Review: OR ‘ActiveIce’ Hat Fends Off Sunburn

If you spend lots of time outdoors (and we know you do) a good sun-protection plan is needed, from the head down.


Sunscreen can be a pain, but protection from solar exposure is not a matter to take lightly. One product type I recommend comes from Outdoor Research.

The Seattle-based company makes multiple built-for-outdoors brimmed caps equipped with capes.

I first wore this style of hat during a desert crossing in 2006. More than a week of exposure in the sand-scape of eastern Utah during the Primal Quest Adventure Race was mitigated by a cap with a shadow-producing brim and a fabric flap on back.

Outdoor Research's ActiveIce Cap,
Outdoor Research ActiveIce Cap

Review: Outdoor Research ActiveIce Cap

This summer, I employed a newer model, Outdoor Research’s ActiveIce Cap, including for a recent climb up Mount Saint Helens. The cap is made for the mountains, glacial traverses, above-treeline adventures, and desert hikes.

The cap’s thin fabric has a UPF 50+ rating and a generous cape. It cinches on to stay in place even in high wind.

I applied sunscreen at the Mount Saint Helens trailhead, including rub-on sunblock on my neck and face.

The cap, which costs $29, provided enough coverage that I did not feel a need to reapply often during a half-day hike (except for lip balm, which I apply liberally and often because it rubs off when you eat or drink).

On the climb, pulling the hat on and donning dark sunglasses, my whole head felt ensconced in a shadow, despite blaring sun overhead.

It was in the low 70s by midday, but I never overheated. The headband of the Outdoor Research hat sucks in sweat and helps wick it away. The company includes mesh on the sides for breathability.

‘Cooling’ Fabric Included

The hat uses a special polyester with a treatment that gets cooler to the touch once you sweat; it’s a subtle effect, but it works. You can feel the cape once it’s wet, a draping rag of sorts that’s colder than it should be in the sun.

sun hat selfie
Brim, cape, lip balm, sunscreen, sunglasses on…

The cap worked great for hiking and climbing. For running, I don’t love the ActiveIce Cap, as its cape tends to flap up and expose the neck, especially if there’s any wind.

Look to a model that clasps under the chin if you’re planning to run long distances and want to minimize the flapping factor. (This one from OR is a solid alternative.)

Hat With Neck Flap To Wear, Carry

A final bonus point: The ActiveIce Cap has a great design feature for the times when it’s not on your head. There is a split-style, segmented brim.

The permanent crease in the brim lets you fold the hat in half and easily fit it in a pocket. (But it stays in place as a horizontal shadow-maker while on the head.)

It weighs 2.4 ounces. The company sells it in white/gray or a high-visibility yellow.

OR is hardly the only brand to make a cap with a neck flap. Check out REI Sahara Cadet Cape Hat, Columbia Coolhead Zero Booney, and Sunday Afternoons Sport Hat for similar solid outdoor cap options.

Check out the ActiveIce Cap or similar caped offerings this summer. Your skin will thank you for the effort and extra care to keep the sun off your neck and face.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.