Thinking about hitting the trail? A good, lightweight hiking hat should be one of the very first things on your checklist. The best hiking hats not only protect us from harmful UV radiation, but they can also wick moisture, reflect the rain, and protect against high winds.
Did we mention that they can also make you look cool?
As a favor to noggins everywhere, we’re presenting our side-by-side review of the best 6 hiking hats. This is far abridged from our original list of 20, which were selected by comfort, weather protection, & more.
After the review, we will be taking a deeper dive into the world of hiking hats. We’ll answer some of the most commonly questions about keeping your head cool. We’ll even reveal our #1 top pick for best hiking hat in 2020, so stick around.
The Top 6 Hiking Hats of 2021
#1. Best Quality Hiking Hat for Backpacking: Tilley LTM6 Broad Brim Sun Hat
The Canadian-based hat company Tilley has been dominating the market for years with their stylish caps. This broad-brimmed style hat is the perfect way to stay cool in the wilderness. It features multiple ventilation locations, allowing for ultimate cooling action. The fabric itself offer s a full 50 SPF of sun protection, so you don’t have to worry about unexpected burns.
Our favorite thing about this hat, quite frankly, is the style. It has a super adventurous feel to it … as if you should be digging up dinosaur bones in Cairo. But with the lightweight versatility that Tilly is known for, this hat is actually perfect for everything from day hiking to long distance trekking.
Tilley is one of the only hat companies that offer a lifetime guarantee. This certainly says something about the confidence they have in their own product. This hat comes in more colors than any other on our list, making it possible to stay color coordinated.
- Excellent fit for both male and female users
- Double ventilation slots
- Can get a bit warm in the height of summer
#2. Best Sun Hat for Hiking: Columbia Bora Bora Booney
No matter what kind of outdoor clothing or gear you’re looking for, Columbia is a pretty good place to start. They’ve been making some of the best adventure wearables for over a century, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to slow down anytime soon.
The Bora Bora Booney takes a familiar design and adds a few helpful features. We’ll start with our very favorite part: the 100% textured nylon construction. This fabric is a lot thinner and a lot cooler than competing hats. When the fabric gets too thick or is not entirely synthetic, it can be way too got. This id doubly true when you are on the trail and exerting yourself.
The moisture wicking works great for this very reason. The front vent panel is huge … large enough to keep your entire forehead cool. We do with that this one came in more colors than just blue and off-green. It also only comes in one size, so it’s possible that it will not fit everyone the same.
- Large front ventilation panel keeps things cool
- Strongly woven nylon construction offers good moisture wicking
- Only comes in two colors
- Only available in one size
#3. Best Multi-Purpose Outdoor Hat: Carhart Men’s Odessa Cap
There are some companies that do such a good job with their products that their very logo is a statement. While Carhart might be best known for their popular work overalls, that’s certainly not the end of it.
This 100% cotton Carhart hat lets the user express their satisfaction for their favorite work clothing brand. The durable genuine leather patch is representative of the long-lasting quality that you’re getting with any Carhart product.
Now, there is no denying that 100% cotton is not the greatest choice for a sun hat. This is a very warm and insulating natural material. Therefore, don’t be surprised if this hat turns out to be a little sweaty. The built-in Coolmax sweatband does help a lot, but it is not going to be as moisture wicking as others.
This cap usually comes in a number of different colors and designs, but it is always subject to stock. Usually you can at least find it in black, grey, and green, but keep an eye out for the popular digi-camo.
- Classic style ball cap with leather Carhart badge
- Durable cotton weave means this hat will last forever
- Not as cool or moisture wicking as hats designed specifically for hiking
#4. Best Hiking Hat for Sun Protection: DDYOUTDOOR Sun Protection Hat with Face Flap
Here is a summer hiking hat that offers more than just a little bit of sun protection. With the large, removable face flap, this hat from DDYOUTDOOR provides more total coverage than any other hat. The face flap is a cool idea … it can be easily buttoned or unbuttoned, and it wraps all the way around the back of the neck. This is a full-head coverage that none of the other hats on the list can offer.
The hat is constructed of 100% with a multi-layer waterproof coating. While this can lead to some excess sweat and vapor, the sun protection is more than worth it. Truly, this is the kind of sun hat that you want with you if you are crawling across the desert. Or perhaps you’re traversing the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado, and you just want to prevent scorching.
This hat is quite collapsible for its size. With all the extra flaps and coverings, you might not expect that. But it stuff down to a super small size, and the bill is not going to be damaged from the folding. At about 15 bucks, this is one of the most affordable hats that we looked at. Because of the removable neck & face flaps, it might also be the most versatile.
- Removable flaps for face & neck coverage
- Fully stuffable & foldable
- One Size Fits All” means that it’s not great for people with XL heads
#5. Best Trucker Hat for Hiking: Patagonia LoPro Snapback Trucker Hat
The half-dome mesh construction of this Patagonia cap makes it far more breathable than the Carhart cap we looked at earlier. Coolness and breathability are huge factors after all, especially when you’re playing out in the wilderness.
For some folks, nothing can quite beat a classic ball cap. It doesn’t offer any protection for the neck or ears, but cap-wearing folks are probably used to that. The snap-back enclosure is a bit outdated when it comes to ball caps. Still, it offers a secure hold that isn’t going to loosen up over the course of the day.
