Hiking hats are an absolute necessity. If you enjoy hiking in the sun, it’s time to invest in the best hat for hiking in hot weather, and the same can be true for your camping hat.
You might be wondering how they work and what there are, and which are the best outdoor hats for hiking. Well, there is some excellent news.
They can not only be stylish but also serve a purpose! For example, if you were going on an adventure where your head will be exposed to the sun for extended periods, like hiking or even climbing mountains, you would want a trekking hat that protects your face from harmful UV rays as well as sweat and dirt from falling into your eyes.
There are many different types available, so no matter what activity you are doing while wearing one of these hats, there is something for everyone!
Most hiking hats are suitable for other than hiking activities. For example, you can also wear them while canoeing or sea kayaking, or walking down the city.
Why Buy a Hiking Hat?
The main reason to buy a hiking hat is to protect yourself from the sun. Whether hiking for 1 hour or many, intense sun can cause quite a damage to your head.
A hiking hat is not making your head and neck “sun-proof.” They offer mild protection, even if they are made from UV-resistant materials. So they don’t block UV rays from hitting your face.
However, mild protection is far better than no protection.
Hiking hats provide shade for your face and partially for your eyes. They also protect your nose from getting the “Rudolph” sunburn. Hats with large brim protect your neck too.
While a hiking hat is not considered a “sunbeams stopper,” applying a good sunblock cream and wearing a hiking hat will vastly reduce sunburn, especially if you walk for many hours, even if you don’t hike or paddle on a kayak.
Read our long detailed hiking for beginners post if you are new to hiking.
What are the characteristics of Best Hiking Hats?
The best hats for hiking come with the following five qualities:
- They fit/adjust well on your head
- They have a design that allows good ventilation
- They have an adjustable chin strap (not the baseball cap style)
- A broad brim for extended sun and rain protection
- They are made from sun-protective material
For cool weather (or windy), it is best to have a Merino wool hat for hiking or a synthetic cap to keep your head warm. That is an excellent option for a sun hat for windy conditions—the same stands when you plan to hike in the rain. Regular hiking hats are not waterproof, not have ventilation “shafts.” There are waterproof hiking hats that you can buy, but most use their jacket hood or a poncho.
Some hikers also like to use a bandana under their hiking hat to absorb the sweat.
Good quality large brim hats do have a cord or other elastic method that allows you to adjust the hat on your head.
Another factor is the UPF rating of the materials used. The UPF factor shows the amount of UV radiation the fabric lets through. For example, a UPF-40 means that 1 of 40 UV rays gets through your skin, which is very good. That rating occurs from how tightly woven the fabric is. Along with that, a series of other factors contribute to the rating. These are the material type, the stretch level, and the colors. Of course, the highly used and worn-out fabric is less effective.
What Are the Materials of Best Hats for Hiking?
Materials vary depending on the season, desired quality, and whether you want your hat to be waterproof. The materials of hats for hiking are usually one of the following or a blend of these:
Are there Specific Women’s Hiking Hats?
There are no specific hats for women or ladies hiking hats. It depends on their style and many times on the weather. Some prefer to make a bun while hiking, while others want to leave their hair loose. Women with long hair usually think of the size of the hat they need if they have long hair.
In cold weather, loose hair provides extra warmth, while in the summertime, a bun reduces the excess heat at the back of the neck from the same hair.
The same stands for men with long hair.
In that category, we would advise not to choose only hats for style. Some women’s sun hats for backpacking are heavier than hiking hats; you can’t fold them and store them in your backpack. They may be suitable for a couple of hours of an easy walk, but that’s that.
The best is to use the proper gear for what is meant to be used. Sun hats for walking come in many colors and styles, and there are many to choose from.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Hats Online?
Some hiking hats have sizes. In that way, you can measure the circumference of your head and know your size. The best is to buy a hat very close to that size. With the adjustment cord, you can adjust the hat on your head. Using the same cord, you can instantly pull and tighten the cap on your head (i.e., on a windy day).
These days, most hats come as “One Size Fits All.” Especially hiking beanies tend to be more elastic, and you can always fold the brim. It is easier and less expensive for brands to produce them like that. However, bucket hats are better to buy for your exact head size.
What are the Styles of Hiking Hats?
The different styles of hats are named as such, mainly depending on their shape and type. Here they are, along with our suggestions.
Large Brim Sun Hats
They are usually the best option if you want shade on your head, neck, and part of your face. This one is 100% polyester, with a drawstring closure and a rear adjustable elastic drawstring design; one size fits most adults’ head circumferences 22-24 inches. It is comfortable and breathable, and water repellent.
The following hat (in many vivid color combinations, or grey and black) is suitable for women or men with ponytails and is an excellent option for a backpacking hat. This sun hiking cap is made of quick-drying, breathable polyester.
Bucket Style Hiking Hats
These hats usually have no drawstring or other means to adjust the hat on your head. It is best to choose the right size for your head. This one is provided as such (in different sizes). They are usually made entirely from cotton, and they tend to get your head warmer. They are stylish and easy to fold and pack away. To find your hat size, you can watch this video.
Ball Caps (Baseball style)
Ball caps or baseball-style ones come with very different designs while following the overall rounded scheme. They don’t have a large brim around the hat, but they have a big one on the front side. This one comes in different color combinations and is made from nylon; it is moisture-wicking and quick drying.
Running hats (and other performance hats) are another category, but such hats are equally helpful for hiking. For example, this one is lightweight and perfect for hiking. We prefer such hats for summer.
Insulated Hats: Best Hiking Beanie
They are ideal for cold weather and are made from different materials (i.e., merino, acrylic, spandex, or combinations). This one is very good and also suitable for snow sports.
Another choice that is also cool, made from Merino wool, is this one from Minus33. It is very soft and comfortable.
We don’t suggest visors as ideal for hiking. Maybe they are great for tennis, but their most significant disadvantage is that they leave almost all of your head exposed to the sun or/and cold. Visors become handy when you use them for running as they provide shade without heating your head.
Gore-tex Hats (Waterproof)
For an utterly waterproof hat, you need a Gore-tex one. Gore-tex technology ensures that. This outdoors and hiking hat is such a choice. Don’t get scared by all the mesh extras. All can be removed.
Strictly waterproof hats produce extra heat for your head as they don’t do much.
Special Kinds of Hiking “Hats”
Some types of headcovers can shapeshift into “hats.” Balaclava’s are one example of a winter hiking hat for cold weather.
Another type of headwear that can “shift” to protect your head and your neck is the long neck gaiter, especially the ones called “buffs.” They come in different lengths, but the short ones are usually from warm (synthetic/wool) materials and are primarily used in winter/cold. They don’t provide any shade, but they can efficiently cover your head and neck. Some find it very handy, especially the long tube ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of hat is best for sun protection?
The best hat for you is the type that provides shade to your head, ears, and neck. A broad-brimmed bucket style with a wide brim will give you the most protection from sun rays, while baseball caps do little more than block out some light on an otherwise cloudy day!
What Color Sun Hat is Best?
When you’re out in the sun, wear a hat with white on top so that it’ll reflect some of those UV rays away from your face and eye. You also want one which is dark underneath for maximum protection against heatstroke!
The best is to avoid hiking trucker hats. Too much of your neck is exposed to the sun.
Do you wear hiking hats on your hiking trips? This is our advice on the best hats for hiking. Feel free to suggest more ideas and tips.