Best Sun Hats for Hiking


Outdoor Research Sombriolet

Outdoor Research Sombriolet

As the temperatures rise and you store your warm hiking hat or beanie at the back of your closet, you might consider bringing a sun hat for your outdoor adventures instead. Even if you are not old enough to remember the iconic Slip-Slop-Slap sun protection campaign from 1980s, you can probably recall from various other sun safety campaigns that wearing a wide-brimmed hat is widely recommended. This is due to the fact that the face, head and neck are exposed to the sun’s damaging UV rays most of the year all the while the skin in these areas is also thinner and thus more sensitive to burns and development of skin cancers (especially basal and squamous cell skin cancer). People who are bald or shave their heads will naturally pay more attention to protecting their scalp on long days in the outdoors but also others will benefit from shielding their scalps from the sun. When it comes to the face, it is important to note that a sun hat should be used in conjunction with sun cream as the sun rays will also be reflected from shiny surfaces (water, grass, sand etc.) up into your face. However, as people are often sloppy with applying sun cream or only apply it once daily, a sun hat is great way to ensure that you are more properly (and continuously) protected. A good sun hat will also decrease the amount of UV-rays that reaches your eyes, but in bright sun light it is also advisable to wear a pair of sun glasses (check out our lists of the best pairs for women and men respectively).

It is not recommended to use a baseball cap for sun protection on hiking trips as the relatively narrow brim will leave your neck, ears and the sides of your face fully exposed to the sun. Such hats are better for climbing where you can put it on backwards while being more shielded from the sun at the front due to the cliff or mountain.

1. Buying a Sun Hat for Hiking – What is important?

Width of brim:

FDA and other organizations recommend that you wear a wide-brimmed hat of tightly woven opaque fibers for sun protection, preferably with an at least 4 inches wide brim, but when it comes to hiking it is important that the brim is not so wide or floppy that it intervenes with your field of vision. Therefore all sun hats on this list have a brim that is at least 2.75 inches wide. It is an advantage if the underside of the brim is in a dark color that reduces glare from shiny surfaces etc.

Material:

A sun hat for hiking should be made of a material that not just offers good sun protection (e.g. has a high UPF-rating, see below) but also feels comfortable to the touch while being moisture-wicking, quick-drying and abrasion-resistant (twigs and thorns in dense vegetation). It should be noted that loosely woven straw hats provide very little sun protection – as a rule of thumb; do not wear a hat for sun protection if you can see light shining through its fibers.

UPF-rating:

The UPF-rating of a material indicates how much UV-radiation it lets through to your skin. A UPF-rating of 50 means that 1/50 UV rays (≈2 %) is emitted through a given fabric or, said differently, that it protects against 98 % of UV-radiation. The most important parameter for the UPF-rating is the tightness of the weave in the fabric used, but other factors such as construction, fiber type (wool, polyester, cotton etc.) and amount of stretch, dyes, treatments and condition of the garment (brand-new or worn-out) also influence the level of UV-protection. Read more in our article about sun protective clothing.

Fit:

It is important you use a properly fitting sun hat for hiking; if it is too tight, it will feel increasingly uncomfortable through the day while a sun hat that sits too loosely on your head is prone to dip or fall off depending on the wind as well as your movements.

2. The Best Sun Hats for Hiking Review

Best Sun Hats for Hiking

Best Sun Hats for Hiking

  1. Tilley LTM6 Airflo
  2. Outdoor Research Sombriolet
  3. Sunday Afternoons Excursion Hat
  4. Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat
  5. ExOfficio BugsAway Mesh Brim Hat

Comparison

Feature/Product Tilley LTM6 AirfloOutdoor Research Sombriolet Sunday Afternoons Excursion Columbia Bora Bora Booney II
ExOfficio BugsAway
MaterialNylon86% Nylon, 14% Ripstop PolyesterTechnical straw (85% Olefin, 15% Polyester)Nylon poplin shell, Polyester interiorNylon
UPF5050505030
Width of brim3.25 in. (8.2 cm)3 in. (7.6 cm)2.75 in. (7 cm)3 in. (7.6 cm)3.25 in. (8.2 cm)
Sizes available
7-8 (9)M, L, XL (3)M, L (2)One Size (1)S/M, L/XL (2)
Tilley LTM6 Airflo

Tilley LTM6 Airflo

1. Tilley LTM6 Airflo

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

Tilley makes some of the best outdoor hats on the market and the LTM6 Airflo model is a prime example of the craftsmanship in the company. The Tilley LTM6 Airflo is made of UPF50-rated nylon but it is the thoughtful construction details that sets the hat apart – such as the mesh inserts at the crown (along with a hidden hook-and-loop pocket for small valuables) and a wicking Hydrofil sweat band to keep your head cool as well as closed-cell foam in the top that will keep the hat afloat, should it fly off your head and land on water. Tilley hats are available in a whopping nine sizes to make sure that you achieve that perfect fit. Simply measure the horizontal circumference of your head just above your eyebrows and refer to the Tilley sizing table (for example, the hat size 7 fits a 22’’ head). See more in the video below if you are unsure of your size.

