Sunday Afternoons Islander Hat Review
Compare to Similar Products
Sunday Afternoons Islander Hat
Check Price at REI
$25.91 at Amazon
|$55 List||$38 List|
$38.00 at Amazon
Check Price at REI
|Pros||Comfortable, stylish, breathable, durable for a straw hat||Lightweight, durable, great sun protection||Comfortable, protective, secure, stylish||Excellent protection, removable cape, good in the wind, good value||Comfortable, very breathable, good color, great value|
|Cons||Heavy for a sun hat||Not super stylish||Somewhat Expensive||Looks a little funny, can get hot on the back of your neck||Not very stylish, brim could be wider|
|Bottom Line||This breathable and durable straw hat protects you from the sun and looks good while doing it||This hat wins our Editors' Choice for Technical Use for being the highest performing and most versatile of the bunch||A high-performing full brim hat that looks good, for days spent out on the water and beyond||This super protective hat is lightweight, versatile, and an excellent value, winning our Best Buy Award||One of our top choices for a full brim hat that is extremely comfortable and breathable and a great value|
|Rating Categories||Sunday Afternoons I...||Sunday Afternoons U...||Patagonia Baggies B...||Outdoor Research Ru...||The North Face Hori...|
|Specs||Sunday Afternoons I...||Sunday Afternoons U...||Patagonia Baggies B...||Outdoor Research Ru...||The North Face Hori...|
|Weight||6.2 oz||2.6 oz||3.5 oz||2.8 oz||2.9 oz|
|Brim Size||3"||3.25", with 6" neck cape||3.25"||2.75 brim, 7.25" neck cape||2.9"|
|Material||100% natural tripilla straw||88% nylon, 12% polyester dobby||Recycled Nylon||100% Supplex nylon||Nylon Ripstop, 97% recycled polyester mesh lined|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sunday Afternoons Islander Hat is a straw hat at its core. We really like the look of this straw hat, and it earned high marks in the style metric. However, this hat also performs well across the board, especially in terms of durability, breathability, and comfort.
The Islander has a three-inch wide brim that entirely circles the crown of your head. In general, we find cape-style hats offer the most sun protection. But, full-brimmed hats like this one certainly have their place. Sometimes a stylish hat is the one you'll wear, and the hat you'll wear protects you a whole lot more than the one you have packed away in your bag.
This isn't to say the Islander doesn't do an adequate job of blocking the sun. This 360-degree brim certainly keeps the bulk of the sun off your face. But, as the sun gets lower, a longer brim or vertically hanging neck cape will do a better job of blocking the sun. That being said, compared to other full-brim hats, the Islander does a comparable job at protecting you from the sun.
The Islander has a stiff brim that won't blow up in the wind to expose your face to the sun. And, it has a leather chin strap to keep the hat from blowing away. It's UPF-50 rated, and the straw is sewn together tightly. This means no UV rays are going to penetrate the material, either.
The Islander is one of the most comfortable hats we tested. One of our testers pulled this hat out for the looks, put it on, then proceeded to wear it all day without taking it off once. There aren't many hats you simply put on and forget about like this one.
The Islander has a very comfortable elastic sweatband sewn inside the crown. This elastic band squeezes your head to hold the hat firmly and comfortably in place. We didn't find the elastic to be too tight, either. In fact, it's sewn in a way that the base of the elastic is slightly stretched. This makes the top of the elastic angle conically inwards. The shape of the elastic matches the shape of your head in a way that allows the hat to rest comfortably on your head. This band doesn't have to squeeze your head to stay in place, but if you press the hat further down onto your head, it will.
The Islander Hat also has a very comfortable leather cord for a chin strap. This cord feels good against your cheeks. It isn't itchy and has no sharp angles to dig into your skin. The chin strap is tightened with a lightweight wooden bead. This bead holds the leather cord in place just tightly enough to hold the hat in place. We found this leather chin strap and wooden bead combination to be significantly more comfortable than the nylon cord and plastic toggle you see on many sun hats.
We do think it's worth mentioning, though, that the Islander Hat is pretty heavy for a dedicated sun hat. At just over 6 ounces, this is one of the heaviest sun hats we tested. It's definitely not that much heavier than other hats, but this is a solid couple of ounces heavier than the lightest hats. And, sometimes wearing a heavy hat all day can get uncomfortable. We definitely wore this hat for days on end without weight being an issue for any of our testers. But, some might find this weight more noticeable on their head.
The Islander Hat is very breathable. It was one of the overall most breathable hats we tested. When wearing it in the hot sun, our heads didn't feel smothered by this hat. There is a reason straw hats are so popular in tropical climates — they keep your head cool. The straw material used in this hat is no different. Plus, it has three venting eyelets on each side of the crown to increase breathability.
We tested this hat on several hot, sunny days. When we took the hat off and then put it back on, we barely noticed a difference in temperature on our heads. The biggest difference we noticed, in fact, was the heat from the hot sun when we weren't wearing the hat.
We also tested this hat in cooler temperatures and on some cold nights just to see what kind of insulation this hat provides. In the cold weather, our heads were just as cold when not wearing the hat as they were when wearing it. This means that this barely insulates at all, which shows its excellent breathability.
When wearing the Islander in windy conditions, you can feel the wind blowing through the hat. On cold windy days, this hat is obviously very breathable.
The Islander is extremely durable. It performed better than most other hats in our durability tests. This hat can be crushed down into a pocket and will come out unscathed. And it will regain its shape quickly when you take it out of that pocket and put it on your head.
Some straw hats lack durability. The Islander is not one of those straw hats, however. We've used straw hats that felt like they were disintegrating on our heads, especially after trying to pack them in a backpack. This hat, however, can be smashed into a small pocket and the straw only bends. It doesn't break or crack.
The Islander is so durable due to its construction. The straw used to make this hat is sewn together in strips that wrap horizontally up the hat. The end result is a straw hat that rivals the most durable hats of any material. We were skeptical and concerned about what would happen to this hat when we stuffed it into a ziplock bag for our durability test, but it performed incredibly well in this test.
The Islander has an excellent style. It has a dimpled crown, much like a cowboy hat. The overall shape is very similar to a cowboy hat, really. And the straw hat looks great on sunny summer days. This was one of the few hats we could see ourselves wearing out into the world, to a bar or coffee shop, without feeling like we were dressed for a hike.
Compared to most of the full-brim hats in this review, the Islander is one of the best-looking. Straw hats are cool right now. One of the tests we perform for style is to simply ask our friends their opinions. Everyone we asked about this hat thought it was quite stylish. One of our friends asked to wear this hat when we asked them what they thought about it. They proceeded to wear the hat for the rest of the day.
Should You Buy the Sunday Afternoons Islander Hat?
The Islander is a great hat that performed high on most of our testing metrics. It's also one of the less expensive hats we tested. Sunday Afternoons consistently makes high-quality sun hats. For these reasons, we think the Islander is a great purchase for anyone looking for a well-made sun hat that looks good. This is not the best hat for technical hiking or trail running. But, for lounging in the sun and light outdoor activities, this is a great choice.
What Other Sun Hats Should You Consider?
If you're looking for a more full-coverage sun hat for technical activities, check out the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat or the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap. If you're looking for a full-brim hat but want something a little lighter, we suggest the Patagonia Baggies Brimmer. Finally, if you like the style of this hat, but don't want the straw hat vibes, check out the Filson Summer Packer Hat.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More