OR - Sunday Afternoons Traveler - Ray Estrella
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Sunday Afternoons Traveler Hat
By Raymond Estrella
December 29, 2012
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)
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
Web site: www.sundayafternoons.com
Product: Traveler Hat
Year manufactured: 2012
MSRP: US $30.00
Weight listed: 3 oz (85 g)
Verified weight: 3.1 oz (89 g)
Color reviewed: Tan
Image courtesy Sunday Afternoons
Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty
The Sunday Afternoons Traveler Hat provides almost as much protection as the company's Adventure hat in an easy to store folding form factor. Besides blocking the sun it also functions well as a rain hat for light rains or short durations. It has become my favorite 3-season hat. Please read on for the details.
The Sunday Afternoons Traveler Hat (hereafter called the Traveler or hat) is a light weight hat 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+.
The nylon has also been treated with what they call their ShieldTek technology. This is said to make the fabric dry 3-5 times faster than un-treated fabrics. (More on this later.)
The dome of the hat is made of a single layer of nylon. It is a five-panel hat with the center panel running straight across the head from forehead to nape of neck. The next two panels are cut on an arc and go down to either side of the hat. The bottom most panels are made of polyester mesh to allow ventilation. The mesh has very small holes, much smaller than the ones on the Adventure hat that I also own. (See review.)
At the very back of the hat there is a "sizing band", a flat sliding dis-connect buckle on a thin nylon strap to allow the hat to be cinched tight to the head.
A good-sized, stiff 3 in (7.5 cm) brim extends from the dome to provide shade and protection for the eyes. The underside of the brim is covered in dark nylon to alleviate reflected glare. The brim is made with what they call Clamshell Brim technology. The brim can fold inward due to the manufactuered hindge point running down the center of the brim. It cannot fold the other direction.
As may be seen above, a 6 in (15 cm) neck cape drapes down the back to provide sun protection for the neck and ears. This hanging portion is lined with the darker color nylon too. Hidden in the lining is a small pocket that is roughly 4 x 5 in (10 x 13 cm).
The Traveler 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. Inside the hat I find a moisture wicking sweatband. At the back is a tag with the company information on one side, and washing instructions on the other. They are; hand wash cold, line dry, no dryer, no iron.
The Traveler comes with a small storage sack. I have never used this sack since the first time I removed the hat. (Indeed I don't even know where it is now.)
I have used the Traveler hat on every day-hike and backpacking trip I taken since I got it at the end of July, through November. I'd estimate that I have about 22 days with it on. Some of the more interesting places have been:
In South Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TNRP) and just outside of it on the Maah Daah Hey Trail in the Little Missouri National Grasslands. I stayed at Sully Creek State where the park caretakers told me it was 99 F (37 C) when I talked to them at 5:00 pm after setting up my tent. The next day it stormed while I was hiking and only made it up to maybe 70 F (21 C).
I took it on a long California trip that saw a 2-day backpacking trip in the southern Sierra Nevada, and 5-day backpacking trip in the northern Sierra Nevada, and a day-hike and 2-day trip in the Angeles National Forest. There was a total of 136.5 miles (220 km) with 23575 ft (7186 m) of gain, in temps that ran from 31 to a ridiculously warm for that time of year 90 F (-1 to 32 C). Almost all of it was on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The picture above was taken at Vasquez Rocks.
A five-day trip deep in the Superior National Forest, right by the Canadian border. I volunteered to help the United States Forest Service (USFS) build a bridge over Bridal Falls on the Border Route Trail. We stayed on an island in Gunflint Lake. The temperatures on this trip were from 35 to 70 F (2 to 21 C) and it rained on four of the days. Here is a picture at break time.
I have been using Sunday Afternoon hats since 2003, when I bought my first Adventure hat. That style has changed and I have another of them now. While I love the protection provided by the Adventure it has always been a bit of a pain to stow it while hiking. So I was pretty excited to see the new Traveler hat this summer.
I have really put the Traveler through some hard use in just a few months and have to say that it works very well. For 3-season trips I don't bring a headlamp, but instead use little thumb lights. They have a clip that allows them to go on a hat brim so the Traveler has been used literally day and night on my backpacking trips.
On most days I start out very early, sometimes before the sun is up. On these starts I wear the Traveler just for warmth. Once my core temp rises from the hiking exertion I take the Traveler off. It is really nice to be able to fold it and stick it in my pack's outside pocket, like in the picture above. Once the sun comes up I pull the hat back out so that it can block the UV.
Probably half the days with it saw high enough winds to really need the chin strap. It does what it is supposed to do.
One pleasant surprise was how well the DWR treatment works. I hiked at least 8 days in rain with the Traveler, like the shot above on the Red River in Minnesota. As long as the rain was not pounding down the Traveler worked fine. Even in heavy rain the fabric never really got saturated, but it would come through the mesh panels. Another thing that was also nice about the ShieldTek, and the claim of it drying so much faster than untreated nylon, was born out on my bridge building trip with the Forest Service. It rained off and on for most of the trip. The Traveler would be pretty wet by the time I turned in each evening. I would spread out the hat on the top of my tents mesh inner ceiling, right over my head (as I know that is where most heat escapes my sleeping bag). The next morning it was always dry even with the heavy condensation on the tent's rain fly. Here is a picture of it drying one of the nights.
The Traveler has a new type of mesh that has much smaller holes than any of my Adventure hats. This is a good thing. I spent three days in North Dakota that saw the most aggressive no-see-ums I have ever been around. They were able to go through the mesh of my hat and bit the heck out of my scalp. When I got the Traveler I went back to the same area just to see if the bugs could get through the new mesh. They could not!
I haven't washed it yet but as I sit here and write this I see that it does need it. As soon as I finish I suppose I shall give it a scrubbing so it is ready to go again next spring. I plan on using the Traveler for quite a few seasons to come. I leave with a shot of me and Dave (wearing his Sunday Afternoon Adventure hat) somewhere in the northern Sierra Nevada. Look at the Traveler blocking those UV rays