 

Pros:

  • Superb construction with sense for the details
  • Guaranteed for life
  • Nine sizes enable a perfect fit

Cons:

  • Price

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Outdoor Research Sombriolet

Outdoor Research Sombriolet

2. Outdoor Research Sombriolet

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

Outdoor Research’s Sombriolet sun hat is incredibly comfortable to wear on hot summer days as the internal mesh structure holds the crown of the hat slightly over your head while the warm air can escape through mesh vents. The brim contains foam that will keep the hat afloat, should you lose it near bodies of water, but also features a discrete cord along its edge to keep it from flapping up on windy days. Note that all color variations of the Sombriolet sun hat have a dark grey underside to absorb light and decrease glare. If you like the Sombriolet but would like something slightly more feminine, you should check out the Outdoor Research Sombrero hat for women – which is also available in some less demure colors. The Outdoor Research Sombriolet is available in three sizes: Medium fits heads with a circumference between 22¼ and 23 inches, Large those between 23 and 23¾ inches and finally XL fits circumferences between 23¾ and 24 inches.

 

Pros:

  • Mesh structure keeps hat slightly above your crown
  • Grey underside to decrease glare

Cons:

  • /

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Video

Sunday Afternoons Excursion Hat

Sunday Afternoons Excursion Hat

3. Sunday Afternoons Excursion Hat

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling
  • Everyday use

 

If you want a more casual-looking sun hat without diminishing your requirements for sun protection, you should go for Sunday Afternoons Excursion hat. The technical straw used to make this hat offers UPF-protection of 50 while also being water-resistant, e.g. it sheds water splashes rather than letting it through. The Excursion sun hat has an adjustable chin strap while there inside is a moisture-wicking sweatband that can be adjusted, so that the two sizes available respectively fit heads with a circumference between 21¾ and 22¾ inches (Medium) and 22¾ to 23½ inches (Large). The Sunday Afternoons Excursion hat is available in two natural colors (Soapstone and Burlap) that will look as great in town as on the trails.

 

Pros:

  • Casual look
  • Water-shedding straw
  • Adjustable chin strap

Cons:

  • Limited sizes

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Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat

Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat

4. Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling

 

Columbia describes the Bora Bora Booney II hat as a high-performance fishing hat, but its qualities are just as appreciated among hikers and other outdoorspeople. The Columbia Bora Bora Booney II hat combines a quick-drying UPF50 nylon fabric with an Omni-Wick sweatband and non-UPF mesh panels to ensure that your head is not only protected against the sun, but also remains cool in the heat. Unlike the other sun hats on this list, it is available in a wider range of colors but only in one size. However, as the headband has an adjustable drawcord and toggle at the back the One Size should fit heads with a circumference from 21¼ to 24½ inches.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Mesh panels for extra ventilation

Cons:

  • One Size only

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ExOfficio BugsAway

ExOfficio BugsAway

5. ExOfficio BugsAway Mesh Brim Hat

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Travelling
  • Hiking in insect-infested areas

 

The ExOfficio BugsAway Mesh Brim hat is perfect for those of you hiking close to warm and swampy areas – or anywhere else where you also want to protect your face against insect bites and nuisances. Hiking in such areas requires long-sleeved tops and pants, but protecting your head can be more challenging. The BugsAway Mesh Brim hat solves this by having a bug-repelling packable mesh net inside the headband that can be unrolled whenever you enter an insect-infested area. The hat itself is also treated with InsectShield (lasts 70 washes – see more in the video below) to repel insects and is otherwise made of a quick-drying and moisture-wicking nylon that offers a UPF30. The BugsAway Mesh Brim hat is available in a handful of colors and two sizes; size S/M fits heads with a circumference between 21½ and 22 inches while size L/XL fits those with a circumference between 23 and 23¾ inches.

 

Pros:

  • Bug-repelling mesh net can be rolled into headband
  • Removable adjustable chin straps

Cons:

  • Limited sizes
  • Slightly lower UPF-rating than others

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