Alex Roddie tests a versatile hat with head-turning looks
Baseball caps with detachable capes have been around for a long time. The basic concept is to take a standard baseball cap and add a shroud that protects your neck from all sides. This drastically improves protection, and – if the cape is removable, as it is for the Sun Guide Cap – the result is a highly versatile item of headgear that can be used in a range of environments from chilly forest to baking desert.
The hat has a UPF 50+ sun rating. My Medium sample weighs 96g all-in, or 68g for just the cap. The shroud has several low-profile ventilation slots and is easily detachable from the cap. The cap itself has a comfortable wicking liner and two vents at the top that can be covered or exposed at will to adjust ventilation. It offers a snug, reassuring fit. A nice touch is that the extra-wide brim can fold in half, which really aids the hat’s packability – no risk of the brim getting squashed when shoved into a pack or pocket. It also means the cap folds down smaller than you might expect.
On the trail, I’ve found this to be a spectacular hat – and it’s a head-turning look, too! When fully ‘battened down’ with the poppers closed at your chin, UV protection is excellent and it remains cool even in very hot weather, thanks to generous ventilation. The vents at the crown do make a difference when it’s really hot, but mostly I keep these vents closed. I’ve also found the fabric to be impressively water resistant; it can easily shed the odd rain shower.
Thanks to the poppers at the bottom of the cape, it’s possible to wear it in several different configurations:
- Cape buttoned under the chin;
- Cape loose (I found this rather flappy in even light winds);
- Cape buttoned behind neck (not as flappy, and quite useful if the sun is behind you as ventilation is improved).
With the shroud detached, this hat looks like any other baseball cap and is perfect for general use on or off the hill. There’s no obtrusive branding anywhere, either.
Its main competitor is the well-established Outdoor Research Sun Runner, which is slightly lighter at 79g, and slightly cheaper, but lacks some of the Sun Guide Cap’s useful details. In my opinion the Sun Guide Cap’s superior ventilation options – and little touches like the folding brim – make it worth spending a few pounds more.
It may look a little goofy, but the Sun Guide Cap is easily the best hat I’ve used for sunny conditions.