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Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap Review

This super protective hat is lightweight, versatile, and an excellent value, winning our Best Buy Award
Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
Photo: Backcountry
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $38 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Excellent protection, removable cape, good in the wind, good value
Cons:  Looks a little funny, can get hot on the back of your neck
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Sam Schild & Jessica Haist  ⋅  May 18, 2021
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 17
  • Protection - 30% 10
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 15% 7
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is the most versatile and protective hat in this review, and is a great value. For these reasons, it takes home our Best Buy award from among the cape-style hats. The Sun Runner comes with a removable neck cape that can add total protection when needed, or can be removed so that you can wear it like a baseball cap when you don't want to look like you just came from a desert expedition. This hat is very lightweight and comes in a variety of colors. We think it is an excellent choice for backpacking. If you want a hat that will be extremely versatile, 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.

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Pros Excellent protection, removable cape, good in the wind, good valueLightweight, durable, great sun protectionComfortable, protective, secure, stylishGreat protection all around, especially on the back; brim is angled for longer protection, good ventilation, comfortableComfortable, very breathable, good color, great value
Cons Looks a little funny, can get hot on the back of your neckNot super stylishSomewhat ExpensiveNot stylish, brim is not crushable, shows stains easilyNot very stylish, brim could be wider
Bottom Line This super protective hat is lightweight, versatile, and an excellent value, winning our Best Buy AwardThis hat wins our Editors' Choice for Technical Use for being the highest performing and most versatile of the bunchA high-performing full brim hat that looks good, for days spent out on the water and beyondThis 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 Outdoor Research Ru... Sunday Afternoons U... Patagonia Baggies B... Sunday Afternoons A... The North Face Hori...
Protection (30%)
10.0
9.0
7.0
10.0
6.0
Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Breathability (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Style (15%)
6.0
5.0
7.0
4.0
6.0
Specs Outdoor Research Ru... Sunday Afternoons U... Patagonia Baggies B... Sunday Afternoons A... The North Face Hori...
Weight (ounces) 2.8 oz 2.6 oz 3.5 oz 2.6 oz 2.9 oz
UPF rating 50+ 50+ 50+ 50+ 40+
Size of Brim (inches) 2.75 brim, 7.25" neck cape 3.25", with 6" neck cape 3.25" 3.75", 7.25" neck cape 2.9"
Material 100% Supplex nylon 88% nylon, 12% polyester dobby Recycled 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 L L L/XL M 21" - 23" L/XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sun Runner scores at the top of the charts for protection but loses points in the breathability and style categories. The full cape that wraps around your neck can become hot and sweaty if you aren't moving quickly. Style is a subjective thing, but we can't deny that this cap has a certain lack of it. However, if you remove the cape on this hat, it is arguably one of the most normal-looking caps in the entire review.

The Sun Runner kept our neck and face free from sunburn in the sunny northern Arizona desert and on a rim-to-rim-to rim trip in the Grand Canyon. We did note that it tended to get hot on the back of our neck when exerting ourselves, though, one of this hat's only performance downfalls.

Performance Comparison


The Outdoor Research Sun Runner was a great choice for a rim to rim...
The Outdoor Research Sun Runner was a great choice for a rim to rim run across the Grand Canyon.
Photo: Sam Schild

Protection


We gave the Sun Runner a perfect score in this performance metric. It includes a 2.75-inch brim and a 7.25-inch neck cape. The neck cape is similar in length to other cape styles hats, but this one wraps around the front of your neck and can be snapped closed to protect from the glare off of surfaces like water or snow.


If worn without the cape, this cap is significantly less protective, and its brim is quite short for a baseball cap. It would not score the same for just the cap, obviously. But, with the included cape, this is a very protective hat.

The removable sun cape provides excellent protection from the...
The removable sun cape provides excellent protection from the elements, but can potentially impair your peripheral vision.
Photo: Sam Schild

One potential drawback is that the mesh panels on the side of the cap meant for breathability could potentially expose bald heads to sunburn. Our hair-covered testers weren't able to explore this, but this is something you may want to take into consideration as many of the hats in this review have mesh panels that may slightly expose the head.

