When hiking in the winter, many of us wear a beanie or other warm winter hat, to keep our heads warm and provide a bit of protection from the elements. The same is necessary for the summer, for different reasons, but it’s equally important. A wide-brimmed sun hat is recommended for hiking during the summer, to protect your head from harmful UV rays. A hiking hat is safety equipment, it’s to keep you out of harm’s way in the backcountry.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best sun hats for hiking on the market today:
The best sun hat for hiking should shade your neck and face from the sun, an important precaution in preventing skin cancer. We often don’t realize how damaging the sun’s rays can be before too late, so just like wearing suncream, every hiker should wear a hat in the summer. Wearing a sun hat is a great way to stay cool while camping or hiking, and it will give you all the protection you need. It’s much better to wear a specialized hiking hat, instead of a narrow brimmed baseball cap for example. These caps, although they may be more fashionable, do not provide adequate protection for your outdoor adventure. Now you know why it’s so important to have a sun hat for hiking, let’s dig in and find the best option.
What to look for in a sun hat for hiking
Before we get into the options for the best sun hat for hiking, we’d like to share some information about the important things to look out for. A sun hat is an important piece of gear, it protects your head from serious damage, so make sure you’re getting the right one. Firstly, it’s recommended to choose a hiking hat with a wide brim, made using sun-blocking materials. This brim should shield your face from the sun without being floppy, so it doesn’t interfere with your vision. Many sun hats have a darker color under the brim to prevent glare, and this is another handy feature.
A white or light-colored hat will reflect away heat from the sun without making your head warmer, colors like khaki or beige are a great choice as they show stains less easily. The materials your hiking hat is made from have a big effect on its effectiveness as protection from the sun. Breathable and lightweight materials like polyester and nylon are most common, although natural materials are also available.
Your sun hat will have a UPF rating, telling you just how effective it is at preventing sun damage. Most hats on our list are UPF50 rated, which means they block 99% of damaging UV rays. For hikers who spend hours every day under the sun, we don’t recommend any lower level of protection. Mesh ventilation panels will decrease this rating slightly, but these are necessary to ensure comfort and don’t make too big a difference.
Finally, you’ll want your new hiking hat to be long-lasting. A good sun hat made with durable materials should last you for many adventures. Any sun protection is something worth investing in, so pay a little more for a high-quality sun hat, and it will keep your head safe and happy for years to come.
Best Sun Hat for Hiking – Overview
1. Columbia Bora Bora Booney ii
- Advanced technology: Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney fishing hat features our signature wicking fabric with sweat-wicking capabilities and UPF 50 Sun protection technology that helps shield you from...
The Bora Bora Booney ii from Columbia is ideal headwear for outdoor adventures, good for hiking, fishing, or any other activity. A built-in headband wicks sweat and other moisture away from your head, while a mesh panel allows for airflow and ventilation. These features do a great job of keeping your head cool in hot weather, which is a solid step towards preventing heatstroke. The moisture-wicking properties of Columbia’s Omni-wick technology make sure you stay comfortable on the hottest days, with built-in UPF 50 sun protection. This hat is ideal for hotter areas, like when camping in Texas.
An adjustable toggle on the headband, and under the chinstrap, make this sun hat fully adjustable. We love this feature as it ensures every hiker gets the right fit, so your sun hat will stay securely on your head. However, this Columbia hiking hat is only available in one size, and we’d prefer to see a larger range of options. The 3-inch brim of this hat blocks harmful UVA and UVB rays, helping to prevent sunburn and other skin damage.
The hat is made from fast-drying lightweight nylon, which is a great feature if you plan to use it for watersports. The Columbia Booney is a classic style hiking hat, for the average hiker, it’s a good choice. Offering a good amount of UV protection and with Omni-wick technology, our only gripe with this sun hat is the dated design. We’d like to see a slightly more stylish hiking sun hat from Columbia in the future, but this traditional design is still a great choice for hot weather hikers.
- Great moisture wicking
- Adjustable chinstrap and headband
- Good sun protection
- Ideal for waterside use
- Only one size available
- Outdated design
2. Outdoor Research Sombriolet
- WATER RESISTANT SUN PROTECTION: A wide shade with a varied foam-stiffened brim width and UPF 50+ rating protects your face and neck from hot, sunny days. A wicking headband keeps sweat and water away...
Another traditional style sun hat, the Outdoor Research Sombriolet offers excellent protection from harmful UV rays during outdoor activities. The Sombriolet is a brimmed hiking hat stiffened by foam, strong enough to withstand high winds. The brim measures 4 inches in the front and back, which means good sun protection on your face and neck cape, and a drawcord makes the sweatband adjustable for the best fit.
