Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Total protection, removable cape, good in the wind, stable.
Cons: Looks a little funny, can get hot on the back of your neck.
Best Uses: Climbing, hiking, camping, sightseeing, kayaking, rafting, just being outside, running.
The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap won our Top Pick award for being the most protective, one of the lightest and most comfortable hats we tested. It comes with a removable liner that can add total protection when needed, or can be removed so that you can wear it as a baseball cap when you don't want to look like you just came from an expedition into the heart of the Sahara desert. This hat is so light and comfortable that we never wanted to take it off. If you want a hat that will be extremely versatile and give you total protection, but don't mind looking dorky when you want to be protected from the sun, then this hat is for you.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This is the most protective hat we tested. It has a removable cape that allows your skin to become completely protected from the sun with a 30+ UPF rating. Although this rating isn't as high as some of the other hats we tested that had a 50+ rating, 30+ still blocks about 96 percent of the sun's UV radiation. We loved the cape feature on this hat that completely covers your entire neck, and with the front bill on this hat protecting your eyes you will be worry free about getting a burn. This hat will also save you time by allowing you to not wear sunscreen and enjoy your adventures more.
In addition to being a very protective hat, the Sun Runner also is extremely comfortable and lightweight. It also doesn't have a big brim to get in the way when your recreating. Unlike the other hats we tested, the Sun Runner has a Velcro strap in the back, allowing you to get a custom fit and not have to worry about the size too much. The other hats we tested have a cinch cord on the back that compares to the Velcro strap on the Sun runner, but we found the Velcro to be more effective and cover a wider variety of sizes. We also love the material Outdoor Research uses for their sun hats. It's super lightweight, soft, and comfortable.
For the most part this hat is extremely breathable. Without the cape on it is the most breathable hat we tested, with its lightweight breathable material and its ventilating mesh on each side. It is still plenty breathable with the cape on, but since the cape is in direct contact with your skin it heats you up more, making it hotter inside of the hat than would a classic wide brimmed hat. We did notice that if you don't need the full protection of the hat cinched all the way at the neck, you can alternatively flip the neck cord over your head so that the cape can flap in the wind. This allows more air flow and gives you more breathability.
All of the Outdoor Research hats we tested were very durable, but we gave this hat a lower durability rating due to the fact that its brim can easily become damaged if packed wrong. But other than that this is a very durable hat that will last you a long time.
This hat has the option of being pretty stylish and less effective, or not very stylish and very effective. We gave this hat a low score in style because it looks dorky with the cape down and cinched all the way. Wearing it like that more than as a baseball cap (which is more stylish) we got lots of funny looks in public. But the choice is yours; if you don't care about looks and just practicality, then this hat is for you. If you really don't want to be the center of a joke, then only wear this with your most trusted friends.
The Outdoor Research Sun Bucket, $32, was the lightest hat we tested and is also one of the most comfortable. It offers surprisingly good protection for its weight, and is also pretty durable. If you're looking for a hat that can fold up practically into your pocket and taken out when the sun gets going, this hat is for you.
The Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat, $40, is a very comfortable hat with pretty good protection and great breathability. It has mesh ventilation that is actually protected with UPF rated fabric so you don't have to sacrifice your protection for breathability, which is unlike any other hat we tested. This hat is also very stylish.
The Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero, $60, was the only hat we tested that is totally waterproof and does great in the rain and on cold sunny winter days. The brim and top of the hat are made with waterproof Gore-Tex, which also prevents more UV radiation from coming through (more than any other hat does).
— Devin Chance
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 3, 2014
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