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Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Review

This hat wins our Editors' Choice for Technical Use for being the highest performing and most versatile of the bunch
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure
Photo: Sunday Afternoons
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $42 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, durable, great sun protection
Cons:  Not super stylish
Manufacturer:   Sunday Afternoons
By Sam Schild & Jessica Haist  ⋅  May 18, 2021
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 17
  • Protection - 30% 9
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Breathability - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Style - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure is the highest performing hat for high output sunny activities and wins our Editors' Choice Award for Technical Use. We were pleasantly surprised by how protective and versatile this competitor is. We took it on many outdoor excursions, including backpacking and boating tips, and it kept us cool and comfortable the entire time. Its lightweight, quick-drying materials, durability, and packability make it stand out among all the hats in this review. It has a great combination of sun protection and breathability in a somewhat less dorky package than the other cape-style hats we tested.

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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
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Pros Lightweight, durable, great sun protectionComfortable, protective, secure, stylishExcellent 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 Not super stylishSomewhat ExpensiveLooks 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 This 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 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 Ultra Adventure Patagonia Baggies B... Sun Runner Cap Adventure Hat Horizon Breeze Brimmer
Protection (30%)
9.0
7.0
10.0
10.0
6.0
Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Breathability (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Durability (15%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Style (15%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
Specs Ultra Adventure Patagonia Baggies B... Sun Runner Cap Adventure Hat Horizon Breeze Brimmer
Weight (ounces) 2.6 oz 3.5 oz 2.8 oz 2.6 oz 2.9 oz
UPF rating 50+ 50+ 50+ 50+ 40+
Size of Brim (inches) 3.25", with 6" neck cape 3.25" 2.75 brim, 7.25" neck cape 3.75", 7.25" neck cape 2.9"
Material 88% nylon, 12% polyester dobby Recycled Nylon 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 L L/XL L M 21" - 23" L/XL

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure has features and lightweight materials that outpace its big brother the Adventure Hat and is a more comfortable and durable version of it. We gave the Ultra Adventure top marks in all categories except style. It beats out both the Adventure Hat and the Outdoor Research Sun Runner for our top award, though performance is close among these options. It loses a few points in the style department, but sometimes testing shows that style has to be sacrificed for function.

Performance Comparison


Taking in a well earned view with the Sunday Afternoons Ultra...
Taking in a well earned view with the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure.
Photo: Sam Schild

Protection


All the cape-style hats in this review scored highest in this department, as their coverage from the sun cannot be matched. The Ultra Adventure has UPF 50+ material, a wide 3.5-inch brim that wraps around the sides of your head, and a long 6-inch neck cape for ideal back of the neck coverage.


The Ultra Adventure's dimensions do not quite stack up to some others we tested, but the brim size is an exceptional compromise between weight and comfort. And, this hat still provides excellent coverage. Sunday Afternoons likes to point out that "The sun hat that works best is the one you'll wear." And we will wear this one. There is potential for the cape to blow up in the wind, but we did not find this a detriment. There is also a chin cord to tighten, so it stays put on your head in high winds.

This hat is very protective with a wide front brim and a built-in...
This hat is very protective with a wide front brim and a built-in sun cape.
Photo: Sam Schild

The Ultra Adventure has added features for performance and protection. This award winner has a "sunglass lock" feature; this means you can put your sunnies on and know they will not fall off if you bend over to fill your water bottle. This lock ensures your eye protection will remain in place.

We never forgot where our sunglasses were with this sunglasses holder.
We never forgot where our sunglasses were with this sunglasses holder.
Photo: Sam Schild

It also has a darker colored under brim material to help reduce glare when you're traveling over reflective surfaces like water or snow. This means it's an excellent option for paddling or glacier travel.

The darker color on the underside of the brim helps reduce glare...
The darker color on the underside of the brim helps reduce glare during activities involving snow or water.
Photo: Sam Schild

Comfort


This award-winner scored high marks for comfort and is the most comfortable of the cape style bunch. For the majority of the time, its lightweight materials make you forget you're wearing it.


