What to Look for When Buying a Sun Hat for Hiking
When selecting what to wear for hiking, be aware that not all hats are not created equal, and not all hats are good for all jobs. Some may be better for hiking, while others may be more suitable for sitting out on the lake fishing. We’ll start of by breaking down the various components you want to take a look at when choosing your perfect backpacking hat.
It is recommended by the FDA and other organizations to wear a wide-brimmed hat constructed of tightly woven fibers that are opaque for sun protection. A four-inch broad brim is favored for sun protection, however, when you are out hiking, you need to make sure that your brim isn’t so floppy or wide that it interferes with your field of vision. A good rule of thumb is to find a brim that is at least 2.75 inches wide. If the underside of the brim has a dark color, that’s even better as it lessens the glare from shiny surfaces.
UV radiation can be scattered or reflected by different surfaces – snow can reflect as much as 80% of the UV radiation, sand on a dry beach by about 15%, and seafoam by around 25%. UV rays that are reflected can bounce under your hat’s brim striking your nose, chin, and cheeks. Brims that sit closer to your face that curve down offer better protection. Keep in mind though that the brim’s shape needs to be considered for the activity that you have planned, i.e., driving, golfing, or fishing.
For the best sun protection, find a sun hat that has a white top that will reflect heat from the sun while also featuring a darker color underneath to absorb UV rays that bounce back toward your eyes and face. Hats with darker colors under their brims are even fresher than hats with lighter colors underneath. So remember that any off-white colors like khaki or beige are good choices and are easier to keep clean than lighter colors.Other considerations are the environments that you will be wearing your sun hat in. For example, are you wearing it around snow or water? In this case, a dark color under the brim is perfect.
Another important consideration for choosing the best outdoor hat for you, is the material it is constructed out of and whether it will be the right hat for the climate or use that you have planned. Hot climates do better with materials that are breathable and lightweight. Typical materials that are used with sun hats that provide good sun protection include:
- natural – raffia, hemp, cotton, and raffia
- synthetic – polyester fabric and nylon
The material is also an important consideration if you want to machine wash your hat or if you have a preference over stiff or floppy hats. There are also companies that work with waterproof materials that are designed to float in case your hat falls into the water. Sun hats that are constructed with UPF 50+ materials that will bock 99% of damaging UVA and UVB components are great for protecting your skin. U.V. protection is found in any substance or material that will absorb U.V. radiation. Your hat should be labeled and, if it isn’t, you should be able to hold it up to the light to check and see if sunlight can shine through.There are even some companies that are proud that their hats are endorsed by Dermatologists. It is common to find sun hats with a UPF ratings of 30+ or 50+. This rating system measure how much UV radiation is allowed through the fabrics. If a hat has a UPF rating of 30+, it will block about 96 percent of UV radiation, while a hat with a UPF rating of 50+ blocks about 99 percent. Keep in mind that mesh ventilation sides will reduce a UPF rating by a small amount due to a small portion of sunlight that can break through the mesh holes. Also, if you choose a hat that isn’t wholly covering your shoulders and your hat, make sure to wear adequate sunscreen.
The material is also an important consideration if you want to machine wash your hat or if you have a preference over stiff or floppy hats. There are also companies that work with waterproof materials that are designed to float in case your hat falls into the water.
Hats can help to cool you down on a hot day. But if it doesn’t breathe very well, that hat can heat you up instead. Make sure your hat is constructed of a breathable fabric that should not allow you to overheat unless you are doing physical activity. A good rule of thumb is to find a hat with proper ventilation on each side.
Another important consideration when choosing a sun hat is to think about the activities you will be wearing it for. If you will be climbing, a smaller brimmed hat is a better choice as it won’t hit your back and fall off when you look up to climb. If you will be running, then you want a hat that breathes well, is lightweight, and won’t fly off in the wind.A properly fitted hat is also important as a hat that doesn’t fit well will give you headaches from being too tight, or it will feel loose and unstable from being too big. Make sure to measure your head to the company’s specific sizing guidelines before you buy your hat to ensure a good fit.
If you purchase a good sun hat, it should last you a lifetime accompanying you on many adventures over the years. It should become your constant companion, so make sure it is durable and provides excellent sun protection. You will find that many sun hats are made with light colors since light colors reflect heat. However, keep in mind that if you buy a white one, it may be useful at keeping you fresh, but it will also quickly get stained and dirty. Choosing a hat that is a little darker and easily washable will help to deal with stains, so they don’t show as much. Also, make sure to pay a bit more for a durable material like nylon instead of a cheap straw hat from the gas station.
