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Hiking is rigorous enough without the sun beating down on your head.
Even in cool weather, direct sun can create a sunburn on the ears, the back of the neck, nose, or face. Baseball caps are a popular hat option, but they can cause uncomfortable heat build-up making your head a sweaty mess.
That’s why you need a durable, protective sun hat for hiking your favorite trails.
By keeping your body cooler, wicking away sweat, and preventing eye strain from squinting to avoid the sun’s rays, a sun hat can make hiking or any outdoor adventure much more enjoyable.
Better yet, hiking sun hats offer better protection from UV rays with wide brims and sun-resistant fabrics with UPF ratings.
To help you select the best sun hats for hiking, check out the information and reviews below. When you know what features are essential and which brands get high ratings, you can select the perfect protective hat for your needs!
Best Sun Hats for Hiking in 2020 Reviewed
What are the best hats for sun protection?
There are different types of hats to protect you from the sun.
Some designs are specific for men or women in color or styling, while others have sizing options to suit every head dimension.
Some sun hats will have larger brims, weatherproof material, or even ties around the chin to keep the hat from falling off during wind or strenuous activity.
Some sunhat designs only have a wide brim that covers the face. This style is ideal for keeping the sun out of your eyes but does little to protect other parts of your head and neck from sunburn or cell damage from UV rays that can cause cancer.
Some “sun hats” are merely decorative and do little to shield you from the sun. You understand this statement when you put on such a hat, and you still find yourself squinting or shading your eyes with your hand.
When sun protection is the main focus, dermatologists and outdoor enthusiasts swear by sun hats made of densely-woven fibers with a wide brim covering all of your face, ears, and back of the neck from sunlight.
A proper sun hat isn’t just a trendy term for a summer wardrobe accessory, it’s a real piece of wearable protection from harmful UV rays that people should wear during all seasons of the year.
Shopping for a sun hat is serious business, but it can still be fun!
Next up are the best hiking hats that cover your head and protect your skin and eyes from the harsh rays of the sun, with ratings to make a purchasing decision a breeze.
Best Sun Hats for Hiking
Best Hiking Sun Hat – EINSKEY Sun Hat for Men/Women
The best wide-brimmed hiking hat is the unisex EINSKEY Sun Hat that delivers quality features at a reasonable price. The color range and sizing works well for both men and women.
Casual style suitable for men and women. Rear adjustable elastic drawstring design, one size fits most adult head circumference 22-24inch.
- Extra-wide, non-flapping brim (3.7-3.9 inches) protects face and neck
- Adjustable head toggle and chin straps for custom fit
- Water-repellent, lightweight, UPF 50+ polyester material
- Large side mesh vents provide excellent cooling
- Absorbent headband captures sweat
- Easily folds to fit in backpack, but pops back into shape
- The large mesh sides detract from UPF and rain protection
- Will not fit heads over 22-inches in circumference
Best Hiking Sun Hat Runner Up – Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
The runner-up for the best sun hats for hiking is the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat that offers lightweight protection.
Whether you're logging hours on the trail, down the river, or in the garden--the Sombriolet hat from Outdoor Research will keep your head and face protected from the sun and heat. The lightweight hat utilizes SolarShield construction with nylon/polyester blended fabric to provide UPF 50+ sun protection.
- Wide, foam-stiffened brim won't sag
- 50+ UPF Rating
- Wicking headband keeps sweat out of eyes
- Side venting allows more airflow around head
- Water-resistant material
- Adjustable chin strap
- The slider on the chin strap can loosen easily
- The material is thinner than expectations
- Not machine washable
Best Women’s Sun Hat – Muryobao Women’s Summer Mesh Wide Brim Sun Hat
The best women’s outdoor hat is the Muryobao Summer Mesh Wide Brim Hat that features excellent UV protection, color selection, and a convenient hole for a ponytail.
The innovative ponytail hole design protects your hair from tangles. In addition, the opening of the ponytail hole is very delicate. When you wear this sun hat with a ponytail, you will feel comfortable and will not feel any abnormality.
- Water-proof, with UV protection
- Adjustable head buckle and chin strap for secure fit
- Side mesh panels and snaps to adjust style
- 3.35-inch wide brim provides ample sun protection
- Integrated sweat band
- Dries quickly and packs into a compact shape
- Sizing is restrictive to heads between 21-23 inches in circumference
- The buckle adjuster is of poor quality and can break
Women’s Runner Up – Womens Camptrace Hiking Wide Brim Sun Hat with Neck Flap
The Camptrace Hiking Fishing Wide Brim Sun Hat gets an honorable mention for the back flap that gives the ultimate in neck protection yet still allows women to wear their hair in a ponytail.
