A seasoned backpacker knows three things. First, beet-red skin and sweaty sheen never look good in selfies. Second, the glare of the blazing sun shows no mercy. Lastly, a host of serious skin and health issues come with the territory.
When spending long hours outdoors, a huge dollop of sunscreen won’t be enough. You’ll want a reliable sun hat to protect you on your summer adventures.
Before you hit the trails, here are the best sun hats for hiking that you may want to check out.
Best Sun Hats for Hiking: Quick View
1. Best Overall Sun Hat: MISSION Cooling Bucket Hat
The Mission Cooling Bucket Hat ticks most boxes for capping the best overall honors as a hiking essential. First off, the stylish bucket hat is made from UPF 50 fabric. It offers ample sun protection against 98% of damaging UV rays.
The sweatband is an ultra-absorbent fabric that doubles as a cooling panel. On top of that, Mission has a proprietary cooling technology that activates the hat with water. You can enjoy this feature in three easy steps:
- Wet the interior fabric thoroughly.
- Wring out excess water.
- Wave vigorously in the air to activate the instant cooling effect.
When activated, the bucket hat will keep you cool for up to two hours. You can repeat the steps as much as you want to keep your body temperature lower for longer.
The bucket hat comes in eight stylish options. Aside from four neutral colors, there are splattered green and gray camo versions. For a more subdued but still playful look, you can opt for one with a printed trim design around the brim.
2. Best Technical Sun Hat: Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat
The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hat earns a spot on our best sun hats for its practical details. One of the hat’s finest points is the rigid 3¼” clamshell brim. You can fold it and stash it in your pocket or your backpack. Expect that it’ll spring back to its shape immediately.
The down-sloping front brim also shades a good portion of your face. Meanwhile, the cape shields the back of your neck.
The underside of the brim is a dark gray color to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun. Not just that, but a sweat liner around the base keeps moisture at bay. A pair of mesh panels on either side of the crown also helps ventilation.
The hat also has reflective strips sewn into the lower back part of the mesh panels. These may come in handy for staying visible after nightfall. Below the strips, an adjustable strap locks to your desired fit.
The sunglass sleeves are another nifty detail. You can slide your specs securely into the slots, without worrying about losing another pair.
One negative to the Ultra is that it can only be hand-washed. Not to worry, the stain-resistant fabric will last longer between washing. Another thing, the cape may not be to your taste and flaps noisily in strong gusts of wind.
3. Best Unisex Sun Hat: Columbia Unisex-Adult Bora Bora Booney
Columbia uses its proprietary Omni-Wick technology for its sweat-proof activewear. It features the same moisture-wicking fabric in the Bora Bora booney’s headband. You won’t feel sticky with perspiration on a humid day.
The booney can be customized to the size of your head using the toggle at the back of the hat. Not only that, but you can cinch the fabric drawstring tight around your chin.
The brim is stiff, but the top of the hat collapses when not worn. You can roll it up and stick it into your back pocket. Or you can leave it hanging behind your head.
The material is so lightweight that a strong breeze can knock it off. Good thing that you have two options to keep it snug around your head.
If it rains on your hike, the top material will stick to your head like seaweed. Plus, the brim wilts when it gets wet.
4. Best Wide Brim Hat: GearTOP Navigator Sun Hat
The GearTOP sun hat blows the competition out of the water when it comes to the brim size. At 3.75″ inches, the wide brim prevents your ears and the back of your neck from getting roasted. It keeps the sun from piercing your eyes as well.
Additionally, the quick-drying UPF 50 fabric offers full-spectrum sun protection. What’s more, the mesh paneling around the crown encourages good airflow to keep you dry and cool.
The safari hat has a hidden pocket where you can stow your cash and cards too. Moreover, the stainless steel side buttons let you wear the hat in two ways: flat or flipped-up!
On the downside, the one-size-fits-most doesn’t work for some customers, despite the adjustable features.
5. Best Women’s Sun Hat: Muryobao Women’s Ponytail Sun Hat
With a cutout for your ponytail, the Muryobao hat easily takes the crown in the women’s sun hat category.
The hat is 100% polyester, which makes it strong and lightweight. You can fold it and stuff it into your back pocket, without worrying that it’ll lose its shape. The quilted stitching on the brim aids in holding its form and structure.
You can adjust the hat’s fit with the elastic buckle under the ponytail hole and the adjustable chin strap. This will keep the hat from getting swept up when you’re running or the wind picks up. Additionally, you can toss the hat in the washer when it gets soiled.
The stylish hat comes in a variety of colors—17 to be exact! Their collection has two-toned options if you’re not a fan of solid hues. Better yet, you can wear cowboy hat by snapping the pins on either side.
The only downside to this affordable hat is that it’s available in only one size. Use the adjustable cord for a custom fit if it is too big for your head.
You may want to consider a few important things when looking for the best sun hats for hiking. These include sun protection, comfort, breathability, and style.
The Mission Cooling Bucket Hat scores major points in these areas, and then some. For a stylish item, the price tag is hard to beat too.
Both the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat and Columbia Bora Bora Booney are close runner-ups. However, we like the Ultra a tad bit more than the booney. It all comes down to one fun detail for us: the Ultra’s sunglass lock feature.