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Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap Review

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
Top Pick Award
Price:   $36 List | $35.95 at Backcountry
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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.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research

Our Verdict

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 and don't mind looking dorky when you want to be protected from the sun, then this hat is for you.

RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sun Hats Review

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Devin Chance

Last Updated:
July 9, 2015

Top Pick OR Sun Runner completely protecting us from the sun while hiking in the Sierras.
Top Pick OR Sun Runner completely protecting us from the sun while hiking in the Sierras.

Performance Comparison

The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap tied for first place overall score with our Editors' Choice winner, the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat.


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 you're 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. 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.

Other Versions

OR Sun Butcket hat
Outdoor Research Sun Bucket
  • Compact, foldable design
  • Most comfortable sun hat reviewed by Outdoor Gear Lab
  • Good protection but less than the Sun Runner Cap
  • $32

Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
  • Good sun protection due to large bill
  • Our Best Buy award winner!
  • Mesh siding protected with UPF so you don't sacrifice protection for breathability
  • $41, but often found cheaper at online retailers

OR Seattle Sombrero
Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero
  • Fully waterproof: Brim and hat body made with Gore-Tex
  • Extremely UV Blocking due to Gore-Tex layer
  • Does great in rain and cold sunny days
  • $60
Devin Chance

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: July 9, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Feb 3, 2014 - 04:39pm
Watto · Backpacker · Sydney
I'm bald, and live in Australia, so I have worn a lot of hats. With no hair to cushion the hat, this hat is still one of the most comfortable hats I have worn. The fabric feels nice against the skin, it is not rigid creating pressure points, and there are no bumpy seems pushing into your head.
I do prefer the 'mullet' style hat rather than a broad brim hat, so I had a preference for this design before buying it.
I also really like this hat without the skirt particularly when I am in and out of the shade of broken forest with high temps and humidity. The skirt can make the hat hot in very warm conditions while on the go, but is easy to take off. The sun protection is great. It has reduced the amount and frequency of sunscreen I use…..sometime none…
I did have 2 gripes with this hat. One was that it took a long time to put the skirt on, but I have realised I was bothering to feed the Velcro strap through holes in the skirt in addition to the buttons, where this is not required, and the holes may not even be meant for this. Now I just button on and position, could not be quicker. This has greatly improved the versatility for me. The second was that the cord on the skirt pushes all the way into the plastic adjuster and gets a little caught. I have to tweezer it out with my fingernails or teeth. I thought to myself why didn't they put a little plastic ball there to stop this happening……and it appears from the pictures in this review that they now have…..I'm not sure if I got old or incomplete stock, but the issue seems resolved, just check this on the one you buy..I have fixed it by tying a small knot…

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Apr 21, 2013 - 10:09pm
spidey · Climber · Berkeley CA
Great hat for hiking, climbing and trail running. I used this on the JMT and did not need sunscreen - the coverage is great and it does not tend to blow around as much as a wide brimmed floppy hat when the wind picks up. It looks less dorky too. I got it in white and it seems cooler than other hats in Khaki.

I love that you can take the cape off when you don't need it and put it back on when you do. It works well under a climbing helmet too - good for keeping the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. Great for big wall climbing on sunny routes.

This has become my favorite sun hat for all seasons.
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