Packable and Foldable Safari Hat Can Be Folded in Various Styles While It Can Reshape Very Soon; Therefore, the sun hat can be easily carried inside your bag or pocket, saving you lots of space when going out for any activities
- 50+ UPF, 100% nylon quick-dry material
- 3.9-inch brim and 7.5-inch neck flap
- Side mesh and holes for ventilation
- Space for ponytail above the neck flap
- Repels water
- Adjustable chin strap toggle and buckle for tightness around head
- Neck flap is not detachable
- You cannot fold the stiff brim, making it difficult to pack
- Sizing runs small
Best Men’s Sun Hat – LETHMIK Boonie Outdoor Hat
The best men’s outdoor hat for hiking is the LETHMIK Boonie that features a wide brim and waterproof material for excellent sun and rain protection.
You can wear this stylish hat to everywhere you want in the summer,and you will become the focus of attention. We make this hat the perfect balance between soft, beautiful, lightweight and durable.
- 3.9-inch brim with side snaps to adjust style
- UPF 50+ rating
- Secure toggle on chin strap
- Crown band adds extra design
- Fabric repels water
- Vent holes around crown keep head cool
- Brim will flop upward in high winds
- Not adjustable around head circumference
Men’s Runner Up – Quiksilver Men’s Bushmaster Sun Protection Floppy Bucket Hat
The runner-up for best men’s hiking sun hat is the Quiksilver Bushmaster that features a simple design and comfortable cotton material.
- Brim size is ideal for both eye and neck coverage
- Thick cotton canvas material blocks sun
- Brim stays firm, with little sag
- Sweatband wicks away moisture
- Chin strap keeps hat secure
- Not waterproof
- Material color will fade over time
Buyer’s Guide: Things to Consider When Buying Sun Hats for Hiking
Hiking sun hats need to provide protection without annoying features that detract from your comfort. Look for these important features when shopping for the best hiking hat for your needs:
The FDA recommends sun hats have a brim at least four inches wide for ideal protection from UV rays.
While this is a good number to know, a large brim on a hiking hat may flop around or sag. A wayward brim is not only annoying but can impair your vision, which can be dangerous while hiking rocky, slippery, or steep trails.
For a good hiking hat, make sure the brim is at minimum 2.75-inches wide, but hats with firm brims in the 3 to 3.5 range are the best choice.
A larger brim is OK if you find it comfortable, as long as the material is stiff enough to retain its shape even if it gets damp.
A stiff sun hat could lead to issues while trying to store it in your backpack when you take it off.
If you have to fold the brim to get it inside, you could kink the material, which could leave ugly or permanent creases that will ruin the look of your hat.
A neck flap is a nice bonus on a hiking sun hat, especially when out in the direct sun, such as hiking in the deserts out west.
Look for a sun hat with a detachable neck flap for the most overall comfort. Trying to tuck up the flap can be difficult for women wearing a ponytail, or the material can bunch up and feel uncomfortable inside the hat.
A good sun hat may also have attachments to move the neck flap to the front of the hat, so it hangs over your nose and mouth. This flap can prevent you from breathing in too must dust when you’re hiking over dry terrain on windy days.
If the neck flap is not detachable, look for an option that tucks away neatly when not in use.
A sun hat needs to have durable sewing to hold up to the rigors of outdoor adventures, water, sweat, heat, and packing.
Check out the stitching and seams for tightness. Loose stitches or overly thin fabric will tear quickly.
Toggles that hold chin straps should lock in place and not slide. Losing a hat to high wind or constantly needing to adjust it because your chin toggle won’t hold is a real problem.
Any toggles or buckles for crown sizing adjustments should be of metal or a thick plastic that won’t break after a few uses. You will be using these features often, and you want them to stay secure for the life of the hat.
The construction should include helpful design features such as a moisture-wicking headband that fits snugly but not too tightly around your head to keep sweat out of your eyes or running down your neck.
Mesh inserts or holes around the hat’s crown should allow for adequate ventilation and airflow, so your head stays cooler. On the other hand, the mesh opening should not be so large as to allow rain to penetrate if you’re caught in a downpour.
