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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > OR Sun Runner Cap > Test Report by Carol Crooker

OUTDOOR RESEARCH SUN RUNNER CAP
TEST SERIES BY CAROL CROOKER
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 04, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Carol Crooker
EMAIL: cmcrooker AT gmail DOT com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Phoenix, AZ
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)
HEAD SIZE: 22 3/8 in (57 cm)

For the past 9 years, I've backpacked about 30 days each year. My trips were from 2 to 28 days, with my usual trip being 3 to 6 days long. Most of my trips have been in Arizona and the western mountains with Pennsylvania and New York thrown in for variety. Weather has varied from 107 F to a low of 0 F (42 to -18 C). Most of my backpacking trips are solo. My three-season base pack weight varies from 10 to 5 pounds (5 - 2 kg), depending on the weather and trip length. My winter base pack weight is about 16 pounds (7 kg). I normally use a tarp for shelter all year round. I've recently taken up packrafting (backpacking and rafting combined) and apply the same lightweight principles I've learned from backpacking.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Manufacturer photo

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: US$30
Listed Weight Size L: 2.8 oz (79 g)
Measured Weight Size S: 2.8 oz (79 g); 1.8 oz (51 g) hat, 1.0 oz (28 g) skirt
Colors: Khaki, White/Slate
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Size small equals hat size 6 7/8 and fits 21 5/8 in (55 cm)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

A khaki Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap arrived at my house looking just like the photo on the website when the skirt is attached, except slightly darker than how the color shows up on my computer monitor. The website doesn't show a view of the hat without the skirt. The side mesh panels are a silvery gray color. It looks like there is too much mesh fabric: with the hat snug on my head, the Supplex nylon panels conform to my head, while the mesh is slightly loose with some wrinkles.

All seams visible on the outside of the hat are even and tight. Underneath the sweat band the fabrics that cover the top and underside of the bill are sewn together. There are two straight seams to prevent the unfinished edges from unraveling too far. In one spot the outer straight seam drops a stitch and then the outer seam runs into the inner seam. The nylon has unraveled all the way to the single straight seam at this point. This does not affect the appearance of the hat; it remains to be seen if it will affect the function over the four month test period.

The Supplex nylon material in the top of the hat and the skirt is wonderfully soft and quiet.

The bill is stiffened with plastic and has a nice shape: it's not so flat it looks dorky (technical term for unattractive), or so curved it blocks my peripheral vision.

The skirt attaches to the brim with two snaps. It can be just clipped on, or for more security, the size adjustment band on the cap slips through openings in the skirt.

A one-piece chin cord (narrow flat-tube webbing) is tied to reinforced slits in both sides of the skirt and can be adjusted with a slider in the center. The cord is long enough to drape over the back of my neck as well as hang in the front. The skirt can be pulled down to uncover the mesh side panels for ventilation or left up for more sun protection.

TRYING IT OUT

I requested a size small Sun Runner Cap even though my head size measurement is 22 3/8 in (57 cm) and the Outdoor Research website lists a small as fitting 21 5/8 in (55 cm). Going strictly by head circumference, a size medium (22 1/2 in, 57 cm) should have been a good fit for me. However, I tried on a medium cap before testing began and noticed that the volume was a bit large for my head. With the cap resting on the crease of my ears (where glasses frames rest) - the top of the hat floated above my crown. I liked the way a size small fit: with the cap pulled down on my head, it didn't jam into the crease of my ears, but still felt like it came down far enough to stay on in wind.

The sizing listed on the website is accurate.

My size small test cap fits great although when the hook and loop strip is adjusted for my head, there is only about 2 in (5 cm) left to expand the hat in case I want to wear a warm hat under it. Also, it would be more attractive if the fabric covered side of the hook and loop strip could be pulled over further to cover the black hook and loop strip. A size medium cap would not have either of these issues, but the fit on my crown would not be as good.

I can easily snap on the skirt with the hat on my head. The skirt provides good coverage of the tops of my ears (in still air) even with the chin cord hanging behind my neck.

