Discover the best picks for running caps offering superior sun protection. Learn which factors to consider when choosing a running cap for sun protection.
Sun protection is an often overlooked aspect of outdoor running. However, it takes a single heavy blow on your head to start being more aware of its harmful influence. Runners expose themselves to ultraviolet rays and thus become vulnerable to all sorts of skin-related problems. It’s one of our responsibilities as a running store to address issues like that and provide runners with all the protection they need. In this article, we will delve into the importance of sun protection for runners and introduce some of the best sun protection caps available in the market.
Most of us relish the feeling of the sun on our faces during a good run. That is unless it starts to mess with our eyes. But there’s another catch – while we’re hitting those miles, the sun is hitting us back with squadrons of harmful UV rays. And trust me, it’s a punch you don’t want to take lightly!
According to research, runners are more susceptible to skin damage and premature aging due to increased sun exposure. Alarmingly, these UV rays are associated with skin aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. You can try to take reasonable precautions and run early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun isn’t that strong. But UV rays aren’t arriving at noon – they are always there, simply not that strong. So, even if you’re not feeling the heat, you’re still at risk. Sunburn and skin cancer are not some tales – they are real threats a jogger may run into under the Sun’s gaze.
Despite knowing all this, many of us runners still overlook sun protection. Some of us find sunblock too greasy or forget to put it on in the rush to get out and run. But we do need to be smart about our sun protection. Sunscreen is great, but it doesn’t help with covering your head and eyes. That’s where sun protection caps come into play. They’re some of the runner’s best friends, providing that much-needed shield against the sun’s harmful rays while also keeping our eyes safe from glare.
The question “Why on earth should I shell out extra bucks for a running cap when my trusty old baseball cap is sitting at home?” is pretty legit. After all, any headpiece that can remain on your head throughout your run should suffice, right? Not necessarily. You need headwear that not only will protect your head but also won’t interfere with your running experience. While regular caps are perfectly fine, you might want to get a dedicated piece if you are serious about running. A running cap won’t make you run faster (or will it?), but it will certainly improve your overall experience. And here’s why.
Firstly, let’s talk about design. While any cap can technically do the job of keeping the sun off your face, running caps are specifically designed for, well, running. They’re made of breathable materials and have ventilated surfaces to allow your head to breathe. Not all regular caps can boast this feature as they are designed for regular-paced scenarios. To prevent the upper part of your head from turning into a steam bath, you should choose a breathable cap. Many running caps have mash inserts that keep the air circulating – an advantage too good to pass even for non-runners.
Now, let’s move on to the visor. The visor of a running cap is typically wider than that of a regular cap, providing even better protection from the sun. On top of that, some running caps even feature a black underside to reduce glare. So, not only are you getting more coverage, but you’re also shunning the possibility of being blinded by the sun.
Running caps are usually made to withstand the elements. Rain, wind, sunshine, you name it, these caps can take it. They aren’t too likely to survive a hurricane, of course, or any other weather cataclysm, but few things can, so there is no blaming them for it. At least they are good taking a shower. Your regular cap might start to fade or lose its shape after a few washes, but running caps are built to last.
Finally, we can’t ignore the comfort factor. The majority of running caps come with adjustable backstraps, which means there will be no settling for a cap that is just a little too tight or loose.
Alright, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of choosing the perfect sun protection cap. I’ve mentioned quite a number of things already and, honestly speaking, they should suffice. However, it’s more convenient to see all the factors in one place, so here’s the compilation of factors that need to be considered when choosing a sun protection cap for running.
Okay, first things first – the material. This is the real MVP when it comes to sun protection caps because a lot depends on what kind of material is used:
- Sweat-Wicking Properties: Nobody wants a sweaty head during their run. Whereas there are design elements that can contribute to that, the choice of material is equally important. Materials like polyester and nylon have excellent sweat-wicking properties, keeping your head cool and dry.
- Sun and Heat Protection: The very purpose of such caps. The material can determine how much heat gets trapped inside the cap. Mesh is a great option for sun and heat protection, as it allows air to flow freely. However, it’s important not to choose caps that don’t have too many mesh elements: caps like that provide little protection from direct sunlight.
- Weather Protection: If you’re a die-hard runner who doesn’t let a little rain stop them, consider materials like nylon that offer protection from the elements.
- UPF protection: Not quite the same as sun protection, but close to it. While a regular cap can protect you from the sun’s direct influence, it doesn’t necessarily need to be UPF-rated. Some materials offer UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) protection, which blocks out harmful UV rays. Look for caps with a UPF rating of 30 or higher for the best protection.
2. Visor Form
Next up, let’s talk about visors. There aren’t too many options here, at least at the moment. A visor should be, well, present, otherwise it’s not a cap. As for the rest, here are the options:
- Short Visors: These offer less sun protection but more visibility. Great for those cloudy days when you’re more worried about spotting that pothole than getting a tan. Caps with shorter visors are also less prone to flying away when gusts of wind try to steal them from you.
- Long Visors: These provide more coverage thus bolstering sun protection properties but might limit your peripheral vision. Perfect for sunny days when you want to beat the heat.
3. Design Features
Last, but certainly not least, we have design features. These are the little extras that can boost certain characteristics or establish them in other cases:
- Backstraps: Look for caps with adjustable backstraps. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than a cap that’s either too tight or too loose.
- Side Panels and Eyelets: These allow heat to escape and air to circulate, keeping your head cool even on the hottest of runs.
These are the basics of choosing a sun protection running cap. It’s worth mentioning that there are many other worthy options for the position of your head’s protector. Trucker hats and bucket hats are good candidates as well.
Ciele Athletics ALZCap SC
This is a running cap that’s got it all! It’s like the Swiss Army knife of headgear. Not only does it provide excellent sun protection, but it’s also quick-drying, breathable, and packable. Yes, you read that right, packable! This means you can easily stash it in your bag or pocket when you’re not using it. And let’s not forget about its sweat-wicking properties. Say goodbye to those annoying beads of sweat trickling down your face mid-run. This cap has got you covered!
RNNR Distance Hat
The RNNR Distance offers great value for its money. It features a 5-panel construction with two breathable mesh sides. It’s pretty lightweight and offers good coverage, not to mention its focus on hot weather. The cap breathes and wicks moisture away equally well. The RNNR Distance Hat has a sweatband added to the back of the front panel. The fabric on top of the hat could be thinner and side mesh panels don’t offer decent coverage to people who don’t have natural barriers there. But it still delivers on all fronts.
Coolibar Sunbreaker Running Cap UPF 50+
This cap is a true sunbreaker indeed! With a broad 3 ¼” brim and a removable neck drape, it offers the ultimate sun protection, being rated for UPF 50+. If blocking the sun is your priority, you won’t find a better cap. But that’s not all. It also features mesh ventilation inserts to keep your head cool and dry. There is also an adjustable hook and loop fastener sizing tab at the center back of the crown. It might look too imposing in its full configuration, but if you don’t want the neck drape, you can simply remove it.
You only have one head, and it deserves to be protected by all means possible. A well-chosen running cap will offer many other benefits in addition to sun protection. The choice is more than abundant, so keep in mind those guidelines while you find your perfect hat.