Picture it, a great hike, the birds are out, a river is gurgling nearby and the sun is out. That last part is reason for pause. The sun gives life and warmth to our Earth, but it also can cause sun damage, overheating, and dehydration.
One of the best things you can do to cool your body and protect your skin is to wear a good hiking hat. But what makes a good hiking hat?
Putting aside just the fashion aspect, a good hat protects from the sun while letting heat and moisture escape. Technology in clothing and new materials has made it possible to have a wider array of choices and options.
We put together a list of some of our top recommendations for hiking hats. We will review each hat, going through the pros and cons, and what type of hat might best fit the right person. We have also included a buying guide with the right questions to ask.
Make sure when you go hiking, you have your head covered with the right protection.
Columbia Unisex Bora Bora II Booney Hat
This classic hiking hat has one goal in mind. Protect you from the sun and keep your head cool and dry. Billed as a hiking and fishing hat, it boasts a 50 SPF rating that helps shield you from UVA and UVB rays. The wide brim is protective and extends the shade to protect as much of you as possible. It has mesh vents around the side to let the breeze in and also has Omni-wick technology to wick moisture away from you and let it evaporate through the hat, keeping you cool and dry.
The Columbia Bora Bora II has an adjustable toggle for sizing so it will fit just about anyone. It also has a chin strap that is adjustable as well so you do not lose in on a sunny, windy hike.
- 50 SPF protection
- Omni-Wick technology in the headband
- One size fits most
- Simple design
- Brim has a tendency to flip up in wind and stay up
- The design is not very fashionable
Why We Recommend This Hat: This is a classic hiking hat that has a simple job to do based around sun protection.
Outdoor Research Swift Sun Hat
So often you see hiking hats with wide brims and chin straps and you may think, “I wish I could have all the benefits of sun protection and sweat-wicking while still looking fashionable.” This hat is your answer. It is a one-size fits most with a 90% match for fit expectation. With a traditional call cap look and feel, this hat has a full mesh liner for excellent ventilation in warm weather. The brim and all of the nylon panels are all SPF 50 so your head will stay cool and your face is protected from too much sun exposure. With high winds, your hat will stay in place given the smaller brim profile and the baseball cap fit.
- Looks stylish
- Offers great ventilation
- SPF 50 protection
- Adjustable strap in the back seems to loosen itself occasionally
- Fits most, but not all head sizes
Lenikis Unisex Outdoor Activities UV Protecting Sun Hats With Neck Flap
The ultimate sun hat, this hiking hat not only keeps the sun off your face and head, but your ears, neck, and shoulders. With a 50+ SPF rating, it claims to block 98% of all UV rays. The neck flap should keep you cool and protected from the sun whether you are hiking or gardening.
The hat is made from quality polyester which makes it not only light, but also foldable, quick to dry, and resistant to stains and water. So now your sun hat can become your rain hat! Of course, the mesh side vents are not waterproof, but they do allow a nice breeze in on warmer days.
With an adjustable elastic drawstring at the back of the hat, it is one size fits most for adults.
- Both hat and Heck covering are 50 SPF
- Drawstrings allow this to a be a one size fits most hat
- Water repellent and sun protected
- Some argue the neck covering is too short
- Not the best fashion look but very functional
Henschel Hats Aussie Breezer 5310 Cotton Mesh Hat
One of the more stylish hats we have reviewed so far, the Henschel hat has a long history of hat making and sun protection behind the name. Even though it is of cotton mesh, it has a 50 SPF rating so it will continue to protect you on your hike.
The inside of the hat features and soft sweatband to help keep sweat from your brow as you hike. The cotton mesh is very breathable and also very crushable and packable for travel purposes. The hat has a chin cord so windy days are not a problem for you.
If you are looking for a stylish looking hiking hat, look no further than the Henschel Aussie Breezer.
- Great look
- Cotton mesh allows in a breeze but also provides SPF 50 coverage
- Individual sizing with a chin strap
- Reports that the sizing is not correct and can run on the bigger side
- While advertised as crushable, it is still breakable
UShake Mosquito Head Net Hat
One of the great benefits of hiking in the outdoors is also one of its greatest drawbacks… the wildlife. In particular, mosquitos and other insects can be such a bother during a great hike. The UShake hat is designed to protect you not just from sun and water, but also mosquitos.
