it’s comfortable and doesn’t have any noticeable edges or irritating edges that would otherwise cause discomfort.
Inside the top of the hat, Platatac have printed the hat’s details where the marker panel would usually sit. Whilst I’m still grumbling about the lack of a marker panel (that I’d likely never need anyway), I do really like the overall attention to the aesthetic of Platatac’s latest hat. The printing is smart and has an authentic vintage USGI look to it.
A thin nylon, paracord type neck strap is fitted to the GBH-R, with a leather cordage lock to keep it secured to your head as required. It’s something that I usually cut off from most hats as I don’t ever use them, but I felt obliged to keep mine as it comes for the sake of the review, although I’m sure it’ll be coming off in the near future.
Tweaking the hat’s size can be accomplished via a short length of shock cord held within the rear of the hat. A cord lock and tab assist with adjustment and help keep it in place. It’s not something I use, but the shock cord does make for a handy loop to hang the hat on my belt when not in use.
The Tigerstripe pattern is printed on a khaki fabric and heavily green biased, a very dark greyish blue Tigerstripe, with a smaller amount of chocolate brown making up the four colours of the pattern. Some might have preferred a black tigerstripe, the blue achieves the same disruptive effect but without the harshness you would get with the black.
Overall, Platatac have tweaked the humble boonie into something rather special. It might seem odd to be excited about something so simple, but hats are something that can easily be overlooked yet so important when out and about.
I’ve also been informed that Platatac might be doing another run of short brimmed boonies in Tigerstripe (and adding black to the range), and these will have the marker panel and other features present on the GBH-R range.
I’ve been wearing my GBH-R almost daily, mostly whilst keeping the sun/rain off my head (welcome to late spring in England) whilst re-vamping the garden or heading up the hills for a walk. It’s kept my face out the elements, it’s remained cool enough that I don’t feel like taking it off, and it’s provided concealment and protection when playing airsoft. It’s also prompted a couple of chats with other players about the pattern in general and the hat in particular, so what else can I really say?
Platatac really summed it up when they named it the Good Bush Hat