The Best Sun Hats for Hiking – The Reviews
Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
Best Budget Sun Hat
Providing UPF 50 protection, the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is a lightweight hat that includes mesh side panels affording airflow over the sides of your head. Plus, an external cinch-strap lets you customize your hat’s fit while a removable chin cord offers extra security on those windy days.
One of the most protective hats on the market, the removable cape provides total sun protection for your entire neck and has a 50+ UPF rating. It is also very lightweight and comfortable and features a Velcro strap allowing you to create a custom fit.
While the hat is very breathable, the cape does tend to heat up your neck since it is touching it. If you don’t need the total protection of the cape, it is possible to cinch it back giving you more airflow and breathability. Our pick for the best hiking hat for hot weather.
- Nylon fabric that is water resistant, breathable and lightweight
- Wicking technology & TransAction™ Headband keep you fresher for longer
- Removable cape and chin cord
- Features a long cap that covers your ears and neck
- Easy to adjust chin strap
- Heat build-up is prevented by the lightweight material and side air vents
- Not the most stylish (if that worries you)
- If its windy, the side flaps blowing around can be annoying
Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat
One of the more recognizable hats on the market, the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat is worn by adventurers everywhere. For those that like to brave the elements while keeping their cool, the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat was created with a smart fabric for functional sun protection. It also includes patented details, a sun-conscious design, and customizable sizing.
No matter where your adventure takes you, this hat will keep you covered and protected with a 50+ UPF breathable sun rating, strategic mesh ventilation, and a 7 ½ inch neck flap that includes a lift-up tab. This is an exceptional hat for running, hiking, or even to wear on a sunny patio.
In case it blows off your head, and into the water, the Adventure Hat also includes a floatable foam core so it won’t sink. Plus, its moisture wicking feature will help to keep you comfortable and fresh on those long hikes.
- 3½” down-sloping front brim and 3¾” sides with floatable foam core and poly brim wire & 7½” back veil neck flap with lift-up tab
- UPF 50+ Certified Breathable Sun Rating (mesh vents not rated)
- Chinstrap with cordlock
- Packs flat for travel
- Is effective at protecting your face from sunburn
- Keeps the sweat out of your eyes
- Secure head and chin straps keep the hat on your head in vigorous winds
- Brim gets a permanent crease in it from shipping
- The lighter color shows up stains easily
Outdoor Research Sun Bucket
Stable in windy conditions, the Outdoor Research Sun Bucket features a shorter brim and UPF 50 sun protection. With an adjustable drawcord, the hat stays firmly on your head on those windy days while a 2 ¾ inch brim gives you just the right amount of protection to keep your face covered.
The brim is completely crushable and features a slight angle so that it slopes down from the top giving you better protection from the sun as it moves throughout the day. This is one of the more crushable hats on the market that can be crushed for long periods of time without damaging it. Its durable and lightweight design lets you just stuff it into your pocket or bag without worry.
This is also a comfortable hat that is lightweight and breathable. It features mesh ventilation for better airflow, and the small flexible brim keeps it from flying off. You can create a custom fit with the cinch cord in the back which can also be removed if you don’t want it to catch on anything.
- Water resistant, breathable & lightweight fabric
- Removable Chin Cord with one-handed drawcord adjustment
- UPF 50+ rated
- Fits comfortably and is nice and cool
- Affordable, breathable, and water resistant
- Packs down small
- The smaller brim is just adequate but won’t protect like some of the other candidates
Outdoor Research Sombriolet
Best Hiking Hat
With an incredibly comfortable fit, the Outdoor Research Sombriolet is perfect to wear on hot summer days. It features an internal mesh structure that will hold the crown of the hat on your head while mesh vents allow warm air to escape. The brim of the hat includes foam that will keep it afloat should it fall in the water, and it also features a discrete cord along the edge for those windy days to prevent it from flapping up.
All Sombriolet hats have a dark grey underside that will absorb light to lessen glare. Available in men’s and women’s styles, they are available in a variety of colors and sizes. Featuring SolarShield construction, this lightweight hat that uses a nylon/polyester blended fabric that gives you up to UPF 50+ sun protection and vents that are strategically placed in the crown. It also includes a mesh lining that has moisture wicking keeping you cool and dry.
