The Filson Summer Packer stormed to the top of our test group this year to earn our Editors' Choice for All-Around Use. The Summer Packer is a durable, extremely comfortable choice that looks great on everyone who wears it, and it's as wearable on a multi-day trek as it is on a coffee shop patio. While it doesn't have as wide a brim as models like the Outdoor Research Sombriolet, its low profile makes it easier to wear, which is the ultimate goal. The Summer Packer shares the Editors' Choice spotlight with the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure, which remains our Editors' Choice for Technical Use. The Ultra Adventure is more protective and breathable than the Summer Packer and is adjustable, so it's a better choice for long, exposed maneuvers in the backcountry.
Filson Summer Packer Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Very stylish, well ventilated, packable, comfortable.
Cons: Somewhat narrow brim, not adjustable, expensive.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Filson has been making high-quality, durable outdoor gear for more than a century, so we were excited to put their Summer Packer hat to the test in our 2019 review update. We were not disappointed! This lightweight, attractive hat held its own against the competition to earn our Editors' Choice for All-Around Use. We'd recommend tucking this hat into your backpack for a weeklong Sierra traverse just as soon as we'd tell you to wear it to your local pub for a drink in the sun. Whatever activity you're getting up to, you'll be glad to have the Summer Packer at hand. However, this hat didn't perform well enough in the Protection category to steal the show from the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure, which remains our Editors' Choice for Technical Use. The cape-style Ultra Adventure has a wider front brim and a long cape to cover your neck, keeping you better protected than the Summer Packer, and it's adjustable and more breathable. Unfortunately, it's not at all stylish. Still not sure which hat will suit your needs? Read on to find out.
The Filson Summer Packer (in blue below) scored fairly or very high in every category we tested, which is why it was named our Editors' Choice for All-Around Use.
While the Protection category is the one area where the Summer Packer doesn't shine, it still performs adequately in this category.
The Summer Packer's brim is one of the narrower ones we tested at just 2 3/4" all the way around. By contrast, the Outdoor Research Sombriolet has a 4" brim in front and back, and the cape-style hats, including the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure, all offer more protection than the Summer Packer. However, as the photos throughout this review show, the Summer Packer's brim is adequate to keep the sun off your face, neck, and head.
While its narrower brim offers less protection, it has a significant upside: it doesn't interfere with a full backpack as much as the wider-brimmed hats do. The back brim is narrow and pliable enough that the hat won't be knocked out of place by a pack or a life vest, which increases the likelihood that you'll keep the hat on your head. Note that depending on how you wear your pack, the back brim of the Summer Packer may still touch the top of it, so if the sound or feel of a pack-hat interaction is intolerable to you, go with a cape-style choice like the Ultra Adventure.
With its pared-down design and skin-friendly material, this is one of the most comfortable hats we tested.
The Summer Packer is not adjustable, but it fits true-to-size and comes in five different sizes, so finding a great fit shouldn't be a problem. The lack of adjustability means that there are no straps, toggles, or Velcro patches to rub against or dig into your skin, making this hat extraordinarily comfortable and easy to wear. It uses Filson's dry finish Shelter Cloth, a type of cotton that is pliable and breathable. Like the Filson, the Arc'teryx Sinsola is a non-adjustable hat made of light, pliable material that is comfortable. The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure has a much different design, but we still gave it top marks for comfort because of its wide adjustment strap and its barely-there feel.
The Summer Packer comes with an optional chin strap. We didn't test this option, but given that the hat is not adjustable, we'd recommend going for the chin strap to make sure the hat stays comfortably in place on windy days, especially if you size up.
At first glance, we were concerned that the Summer Packer might not be very breathable due to the lack of mesh to promote airflow, but we were pleasantly surprised by its performance in this category.
The Summer Packer is made of fairly lightweight DWR-treated cotton, and we found this material to be breathable enough to keep us comfortable even on hot days. While there is no mesh in the crown, there are four eyelet vents on either side of the hat, and these provide great airflow.
Our other Editors' Choice pick, the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure, has mesh paneling built into its crown, and we found this to be a little more breathable than the Summer Packer. Our full-brim Best Buy winner, the Outdoor Research Helios, has no built-in ventilation, and it didn't perform quite as well as the Summer Packer in this category.
The Summer Packer held up extremely well throughout weeks of testing and use, earning a near-perfect score for Durability.
Filson advertises the Summer Packer as a hat that can be rolled up and tucked into luggage or a pocket, and we definitely found this to be the case. This was one of the easiest hats in our test group to fold and stow, and we found that even if we weren't careful about how we folded it, the hat quickly regained its shape after being shaken out. After our Ziplock crush test, where we shoved each hat into a small Ziplock for 30 minutes, the Summer Packer's brim was creased, but these creases all but disappeared after a few minutes, and they were unnoticeable after a few wears.
The Summer Packer is made of tougher material than the Arc'teryx Sinsola, so we wouldn't be worried about shoving it into a backpack with rough or sharp gear. This hat is designed and sewn to last, but Filson also guarantees its products for life, so if you do notice any undue wear and tear, they'll repair or replace.
Whether you're wearing it deep in the backcountry or just hanging out in your backyard, the Summer Packer looks good. This hat rose above its dorky competition and took high marks in this category.
When you're gear testing, you get a lot of opportunities to show friends and family a bunch of products and have them pick one to test. Virtually every time we did this with the gaggle of sun hats in our 2019 review update, our loved ones picked the Filson Summer Packer. Friends said it looked "stylish", "simple", and "classic". They liked that there weren't a million straps or toggles to adjust. Almost everyone said that they'd just as happily wear it around town as on a hike.
Men and women alike were happy to don the Summer Packer, and no other hat in our review inspired such universal praise for style. The only other hat that scored as high as the Summer Packer is the Arc'teryx Sinsola, which is female-specific. Most of the cape-style hats in our review, including the co-Editors' Choice, the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure, suffered in this category. The consensus seems to be that there's no easy way to make those capes look good.
We gave the Summer Packer our Top Pick for All-Around Use because there's really no situation we can think of where it wouldn't be an asset to your gear list. We'd recommend this hat for a backcountry trek, a family picnic, a day of kayaking, or a casual wedding. It's light and super packable, so it'll tuck into any backpack, pocket, or purse to keep you cool and protected no matter what fun thing you're getting up to today.
At $70, the Summer Packer is one of the most expensive products in our test group. We still think it's a great value. Given its quality of construction and materials, the wide range of places you can wear it, and Filson's lifetime guarantee, you'll get your money's worth out of this hat, and then you'll probably be able to pass it onto your kids.
The Filson Summer Packer impressed us across the board and earned our Editors' Choice for All-Around Use. While it's not the most protective hat on the market due to its fairly narrow brim, it's designed so that you'll actually wear it, and the sun hat you'll wear is always more protective than the one you won't. The Summer Packer is super stylish, comfortable, and durable, and you can wear it just about anywhere. While this is one of the more expensive products in this category, we think it's worth the splurge.
— Joanna Trieger