This sun has is made from nylon, with a polyester ripstop crown for added durability. The UPF50 fabric gives your head great sun protection and air vents make sure it’s comfortable and breathable. The moisture-wicking fabric in the crown does a great job keeping sweat at bay, while the hat feels lightweight and unobtrusive.
The Outdoor Research Sombriolet also provides good protection from the rain, so when the weather turns your hat will still look after you. The extra-wide brim shades your face and neck from the sun excellently, but it can be annoying if you’re wearing a large backpack. With a one-handed adjustable strap and SolarShield construction, the Sombriolet is one of the best sun hats for hiking.
- Wide brim
- Crown wicks moisture
- High level of sun and UV protection
- Air vents and mesh panels
- Not for backpackers
3. Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat
The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat is a serious piece of hiking headwear. This ultra-protective hat is packed full of features which make it the ideal choice for hiking, firstly it’s UPF50 rated. This Sunday Afternoons hat has an external size adjuster, in a neat and tidy buckle. This is much more appealing than the unsightly toggles which adjust the other sun hats on our list. This Adventure Hat folds in half for convenient packability, another reason we love it.
This hiking hat also has reflective panels, an amazing safety feature for when the sun goes down. And who hikes in the sun without a stylish pair of shades? The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat has a sunglass lock, a clever sleeve that holds your sunglasses in place so you’ll never lose another pair. The brim of the hat falls down at the back in a sort of neck cape, to protect this sensitive area from sunburn. Other elements like mesh panels help keep your head cool, while an ingenious foam core makes this hat float if dropped in water. This also makes this hat ideal for fishing; if you’re an angler, check out the best fishing lakes.
Some hikers may feel a little self-conscious in this hat, we admit it’s an interesting style, but the sun protection is unparalleled, worth it in our opinion. The brim protects your face and neck well from UV rays, while moisture-wicking fabric keeps the sweat out of your face. The only issue is, this light-colored hat shows stains easily, which might present a problem for messier trekkers. A permanent crease from shipping may also put off some hikers, but this adventure hat is one of the best hiking hats when it comes to protection.
- Shades faces and neck well
- Sunglass lock
- Floats in water
- Sweatband adjustable and wicks moisture
- Permanent crease on the hat
- Pale color stains easily
4. Outdoor Research Sun Runner
- SUN PROTECTION: Our most popular training hat offers UPF 50+ protection on the crown of your head along with a shaped visor to shield your eyes and face. The removable sun-cape with an adjustable chin...
For an alternative style of sun hat, try the Outdoor Research Sun Runner. This baseball-style cap has a removable skirt, or neck cape, to provide additional protection when you need it. Otherwise, the cap can be worn alone for decreased sun protection, rated as UFP30. This is a lesser level of protection than the other sun hats we’ve mentioned, so bear this in mind if you spend the whole day in the sun.
The removable neck cape provides total protection from the sun, with an extra cinch strap to improve the fit. While this sun hat is breathable, the extra fabric around the neck can make it warmer than other options. You can pull back the neck cape for increased airflow, but this will inhibit the sun protection this hat provides.
The material is water-resistant and lightweight so this hat won’t hinder your hike, the headband wicks moisture to keep your head fresh. The Outdoor Research Sun Runner is an excellent hiking hat, although admittedly it’s not the most stylish. We only wish this sun hat was UFP50 rated, so we could be sure that we’re hiking safely.
- Removable neck skirt
- Adjustable cinch strap for the perfect fit
- Lightweight materials
- Neck cape might be too warm
- Not quite fashionable
- Only UFP30 rated
5. Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat
- 100% Supplex nylon
The Tilley Endurables LMT6 Airflo hat is made to be a strong and durable headwear. Tilley hats have mesh incorporated into the crown for added airflow, making sure your head stays comfortable. This breathable Airflo hat is made from lightweight fabrics, for all-day wear. The brim of this Tilley hat is 2.75 inches at its widest point, so there’s not quite the same level of protection as the Outdoor Research Sombriolet.
This brim snaps up at the sides for increased wearability, we love this feature as it makes this hiking hat more versatile. With a UPF50 rating, you won’t have to worry about skin damage from harmful UV rays. The Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat is an excellent choice for hiking in the sun, it even has a secret pocket built into the crown where you can stash small valuables.
