Best Hiking Hat: The Best for Outdoor Adventure

If you need some sun protection for your next hike, then this is the place to be! Our guide will help you find the perfect hiking cap or hat for your next adventure.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Brian Conghalie
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When summer swings around, most of us are chomping at the bit to get out and hit those trails. But although warmer temps and sunny days are a boon, they aren’t without their problems.

Spending multiple hours outdoors, after all, means an overload of exposure to harmful UV rays, which can cause a variety of skin and other health issues, not to mention heat stroke, sunstroke, and all the rest of it.

One of the best ways to avoid the above issues is to invest in a good hiking hat. Not only is this wise from a health perspective, but it comes with other benefits, such as reducing glare, keeping your hair out of your eyes, and upping your style game.

To help you find the perfect hat for you, we’ve done a little research and put in the hours testing a wide selection of hats. Below, we’ll reveal the results and provide all the info you need to choose.

Top Choices by Category

Budget: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap, Columbia Bora Bora Booney II
Wide-Brim: Tilley LTM6 Airflo, OR Sombriolet, The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer, REI Co-op Explorer, Columbia Bora Bora Booney II, OR Sun Bucket, Coolibar Crushable
Cap: Arc’Teryx Calvus Cap, Buff Pack Trek Cap, Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Editors Choice

Outdoor Research Sombriolet

Outdoor Research Sunbriolet Sun Hat

The Outdoor Research Sombriolet scoops our award as the best hat for hiking out there this year.

This wide-brim hat ticks all the boxes for summer hiking. It features an internal mesh structure that will hold the crown on your head while mesh vents allow warm air to escape. It also feels so comfortable that you’ll forget it’s there, which is about the highest praise we can give any hat.

There are many hats out there in this style. However, the Sombriolet goes the extra mile to ensure user comfort and includes a few nifty features that set it apart from the competition.

All color options of the Sombriolet, and both the men’s and women’s styles, have a dark gray underside that absorbs light to lessen glare. All varieties also feature SolarShield fabric technology, which provides UPF 50+ sun protection.

To prevent overheating, the Sombriolet has air vents in the crown. And to ensure no sweat drips into your eyes, there’s a moisture-wicking mesh lining inside, and a TransAction headband that does double-duty by both keeping sweat at bay and secure the hat to your head.

Other nice touches include foam inserts that keep it afloat if you drop it in water, an adjustable external drawcord, and a removable chin cord with a cord lock that guarantees it will stay in place on windy days.

Bottom Line: Lightweight, comfortable, and protective to boot, this is the ideal pick for summer hiking.

At a Glance: Quick Recommendations

Our 11 Favorite Hiking hats Reviewed

Outdoor Research Sombriolet

Best Overall

In our hunt for the best hiking hat out there, we sought a model that is lightweight, breathable, tough, and with enough protection to keep our skin safe on super-sunny days. The OR Sombriolet ticks all those boxes.

The Sombriolet has a brim that measures 3.125 inches at the front and 4.125 inches at the back. This varied width means you get plenty of sun protection for your neck but won’t have to worry about your vision being impeded at the front.

The Sombriolet is also one of the most comfortable and durable options on our list. It’s made with double-weave ripstop fabric and has a super-soft, high-wicking headband for comfort. An internal mesh structure holds the crown on your head, while mesh vents on the sides provide a little A/C on hot days.

All versions of the Sombriolet have a dark gray underside that absorbs light and lessens glare, and have a UPF 50+ rating.

An adjustable strap at the back lets you customize the fit and a removable chin cord ensures it stays put when hiking in windy conditions. This wide brim hat also includes foam inserts that will keep it afloat if it falls in the water.

  • PROs

    • Mesh structure holds it in place just above your crown
    • Gray underside helps to decrease glare
    • Lightweight and breathable material with UPF 50+ rating
    • Side vents on crown & external breathable mesh panels will keep you fresh all day long
    • Removable chin cord
    • Extra-broad brim
  • CONs

    • Style won’t be to everyone’s taste
    • Brim can be irritating while wearing a backpack

Bottom-Line: A super-comfortable, well-designed hat that provides ample sun protection on even the balmiest of days. The best hiking sun hat we’ve ever come across.

REI Coop Explorer Hat

Runner Up

We aren’t normally big fans of cotton in outdoor attire, but for the REI Explorer we’re prepared to make an exception to the rule.

