A few months ago while surfing the web, I stumbled across a Facebook page representing a company called Notch Gear Hats. Almost immediately, I was captured by the unique design. These hats were no ordinary team themed baseball caps, these were the first specifically made caps to address a common annoyance in the shooting sports world; the battle of the hat versus the eye protection! Those of you, who have ever worn both on the range know exactly what I’m talking about, for others, let me explain.
Coming from a law enforcement background, it was common to be required the standard “eyes” and “ears” to be worn on the range, but also caps. In our department, like most, the patrol guys had their traditional “campaign” hats but also low profile caps similar to the ones issued to me and my team on SWAT. Either way, everyone had to endure the squared eye protection either pushing the cap up unnaturally high or the hat pushing the eye protection down and causing vision problems. The main problem was always the brim of the cap. As a grown man, not wearing gold chains and having a rap album, I like to wear my caps appropriately with a good amount of curve in the brim to protect my eyes from any blinding light or flying debris. Even the slightest proper curve in a cap’s brim normally will engage with the top of the shooter’s eye protection and start to cause problems. The only ways to traditionally wear both items is to either wear the cap very high up and look like Gomer Pyle or to flatten the brim and look like today’s modern pseudo-male, Justin Bieber wannabe, who apparently never watched a John Wayne movie a day in his life and leans too much to his effeminate side.
What I saw on the Notch Gear website was a way around this little fashion battle through the use of the company’s “notch” system. These adjustable and flex fit caps made by Notch Gear feature a notch cut out on each side of the cap’s brim wear it would normally engage the top of common eye protection, thus allowing the curved brim to come down around the eyepro without obstruction. I immediately reached out to Notch Gear and inquired about field testing these hats on an upcoming trip to SHOT SHOW in Las Vegas. Within a week, I had a pair of the new operator FlexFit hats ready to go!
When the hats arrived, I contacted fellow writer and friend, Craig Reinolds about trying one of them out for himself. A few weeks later, Craig and I arrived in Las Vegas for the firearms industry’s largest event of the year. To kick the week’s events off; Industry Day at the Range was a full day of shooting stations from nearly every firearms manufacturer in attendance. What I discovered while wearing the Notch Gear hat for the entire day in combination with my Oakley Tombstone shooting glasses is just how comfortable the hat was over the course of events. The hat seemed to lock my eyepro into place so I didn’t have to worry about any adjustment at all. What I didn’t expect was the comfort while wearing hearing protection. Traditional hats have a metal button on the top of the crown, but instead, the Notch Gear caps are flat, buttonless with a small patch of Velcro on top for either IR ID patches or to work in conjunction with Velcro altered hearing protection bands. On top of working well, the hats simply look good. Throughout the day on the range and through the week on the show floor, people would stop Craig and I to ask about the hats. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from all of our firearms industry contemporaries assured us that Notch Gear was definitely on the right track!
Aside from making a great hat, the company is making a difference in the world as well. While researching the company, I came across this statement from Notch Gear discussing the background of its founder, why the company was started and what they contribute outside of the sport cap business.
“Our founder, Paul Cunningham, is a veteran of the US Marines who had always been frustrated with traditional hats because he loved to wear them and sunglasses but was never able to wear them together the way he wanted to; he was always forced to choose one or the other. Notch was born out of his search for an answer to this problem. A Yuma based company, Notch was also founded on the principle that it is better to give than it is to receive. So for every hat you purchase, you provide 5 meals to children in need through our partner, Children’s Hunger Fund. They’ve been rated as one of the most cost effective charities around by Forbes.com.”
Now the Swanson Media Group has spent a considerable amount of time wearing caps from Notch Gear, I can speak for us all in saying these hats are highly recommended for not just shooters but anyone who has to spend time wearing hearing and eye protection. The caps are comfortable and form to the wearers head quickly. Retailing between $24.99-$27.99, this is a best buy for the quality product offered. To find a Notch Gear hat that’s right for you, check them out at http://www.notchgear.com/.