The Ultra Adventure has unrivaled breathability and ventilation, as we'll discuss below. We prefer the webbing cinch system that this hat uses over the toggle tightening system on other models and found it offers a higher level of comfort. At times, other hats' brims dug into our heads a little bit when we tightened the toggle. But, the Ultra Adventure never dug into our heads at all. It is one of the lighter hats we tested and very comfortable because its sweatband goes all the way around our head. The Ultra Adventure scored well in the comfort department, thanks to its lightweight and simple design.

We love this hat's simple webbing cinch tightening system.
We love this hat's simple webbing cinch tightening system.
Photo: Sam Schild

Breathability


One of the more breathable in this review, our Editors' Choice model has mesh panels on its crown. The nature of its light nylon/polyester materials is inherently breathable, even during high-intensity activities in hot and sunny weather conditions.


The Ultra Adventure's tapered cape allows for better airflow around the neck than other cape-style hats we've tested. We found we could wear this hat all day and never feel like our head was overheating. The strips of mesh built into the top of the hat allow plenty of air to pass through. And, the lightweight materials used in the construction kept our heads cool in the hot sun.

The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat was one of the most...
The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat was one of the most comfortable we tested, thanks in part to its excellent breathability during high-output activities.
Photo: Sam Schild

The Ultra Adventure has a sweatband that goes around your whole head and wicks sweat away, keeping your head cool. And, the sweatband is a soft and supple mesh material, which adds to the hat's breathability.

Durability


Durability is where the Ultra Adventure pulls away from other hats in its class. This hat can be packed away in a pocket without worrying about how you fold it. And, when you're ready to wear it again, it comes back to life as if it were never packed away at all.


Sunday Afternoons uses the "Reverse Clamshell Brim" that you fold in half upwards, enabling you to stuff this hat in your pack. It proved to be a decent feature for backpacking and traveling. The Ultra Adventure did well in our crush tests, thanks to this feature. We did notice creases in the brim when accidentally folding it in other locations, but the brim does eventually bounce back.

Each hat was crammed in a bag for 30 minutes and evaluated on how...
Each hat was crammed in a bag for 30 minutes and evaluated on how they fared.
Photo: Sam Schild

Style


This hat is a good compromise between style and function — although it leans more towards the function end. The Ultra Adventure is not quite as dorky-looking or embarrassing to wear as the other cape-style models but is definitely not the most stylish. We told you that cape-style hats give up some style in exchange for better protection, though, and this hat has some of the best protection available.


We would not go so far as to call this hat stylish. You still need to confidently rock this hat and not worry about what you look like on the trail. If you're looking for a less technical and more stylish sun hat, we'd go for another option. But then, you'll be giving up some sun protection for the increase in style.

The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat is great for long, exposed...
The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat is great for long, exposed climbs in the desert, but it might not be our first choice to wear around town.

Value


The Ultra Adventure is a great value. It's not the least expensive hat we tested, but it's nowhere near the most pricey either. For the amount of protection from the sun this hat provides, we think the Ultra Adventure is worth every penny. We love this hat for long backpack trips, and we had it out in the backcountry for a six-day trip in the sunny Sierra. It is lightweight, comfortable, and super protective.

The Ultra Adventure was so comfortable we kept it on even when the...
The Ultra Adventure was so comfortable we kept it on even when the sun wasn't shining on us.
Photo: Sam Schild

Conclusion


If you're ready for an ultra adventure, reach for this hat. We've named it our Editors' Choice for Technical Use because it is so incredibly versatile. We love how light and breathable the fabrics are, and it is highly protective from the sun. It is our ideal choice for backpacking because its cape style will not hit the back of your pack annoyingly, and its brim can be folded to stow away when needed. We like that it can stow away in our pack easily when we want it to, but we rarely took it off. The wicking sweatband helps keep your head cool during high output activities like hiking and running. What it loses in style points it makes up for in every other category we measured it. We highly recommend this hat. This award winner is our first choice for any active, sunny activity, from paddling to hiking.

Testing the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hat while hiking rim...
Testing the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hat while hiking rim to rim of the Grand Canyon.
Photo: Sam Schild

Sam Schild & Jessica Haist