The Explorer’s main fabric is organic cotton, which tends to soak up rather than wick sweat, which can cause all kinds of problems – extra weight, dripping sweat, and serious chills when you stop moving and the sweat cools down. However, the Explorer’s chunky, high-wicking headband is so effective that none of the above is an issue.

Truth be told, cotton fabric is more of a benefit than a drawback. It makes the Explorer super-soft and crushable, highly breathable, and gives it a UPF 50+ rating. For added airflow, the Explorer incudes a duo of large, polyester mesh side vents that keep your head cool in high temps.

Other nice features include a 3-inch brim, brass snaps that let you pin the brim up on either side, an adjustable chin strap, and a stash pocket in the crown.

  • PROs

    • Great ventilation
    • Wide brim
    • Breathable
    • Comfortable
  • CONs

    • Kinda pricey

Bottom-Line: Expertly made to meet the needs of the hot-weather hiker.

Coolibar Crushable Ventilated Canvas

Honorable Mention

The name kinda gives it away, but the Coolibar’s main selling point is that it crushes down into a tiny bundle, thus making it one of the most compact and portable women’s or men’s sun hats out there.

Crushability aside, the Coolibar has a lot going for it. It had a good-sized brim (3 inches), a 50+ UPF rating, mesh sides to prevent overheating, and a protective liner and elasticized headband behind the mesh to provide a comfortable and secure fit.

Looks-wise, the Coolibar might be an, um, “acquired taste”, but this really depends on what floats your boat.

  • PROs

    • Well-constructed, durable
    • 3-inch brim gives you great protection from the sun
    • Great ventilation
    • Travel friendly – crushable and packable
    • Internal elastic band for a snug fit and a mesh ventilated crown for comfort
  • CONs

    • Sizes tend to run to the smaller end
    • More functional than fashionable?
    • Pricey

Bottom-Line: A classy-looking, comfortable hat that provides plenty of airflow and great sun protection.

Arc’teryx Calvus Cap

Best Baseball Cap

Arc’teryx is famed for creating top-of-the-line rain shells, hiking pants, softshells, and hiking footwear, but the Calvus Cap shows that its design team is pretty handy when it comes to headwear, too.

The Calvus is made with lightweight, breathable, water-resistant socora polyester fabric and has mesh side panels and a spacer mesh, moisture-wicking sweatband to keep your head cool and sweat out of your eyes when hiking hard.

The short brim on the Calvus won’t protect all of your face, but is large enough to shield your eyes from the sun. Unlike most other hats on our list, it also has a DWR finish, so it will keep water out of your eyes when hiking in the rain.

  • PROs

    • Ultralight
    • DWR finish
    • Mesh vents
  • CONs

    • No protection for ears or neck

Bottom-Line: A sleek, stylish little cap that’s ideal for hiking in both scorching sun or light rain.

Buff Pack Trek Cap

Runner Up Cap

Looking for a simple, stylish baseball hat with a few dialed-in, hiking-specific features? If so, stick the Buff Pack Trek Cap somewhere on your shortlist.

The Trek Cap is kinda pricey for what it is, but earns a place on our list on account of its awesome comfort. It’s made with two-way stretch fabric, which means it remains comfortable on your head even after an epically long day on the trails. If you’ve ever worn a cap for 10 hours straight, you’ll know this is a big deal!

The Trek Cap also has a cushy sweatband for added comfort, offers UPF 50+ protection, and has a series of air vents in the crown and sides to up airflow.

  • PROs

    • Bi-stretch fabric
    • Sweatband
    • UPF 50+
  • CONs

    • No neck or ear protection
    • Kinda pricey
    • Hand wash only

Bottom-Line: A winner if all-day comfort is your primary concern.

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Most Versatile

The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is a great pick for hikers who like their headwear light and multifunctional.

Multifunctional? Yep! The Sun Runner is, essentially, two hats in one – both a simple but high-quality baseball cap and a full-blown, legionnaire-style sun hat. In cap mode, the mesh side panels and large brim help keep sweat and glare to a minimum, whilst also protecting your face. In sun hat mode, you get full face and neck protection from the extended neck cape.

The Sun Runner has a healthy UPF 50 rating. An external cinch-strap lets you customize your cap’s fit while a removable chin cord offers extra security on windy days.