TESTING STRATEGY

I'll be wearing the Sun Runner Cap on my morning dog walks, day hikes and backpack trips with and without the skirt.

Particular areas I'll be checking out:

- Sun protection. Is the bill long enough to shade my eyes? Does the skirt adequately cover my neck in the back and sides and keep it from getting sun burned? Does the 30 UPF fabric of the hat protect my head adequately from sun?

- Skirt. Is the skirt easy to attach and remove? Does it stay on once attached? Does it stay in place (covering the vents or not as I desire)? Does it cover my ears in windy conditions with the chin strap behind my neck?

- Mesh side panels. How well does the hat vent?

- Plastic stiffened bill. Is the bill stiff enough to hold a light clipped to it without flopping?

- TransAction headband. Does it keep sweat out of my eyes?

- Is it easy to adjust the hat on the fly? Is there enough adjustability for the size small hat to fit over a thin skull cap? Does the cinch strap get in the way of my paddling helmet?

- Durability.

- How quickly does the hat dry? Does it provide some protection if I'm caught in the rain?

- Can the hat be thrown in the washer and come out looking good?

FUTURE REPORTS

Check back in two months for a Field Report and in four months for the Long Term Report.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1
July 19 - 23, Continental Divide Trail from Wolf Creek Pass to Trout Lake descending to Fern Creek near Creede, Colorado over five days
A variety of trail conditions from rocky scree to packed snow to soft forest duff
Elevation 9200 - 12,800 ft (2800 - 3900 m)
Periods of clouds and rain with temperatures from the 80s during the day down to 38 F (29 - 3 C) overnight.

July 8 - September 8, My neighborhood near Phoenix, Arizona
Sidewalk and pavement were my "trail"
Elevation 1200 ft (370 m)
Rare periods of overcast, otherwise sunny with temperatures in the 80s to 90s F (27 - 34 C)
About 17 hours total of morning walks with my two foster dogs
IMAGE 2
Sun Runner Cap with skirt on the CDT.

July 8 - September 8, South Mountain Park near Phoenix, Arizona
Rocky desert trails
Elevation 1200 ft (370 m)
Hot and bright with temperatures from about 97 to 105 F (36 - 41 C)
About 6 hours of hiking total

August 21 - 31, Ocean beach near San Clemente, California
Soft sand
Elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Overcast or sunny with temperatures from about 77 to 87 F (25 - 31 C)
About 1 hour of walking and a few hours of lounging

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Although I like the looks of the rounded bill, it has enough of a curve that it is difficult to fully block low angle sunlight. Summer sun comes from a low angle in my desert home and the mountains on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). I'd pull the cap down so that it touched my glasses and still need to angle my chin down to keep bright sun from sneaking in under the peak of the cap.

The TransAction headband kept sweat out of my eyes even when I was dripping sweat elsewhere.

The skirt can be pulled down so the side vents are exposed. I didn't wear the hat much like that since the skirt felt tight on my head. Of course, the skirt is designed for a small head and I have a medium head.

The cape is short enough that it did not interfere with my pack. I used a Gossamer Gear Mariposa. The top of the pack comes to the top of my shoulders. Unlike when I use a bandana under my hat to keep the sun off my neck, the Sun Runner skirt did not get hung up under my pack straps when I took the pack off or put it on.

Even the small sized hat easily fit over the thin wool hood of my hoody.

I wore the Sun Runner on the CDT in various configurations. I wore the skirt the entire hiking day except first thing in the morning and when it rained. One day I secured the skirt by threading the adjustable hat band through the slits in the skirt. I preferred the additional air flow when I just draped the skirt freely. The skirt comes to the base of my shirt collar when the air is still. I kept my sun shirt collar turned up and wore a bandana around my neck to make sure skin wasn't exposed when it was windy. I didn't get a sun burn.

I wore the chin cord hanging in front of my chin after the first couple of days where I had it hanging behind my neck. I found that the cord didn't get in the way in front as I had supposed it might. With the chin cord in front it was easy to cinch it tighter when it was windy.

