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Alchemi Labs Desert Hat Review

A very breathable sun hat with a neck cape, sunlight reflecting material, and unique style
Alchemi Labs Desert Hat
Photo: Alchemi Labs
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Price:  $39 List | $39.00 at REI
Pros:  Protective, breathable, packable, unique, stylish
Cons:  Only one size, cinch cord could work better
Manufacturer:   Alchemi Labs
By Sam Schild ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 17, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 17
  • Protection - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Breathability - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Alchemi Labs Desert Hat is a good choice for hot and sunny outdoor pursuits. It scored high in protection and breathability but lower in the comfort and style categories. It has a neck cape to keep your ears and neck shaded and features large mesh sections on the side of the crown for great breathability. This hat is made of reflective material to bounce sunlight away from your head, which worked very well to keep our heads cool in direct sunlight and gives it a and unique style. This hat only comes in one size, so if you have a bigger head or lots of hair, it won't feel as comfortable or secure. This would be a perfect hat for backpacking across the desert or a day at a festival in the hot sun.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $39.00 at REI$42.00 at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Protective, breathable, packable, unique, stylishLightweight, durable, great sun protectionExcellent protection, removable cape, good in the wind, good valueGreat protection all around, especially on the back; brim is angled for longer protection, good ventilation, comfortableComfortable, very breathable, good color, great value
Cons Only one size, cinch cord could work betterNot super stylishLooks a little funny, can get hot on the back of your neckNot stylish, brim is not crushable, shows stains easilyNot very stylish, brim could be wider
Bottom Line A very breathable sun hat with a neck cape, sunlight reflecting material, and unique styleThis hat wins our Editors' Choice for Technical Use for being the highest performing and most versatile of the bunchThis super protective hat is lightweight, versatile, and an excellent value, winning our Best Buy AwardThis hat has great coverage and is a good choice for any sunny activity, although it is not the most stylishOne of our top choices for a full brim hat that is extremely comfortable and breathable and a great value
Rating Categories Alchemi Labs Desert... Sunday Afternoons U... Outdoor Research Ru... Sunday Afternoons A... The North Face Hori...
Protection (30%)
8.0
9.0
10.0
10.0
6.0
Comfort (25%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Breathability (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Style (15%)
6.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
Specs Alchemi Labs Desert... Sunday Afternoons U... Outdoor Research Ru... Sunday Afternoons A... The North Face Hori...
Weight (ounces) 3.0 oz 2.6 oz 2.8 oz 2.6 oz 2.9 oz
UPF rating 50+ 50+ 50+ 50+ 40+
Size of Brim (inches) 2.5", 8" neck cape 3.25", with 6" neck cape 2.75 brim, 7.25" neck cape 3.75", 7.25" neck cape 2.9"
Material 80% nylon/20% polyester 88% nylon, 12% polyester dobby 100% Supplex nylon 100% nylon with 100% polyester mesh insets Nylon Ripstop, 97% recycled polyester mesh lined
Cinch Cord Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Packable/compressible Yes Yes Yes No - do not fold or compress the brim. Packs Flat Yes
Size tested OS L L M 21" - 23" L/XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Alchemi Labs Desert Hat is one of the more protective hats we tested in this review. It features a 2.5-inch brim and an 8-inch neck cape that provides good protection when the sun is lower in the sky. And, it is constructed using a reflective material that bounces the sun off the hat. This worked very well to keep our heads cool in hot, exposed conditions.

Performance Comparison


Taking in the desert views with the Desert Hat.
Taking in the desert views with the Desert Hat.
Photo: Sam Schild

Protection


The Desert Hat scores high in the protection category. We found that hats with the best sun protection include a neck cape like this one. When the sun is lower in the sky, this hat still protects your neck and ears from sunlight. With a 50+ UPF rating, this hat is rated to block almost all of the sun's harmful rays. And, this one did well in windy conditions, too. It never blew off our heads in the wind, so it never left us fully exposed to the sun.