The hat’s material needs to be of a dense material like canvas, denim, or nylon to block out the most UV rays. Thinner fabrics will need a synthetic coating applied to increase sun protection.
Unbleached cotton is light in color but contains natural lignins that filter out UV rays.
Polyesters or nylons that have a sheen can reflect ultraviolet radiation even without a chemical UV treatment application.
Sunhat material should also be lightweight, so it doesn’t bog down on your head, causing strain.
Straw sun hats are a terrible choice because if you can hold up the hat and see the light coming through, it won’t stop harmful UV rays from coming through either.
The darker the color of the material in a sun hat, the fewer UV rays can penetrate. Darker fibers absorb UV rays before they can reach your skin and cause harm.
If possible, choose a darker shade of fabric to add an extra layer of sun protection to your sun hat.
Fit should be another feature at the top of your shopping list, as a hat that falls off, slides around, or is too tight will make your hiking trips miserable.
Look for a hat with several sizing options that also offer detailed fitting adjustments around the crown and the chin strap.
Getting the “perfect fit” on your hiking hat will make it feel almost like it’s not even there and will stay secure during winds, steep climbs, or bending over.
No one wants to look dorky in their sun hat, so getting a color and style that is flattering is a crucial feature.
A neutral color can match with any outfit, while a bright color can be a good option when you prefer to be easily seen on the hiking trail so that even from a distance, you do not startle other hikers.
A design that isn’t too crazy, like an 8-inch brim or unusual pockets or crown bands, can make your style stand out while still being functional.
UPF Protection Rating
A good sun hat for men or women will state the UPF rating or mention an SPF protection rating.
UPF ratings are not the same as SPF ratings. UPF ratings are how much sun can penetrate fabric and reach your skin. SPF is how long your skin can have sun exposure before turning red and incurring damage.
All fabric naturally provides some UPF and SPF protection, but look for hiking sun hat material with a high UPF rating for the best skin protection.
Many sunhats coat the material with a UPF spray, which will enable the material to stop more UV rays from penetrating, but it will eventually wear off after you wash it many times.
That is why most sunhats manufacturers suggest you hand-wash and not machine wash the item so you can avoid removing too much of the UPF coating and causing the hat shape to distort.
Does a hat block UV rays?
All hats will block the top of your head from the sun, but not necessarily all the UV rays.
The type of hat and the material also determines how much sun protection it can give.
A baseball hat or visor will not protect your ears or neck from sunlight. A mesh or loosely woven straw hat will allow sunlight to penetrate all parts of your head and face.
UV rays can penetrate some fabrics much easier than others. The top of a baseball cap is typically thick and tight-woven, so little UV penetration occurs.
A wide-brim hat in a dense fabric will protect your face, ears, and back of the neck quite well from UV rays.
Remember that you will still expose parts of your face, head, and neck to sunlight when you move and look around.
Skin damage can still occur on cloudy days, so wear your hat in all types of weather and don’t expect full protection from UV rays just because you put on a hat.
If you are sensitive to the sun, you’ll also need to apply appropriate sunscreen every two hours while outdoors.
Do sun hats keep you cool?
Hats in the winter keep your head warm, so how can a hat make you feel cool under the sun?
Sun hats can make you feel cooler by directly shading you from the heat of the sun.
A good sun hat will offer exceptional ventilation through mesh inserts or holes around the crown of the hat to let heat escape.
Some sun hats have a mesh layer about an inch down from the hat’s top fabric that creates a gap. This gap delivers better airflow and heat exhaust off the top of your head.
Some sun hats may actually make you feel hotter if they have a poor design or are of a solid, tightly-woven fabric that doesn’t breathe. Heat builds up under the hat, making you sweaty and uncomfortable.
While studies show a “hot head” won’t increase your core body temperature, it does make it almost unbearable to keep the hat on.
When you take the sun hat off, the sweat evaporating off your head and hair will provide a cooling effect that will feel downright refreshing, but it won’t last long.
Once your head dries off, and you start squinting against the sun’s bright rays, you’ll quickly put the hat back on!
That’s why getting the best sun hat is worth the effort, so you can always be comfortable.
Finding a reliable, durable, comfortable hiking sun hat can make a massive difference in the enjoyment you get from taking to the trails or other outdoor fun like boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming, gardening, and more.
By using the guide above, you can narrow down your choices and pick one of the best sun hats for hiking, so you don’t have to worry anymore about sunburn or heat ruining your trip!