This cap suffers from some of the most common issues pertaining to 6-panel ball caps. For one, there is going to be some considerable color fading after a couple seasons in the sun. In addition, this hat doesn’t hide the sweat so well. If you’re using it while hiking, biking, or fishing, you will most likely see some sweat stains over time.
The profile on this cap is a bit low … so it’s another hat that isn’t super ideal for people with XL heads. It tends to size just a little small.
- Classic design from a respectable brand
- 4 of 6 panels are mesh Nylon for superior breathability
- Some color fading and sweat stains over time are expected
#6. Best Value Hiking Hat for Hot Weather: Camo Coll Boonie Sun Hat
Like the Columbia Boonie hat that we looked at above, this cap from Camo Coll is ready for action. This one is made out of 100% polyester, which manages to be even lighter than the Columbia boonie. It is also available in 12 different bright colors, making it far more customizable than Columbia.
One of the first things that consumers will notice, however, is the price point. At twenty bucks this is a fantastic value-level hat that still has it where it counts. By this we mean that is had a great fit, firm drawstring, high breathability, and is just plain comfortable.
This hat is one size fits all, which if you have read this far you might know we are not huge fans of. Maybe its because our whole editorial team has just massive heads! Still, this should fit most people’s noggins without issue, and without being tight or uncomfortable.
If you find this boonie hat a little small, there is an elastic adjuster on the inside. This will make the brim of the hat kind of wavy, however … if that’s the kind of thing you care about.
- Very affordable
- Much lighter and more breathable than other boonies
- The built-in size adjuster is kind of awkward
More Considerations: Choosing a Hat for Hiking, Backpacking, & Fishing
Not all outdoor activities present the same conditions, as any good adventurer can tell you. Some journeys are through harsh, biting wind, while others are undertaken under bright sun. Some people have to worry about sudden downpours of rain, while others are simply trying to avoid a sunburn.
The best hiking hats can usually address all forms of weather protection. However, some hats are more specialized than others. Because they can vary significantly in terms on comfort, breathability, and more, it’s important to know what to look for.
Here are some of the top considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a hiking hat.
One of the first things that you need to consider is what kind of weather you will be expecting. Generally speaking, most people don’t need a hat that is 100% waterproof. That is, unless you expect to be trekking through big rainstorms.
If sun protection is all you need, then do youself a favor and go for a lighter, uncoated synthetic material. This is going to be far more breathable than a waterproof hat. In fact, even during a rain storm, a waterproof hiking hat can be quite sweaty.
Wind protection is another important consideration. Wide-brimmed hats are a good way to keep the wind off your face. Even better is a specialized hat with build-in face protection, such as the DDYOUTDOOR hat we reviewed above. Removable face and neck panels can turn this hat into a full-featured safari lid.
While ball caps are adjustable with a rear strap, boonie style hats do not have the same luxury. Some of these hats have a built-in adjustment system that can tighten things slightly. One such hat is the Camo Call Boonie, which can go down a size or two with a quick adjustment. However, the best option is to get a hat that already fits your head.
It is kind of amazing how few people take comfort into consideration when buying hiking gear. Even if you get the most waterproof, windproof, stylish hat in the whole world, it has to be comfortable. Otherwise, you simply aren’t going to wear it, and it will just take up extra space in your pack.
Its difficult to know just how a hat is going to feel on your head, even if you have taken measurements. One way to get around this is to educate yourself as to the return policy of various online retailers. Shopping online is just like shopping in the store; if something doesn’t fit, just send it back.
The corollary to this is to give yourself plenty of time to experience the hat before taking it on a trek. Don’t wait until the last moment to order it, otherwise you might be stuck with an ill-fitting hat.
The most stylish thing you can do is get yourself out and onto the trail. We believe that the best adventurers are the ones who aren’t in it for the profile pictures. That being said, it is important to feel good about yourself at all times.
Many of the hats on our list are available in different styles and colors. Find the one that matches your hiking attire and you’ll be sure to turn a lot of heads.
How to Size a Hiking Hat
Just like footwear, the actual size of your head is going to determine which hat you should buy. But a simple skull measurement isn’t the only thing that you will need to find the perfect fit.
The first step in sizing out your new hiking hat is doing a bit of research. If you are interested in a hat that is not one-size-fits-all, then you should go to the manufacturer’s website. Most reputable hat companies have their own sizing charts posted somewhere on their website. By comparing your skull measurement with their sizing chart, you should be able to find the perfect fit.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
However, even synthetic materials might not be as breathable as you think. This is especially true of waterproof fabrics. The old adage here is that if water can’t get in, then it can’t get out either. So if you’re looking for a fair-weather hat to keep the sun off, you should find something as light as possible.
By paying attention to the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) it is possible to find a hat that protects. For example, a hat with a rating of 50 UPF is quite good, as it blocks about 98% of incoming UV.
On the other hand, there are plenty of people who would prefer having wide-brim protection from rain. This certainly makes it easier to see where you’re going, and keep an eye on those storm clouds.
One important thing to remember: the more waterproof a hiking hat is, the less breathable it will be. This means that waterproof hats are not always the best option for staving off a super-hot day.
Conclusion: Our Top Pick Hiking Hat for Summer Sun
In terms of lightness, breathability, and comfort, we’re going to name the Camo Coll Boonie as our #1 pick. The fact that its only about twenty bucks certainly plays into our decision. This one-two punch of affordability and functionality is do doubt responsible for the thousands of positive reviews it has earned online.
Not into boonie style hiking hats? That Carhart trucker cap is pretty fly no matter who you are,