After signing on to a 10-day trip in the capacity of a photo/video journalist to Piura Peru, and some outlying areas, I knew I had to do some intel on the location before making any critical decisions on what gear to bring. The first thing I learned about Piura and the surrounding area is that it is smack dab in the middle of the Peruvian Sechura Desert. There were also several places in my area of operation that were still seeing the effects of El Niño in the late 90s that destroyed a lot of their local infrastructure. Google Earth and Street View clearly show the current conditions to be equal to that of Afghanistan or any other Middle Eastern climates.
So, my job is going to take me to the middle of a desert in a 3rd world country with a bunch of expensive camera gear and solo travel for ten days. Wonderful!
Sawyer water filters, check! A sack full of snacks if the local cuisine was questionable, check! Lightweight sun-resistant clothing, check! The only thing I found lacking was a good quality, lightweight sun hat.
What I wanted was a modern take on the classic Boonie Hat, but all the options I found were sub-par until I found Shelta. They have a wide variety of lightweight sun hats with varying brim widths, and crown styles and their reviews were spot-on for the quality I was looking for.
I went with the Shelta Osprey, one of their thinner profile hats. Unlike a traditional Boonie Hat, the Osprey has a fitted front brim that is flexible but also moldable. (Think a Sam Splint inside a baseball brim.) This feature worked well to provide a fixed sunshade for sighting my cameras to my eye to get a good clear sight picture. Additionally, not having a too rigid construction, it allows some flexibility to stuff it in my Hazard 4 Freelance bag. One excellent detail is the crown has a Velcro storage pouch where I placed the removable chin strap so it was not in the way while shooting but could be easily retrieved for crossing the desert in the back of a Peruvian Army RMMV at top speed.
Overall, I was very pleased with this hat. It did everything I wanted it to and more. Even in full sun for 12 hours a day, it was still very breathable and stood up to sweat without distorting the fabric.
It’s hard for a piece of gear to really impress me, and the price tag was on the high end for my budget for a hat, but the Shelta Osprey is worth every penny in my opinion. It served me well in the High Plains Desert of Peru, and I’m sure will be my go-to head covering for years to come.