  • PROs

    • Extra-long, removable neck cape covers your ears and neck
    • Easy to adjust chin strap
    • Lightweight and breathable material
    • Side air vents
    • Wicking technology & TransAction™ Headband keep you fresher for longer
    • Affordable
  • CONs

    • If it’s windy, the side flaps blowing around can be annoying

Bottom-Line: Great value for money and an outstanding pick for especially hot locales.

The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer

Most Eco-Friendly

Made with entirely recycled materials, the Horizon Breeze Brimmer is our top pick for the eco-conscious hiker.

Eco credentials aside, the HBB is a great hat in its own right. Its wide brim provides ample coverage for your face, ears, and neck, while a TurboDry® sweatband provides added comfort and wicks away sweat without the use of chemicals. Small grommets in the crown also provide a touch of airflow and an adjustable chin strap keeps it in place on windy days.

While the HBB only has a UPF 40 rating, it is recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation.

  • PROs

    • Recycled materials
    • Effective sweatband
    • Adjustable chin strap
    • Recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation
  • CONs

    • Lower UPF rating (40)

Bottom-Line: Ethically made and as comfortable as hats are made.

Columbia Bora Bora Booney II

Best Value

This high-performance fishing hat has qualities that will be appreciated by any outdoors person. The Columbia Bora Bora Booney II features quick-drying UPF 50 nylon fabric with 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 has a toggle in the back and an adjustable drawcord, allowing it to fit heads with a circumference between 21 ¼ to 24 ½ inches. Both the toggle and chinstrap are adjustable, allowing you to customize the fit to your head.

  • PROs

    • Affordable price
    • Mesh panels give you more ventilation
    • Omni-shade UPF 50 protects you from the sun
    • Adjustable drawcord and toggle at the back
    • Sweatband & mesh venting actively breathe and pull moisture away from your skin to keep you cool and dry
  • CONs

    • Only comes in one size
    • Not the most “active” fit or design

Bottom-Line: This isn’t the most athletic hat out there by a long way, but it offers good sun protection and is a great option for long days at camp.

Outdoor Research Sun Bucket

Best Bucket

If you want more protection than a cap but feel uncomfortable wearing a wider brim, the OR Sun Bucket is well worth considering.

The Outdoor Research Sun Bucket features a shorter, 2 ¾-inch brim and UPF 50+ sun protection rating. 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.

An adjustable drawcord ensures it stays firmly on your head on those windy days, while its crushable design and light weight mean it can easily be stuffed in a pocket when not needed.

On the trail, we found the Sun Bucket to be one of the most comfortable items we tested. We particularly loved the side vents and the rear cinch cord that allowed us to customize the fit. We were also big fans of the narrower brim, finding this allowed us to stomp onward at speed without any fabric impeding our view.

  • PROs

    • Fits comfortably
    • Breathable
    • Packs down small
    • UPF 50+ rated
    • Removable chin cord
  • CONs

    • Smaller brim will be a “pro” for some, but won’t offer enough sun protection for others

Bottom-Line: A lightweight, well-ventilated sun hat that strikes a happy medium between caps and wide-brim sun hats.

Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat

Best Overall Sun Protection

One of the more recognizable caps on the market, the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat is worn by adventurers everywhere.

No matter where your adventure takes you, this will keep you covered and protected with a 50+ UPF breathable sun rating, 4” brim, strategic mesh ventilation, and a 7 ½-inch neck flap that includes a lift-up tab.

Other endearing features include a wired brim that prevents the fabric flopping into your eyes, a floatable foam core, and moisture-wicking fabric that helps keep you sweat-free when hiking hard on hot days.

For a slightly more performance-oriented version of the Adventure, check out the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat.

  • PROs

    • Keeps the sweat out of your eyes
    • UPF 50+
    • 4” brim
    • 7.5-inch neck cape with lift-up tab
    • Packs flat for travel
    • Adjustable chin strap and sizing
  • CONs

    • The lighter color shows up stains easily

Bottom-Line: A great choice for running, hiking, or even lounging around camp on sunny days. 

Tilley LTM6 Airflo

Best Sun Hat

The Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat is our pick of the bunch for stylish adventurers seeking full-head protection from the sun.

The Tilley Airflo offers great protection from the sun with a UPF rating of 50+ that blocks out 99% of the sun’s rays. The wide brim also provides plenty of protection for your face, eyes, neck, and ears, though is stiff enough that it won’t impede your view.