At the front of the hat at the top of the brim is a small concealed compartment that allows you to roll out a full head mosquito guard. You can enjoy an outdoor hike without mosquitos enjoying you. You can stay cool under the SPF 50 brim, enjoy the cool breeze through the mesh vents, and keep mosquitos and flies off of you if the occasion calls for it.
UShake understands that the hat is trying to do a few things at the same time. To put your mind at ease, they offer a 12-month 100% money back guarantee. They will refund your purchase within 12 months if you have any problem with the hat.
- 50 SPF proof- sun proof and bug proof
- Mosquito and bug protection net hidden in the hat
- One size fits all
- Not waterproof
- When the net rolls back up into the hat it can look lumpy
LETHMIK Outdoor Waterproof Boonie Hat
This 50 SPF hiking hat is a great waterproof hat. Made from 100% waterproof polyester this has is designed to do one thing- protect. With a sleek design, and a one size fits most drawstring in the back, the LETHMIK is an excellent hiking hat. It is crushable to the point of fitting side of your pocket. It also has brass buttons around the top so the brim can be folded and buttoned up on either side of the hat.
The hat also has two vents on the side of the hat to keep air circulation over the top of the head. It also has a sweatband inside of the hat and is easily washable. The LETHMIK also has an adjustable chin strap and a tight fit with the drawstring in the back. This is a high-performance waterproof hat meant to be used outdoors.
- 100% waterproof materials (except for the vents)
- 50 SPF sun protection
- Adjustable sizing
- Right where the vents meet, water has been reported to leak through
- Hat height is a bit high for some people
Buying Guide For The Best Hiking Hat
As you can see there are many different styles of hiking hats out there. There are hats designed for maximum sun protection. Others that ten towards water or bug protection. There are still more that will forsake a bit of each and look very fashionable when you are out and about.
Part of the confusion in making a purchase is all of the options available. That is why we have put together the following list of questions to help you better understand what it is you want. Once you know that, then you will have a better idea of which hiking hat is best for you.
What Sort Of Design Do You Want?
Some hikers could care less about how they look and just want total protection from the sun. If this is the case, then any boonie style hat or larger floppy style will do. The neck protector is also maximum protection with very little concern for style.
If you like to stick with the baseball cap look, then the Outdoor Research cap is a great, functional, SPF rated ball cap look. Backed by the research and the guarantees of the OR brand, this hat would make a great hiking hat.
If you prefer a more stylish look, then the Henschel cotton mesh hat will provide plenty of air ventilation, SPF protection, and still look nice. It is true, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Do you want sun protection?
While this may seem like a similar question to the above, it is different in that there are certain hats on the list that focus only on sun protection. Others, like the LETHMIK focus more on waterproofing first over sun protection.
The bug hat focuses on the sun first but includes the bug net bag as a solution to hiking in places like Florida. Once you are clear on where you are going to be hiking the most then you will know what sort of protection that you need the more
Are all of the hats on the list polyester?
No, but most of them are as that tends to be flexible when it comes to sizing, yet sturdy in resisting winds, and water. Some of the hats use recycled polyesters to help reduce your carbon footprint. The Henschel, of course, uses a cotton mesh as its main design material. For the most part though, if you are going for waterproofing as a part of the construction, then polyester is a main ingredient.
Will you be hiking on windy days?
Some of the complaints about the Columbia is that the chin strap will hold the hat in place, but the brim of the hat will flop wildly in the wind. Some of those floppy brimmed hats are great at protecting you from the sum but can flip up or down on a windy day. If you will be hiking in consistently windy areas, then the Henschel or even the Outdoor Research ball cap may be good options for you.
A good hiking hat is a vital piece of clothing for a successful hike. Not only can it keep the sun off of your head, they help facilitate the sweating process with most of them coming with headbands or moisture-wicking materials. A good hiking hat will also have ventilation to keep cool breezes flowing through the hat, but also a chin strap in case those breezes kick up too much into a windy day. If you are investing in a hiking, hat, you do not want it blown away by a stray wind storm.
Your hat needs to be as ready for adventure as you are. A good hat is also a reflection of you so there are many different types of styles that we have gathered together for you to take a look at. After going through some of the buying guide questions, we would encourage you to go back through the list of hats, click on each one, and find the one that’s right for you. Whether it is the classic ball cap look, the boonie style hat which is becoming more popular, or the stylish Aussie style hat, there is a look for everyone.
You need to protect your head and your face from the sun this summer, and a great hiking hat will help you do just that.