The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

How We Tested Sun Hats

Monday May 13, 2019
We went backpacking!
We went backpacking!

Where We Tested


We tested these hats throughout California, from the desert of Joshua Tree National Park to the High Sierra in Yosemite and Lake Tahoe to the sunny, green hills of the East Bay Area. We went on extended backpacking trips and floated in kayaks and on sailboats. Throughout these areas, we tested the hats in five categories: Protection, Comfort, Breathability, Durability, and Style.

Testing the Outdoor Research Sun Runner (left) on a sunny ski tour up Round Top Peak in the central Sierra Nevada.
Testing the Outdoor Research Sun Runner (left) on a sunny ski tour up Round Top Peak in the central Sierra Nevada.

Testing Metrics


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.

Testing out the Filson Summer Packer (on human) and the Arc'teryx Sinsola (on dog) on a sunny ski tour. These were both super comfortable and stylish sun hat options.
Testing out the Filson Summer Packer (on human) and the Arc'teryx Sinsola (on dog) on a sunny ski tour. These were both super comfortable and stylish sun hat options.

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 Outdoor Research Oasis Sun Sombrero and Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hats being tested on a windy day.
The Outdoor Research Oasis Sun Sombrero and Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hats being tested on a windy day.

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.

Testing the Filson Summer Packer's compatibility with a loaded backpack. While this brim may still touch the back of a pack  it's narrow and pliable enough that we didn't find it annoying.
Testing the Filson Summer Packer's compatibility with a loaded backpack. While this brim may still touch the back of a pack, it's narrow and pliable enough that we didn't find it annoying.

We tested durability by crushing these hats into our backpacks as we headed out on adventures. 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.

The KUHL Sun Blade did not hold up well to our Ziplock crush test  so we knocked it down in the durability category.
The KUHL Sun Blade did not hold up well to our Ziplock crush test, so we knocked it down in the durability category.

Durability was also tested by submerging the hats in water and noting if this damaged them at all. 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 soaked the nine hats in our 2019 update group and left them in the sun  noting which ones were quick to dry and which took forever.
We soaked the nine hats in our 2019 update group and left them in the sun, noting which ones were quick to dry and which took forever.