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Reviews > Clothing > Hats > Sunday Afternoons Charter hat > Test Report by Ray Estrella
Sunday Afternoons Charter Hat
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.
Manufacturer: Sunday Afternoons
Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty
The Sunday Afternoons Charter Hat works very well as a sun-blocking head covering, a passable rain hat and even a bug repelling device. I found that the sizing does not run true to Sunday Afternoons other (previous) headwear. Large is larger now… Please read on for the details.
The Sunday Afternoons Charter Hat (hereafter called the Charter or hat) is a lightweight hat (or as the company calls it "sun fedora") that provides pretty good sun protection. The protection comes from the 100% nylon that it is made of. The nylon is said to block 98% of UV and provides an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+ (40 at the top crown mesh ventilation).
It has a brim that is 3.25 inches at the front and back and 2.5 inches at the sides (64 & 83 mm). The brim is I believe made of foam trapped between two layers of the nylon. It is stitched through every 0.25 in (63 mm) round and round the brim. The foam allows the hat to float when dropped in the water. Sunday Afternoons calls it their "FloatCore brim technology". (I call my gel pen Ink Transfer Technology… ;-) The bottom of the brim is made of a darker nylon than the rest of the hat. This is to cut glare.
The side band (or barrel) of the Charter has an extra layer of material for the first inch (25 mm) above the brim. It matches up with the soft sweat band on the inside and adds strength. They added a couple slots in the outer layer and say that it can provide a secure parking spot for sunglasses by sliding the arms into the slots.
The top consists of a flat one-piece crown. A thin support wire runs around the outer edge of the crown. Just under the crown the top inch (25 mm) of the side band is made of polyester mesh. From outside it looks like the mesh has small holes but actually it is an extremely fine mesh as can be seen when looking at it from the inside.
Looking inside shows a pocket that covers the entire crown of the Charter. It has a small patch of hook-and-loop as a closure. At the very back of the hat there is a "Anchor Lock", a flat sliding dis-connect buckle on a thin nylon strap that allows the hat to be cinched tight to the head. Just under the Anchor Lock is a tag with the size and material information on one side, and washing instructions on the other. They are; hand wash cold, line dry, no dryer, no iron. (No problem…) The last thing to notice inside is the wicking sweatband.
The Charter may be kept on my head in windy conditions by tightening the adjustable chin strap that drops from the sides. The strap runs through a small cord-lock. One cool thing about the Charter is the way that it will collapse flat for storage. Just push down on the crown and it drops down to about one inch (25 mm) thick.
That's the Charter hat. Now it's time to get it in the field to see how it works. Come back in a few months to see how it did.
I have worn the Charter Hat on eight overnight backpacking trips so far. Two were on the North Country Trail (NCT) in the State of North Dakota (ND) along the Sheyenne River and Lake Ashtabula. The picture above was taken on the edge of the lake. Three were on the same trail in mid-northern Minnesota (MN), two in Paul Bunyan State Forest and one on White Earth Indian Reservation. Back north of there for a trip in White Earth State Forest. One trip was on my side (western) of MN between the town of Halstad and Hendrum on private and public right-of-way lands along the Wild Rice and Red Rivers, and one was on private land north of Halstad.
Then came six days of backpacking in Oregon. Four days were spent in the Three Sisters area on parts of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and about nine local trails. The last two were further north on Scott Lake trail and the PCT. The hiking there was mountainous with elevations visited of 3500 to 7000 ft (1000 to 2100 m).
Temps have run cool at night all summer, hitting as low as 42 F (6 C). Highs have run the gamut with days that were 82 F (28 C) and humid to one that never went above 48 F (9 C) and rainy. In fact every trip saw at least some rain. That's why I am in full rain gear in the shot below taken in Paul Bunyan State Forest. The Oregon trip saw rain of some amount every day, with day three being a doozy. It started in the morning right as I was heading out and didn't stop until 6:00 AM the next day. That was the coldest day the Charter saw with a low of 33 F (1 C).
First off let me warn you dear readers of the sizing issue I have with my Charter Hat. I have at this time three other Sunday Afternoons hats (and have had others) dating from 2003, 2010 and 2012. All of them are size Large and all fit fine. So I was a bit surprised to find that this hat, in a size large, is much bigger fitting (looser) than any of my other hats. I am able to wear it but have to really pull the adjustment strap quite a way in, which pulls the crown in. I wish I had found one to try on first in which case I would have ordered the Medium. It's still a great hat though.
The Charter Hat has definitely gotten a workout from me over the past four months. The hiking in ND was in open fairly flat terrain with almost no tree cover so the hat was a life saver. The wind was blowing on both trips and on the hottest day I tried to let the hat hang from its string to see if I would be cooler without it. Within five minutes I was broiling though and put the hat back on where it stayed for the duration of the day's hiking. The picture above was taken on that trip.
The chin string has been used a lot, like in the shot at right. On all but the trip through White Earth, which was the only hike in solid tree cover, I had winds strong enough to blow the hat off. On the White Earth trip I didn't need the hat to block sun (it was raining off and on all day) but I did need it to block blood suckers. The mosquitoes were horrible. With the high humidity I couldn't get my bug repellent to work and had to resort to draping a bug net over the Charter Hat. I need to find a net that will go over the crown and fit better for future use.
One of the first things I did was soak the Charter Hat with a 1.25% solution of permethrin and then let it dry thoroughly. Permethrin (which I have reviewed here, see Sawyer Permethrin) is a bug repellent that works at a microscopic level to repel mosquitoes, ticks and other biters. This is the ingredient in bug-proof clothing and I have just learned to do my own. When not raining the treated Charter Hat worked well to keep the mosquitoes off my head and upper face. Here is a shot of the Charter Hat with net covering.
I made the mistake of soaking the hat in Lake Ashtabula to attempt to make myself cooler on my hottest hike. As I was swishing it around I noticed that the lake is probably the dirtiest one I have ever encountered. It is flat full of bull sh... uh, cow dung. I hated having to go out in it later that day to get water for filtering. Because it was so filthy I washed the hat as soon as I got back home. I just took it in the shower and scrubbed it with soap by hand. It cleaned up well and dried overnight. I treated it with permethrin again just to be sure it would still repel bugs on my future trips.
As mentioned before I have seen a lot of rain this year. The Charter does well in light rain or short-duration rain. In the picture above taken in Oregon it is actually lightly raining. It never got bad enough to stop and put on rain gear, although I was just unpacking mine when it stopped a couple times. It was nice to tell the truth as it made for zero trail dust.
Well, all that changed on day three. In the picture below I am getting a new permit as I am going into a new area. The rain is coming down light, but steady. An hour later it was heavier and it never let up. The Charter then became a problem. The brim soaked up so much water that it would sink on the head as I walked. I finally had to ditch it and use my rain coat's hood for the rest of the day.
After I got home I was only able to use the Charter hat for one more trip as there was too much hunting pressure to be safe with it on. I had to go to a solid orange hat, but for that last trip (during bow deer season) I did use the Charter with an orange Buff slipped over the crown. I came away from the test very happy over-all with the Charter hat. I do wish mine fit better but it works. I leave with a shot of the Charter being worn on that last trip. My thanks to Sunday Afternoons and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me put it to the test.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
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