The TransAction headband will keep the hat securely on your head as it wicks away moisture while the adjustable external drawcord and a removable chin cord with cord lock guarantee your hat will stay in place.
- Water resistant, lightweight & breathable material with UPF 50+ rating
- Side Vents on Crown & external breathable mesh panels will keep you fresh all day long
- Comes with removable chin cord
- Mesh structure holds hat in place just above your crown
- Grey underside helps to decrease glare
- Has one of the broadest brims you will find
- Style isn’t that exciting for some
- Downside to having a wide brim is it can be irritating while wearing a backpack
Coolibar Crushable Ventilated Canvas Hat
With a good-sized brim, the Coolibar Crushable Ventilated Canvas Hat will keep you looking stylish while protecting you from the sun. Not only is this hat comfortable, but it is also crushable, brim and all, from the top down. The brim gives you a decent amount of protection with three inches all the way around, plus the hat is rated at 50+ UPF protects you from approximately 99 percent of harmful UV rays.
The mesh on the sides is a great feature giving you breathability while still using a protective liner behind the mesh. It also features an internal elastic band that provides the hat with a good fit while keeping it securely on your head. If it does get too windy, just pull up the neck cinch cord for extra security.
This durable and comfortable hat is also stylish and effective. You can’t ask for a better-looking hat that will do a good job giving you the protection you need out in the hot sun. Our pick for the best hat for hiking.
- Broad 3″ brim for great UV protection
- Travel friendly – crushable & packable
- Internal elastic band for a snug fit and a mesh ventilated crown for comfort
- Well-constructed, durable
- Gives you great protection from the sun
- Great ventilation and its crush resistant
- Sizes tend to run to the smaller end
Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat
This high-performance fishing hat also has qualities that will be appreciated by any outdoors person. The Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat features a fast-drying UPF50 nylon fabric with non-UPF mesh panels and an Omni-Wick sweatband that guarantee your head is protected from the sun while also staying cool. It comes in a wide variety of colors but is available in only one size.
The headband does have a toggle in the back and an adjustable drawcord allowing it to fit heads with a circumference between 21 ¼ to 24 ½ inches. The Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat features a UPF 50 that blocks out 98% of harmful UVA and UVB rays and carries the seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation. This is more than your typical fishing hat.
The Bora Bora Booney also features an Omni-Wick™ sweatband that includes a non-UPF mesh vent panel that will keep you cool while preventing sweat from getting you’re your eyes. Plus, the quick-dry properties allow it to dry quickly in the event it ends up in the water. Both the toggle and chinstrap are adjustable allowing you to customize the fit to your head.
- Omni-shade UPF 50 protects you from the sun
- Omni-wick sweatband & mesh venting actively breathe and pull moisture away from your skin to keep you cool
- Adjustable drawcord and toggle at the back
- Affordable price
- Mesh panels give you more ventilation
- Great for blocking out the sun
- Only comes in one size
- Could do with a little design touch up
Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat
Perfect for traveling, the Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat is durable and great for protecting you when you are out in the hot sun. Featuring a secret pocket in the top part of the hat, the Tilley LTM3 allows you to store small valuables and has a small brim allowing you to move through a crowd with ease. It also offers great protection from the sun with a UPF rating of 50+ that keeps away almost 99 percent of UV rays.
With the wind cord on the back, this comfortable hat will stay securely on your head in the wind providing a nice snug feeling. It also includes a soft sweatband with foam padding for protection to cover your forehead. Plus, it has a crown that is ventilated on the top of the hat providing necessary breathability to keep your head cooler.
The durability of the Tilley LTM3 is due to their hand-sewn construction, plus they easily regain their shape (even after being crushed at the bottom of your backpack). With its classy look, this is a comfortable and durable hat for any outdoor outing.
- Maximum sun protection – fabric is certified UPF 50
- Brim can be snapped both sides up, 1 side up or not at all
- Front & back wind cords system secures Hat in gusty conditions while hydrofil® sweatband wicks moisture away
- Lifetime guarantee
- Well-made hat
- Good quality and nice design
- Great ventilation, durable
- Brim is a tad on the narrow side to keep the sun out of your eyes
- Tends to stain from perspiration