Hats Off  — Pros and Cons of 4 Ultralight Sun Hat Options!

Rafael 'Horsecake' Mujica
Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running

Top Left, the Fractel Legionnaire. Top Right, the P-CAP from Parapack. Bottom Left, the GGG Cap from Territory Run Co. Bottom Right, the Desert Cap from Move Free Designs.  

Hats are an essential part of any backpacker or runner’s wardrobe. They protect your scalp from the sun’s harsh rays and keep your eyes shaded. They also help wick sweat off of your head, helping you stay cool even during the hottest parts of the day. 

But what are some of the lightest hats you can find? Let’s take a deep dive together and explore some of the most practical ultralight hats on the market, and what they can offer. I spent months abusing these four contenders so that you don’t have to. Depending on your preferences, your next favorite hat could just be one read away. 

Fractel Legionnaire

Territory Run Co. Cap 

Parapack P-CAP

Move Free Desert Cap

Weight (g/oz)

66g /2.33 oz

53g / 1.87 oz

35g / 1.23 oz

37g  / 1.31 oz


100% Polyester

50% Nylon, 50% Polyester

100% polyester body, foam bill

100% polyester

UPF Rating






Drape and button for neck protection.

Most stealthy for everyday carry. 

Extremely packable and innovative. 

Very soft and breathable. 






Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running

Top Left, the GGG Cap from Territory Run Co. Top Right, the P-CAP from Parapack. Bottom Left, the Desert Cap from Move Free Designs. Bottom Right, the Fractel Legionnaire.


Fractel Legionnaire


The Legionnaire is the flagship hat from Fractel, and it is teeming with features. It sports a large stiff brim, and has a long drape that protects your neck from the harsh rays of the sun. If you’re at the top of a summit and the wind is blowing hard, you can still protect your neck by snapping the drape together to keep the neck protection in place, as well as the hat itself. Fractel also offers a version that comes with a ponytail hole, at no extra cost! The Legionnaire stands above the rest when it comes to sun protection. 

Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running Fractel Legionnaire
The Fractel Legionnaire in action. 


Some people might not find the Legionnaire fashionable enough to wear around town, but that’s not the real issue. You can always fold the flap into the hat itself, giving it a more traditional ball cap look. 

The weight of things is always on my mind, and this is the Legionnaire’s one true flaw. All the sun protection and versatility it offers comes at the price of added weight to the end product. It is a whole 13 grams HEAVIER than the next closest hat in this roundup. However, at just 66g, it’s hardly dragging you down into the mud. You probably won't even notice the difference.

Fracel Sun Hat Neck Shade

One of my favorite spots to take a break during a run. The Legionnaire thrives in the desert.

Territory Run Co. Cap


The GGG Cap by Territory Run Co. is the most stealth hat on this list, easily blending in with most things in your wardrobe, making it an easy choice for everyday wear. If you’re going to the brewery after your trail run, this is the hat you’re gonna reach for.

It also sports the largest brim on this list. The fact that the brim is easily malleable is an added bonus as well, giving your eyes maximum protection from direct sunlight. The mesh on it is also really soft to the touch, making the Cap extremely comfortable and breathable when on the go. And, for people with smaller heads, this hat won't scape the top of your ears. 

Ultralight Sun Hat for Running Hiking
The GGG Cap in action. 


I take sun protection very seriously. When testing my gear, I go above and beyond to make sure that it will serve me well out in the field. I also expect manufacturers to be transparent about their product’s capabilities and limitations. At the moment, Territory Run does not offer a UPF rating on their hats or their clothing. 

Of course, covering your body with a hat or clothing does offer some level of sun protection. Even a plain white cotton tee shirt offers a UPF rating of five. However, that is not enough for many people who worry about the health of their skin, or for outdoor enthusiasts who spend every waking moment recreating outdoors. 

Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running
Feeling cute, might delete later. Peep the TownShirt Co. BeaverTail Prototype. 

ParaPack P-CAP


Undoubtedly, the P-CAP is the most compact hat of the entire list. It was smartly engineered to fold into itself, and to take up as little space as possible. The shock cord also serves to keep the hat as small as possible in your pocket, and to tighten the hat to your head during large gusts of wind. 

Have I mentioned the weight? At 35 grams, it's easily the lightest on this list, and the lightest hat I’ve ever owned too. For reference, that’s lighter than one Snickers Bar. Since it’s so packable, you can easily stow it away in your pack on those cold mornings when you need a beanie instead.

Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running
The P-CAP on the go. 


The P-CAP holds onto sweat longer than other hats on this list. Although initially that cools off your head, it can feel grimy after a while. Wet clothing can also bring down the UPF rating of the fabric. If you have a sensitive head, go for the P-CAP Lite, as the mesh is more breathable and thus will wick away your sweat faster. 

I also noticed that when the sweat does dissipate on the P-CAP, the salt from the sweat remains in place. The salty residue could lead to uncomfortable abrasion overtime for some sensitive users. 

Lastly, the brim of the hat can be somewhat floppy because of the engineered folds that allow the P-CAP to be so packable. However, the good news is that you can easily adjust the brim to where you want it to be while on the move. 

Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running
Love the color of the P-CAP.

The Move Free Designs Desert Cap


The Desert Cap from Move Free Designs is made from some of the softest material I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing. I want a shirt out of this stuff. I want to LIVE in this material. From my experience, the Desert Cap is the most comfortable hat on this list — a hard feat to manage against such stiff competition. 

The fabric is also the most breathable on the list. The Desert Cap is practically dry at the end of a long day, and is only two jelly beans heavier than the P-CAP, making it a must-have for ultralight runners and backpackers. And, have you seen how rad the design is? 

Ultralight Sun Hat for Running Hiking Move Free
Taking off with the Desert Cap from Move Free Designs. 


The Desert Cap sports the smallest brim on this list. Funny enough, I didn’t miss the brim most of the time. However, the long rays of the sun during dusk and dawn left me wanting more shade for my eyes. As someone who likes to run early in the day, and starts hiking before most people are awake at a campsite, the small brim is a bit of a nuisance. After an hour or two though, the brim was more than adequate at shielding my eyes.

Best Lightweight Sun Hat Ultralight Cap Review Hiking Backpacking Running
Thanks for reading:  )



Best Ultralight Sun Hats for Backpacking
Hats, Hoods & Headwear on GGG


Rafael is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on
Instagram, or read more of his work over on his website

Gear reviews

1 comment



I have always like most of my ball caps, as I call them. however, with the changes of things getting warmer
and the direct sun is more direct, I find myself looking alot closer at the Fractel Legionnaire as the sun has
more on my neck than I like.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published