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Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Sunday Afternoons Charter hat > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Sunday Afternoons Charter Hat

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - June 29, 2014

Field Report - September 16, 2014

Long Term Report - November 16, 2014

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 215 lbs (98 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have included a combination of Minnesota hikes where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona trails where I moved to take a new job about five years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  Since moving to Arizona I find I need to wear a hat on all my hikes to protect me from the sun.  I'm always on the lookout for a hat that keeps me cool, stays on my head, and keeps me from getting sunburned on my lips, ears, or the back of my neck.

Initial Report

Product Information

Sol shirt
Photo courtesy Sunday Afternoons

Sunday Afternoons
Charter Hat
Year of manufacture
US $49
Manufacturer website
Cream/sand (pictured above)
Also available: Tan/Chaparral
Listed: 3.6 oz (102 g) for unspecified size
Measured garment weight:  3.4 oz (97 g) for L/XL
Also available: Medium/Large
100% nylon

The Charter hat is designed for sun protection.  It is very lightweight, making it ideal for warm climates like Arizona.  Manufacturer's listed features include:
  • Wide foam-core brim
  • Packs flat for storage/travel
  • UPF 50+ rating for sun protection, UPF 40+ on ventilated top crown mesh
  • Water-repellant
  • Wicking sweatband with adjustable sizing
  • Interior crown storage pocket
  • Chin strap (adjustable)

Trying It Out

Size adjustmentAfter removing from the packaging and cutting off the hang tags/labels I tried the hat on for size.  Fit seems excellent, which is something I was worried about as I have a very large cranium.  Pictured at left is the size adjustment along the sweat band, but so far it seemed good-to-go out of the box and I didn't need to make any changes.

Visible in the first photo above are small slits in the sides that are supposed to accommodate sunglasses for storage.  I've never found these to be particularly useful on hats I've used in the past as I don't find it easy to get the glasses into the slits when I can't see the top of my head, but we'll see how it goes with the Charter hat design.

This is a very lightweight hat that seems like it will vent well.  The strip of fabric between the brim and the upper mesh is almost translucent, and the mesh above that looks like it will breathe very well.

This is an attractive hat.  According to the User Guide that came with the hat I can roll up the brim for a more jaunty look, or I can loop the chinstrap over the top to give me a little Aussie flair.

The chin strap adjusts easily and stows nicely in the crown pocket.  I find I don't use these very often, but when you need one you really do need one, so I'm glad its there.

Also depicted in the photo at left is the internal sweatband.  The fabric is nice and soft, but the band does not seem like it will absorb a tremendous amount of sweat as it is quite thin.  I'm not expecting this to be a problem, I don't like a big sponge wrapped around my head, it looks like it will do just fine.


Things that I find positive at this early stage

  • Comfortable fit
  • Very attractive hat, including the color
  • I like the apparent breathability and light weight - this should be a great hat for the Arizona summer

Perceived limitations at this early stage

  • No real concerns up-front

Check back in two months when I've had a chance to tromp around a bit in the mountains wearing this garment and see what I have to say about it in my Field Report.

Field Report

July 13, 2014
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona
Romero Canyon
7 miles
(11.3 km)
2700-4000 ft
(820-1220 m)
75-90 F
(24-32 C)
Sunny, dry
August 9-10, 2014 Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona Samaniego Ridge 7 miles
(11.3 km)
7700-9100 ft
(2350-2770 m)
55-75 F
(13-24 C)
Sunny, dry
August 16-17, 2014
Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona Romero Canyon
10 miles
(16 km)
2600-4020 ft
(790-1225 m)
65-95 F
(18-35 C)
Humid, overnight rainstorms
August 24, 2014 Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista, Arizona Ramsey Canyon
5 miles
(8 km)
5500-6300 ft
(1680-1920 m)
72-75 F
(22-24 F)

Romero Canyon

My first hike with the hat started early in the morning hiking up the West slope of the canyon, so I wore it in the shade at the outset.  The Charter hat has a nice light feel to it on my head.

As the sun climbed higher I appreciated the wide brim.  It kept the brutal Arizona sun off of my face and the back of my neck, though I had to tilt the hat back on my head on the descent to protect my neck.

There wasn't much wind that morning, so I never used the straps.  Overall, it was a pleasant first experience with the hat.  It was comfortable for hours at a time, including good ventilation.

Samaniego Ridge

Samaniego RidgeThis is one of my local go-to summer trails as it starts and retains a fair amount of altitude which keeps me cool.  It also has some great camping spots among the Ponderosa Pines.

The hike in on Saturday afternoon was fairly warm, around 72 F (22 C) at the trailhead, and I was hiking into the afternoon sun.  I appreciated the sun protection from the Charter hat for my eyes.

After setting up camp I struggled a little bit over where to store the hat for the night, as it is fairly light-colored and I was concerned it would show the dirt.  I ended up stashing inside my empty pack.

