Best Hiking Hat
When you’re getting set for hiking, you probably put a lot of thought into your boots, your outerwear, and overnight equipment if needed. The last thing you likely consider is your hiking hat.
But in reality, a hiking hat quickly becomes one of your most important pieces of hiking gear if you’re caught in the rain, or facing hot sun or extra harmful rays at high altitudes. Besides getting wet, or exposing your face to strong UV rays, you’ll find you can get really hot without a proper sun hat.
However often you hike, and however long your hikes may last, you need to make a quality hat for hiking one of your top pieces of equipment.
But there’s so much to consider. A hiking hat for women should be a smaller size than a hiking hat for men. Have you considered UPF rating, or nylon fabric over other types of material?
With so much to think about, it can be overwhelming to find a hiking hat. We’re here to help with a comparison of the best hiking hats today. Let’s start with a look at the features you should consider to help you make the best choice possible.
Things To Consider When Choosing a Hiking Hat
If you’re hiking in summertime heat, you want to look for the best hiking hat for hot weather. That means looking for features such as mesh inserts for ventilation, a built-in sweatband, and made with material that is lightweight and breathable, with moisture-wicking properties.
Whatever time of year you’re hiking, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun, so you’re also looking for the best sun hat for hiking. That means a wide brim, as well as an excellent UPF rating to ensure you’re protected from harmful UV rays. You don’t want your outdoor adventures to negatively impact your health.
It’s not always hot when you’re hiking, and the weather can change quickly. So you want to consider factors for rain protection like water resistance and fast-drying nylon fabric.
This can be a personal preference, as some people like a baseball style cap, while others like a full, wide brim on their hat. Depending on how often you hike, and the conditions, you may have to choose a hat that’s not necessarily your first preference. For instance, if you’re in the sun a lot, a baseball style hat may be what you like, but not what’s best for you.
Besides the style, sizing of the hat can be an important component. Do you prefer a one-size fits all that’s adjusted with a strap or toggle? Or would you rather have a custom-sized hat?
Some of us just want a basic hat, without any extra bells and whistles. Others like bonus features, so be sure to consider what you might like on a hiking hat. That can include an adjustable chin strap or a neck cape. It can even include a secret compartment for stashing money, or a mosquito net to help if you’re hiking where there are biting insects.
Top Hiking Hats
This full brim hat has mesh side panels that add ventilation to keep you cool in hot weather. It has a chin cord and cord lock to keep the hat on your head in windy weather, and the cord can be removed if you don’t want to use it. The SolarShield™ Supplex® nylon fabric offers UPF 50+ protection.
The bonus in this hat is that it’s treated with EPA-registered Insect Shield® that helps to repel mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. The Insect Shield® product is rated as effective through 70 washes.
It also has a brim with foam added to it, which keeps it stiff to cover your face, and adds flotation if you drop it in a stream. A headband inside helps absorb sweat.
- Available in several sizes for a custom fit.
- Removable chin cord for adapting to your preferences.
- The brim is under 3 inches wide, so not as wide as other sun hats.
- Not everyone will like the big logos on the hat.
Columbia is well known for making products ideal for outdoor adventures, so it’s no surprise that they make a popular hiking sun hat.
This has all the properties you look for in a hat for hiking: UPF 50, a sweat-wicking headband, and a mesh vent panel for added ventilation; and, the added benefit of having the Columbia name, known for hiking gear.
It comes in two sizes: small/medium and large/extra large. But you’ll still get a custom fit with an adjustable sizing toggle at the back of the hat, and an adjustable chin strap to keep the hat on your head.
- Nice that it has an adjustable cord to let you change the tightness of the hat.
- Mesh panels add ventilation and fabric wicks moisture.
- Comes with the Columbia name, known for hiking gear.
- Lightweight and floppy brim, so not ideal in wind.
- At 3 inches, the brim is a bit narrow.
The Tilley company is well known for making durable hats that are acknowledged among the best made in the world. With the Airflo hat, Tilley continues to advance their technology, adding mesh to the crown to make the hats cooler.
The Airflo hat is also lightweight, breathable and packable. It provides protection from sun, rain and wind: maximum sun protection of UPF +50; a brim that channels water away from your head; and an adjustable, tuckaway, wind cord that keeps the hat on your head even in high winds.