Even though the fabric is thin and supple, the skirt still holds in heat. It would be nice if it could provide full sun coverage and allow some air circulation. Maybe a skirt made of some type of mesh?

The skirt might provide some rain protection, but I found myself removing it immediately on the CDT when it started to rain since I was ready for increased air circulation.

The hat soaked through fairly quickly in rain - not surprising for a sun hat. I like it as a rain hat because it is thin, dries quickly, and has a stiff brim to keep rain off my glasses. It worked well in combination with a hooded rain jacket to keep me dry enough to stay warm in summer mountain weather.

I wore the Sun Runner Cap during warm morning walks with my foster dogs, day hikes in the local mountain park, for yard work and on the beach while on vacation. I really like the stiff brim and very soft and pliant material of the hat.

SUMMARY

IMAGE 3
Hat and skirt fit under a paddling helmet.
What I like:
- Stiff brim
- Soft skirt
- Skirt is easy to attach without removing the hat
- Skirt provides very good coverage for sun protection
- Skirt does not interfere with pack straps
- Adjustment cord is light weight
- Thin (cool) hat and skirt material
- Light weight

What I don't like:
- Brim curve lets in some low angle sun light
- Skirt holds in some heat
- The lower volume of the size small hat fits my head, but leaves a lot of hook and loop exposed on the adjustment band
- The mesh side panels are bunched up slightly rather than laying flat
- Slider on adjustment cord is small and I sometimes had a little trouble grabbing it

TESTING STRATEGY

I will continue to wear the Sun Runner Cap for walks and day hikes during the two months remaining in the testing cycle. In addition, I will wear it on a week long backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon in October.

FUTURE REPORTS

Please check back in two months for my Long Term Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

September 9 - November 4, My neighborhood near Phoenix, Arizona
Sidewalk and pavement were my "trail"
Elevation 1200 ft (370 m)
Rare periods of overcast, otherwise sunny with temperatures mostly in the 80s and 90s F (27 - 34 C)
About 15 hours of morning walks these last two months for a total of 32 hours total

September 9 - November 4, South Mountain Park near Phoenix, Arizona
Rocky desert trails
Elevation 1200 ft (370 m)
Hot and bright with temperatures from about 85 to 105 F (29 - 41 C)
About 15 hours of hiking these last two months for a total of 21 hours over the four month test period

September 28, Lower Salt River in central Arizona
Elevation about 1200 ft (370 m)
A warm, sunny day with temperature around 85 F (29 C)
This was a packraft float of a little over 3 hours, including a couple of on purpose flips for practice

October 26 - 29, Grand Canyon, Thunder River and Deer Creek areas
Rocky and scree covered desert trails, very steep sections intermixed with more gentle terrain
Elevation 6300 - 1900 ft (1920 - 580 m)
The skies were clear and the sun was bright on this four-day backpack. It was unseasonably warm with temperatures from the upper 80s to the mid 40s F (31 - 7 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

IMAGE 1
Day hiking in South Mountain Park.

The Sun Runner Cap had some sweat stains at the base of the bill so I sprayed on some stain remover and threw it in the washing machine. It came out clean with no apparent damage and the bill did not lose its shape. I washed the hat again after my Grand Canyon trip with the same results.

I continued to wear the Cap when dog walking, day hiking, paddling and backpacking these last two months of the test period. It still looks and performs like new.

SUMMARY

The Sun Runner Cap has served me well to keep all but very low sun out of my eyes (and off my neck and ears when the skirt is attached) without holding in a lot of heat. It kept sweat out of my eyes and fit under a paddling helmet. It has met my needs for 57 hours of walking, day hiking and paddling and nine days of backpacking in mostly sunny conditions in the desert, high mountains and beach. See my Field Report for a list of likes/dislikes.

I would like to see a couple of changes to future models:


  • Mesh side panels on the small size trimmed for fewer wrinkles

  • A skirt that is even more breathable while retaining its sun protection


I intend to continue wearing this hat for various outdoor activities.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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