However, this product has a shorter bill than some, which doesn't protect the face as well. We also found that if you aren't wearing a collared shirt, the neck cape doesn't quite cover the bottom of your neck. Also, the cape doesn't extend very far around the sides of this hat, potentially exposing the cheeks to sunlight. And, while the mesh panels on the sides do make this hat very breathable, they don't protect as well from the sun. Though the mesh weave is very tight, those with bald heads might end up with a patch of sunburn under these two mesh sections.

If it wasn't for the beard, we would've needed sunscreen on our face...
If it wasn't for the beard, we would've needed sunscreen on our face here, even with the full brim and cape.
Photo: Sam Schild

Comfort


We found the Desert Hat to be one of the less comfortable hats in this review. This hat only comes in one size. And, that size is not really big enough for someone with a large head or lots of hair. We felt like this hat was constantly wanting to slide up our heads, though it never actually slid off. After initial testing, we found someone with shorter hair, and they did not seem to notice this problem. This hat seems like it would be much more comfortable for people with smaller heads.

We like how well this hat kept us cool. The reflective material works well to reflect heat away, and the soft mesh sweatband felt cozy on our heads. It wicked away sweat and kept us cool all the while. We weren't particularly impressed with the cinch cord on this one, though. The toggle doesn't hold the stretch cord tight enough. So, we were unable to tighten this hat down when we wanted to.

We think the Desert Hat is a better fit for someone with a smaller...
We think the Desert Hat is a better fit for someone with a smaller head and short hair.
Photo: Sam Schild

Breathability


The Desert Hat scores above average in breathability. We found this hat kept our heads remarkably cool. It has exposed mesh sections for breathability and a single layer of thin material that wraps around the entire crown of the head. And, we found the cape didn't trap heat around our necks, either.

But, the exposed mesh can allow sunlight through. So even though this hat breathes very well, it does this at the expense of some sun protection.

The mesh on the sides of the crown allow the Desert Hat to breathe...
The mesh on the sides of the crown allow the Desert Hat to breathe well, but might sacrifice a little sun protection in those spots
Photo: Sam Schild

Durability


The Desert Hat did well in our durability tests. It crushes easily into the pocket of a backpack. When we needed to use it again, it came out looking the same. However, we found the brim would permanently crease if that part of the hat were folded, so it can only be packed flat.

After a week-long backpacking trip, this hat still looks brand new. The neutral color hides dirt well. The material doesn't seem to absorb dirt very much, either.

The Alchemi Labs Desert Hat plays nicely with backpacks, even before...
The Alchemi Labs Desert Hat plays nicely with backpacks, even before we ate the seven days of food we had when we started.
Photo: Sam Schild

Style


We deemed this hat the "party hat" during our testing regimen. We don't think cape-style hats are particularly stylish. However, this one is one of the most stylish of that variety. We found the slightly small bill looked good. And, we think the reflective material would fit in well at Burning Man or another similar outdoor festival.

We also found that the cape can be folded up into the hat. This makes it look quite stylish, really.

Tuck the neck cape underneath the hat when you don't want to look...
Tuck the neck cape underneath the hat when you don't want to look like a dork while drinking post hike beers on the patio.
Photo: Sam Schild

Value


The Desert Hat is a good value for the price. It is not very expensive. And, for all the features it has, we think the price is right. Among the cape-style sun hats we tested, this one is very comparable in price. This would be a worthwhile purchase for someone looking for a protective hat like this.

Conclusion


While not the most comfortable for those with big heads, this is still a great choice for desert dwellers. The Alchemi Labs Desert Hat is very breathable and provides very good protection from the sun. Throw it in your pack for your next backpacking trip because the brim won't interfere with your pack. This hat has a unique style that is simultaneously not stylish and uniquely cool looking at the same time.

The Desert Hat is at home in the hot, exposed desert, just like it...
The Desert Hat is at home in the hot, exposed desert, just like it claims to be.
Photo: Sam Schild

Sam Schild