Finding a summer hat that simultaneously protects your face from the UV rays whilst looking good is like striking gold. Most high street options are flimsy and crumble against the elements. Of course, there is always those crisp white hats your grandparents wear, but sacrificing over £70 and the knowledge that you will resemble an antiquated BBC documentary host are factors few people are willing to accept.
So when Tarp Hats got in contact with me about testing one of their namesakes, one quick look and read made me confident I had hit the jackpot (in vogue sun protection, anyway).
But first: what is a Tarp Hat I hear you ask?
Way back when trucks were the primary use of goods transport in the Amazon, tarpaulins were used to cover and protect the trucks and goods. Over the years the tarpaulins became worn from the elements and were discarded in the remote villages in Brazil.
Tarp Hats are constructed by the local villagers in Brazil using the discard tarpaulins and giving them a new lease of life. Each hat is waterproofed to protect against increment weather and brass eyelets are used to prevent rusting.
These are pretty big claims for what looks like an incongruous hat, and so I decided I really wanted to put it through its paces, starting with a little jaunt over the Malverns.
The first trip was an initial test to see how it would cope with a general summer day’s hike the average joe would take. What started as a harmless walk through fields of wildflowers……
……escalated quickly into a tiring 20+ mile hike through all the Malverns on a blustery day, to the summit of Great Malvern.
Luckily the Tarp Hat pulled through, only blowing off twice against the fierce wind and the brim proved wide enough to protect my face from sunburn. On a side note ladies, it also gave me much less hat hair than any other hat I have tried in the past. Sure, it’s not the most important thing when outdoors, but every little helps, right?
So overall, the Tarp Hat could easily handle what the Malverns threw at it. However, the Malverns were going to look like a walk to the shops compared to the next test I put the Tarp Hat through: a long-distance hike through Scotland.
Rain and sun, beaches, storms and their gales of wind, not to mention the surprisingly endless summer hours of blistering heat trudging up and down pine forests and hills, the Tarp Hat performed well throughout all the elements, and then some.
Of course, I then decided to test the Tarp Hat through even harsher, more varied terrain: the Salkantay mountain pass to Macchu Picchu. Frosty mountains, rainforests, scorching days spent traversing desert hills and roads, the Tarp Hat proved to be in its element, whatever the elements.
After all the adventures we have been on together these past few months, it’s fair to say the Tarp Hat has become another trusty edition to my essential kit list for the outdoors. In fact, it hasn’t just been popular with me alone – countless other hikers, guides and friends have tried it or expressed interest in the Tarp Hat, proving it makes friends wherever it goes.
It is not only the fit and the durability of the Tarp Hat that makes me like it so much, but also the company itself. The hats are produced by the local villagers using materials that would have otherwise been littered in the Amazon, thus giving jobs to a remote region and creating treasures from trash. In addition to this, 50p of every hat purchased goes towards installing freshwater wells to remote villages in the Brazilian Amazonian rainforest. The video below shows one of the typical villages in the Amazon that is helped by Tarp Hats.
It is rare that I find myself so enthusiastic about products, but Tarp Hat’s ability to combine a simple, good idea with eco-friendliness and sustainable, social practices can only make me like it further.
Although some might claim Wadjda (pronounced waj-da) has a simple premise, it is a poignant and observational film analysing the social norms and changes for women in Saudi Arabian society. It is also a miracle the film was ever made.
Shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, a country famed for not having any cinemas, the film’s director Haifaa Al-Mansour spent approximately five years seeking financial backing and investment from a foreign co-producer. Haifaa Al-Mansour is also the first female Saudi feature film director, which came with enough challenges itself; she spent much of her time directing the film in the back of a van due to restrictions on men and women socialising in public.
Al-Mansour cites inspiration for the film from her own personal experiences and those of her niece, and this is easily reflected in the film. Ten-year old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) is a spirited and enterprising girl growing up in modern-day Riyadh. She dreams of riding a bicycle and racing her childhood friend Abdullah, and when she passes by a green bicycle in the local toy store one day, is determined to buy it. Unfortunately Wadjda’s mother refuses to buy her one on the grounds that riding a bicycle is something only men can do and she would bring shame upon her virtue. Luckily her mother is too preoccupied with preventing her husband from taking a second wife to notice Wadjda’s various schemes of fundraising for the bike at school, despite her head teacher’s attempts at hindering her progress. As the arguing intensifies between her parents, Wadjda signs up for her school’s Koran recital competition against the odds of her winning for a chance to win the prize money that will help her buy the bicycle.
Normally this blog is dedicated to women in the outdoors and travel, but every once in a while something comes along that represents the spirit of this blog that it needs to be shared. I presents to you, Wadjda.
Whilst the storyline is simple enough, the film simultaneously lends itself as a reflection on the trials that Saudi women face on a daily basis to conduct themselves within societal norms. For the majority of the film, the cast and screen time revolves around the women in Wadjda’s life, whilst the men feature only in minor roles.
Although the film takes an unbiased approach, through Wadjda’s eyes the audience witness the persistent tribulations the women in her life face. Whether it is her classmates’ education cut short by marriage, her mother’s exhaustive attempts to earn a living for her family despite being at the mercy of a husband who is more interested in finding a second wife, or the constant taunts from her childhood companions that she is not allowed to ride a bike, it is apparent that even if the men are not visually portrayed on screen, their presence is still felt.
However Wadjda is also about change, and by the end each woman rebels against the societal norms in her own personal way. This message is reflected in the most pivotal moment of the film, when Wadjda’s mother tells her she can do anything she puts her mind to; she accepts that change will not happen overnight, but it is through small changes, and strong-willed women like Wadjda that these changes will happen.
For more information, see the official website here: http://razor-film.de/en/projects/wadjda/
Four years ago during a cycling holiday to Cornwall, Nick Hand pondered how long it would take to ride his bicycle around the coast of the British Isles and return to the same spot he was standing. 137 days and 6,325 miles later, Nick finished his journey and recorded his experiences on the saddle in Conversations on the Coast.