Tilley’s hats are hand-sewn and guaranteed for life, they’re a highly durable option. Made with a classic design in mind, we only wish Tilley added an adjustable chin strap for stability. Also, this hat is slightly narrower-brimmed than others of this style, meaning there’s a little less shade and protection for your face. However, this doesn’t erase that the Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat is an excellent choice for hiking in the sun; it’s lightweight, breathable, stylish, and functional.
- Brim snaps up at sides
- Built-in secret pocket
- Durable, life-lasting
- No chin strap
- Less shade on the face
6. Ushake Outdoor Hiking Sun Hat
- 【 Product information 】Material: Nylon fabric+ Polyester net mesh, Size: One Size Adjustable 22.6" -23.8"(7 1/8-7 1/2)/ (56.8-60.6cm), bill size: about 3.15" deep/ 7.48" wide. Net Weight: About...
This baseball-style cap offers an impressive amount of sun protection, with a removable neck cape and face cover. The lightweight fabrics on this Ushake sun hat are UPF50 rated for the best sun protection, and the whole hat weighs only 120 grams. The removable neck flap offers full wrap-around protection, preventing skin damage on sensitive neck areas. Additionally, the breathable face cover protects from sun, and in the desert, it can shield your face from dust too.
Mesh panels are used to increase the breathability, with quick-drying fabrics for those sweaty summer months. A buckle on the crown and adjustable chin strap mean you’ll get the best fit possible, and your sun hat will stay secure in windy conditions. The breathable mesh is specially treated to be water-resistant, so it can be used in light rain while maintaining breathability.
Full sun protection is what you get from this Ushake hiking hat, with complete coverage of your neck, ears, and face. We love the addition of a face cover, which gives the hat more usability in desert or dusty climates. However, we’d love to see the addition of a moisture-wicking sweatband in this hat. Without, the hiker faces a risk of sweat dripping in their face, which is inconvenient at best. A headband is an important element in hot-weather headwear, so this addition would be a big improvement for this Ushake hat.
- Full sun protection
- Removable face and neck cover
- Lightweight and breathable fabrics
- No moisture-wicking properties
- May be overkill for casual hikes
7. Outdoor Research Papyrus Brim Hat
- WIDE BRIM SUN HAT: Featuring a 360° lightweight plastic brim edge with varied width, this sun hat for men and women is designed to keep the heat off your head. Whether you are on the beach, camping,...
Our third option from outdoor research is this Papyrus Brim Hat, an alternative to anyone seeking a more traditional hat made using natural materials. This lightweight sun hat features a moisture-wicking headband, while the woven fabric provides excellent breathability. This hat has a Supplex lining for UV protection, it’s rated at UFP 30. This is a decreased level of protection than most other sun hats on our list, but it’s still 96% effective.
An adjustable chin strap keeps this sun hat securely in place on the windiest hikes, which is durable even in bad weather. This brimmed sun hat will shade the most sensitive areas of your neck and face, while the stylish woven material provides a slightly more fashion-conscious choice for sun hats.
Our only issue with this woven sun hat is that when purchased from Amazon, the hat can come crushed and creased. This also shows that this sun hat isn’t very packable, so it may not be a good choice for backpacking. Instead, we recommend this lightweight and breathable sun hat to casual hikers, it’s perfect for a short daytime trek.
- Natural materials
- Moisture-wicking headband
- UFP 30 rated
- Not packable
The best sun hat for hiking needs to be lightweight and breathable, with good airflow to make sure you stay comfortable all day. A good level of shade and sun protection is required, to shield your skin from harmful UV sun rays. Our top pick for the best sun hat for hiking has to be the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat. Although the design may seem a little strange at first, there is no hat offering more protection.
This hat is UFP rated 50, meaning it has premier UV protection and blocks almost all of the sun’s damage. A buckle makes the hat adjustable for the ideal fit, while an additional chin strap ensures you’ll never lose this sun hat. The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hat is packed full of additional features that really made it our favorite. For example, reflective stips mean you’ll be visible easily once the sun goes down, a very important safety feature. Additionally, sunglass locks make sure your shades stay secure on your head, accessible whenever you need them.
This adventure hat also has a foam core, it’ll float if you drop it in the water. Moisture-wicking materials in the sweatband make sure you stay cool and comfortable, in this lightweight sun hat you’ll be ready to take on the trails. With all these fantastic features, the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure hat is hard to beat. We recommend this protective sun hat to every hiker, it’s a life-lasting investment that provides such valuable protection.
Bonus tip: Watch this video to find out more about our winning hiking hat!