The boonie cap goes back to the beginning of the 1960s decade as part of the U/S military culture. While its types and variations have evolved for over five decades, we can pinpoint its evolution by looking at the most common examples.
To start with, a boonie hat is a kind of soft hat that was probably inspired by the full-brimmed fabric hats one could find during the time of the Vietnam Conflict. Most early versions of the boonie hat were locally produced in South Vietnam and their manufacture became an important cottage industry. We can even find such setups today in that part of the world. Boonie hats are still sold in Vietnam, but they’re usually considered to be souvenirs or the American War, as they call it.
It’s not really clear just how many boonie hats are produced in the United States each year. It might help to look at the different types available today and discuss them one by one. Checking out some Crye Precision boonie hat reviews after that is also recommended.
Why The Boonie Hat Became Popular
While there might be many reasons why the boonie hat became so popular, the most apparent one is that it was preferred to a helmet due to the better ventilation. The LRP or LRRP teams in the US Army were photographed with these hats. Special Operations teams like the ARVN units and the US Army Special Forces also made the boonie hat quite popular.
There was also the fact that the soft boonie cap or hat didn’t interfere with hearing like a proper helmet did. Plus, the shape of the hat broke up a head’s outline, making for better concealment. This was obviously beneficial for soldiers who might have to conceal or camouflage themselves at any moment. Of course, the large brim that provided some shade or rain protection also played a major part in making the boonie hat so popular and common.
If you’re thinking about getting a boonie hat, make sure you know how to wear it properly.
The Original Boonie Hat
The original boonie hat might have been a Vietnamese version that came in camouflage versions. These are also called Southeast Asian campaign boonie hats and come in several colors. However, the tiger stripe camouflage was among the most common kinds. We can even find this kind of hat featured in the ‘The Three Soldiers’ statue. This was because the tiger stripe camouflage hat was once a symbol of the Vietnam Conflict.
One famous reference to this kind of boonie hat is in the John Wayne movie entitled ‘The Green Berets’. Here, the characters donned these tiger stripe camouflage hats while going on secret missions.
A Reversible Color
Another popular version of a boonie hat that we can still find locally today is one that has a solid, reversible color. There’s a desert tan shade on one side of the hat, with a solid olive drab color on the other. Both could be used for camouflage if the surroundings are just right.
The popularity of this version derived from its use by private military contractors and intelligence organizations. These parties were usually not allowed or encouraged to wear camouflage apparel or uniforms that resembled the military. Having a reversible hat with solid colors that could easily blend in was a useful compromise. Some versions might even have loops on the olive side for inserting foliage in case the wearer needs it.
This version of the boonie hat has useful features such as four vents to prevent overheating, a large brim for protection from the elements, and an inbuilt sweatband to absorb excessive perspiration.
During the Second Gulf War, marines situated in Iraq wanted their boonie hats to be the largest sizes possible. This preference was due to the higher comfort and shade that these hats provided.
With this military issue boonie, there are also several other versions for the purpose of commercial sale. These come in many colors and shades. They’re popular among those who are enthusiastic about the military, private contractors, or just anyone who likes the pattern. While the different colors might not have the original military function of camouflaging or blending in, they would still be a fashion statement for adults and children alike.
The 5.11 Tactical Boonie Hat
5.11 Tactical has given us several kinds of boonie hats. These come with a variety of features, including mesh vents, camouflage retention bands, hidden pockets, large brim, chin straps, etc. Their hats are also lightweight and relatively inexpensive.
5.11 Tactical’s offering has a camouflage pattern that closely mimics that of the USMC desert camo. However, it’s still not an absolutely exact replica of the original. Getting one of these hats is one of the best ways of acquiring and wearing a boonie hat if you’re not in the military.
Also known as a Multicam boonie hat, this version is an excellent option for use in all kinds of terrains and surroundings. It can help us stay concealed whether we’re in the desert, the woods, or even the tundra.
With this choice, we don’t have to worry much about changing our uniforms according to the place we’re in. Overall, it makes our getup much easier and more convenient to handle.
Digital Concealment Systems
Yet another development in the history of boonie hats is the addition of DCS or the Digital Concealment Systems. This is a pixelated camouflage system pattern that makes use of ‘organic pixels’. We get this pattern from a computer algorithm that interprets patterns of light. The result is a smaller and tighter pixel collection that can mimic the natural environment as well as the shadow and light playing around inside it.
Today, A-TCS is meant for use in high desert terrains or arid and rocky places. However, it’s also quite effective when used in dry, wooded places and high alpine areas. The latest technology in these hats will also enable their use in areas with deep foliage and jungle-like areas.
Sniper Boonie Hat
A sniper boonie hat is one of the most difficult ones to manufacture, but they’re still fairly accessible online. It’s one of the most effective options for breaking up its weather’s outline and thereby camouflaging them effectively.
Some versions of this hat have large slots in the middle instead of the usual little mesh screens. They might be among the best boonie hats for hunting, so check those out now.
Today, boonie hats have entered the market for military enthusiasts as well as soldiers and SWAT teams. These hats have certainly evolved over the decades, with brands like Cyre Precision giving us quality, durable products.