Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Sun Hats

Tuesday May 18, 2021
Testing the OR Sun Runner in the Grand Canyon.
Testing the OR Sun Runner in the Grand Canyon.
Photo: Sam Schild

Where We Tested


We tested these hats on an extended backpacking trip across northern Arizona and in the Grand Canyon. Throughout these areas, we tested the hats in five categories: Protection, Comfort, Breathability, Durability, and Style.

REI Co-op Bucket hat down on the floor of the Grand Canyon.
REI Co-op Bucket hat down on the floor of the Grand Canyon.
Photo: Sam Schild

Testing Metrics



Protection


We tested protection the hard way: by risking our skin to determine which competitors were the most protective. We measured each hat's brim size in inches and factored in the slope of the brim. We went out on gusty days to purposely test how these hats would stay on our heads, or if the brims would blow up, exposing our faces.

The OR Sombriolet's wide brim provides excellent coverage with...
The OR Sombriolet's wide brim provides excellent coverage with midday sun.
Photo: Sam Schild

We noted whether each hat could be worn with a backpack to determine if it would stay on your head during a tour or a trek.

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

Comfort & Style


We tested the comfort and style of each model by having multiple people tell us which hats they thought were the most comfortable, then we took note of how they looked with each hat on. For style, we also noted how many colors each hat comes in. For comfort, we noted any points of discomfort or annoyance that we experienced as we wore the hats around town and in the backcountry. We also noted the number of sizes that each hat comes in and whether they're adjustable to help you determine how easy it will be to get a perfect fit.

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

Breathability


We tested for breathability each time we wore the hats by constantly noticing how well the hats breathed. We also noted whether the hats incorporated ventilation, like eyelet vents or mesh paneling.

We put our lineup of hats to the ultimate test -- a weeklong...
We put our lineup of hats to the ultimate test -- a weeklong backpacking trip in the southwest US desert, including the Grand Canyon.
Photo: Sam Schild

Durability


We tested durability by crushing these hats into our backpacks as we headed out on adventures. Durability was also tested by submerging the hats in water and noting if this damaged them at all. In addition, we subjected each hat to a 30-minute crush test, where we jammed each hat into a small Ziploc bag for 30 minutes, then noted how each hat looked and whether crushing damaged the brims.

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