Running Cap Run-Down

Looking for a lightweight, breathable hat for your next summit attempt? Or maybe you’re digging on the running cap trend and need one that will perform consistently? Check out the Chaos Thermal Regulation (CTR for short) line.

Truth is, I never used to be much of a hat person. I’ve always been a fan of big hair and frankly, head toppers and hairspray just don’t mix.

A year ago though, I chopped my hair into a pixie cut and was left with few options to keep my hair from flopping around when running, hiking, etc. It was then that I bought into the running cap trend, and have since become a total convert. So when I got the chance to gear test a couple of CTR hats, I jumped at it. They sent over the aptly named Summit Air Cap (MSRP $23)—it features a mesh crown—and the Chase Dawn Run Cap (MSRP $20). Here are my thoughts.

Summit Air Cap
I’d been wearing a standard cotton ball cap for about 7 hours on a hot summer day when I first got my hands on this hat. Taking that old-standby off and donning the Summit Air Cap, I immediately noticed a significant difference. That full mesh crown is incredibly breathable.

The Summit Air Cap family
The Summit Air Cap family

The feel of the cap is also quite impressive. As promised, the S.Café fabric, described as a “technical composite fiber made from green coffee bean shells that are ground, spun and woven,” really does create a soft and supple fabric that breathes well and flexes in all the right places.

Running cap: Summit Air Cap
Summit Air Cap

Out on the trail, the SPF 50 (guaranteed for the lifetime of the hat!) warded off sunburn, while the odor-resistant properties kept me smelling fresh. I also give them props for the hyper-breathability and general comfort of the sweatband. The hat’s foldable brim offers gymnast-like flexibility, which is great for tucking the hat in a pant or pack pocket.

On the downside, the sweat I worked up gaining 2,099 feet of elevation did leave a visible stain along the S.Café crown. And when I threw the hat in the washer to get rid of it, I lost a bit of the reflective CTR logo in the suds. Style-wise, the hat comes up a bit wanting, largely because the hat’s “foldability” leaves a clear crease in the brim, visible during standard wear.

Chase Dawn Run Cap
I hate to start out with a negative critique, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point this out first (and in putting the hat on, you’re likely to find this out for yourself): The hat’s circumference is big. Maybe I got an off-sample, but the smallest “0/S” size, which for women is supposed to have a 56-centimeter circumference, was far too large.

Chase Dawn Run Cap family
Chase Dawn Run Cap family

Now admittedly, I do have an unusually small head, but I prompted my rather large-headed husband to don the Dawn Run Cap, and he too found the crown significantly oversized. Luckily, after a bit of creative Velcroing, I was able to jimmy it to fit my dainty noggin for product testing.

Chase Dawn Run Cap
Chase Dawn Run Cap

The good news for the Dawn Run Cap: The size is the only flaw I’ve found. The hat is indeed lightweight and super breathable. And I love that the Sorona performance material carries an eco-story. Per the catalog, “producing Sorona uses 30 percent less energy and releases 63 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the production of nylon 6.”

Plus, not only does the rockin’ hot pink color make me highly visible when running at dusk (and it doesn’t show sweat bands), birds and butterflies also dig the color. Wearing the hat out on a hike, I had more than one hummingbird try to flirt with my head.

Final Remarks
Bottom line: If you’re a major head sweater who doesn’t mind a foldable brim, turn to the Summit Air Cap for its high breathability. Runners and birdwatchers with large heads: Check out the Chase Dawn Run Cap for its feather-lightness.

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