Protection on the trail is important and this includes protecting your head. If you underestimate your exposure to the elements this can make you sick and dampen your trip. While you would consider the importance of a winter hat for protection from cold weather conditions, you may overlook the importance of using a hat for sun protection.
When hiking in hot, sunny weather it is vital to protect your head from exposure to the sun not only to prevent your skin from burning but also to protect your head from harmful UV rays. With proper sun protection, you will also feel cooler, making it less likely for you to develop heatstroke or sunstroke.
Our list of the 10 Best Hiking Hats in 2021 is designed to help you take your sun protection to the next level. The best hiking hat will provide protection but will still be comfortable to use and wear. To help you understand what to look for in a hiking hat we have included a buying guide to make the selection process easier for you. Check out our list of the best desert hats below to find one that fits your needs.
How To Choose A Hiking Hat – Buying Guide
Hikers understand that all your essential gear is there to add protection to your body on the trail, but often a hiking hat is the item left forgotten on hiking and backpacking checklists. There are many different designs of hiking hats and when it comes to choosing just one, you want to be sure it’s the best one. There are differences to each hat design that can enhance your experience and comfort on the trail and our buying guide will highlight which factors you should look for when purchasing a hiking hat. The hiking hat you end up choosing should be easy to pack and use, so you keep your head, face, and neck protected against the sun.
A brim is a smart idea on a hat because it gives you protection from the sun. Manufacturers and the FDA suggest that hikers use a wide brim hat that is made out of firmly woven fibers for optimal sun protection. However, it is important for hikers to find a good balance in the width of the brim. A hat that has too wide or too floppy of a brim can obstruct a hiker’s view, which is dangerous on the trail. The most common suggestion is to get a hat that has at least a 2.75-inch-wide brim and if the brim is darkly colored on the underside, it is even better since the dark color can help reduce glare.
Shape of the Brim
UV rays can reflect and scatter across various surfaces. Reflection is important to consider with the shape of the brim because light can reflect off of things and get under the brim of your hat. The best brim shape will be one that curves down and sits closer to the face. The close proximity and curve can help stop some of the UV ray’s reflection. However, the brim should be chosen carefully according to your activity. If you are hiking or fishing, a hat with a brim that is too curved can be an obstruction to your vision.
Lighter colors can reflect the sun better. It is best to choose a light-colored hat for protection because it can help deflect some of the rays away from your head and face. A lighter color will also not get as hot to the touch as a darker one, thereby keeping your head cooler. Hats that have a dark color on the underside of the brim are even better. The dark underside can help absorb some of the reflected light, but being on the underside of the brim, the dark color won’t usually get hot. However, lighter colors can be harder to keep clean. Therefore, natural off-white colors like beige, khaki, or ivory are an excellent choice for a hat color.
The material of your hat should fit its intended use and intended climate. For hotter temperatures, lightweight material is the best option. It’s even better if it is a breathable material. Remember that the type of material can change your ability to wash your hat. Some designs will be machine washable and others won’t. The material of the hat can also affect the brim. There are stiff and floppy materials, and each will give you different style brims. Finally, some companies have designs that are made of a water-resistant and buoyant material. This can be great for fishermen or water explorers because the hat won’t sink and be lost if it is dropped in the water.
A hiking hat should be made of breathable material. A hat that is well ventilated will keep you cooler and it also tends to be lighter in weight. Hats can quickly get sweaty when they sit on your head for long periods, especially when you’re already sweating on the trail. A well-ventilated hat can help you stay cooler by allowing your sweat to dry.
It is important that your hat fits comfortably. However, the comfort of a hat can depend on the activity you plan on using it for. If you are climbing or hiking, having a large brimmed hat would most likely be irritating because it would constantly hit your back as you look around. If you are a runner and have a hat that isn’t properly fit, it can be easily lost in the wind. You should be sure to find a hat design that is comfortable for you but also works for your activity without obstructing your view or becoming a nuisance.