The design is such that the crown of the hat sits high on your head to allow for airflow through the mesh. This way, warm air escapes and a breeze can flow through the hat. The lightweight fabric is also comfortable, and the sweatband wicks moisture and sweat.
And the hat has bonus features, with a non-absorbent foam liner in the crown that makes it buoyant, in case you drop it in a mountain stream, and a secret pocket in the crown with a Velcro closure. Wash it by hand or on delicate cycle in the washing machine.
- Certified maximum UV and sun protection, blocking 98 percent of harmful UVA/UVB rays and UPF of 50+.
- The nylon fabric is water and mildew resistant.
- Dark under-brim helps protect your eyes from glare.
- Stow your cash, fishing license, a credit card or ID in the secret compartment in the crown.
- You have to like a wide-brim hat, as the brim is over 3 inches wide in the front and back, and over 2 inches wide on the sides.
- The wide brim does get misshapen if the hat is scrunched up too tight to pack away.
- The nylon fabric is not the same as the original Tilley hats.
The Ultra is an update of the original Adventure hat, with a new feature, adding what they call a “sunglass lock.” Two integrated sleeves on the outside can be used to tuck in your glasses without worrying about shaking them off the top of your head.
It comes in two sizes, medium and large, but also features an external size adjuster that allows you to tighten or loosen it, like after you get a haircut.
It’s made of 88% nylon fabric and 12% polyester, and is hand washable. It provides protection from sun and rain, with a UPF 50+ rating and water and stain resistant material. The soft 6-inch neck cape protects the back of your neck from the sun and channels rain away from the neckline of your shirt. It’s also easy to pack with a clamshell brim that folds in half.
While the brim isn’t really wide, it does feature a mesh strip on the crown for extra ventilation. As a bonus, it has reflective details that keep you safe after the sun sets.
- Available in two sizes, with added adjustment possible, so it’s ideal for men or women.
- Extremely light weight for added comfort.
- Brim sits high enough that it doesn’t interfere with glasses.
- Neck cape is added protection from sun and rain.
- You have to like a neck cape, as there’s no way to remove it or hold it up off your neck.
- Lightweight material and folding brim means it sometimes folds in high winds.
- Hand wash only.
The biggest selling point of this product is a hidden compartment on the top of the hat that holds a full head mosquito and bug net. Simply pull the mesh up from the compartment and drape it over your face to protect yourself from annoying black flies, mosquitoes and other bugs.
This is a bucket shaped hat with a 3-inch brim and UPF 50+ sun protection. The mosquito veil is 13 inches long. The hat has a cord to keep it on your head in wind, and the veil has its own drawstring that allows you to adjust it.
- The mesh netting is a real bonus if your activities take you where there are lots of bugs.
- You can also wear the hat with the mesh tucked away.
- A separate drawstring on the mesh veil allows you to adjust it.
- 100 % nylon fabric dries quickly.
- One size only, with a crown circumference of about 23 inches (22.8 to 23.3 inches).
- No venting in the hat can make it hot.
- Some people might find vision difficult with the mesh down.
For those who prefer a baseball style hat to a big-brimmed hat, this is an excellent choice.
It’s a one-size fits most, with a quick-adjust strap system that allows you to get the right fit. It’s made of 95% nylon fabric with 5% spandex added, so the stretch in the material allows it to conform to your head in front, back and sides.
It’s breathable with a sweat-band inside that also breathes. It also provides UPF 50+ sun protection, is water repellent, and dries quickly.
- Perfect for those who prefer a baseball style cap.
- Easy to adjust the size and made of material that conforms to your head.
- UPF protection makes this superior to a regular ball hat.
- The bill is only 2.6 inches, and there’s no sun protection on the sides and at the back.
- Might not actually fit everyone, if you have a particularly large head.
The Top Choice in Hiking Hats
While these are all great products, our pick as the top hat for hiking is the Sunday Afternoons Unisex Ultra-Adventure Hat. It offers everything you need in a hiking hat, for men or women, and for any type of weather.
Here’s why we like this hat for hiking:
- Versatile: Unisex product means it’s an ideal hiking hat for women and an ideal hiking hat for men.
- Protect Your Neck: The 6-inch neck cape makes it the best sun hat for hiking, but will also draw rain away from your neckline.
- Sun protection: with a UPF rating of 50+.
- Lightweight fabric: It’s light weight and mesh strip make it the best hiking hat for hot weather.
Bonus details: A chin cord, reflective details, and a “lock” for your sunglasses.