On the hike out the next morning I repositioned a few things in my pack and used more of the extension collar.  As I was hiking the back brim of the hat would bump into my pack.  My pack was also not adjusted perfectly symmetrically, which is somewhat visible in the photo at left.  It looks like the brim was bumping the upper right side if the extension collar.  The Charter hat has a very wide brim, which is great for sun protection, but can be an interference problem depending on backpack geometry.

The hat also does not look quite as "dapper" in the photo at left compared to the manufacturer's literature.  I am going to need to play with the shape a bit to improve the esthetics.

Romero Canyon Overnight

Charter hat in RomeroI hike Romero Canyon pretty frequently because the trailhead is just 10 minutes from my house.  Every hike is different, the prior outing was just a day hike, this one was roughly twice the distance to a campsite and an overnight stay.

The Charter Hat got a pretty good workout on this trip.  Saturday was hot and unusually humid for Tucson due to the recent monsoon rains.  The hat spent the night unprotected in a thunderstorm.  The photo at right was taken during the descent on Sunday.

The hat was none the worse for wear when I put it on Sunday morning.  It got really drenched, but dried out quickly and I didn't really feel any dampness while wearing it.

I continue to experience the back of the brim bumping my backpack on occasion.  Nothing serious, just a bit of a distraction.

Ramsey Canyon

Charter Hat in Ramsey CanyonThis was just a day hike through a Nature Conservancy wildlife preserve.  Its at a bit of altitude above the desert floor, so the weather was quite comfortable if a little sticky.

The photo at left shows the Charter hat shaped to look a bit more dapper.  It also demonstrates my sunglasses properly stowed in the provided slits along the exterior of the sweatband.  It took me a few attempts to be able to insert my glasses into the slits without actually being able to see what I was doing, but I think I've got the hang of it now.


The Charter hat has proven to be a useful and comfortable piece of gear.  It keeps my head cool and protected from the sun and holds up well in the elements.  the only gripe I have with it is the back brim bumping against the extension collar of my pack, which any wide-brimmed hat would do.  The hat is attractive if properly shaped when wearing - if allowed to flatten out it is not quite so flattering.

Long Term Report

Field Conditions

October 12, 2014
Saguaro National Park, Tucson Arizona
7 miles
(11.3 km)
2800-3800 ft
(850-1160 m)
Sunny, 85 F
(29 C)
October 16-19, 2014
Gila Wilderness, near Glenwood New Mexico
San Francisco Hot Spring and Box Canyon
12 miles
(19 km)

4600-7200 ft
(1400-2200 m)

Mixed rain showers and sun, 32-75 F
(0-24 C)
November 13-14, 2014
Coronado National Forest near Tucson Arizona
Romero Canyon
12 miles
(19 km)
2800-4500 ft
(790-1370 m)
Sunny, 40-75 F
(4-24 C)

San Francisco Hot Spring and Box Canyon

Charter hat in the GilaThis was a 4-day 3-night backpacking trip along the San Francisco River in western New Mexico in the Gila Wilderness.  We had a wide range of weather conditions on this trip, from chilly mornings to warm and sunny afternoons, with some rain showers on the last day.   It was nice to be wearing a wide-brimmed hat that kept the rain off my face when we did get some sprinkles.

Day 3 was an interesting scramble through a slot/box canyon.  We hiked up and over huge boulders and waded through hip-deep water.  I appreciated the ability of the Charter hat to stay on my head throughout all this, despite the fact that I did not use the chin strap (I'm not a real fan of chin straps).

I did notice some sunburn on my lips after Day 2.  Apparently, even though the brim of the hat is quite wide, I still have to use a lip balm with some SPF to avoid getting sunburned lips.

The photo at right was taken at the trailhead as we were getting ready to depart.

Romero Canyon Reprise

Charter hat in RomeroThis was just a simple "get into the mountains" overnight backpack.  It was a little bit longer than my prior backpack up the canyon, as I hiked to a campsite that I like at a higher altitude.

For whatever reason the back brim of the hat bumping into my pack bothered me a little more on this trip, probably because I had the extension collar of my pack filled with gear.

That hat still looked good on the last trip of this test series, despite the fact that I have not thrown it in the laundry.  It seems to shrug off the sweat that I produce, which is normally quite effective at staining hats.


The Charter Hat is comfortable, lightweight, does a great job of keeping the sun off of my face and neck, and stays on my head.  After four months of wearing it the only aspect I'd like to see improved is the tendency of the brim to flatten out.  This does not impact functionality, but it just seems to have a "back country" look to it.  I intend to continue to use the hat as my go-to headwear in the back country for all but the hottest conditions - it is a great hat.

Backpackers who use packs that extend up into the head area should be aware that the back brim is wide enough to potentially bump into the pack.  This was particularly noticeable for me when I had my pack extension collar stuffed full, bringing it up into the head area.  This is not the fault of the hat, it is intrinsic to any wide-brimmed hat.

Thanks to Sunday Afternoons and for the opportunity to contribute to this test.

Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Clothing > Hats, Caps and Visors > Sunday Afternoons Charter hat > Test Report by Kurt Papke

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