The sturdiness of a hat can depend on a few different factors. The color, material, and construction are the main factors that affect whether a hat is sturdy or not. The best hats are an off-white color because stains aren’t as likely to show up unlike on an all-white hat. The material of the hat should be sturdy too and you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in high-quality options. For example, always choose a nylon hat over a straw hat. Nylon will last much longer than straw. A hat that is constructed well, should last you for a long time.
Maintenance and Care
Every hat will have a different maintenance and care routine based on the manufacturer and materials used. It is best to see if the manufacturer provides any guides on the maintenance and care for your hat. However, most hats should be able to withstand a hand wash. To wash your hat by hand you should use cold water and a soft brush, like a toothbrush, with mild soap to gently brush out stains. Do not use fabric softeners because they can degrade the material of your hat. When the hat is still wet you should reshape it to its original shape.
It is extremely important that you perform regular maintenance and care on your hat. Sweat and the salt in sweat can rapidly degrade a hat and lead to the buildup of rot. When you are not using your hat, it should always be stored bone dry.
Similar to sturdiness, durability is important. A high-quality outdoor hat should last you for years to come, even if it is dragged through rugged terrain and battered by extreme weather. If you properly care for your hat, you can extend the durability and ensure that your hat is always ready to go on the next adventure.
UPF is the ultraviolet protection factor, which determines how intense the sun’s rays are and how much protection you need. Commonly you will hear of UVA/UVB ratings, which determine how high the UPF rating is. The best hiking hats will block UVA/UVB rays and this will be evident if they have a high UPF rating.
Fit is important because it is what keeps your hat comfortable and secure on your head. Outdoor hats need to fit well because you will be moving a lot when wearing them. You should be able to freely move your head without worrying that your hat will fall off. A well-fitting hat also stands a better chance against the wind. Even a slight breeze can easily dislodge a hat if it doesn’t fit well. The better the fit, the better the chance your hat will stay on your head.
As mentioned throughout, a hat is designed for protection. Its main job is to protect your head, face, and neck. We recommend finding a design that maximizes your protection to ensure you don’t get burnt by the sun’s rays.
Q: What is UPF and why is it important?
UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor. This is a measurement of the level of UVA/UVB protection that your hat offers. If a hat boasts a UPF rating of 50, it means it blocks 98% of UV rays. UVA/UVB protection is important because exposure to the sun’s rays can lead to skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and 20% of people in the US will experience it in their lifetime. You can take the steps to protect yourself by having a good UVA/UVB sun protection ethic. Hot weather hiking tips will point to a hiking hat as an excellent way to give yourself some much-needed protection.
Q: How do you clean a hiking hat?
You should look at the manufacturer’s manual to see if they provide a guide for cleaning your hat. Every hat is different and cleaning it can depend on the material it is made of. Different materials can withstand different cleaning methods.
In general, you can hand wash a hat with cold water. If there is a stubborn spot, you can use a soft brush to gently scrub it away. A hat should be reshaped when it is wet. You should air dry your hat and always store it completely bone dry. A hat that is stored damp is prone to developing mold or rot, which causes major damage.
Q: How much protection do I need?
Not much. Having any layer that can provide shade or cover your head, neck, and face is sufficient protection. The ideal goal with a hiking hat is that it provides a layer between you and the sun’s rays. This means that you aren’t directly exposed to the sun’s rays, which helps keep you cooler and prevents the risk of skin cancer. Especially, if you are hiking with kids, you will want to ensure they stay safe from the sun too. A hiking hat is the best choice to add a lightweight layer of protection to your child’s head.
Globo Surf Overview
When it comes to your hiking hat, finding the best design can greatly enhance your time on the trail and have you looking stylish. With these top-rated hiking hats, you can rest assured that you are actively protecting yourself from the sun’s rays. The best hiking hat will keep you cool and help block some of the sun’s harmful UV rays. If you know exactly what you need and want, you can save time and money by investing in the best hiking hat for you.
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Do you own one of the hiking hats that made it onto our list? Let us know how it has worked for your outdoor needs in the comments section below.