Comfort


In addition to being a very protective hat, the Sun Runner is very comfortable and lightweight. It also doesn't have a big brim to get in the way when you're recreating and allows for better peripheral vision when trying to look around.


Unlike some of the other hats we tested, the Sun Runner has a Velcro strap in the back, allowing you to get a custom fit, which means you don't have to worry much about the sizing. We tested many other hats with a cinch cord on the back, but we found the Velcro on the Sun Runner to be more efficient. And, it covers a wider variety of sizes this way. We love the material Outdoor Research uses for their sun hats. It's super lightweight, soft, and comfortable.

The OR Sun Runner's cape provides great protection from the sun and...
The OR Sun Runner's cape provides great protection from the sun and is very lightweight and comfortable.
Photo: Sam Schild

Breathability


We docked the Sun Runner some points in this category because it can feel quite hot with the material against your neck when wearing it with the cape. And, airflow is limited when it is cinched tight in the front.


We also noticed that the cape could ride up the sides and cover some of the mesh paneling. However, this hat is made of very light materials that do breath well enough. And, it does seem designed to move quickly. And moving fast with this hat on will force more airflow through it.

While the main cap is plenty breathable, the neck cape can trap heat...
While the main cap is plenty breathable, the neck cape can trap heat around your head during high-intensity movement.
Photo: Sam Schild

It is still somewhat 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 a classic wide-brimmed hat. We did notice that if you don't need the full protection provided by cinching 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 airflow and gives you more breathability.

Durability


The Sun Runner is very durable and compressible. Made with lightweight synthetic materials, it easily slips into a backpack or a pocket and withstands normal wear and abrasion.


We stuffed it into our backpack many times and did not notice much wear and tear over our seven-day backpacking trip. We docked this hat's durability points slightly, though, because its brim can easily become damaged if folded or packed wrong. Other than that, this is a very durable hat that will likely last you a long time.

The OR Sun Runner is very durable, so it will keep you getting to...
The OR Sun Runner is very durable, so it will keep you getting to great views a long time.
Photo: Sam Schild

Style


There's no ignoring the fact that sun hats are usually not so stylish. And, there seems to be a correlation between sun protection and dorkiness. This is very true in the Sun Runner's case. This hat provides some of the best sun protection of any hat we tested, with the expansive and protective sun cape.


If you choose to wear the Sun Runner without the cape, that is a different story, though. It looks like any other baseball cap, but with grommets on either side of the brim where the cape attaches. The choice is yours, and that is a nice feature of this hat. If you don't care about looks and just care about practicality, then this hat is for you. Or, take the cape off and sacrifice sun protection.

While we tested the Sun Runner in white, it comes in lots of other...
While we tested the Sun Runner in white, it comes in lots of other colors, and the cape is removable for when you don't need it.
Photo: Sam Schild

We like the variety of colors this hat available in, too. So even if you've sacrificed some style to choose this protective hat, you can at least choose a cool color to match your outfit.

Value


Because of its price and versatility, we've awarded the Sun Runner our Best Buy Award for cape-style hats. It can also often be found on sale, only increasing its value. And, we think it is a great value for one of the most protective hats. It is on the low end of the price spectrum compared to the rest of the products in our review lineup.

Conclusion


Are you going on safari in Africa? Or are you traveling across glaciers? Don't care what people think about how you look? This hat is for you, then. It will absolutely protect your skin from the sun, and you will absolutely look somewhat silly while wearing the cape. The Sun Runner is super versatile and can be worn as a baseball cap when less protection is needed, but it really shines when the sun is beating down. This hat is a great choice for the sunniest activities like backpacking and paddling. You can be out in any elements, and this hat will have you covered. It is a great value and wins our cape-style Best Buy award.

The OR Sun Runner, worn backwards without its cape to look cool, was...
The OR Sun Runner, worn backwards without its cape to look cool, was the only ball cap we tested.
Photo: Sam Schild

Sam Schild & Jessica Haist

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