Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat Review

Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat Review

Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat is a sun hat with a wide brim and a neck cape to protect your neck from the sun and a UPF rating of 50+. It has many great features to recommend including a unique sunglasses holder, but for me, the best and most unique feature is that it folds compactly so I can easily stow it in my pack.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight 2.6 ounces
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Brim size: front 3 ¼”, back 6”
  • Material: nylon & polyester
  • Ultraviolet Proof Rating (UPF) 50+
  • Sizing: S/M 21 ¾-23” and L/XL 22 ¾-24 ¼”
  • Lifetime guarantee

Not all fabrics and colors shield you from the sun equally. Dark or bright colors absorb Ultraviolet (UV) rays and keep them from reaching your skin. There’s a bit of a trade-off here since light colors will reflect some light and therefore could feel a little cooler. Densely woven fabrics are more protective than thin or loosely woven or knit fabrics. If you can see through the fabric, then UV radiation can also get through. Many clothing items with a UPF rating are chemically treated with UV absorbers or dyes to prevent some UV penetration.

The Ultra Adventure Hat gets its UPF rating from how tightly woven the fabric & mesh is. Sunday Afternoons says that any of their hats marked with UPF 50+ have been tested and passed rigorous standards (ASTM test standard D6544) to qualify as 50+ UPF. They stress that it is important to follow the care instructions in order to retain as much of the UPF rating as possible. Their fabrics are also rigorously tested by independent 3rd party labs.

I’ve had and enjoyed another Sunday Afternoons hat for many years for paddling, but it’s a little bulky. For hiking above treeline, I really wanted something with good coverage that would also fold up and fit easily in a pack. The Ultra Adventure Hat fulfills this need wonderfully. There is a fold line in the front of the brim which allows for folding it inside out. This yields a package about 10”x5” by about 1 ½” thick. I can store it in the top or back pocket of my pack for easy access.

There are breathable side panels and a wicking interior sweatband. The side panels are not incredibly breathable but this is not a deal-breaker for me. There is a wide, comfortable lanyard with a cord lock that goes under your chin to keep the hat from blowing off in the wind. If it’s really windy, you need to cinch this pretty tight but that’s true of any hat.

The hat lets you store your sunglasses out of harm's way.
The hat lets you store your sunglasses out of harm’s way.

An interesting feature are the sunglasses sleeves for stowing shades on the front of the hat. It takes a little fiddling to get them in while wearing the hat, but sunglasses are relatively secure when stored there. None of my packs go high behind my head, so I don’t have a problem with brims hitting my packs. However, if that is a problem for you, the Ultra Adventure, with its floppy neck cape, would leave any hat/pack interactions less noticeable.

The Ultra Adventure comes in 2 sizes, S/M and L/XL and the fit is adjustable with a pull tab on the back. Although it is a unisex hat, there are a variety of colors sure to please anyone.

Recommendation

I’m not really a hat person, but out of deference to my dermatologist, I try to be diligent with my sunscreen and sun-shielding. I recently wore this hat for a full day above treeline and it performed very well. It was comfortable, it didn’t blow off, and the coverage was great. I did not apply sunscreen from the neck up and had no sunburn. Overall, I’m very happy with the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat. The only thing that keeps me from calling it perfect is the lack of a hole in the back to accommodate a ponytail. I just tuck my hair completely into the hat instead. The foldability more than makes up for this missing feature.

Disclosure: The author owns this hat.

About the author

Wanda Rice has been backpacking since the late 1980’s. She has climbed the New Hampshire 48, the New Hampshire 48 in winter, the New England 67 and is working on the New England Hundred Highest and the Four-Season 48. Wanda also teaches for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Mountain Leadership School, the AMC New Hampshire Chapter Spring and Winter Schools as well as the AMC NH Winter Hiking Series. She leads day and overnight trips for AMC NH year-round and loves mentoring new leaders. She is a gear junkie, a self-proclaimed Queen of Gear Hacks and loves sharing her tips and tricks with others. Wanda lives in southern NH and is looking forward to moving closer to the mountains in the next few years.

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9 comments

  1. These things are the bomb. Foldable brim is a game changer, but the weight and back cape (so a brim doesn’t hit your pack) are equally key. Only problem I have is that the size adjustment band does not stay put, so I sewed it at the spot I wanted it (not like my head size changes) and that solved that.

  2. I have this hat and their Sport hat. I find the Sport hat to be way more comfortable and the brim is easier to fold up out of the way when you don’t need to block the sun from your eyes. The Adventure hat has a bit of a hard edge on the inside of the brim that puts a lot of pressure on the forehead when the hat is tightened down for windy days. The Sport hat has a flatter surface that feels better on the forehead. But the trade off is that the Sport hat has a little less protection than the Adventure hat, and it does not fold up as easily.

    Another issue I have with the Adventure hat is the mullet flap in the back is pretty heavy with a thick cord fold on the edge that helps keep the mullet flap down. My problem with this is that the fabric is kind of rough and has a texture that makes this fabric-zipping noise literally every time I move my head and the mullet flap rubs across my backpack or clothes. It has this faint zipper noise that drives me absolutely mad if I think about it. They should have a smoother fabric in this part.

    I do like the sunglasses holder in the Adventure hat though. They hold on there surprisingly well and it’s not too difficult to put them into the slots once they have been used a few times and stretched out.

    BTW, the Sport hat has a pony tail hole in the back. I’m not sure why so many outdoor stores only carry the Adventure hat, as the Sport hat is a bit more versatile and about 10% less dorky. haha

    I’m one of the rare backpacking men who actually shaves these days, so I like using these hats, no matter how dorky they are. Other guys just go full on sasquatch beard and toss a trucker ball cap on top to still identify as human. They’ve got the best, natural sun protection there is. :)

  3. I have the Adventure Hat and have used them for years. Because of the high price I now use a $15.00 knock off found on Amazon. I like the knock off even better.?

  4. On a section hike a couple months ago, I went hatless in the Grayson Highlandson on a beautiful sunny day after rain and drizzle the day prior. I ended up with one of my worst ever sunburns on the back of my neck. This would have prevented it.

    My dermatologist wants me to always wear hats now and I need to start using sunglasses as well. This hat may have to replace my other ones.

  5. It’s nice to see someone address the back of the stiff brim bumping the pack issue. I was beginning to wonder if it was just me… I gave up on wide brims and went back to the mesh trucker’s caps. The floppy rear brim/neck cape may be the way to go.

  6. I bought a Sunday Afternoons hat (not this model) earlier this year. It’s great! It gives more sun protection than any other hat I have every owned, and the chin strap will keep it on in most winds.

    The only problem I’ve had with it is that the huge bill blocks my vision above eye level. I have walked into large, low overhaving branches a couple of times and bashed my head on them hard, because there is no line of sight. I’m having to train myself to tilt my head up occasionally so that I can see whether there are any obstacles just above the bill.

    • You can sort of fold the brim upward for better viability. Some of the Sunday Afternoon dorky hat models are easier to do this than others. The SA Sport hat is the best for flipping the brim up out of the way. Some of the others like the Ultra Adventure are not as easy to flip up.

    • I wear an Outdoor Research hat almost always, and I have to flip the brim up when I’m hiking up hill so that I can see where I’m going. ;-)

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