In terms of comfort, the Tilley is a winner. It includes a soft sweatband with foam padding and a ventilated crown that provides plenty of airflow for your dome. A wind cord on the back ensures it will stay snug on your head in breezy conditions.

Despite the stiffness of the brim, the Tilley is crushable, so can easily be stored away in a pocket or the “brain” of your backpack when not in use. And if you want to store small items inside the hat itself you can do so thanks to a handy little zippered pocket in the crown.

  • PROs

    • Good quality and nice design
    • Great ventilation
    • Brim can be snapped both sides up, 1 side up, or not at all
    • UPF 50+
    • Lifetime guarantee
    • High-wicking sweatband
  • CONs

    • Brim is a tad on the narrow side to keep the sun out of your eyes
    • Tends to stain from perspiration

Bottom-Line: A comfortable, durable,classy-looking, and highly protective hat that’s ideal for any hot-water adventure.

What To Look For When Buying Hiking or Outdoor Hats 

Not all hiking 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 a day fishing on the lake or kicking around your campsite. We’ll start off by breaking down the various components you want to take a look at when choosing your perfect backpacking hat.

Brim Width & Shape

The FDA and other organizations recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat made with opaque, tightly woven fibers for sun protection. 

mature backpacker on a mountain ridge in hiking tights
A brim of four inches should give you good all-around sun protection.

A four-inch broad brim is just about ideal for sun protection on outdoor adventures. 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 glare.

UV radiation can be scattered or reflected by different surfaces. Snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation, sand on a dry beach by about 15%, and seafoam around 25%. UV rays that are reflected can bounce under your hiking hat’s brim, striking your nose, chin, and cheeks.

Brims that curve down and sit closer to your face, therefore, offer better protection. 

Hat Material & Color

The material your hiking hat is made with is another important factor in determining its suitability. In particularly hot climates, you want materials that are breathable and lightweight, such as cotton, polyester, and nylon. If there’s a little bit of lycra in there, all the better – this will give the material a little stretch, providing a snugger fit and enhancing comfort. 

The best sun protection hats are constructed with materials that block out the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Ideally, you should look for a UPF rating of 40 to 50+. If a product has a UPF rating of 40, it will block about 98 percent of UV radiation, while a hiking hat with a 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. 

backpacker hiking past lake
Even at cooler temperatures at higher altitudes, you should be thinking about the sun protection a cap or hat will give you.

The material is also an important consideration if you want to machine wash your hiking hat or if you have a preference for stiff or floppy hats. 

And what about color? 

For the best sun protection, find a model that has a white or light-colored 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.

Breathability & Ventilation

Sun hats can help to keep your head cool on a hot day. But if they don’t breathe very well, then they may well do the opposite, as is the case with all hiking clothes.

Make sure your hiking hat is made with breathable fabric and has sizable air vents on the side. These will let warm air and sweat escape, and let fresh air circulate inside, thereby preventing overheating.

Man hiker looking over fjord panorama intext
On warmer, sweatier trips don’t forget how important breathability is to your hat.

Comfort and Fit

This comes down to two things: sizing and the quality of the interior sweatband. 

All of the hats on our list have a comfortable sweatband, though the OR Sombriolet and  The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer were standouts. 

With regard to sizing, make sure you measure the circumference of your head and match it to the hat size before buying, or choose a model with an adjustable velcro strap or cinch-cord.  

Weather Protection

All of the hiking hats on our list provide UV protection, but only one offers decent protection from the rain – namely, the Arc’teryx Calvus Cap, which has a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish.

Further Hat-Related Reading
  • If you’re looking for a rain hat to handle some heavy downpour we run the rule over seven contenders
  • For those colder days up the mountain consider buying the best beanie for hiking

Best Hiking Hat: The Verdict

Still undecided? Just in case you are, let’s have a quick recap of our top picks.

Looking for the perfect combo of sun protection, comfort, and breathability? If so, the Outdoor Research Sombriolet is a shoo-in. The Sombriolet boasts a barely-there feel and yet provides awesome sun protection for your head, face, neck, and ears, all while keeping your dome cool.

If you’d prefer a little extra sun protection or a cap, we recommend the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap. This cap is ideal for fast-paced hiking or trail running and converts into a legionnaire-style affair when you need added protection for your neck. 

If you liked this post, let us know in the comments box below! And please feel free to share it with your friends

If you want the low-down on what to wear on the trail, be sure to give our other guides a look!

Last update on 2023-06-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Kieran Avatar

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

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