From improving your overall health to general enrichment and excitement as you take in the natural world, there are plenty of reasons to take up hiking. Time spent outside is more often than not time well spent. But hikers should be aware of potential hazards wherever they venture, and one hazard that is universal in the great outdoors is exposure to the elements. That’s where the best hiking hat comes in.
Experienced hikers and beginners alike need one of the best hiking hats in their hiking gear kit. In most cases, this is to protect you from the sun and to keep your head dry. Some hats can also be used for heat control, whether that’s warming or cooling. Either way, having one of these affordable items at your disposal will make your hikes a lot more enjoyable.
Before we explore the best hiking hats on the market, let’s discuss what to look for in a hiking hat and the three main types of hiking hats.
How to Choose the Best Hiking Hat
When shopping for hiking hats, you’ll notice that there’s a huge variety of price points, styles and features available. So, when you’re trying to decide which one is the best for you, keep the following in mind:
- UV/UPF Protection: The best hiking hats are rated for a certain degree of protection from ultraviolet rays. For example, two of our top picks, the Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Hat and the Mission Cooling Bucket Hat, both offer UPF 50 protection that can keep your scalp, forehead and ears from burning.
- Coverage: Depending on your sun-protection needs, you may want to choose a hat with a wide brim. Alternatively, if you don’t need to protect the back of your neck, a baseball cap may suffice.
- Waterproofing: Many hiking hats are either waterproof or quick-drying, a benefit when you’re hiking in rainy conditions or might drop your hat in water.
- Breathability: Having a breathable hat can help your head stay comfortable. Many hiking hats are built from breathable materials or include mesh patches to increase airflow.
- Insect Repellent: Not every hiking hat includes insect repellent, but some do have some sort of deterrent built into the material. If you’re hiking somewhere where bugs could be an issue, look for a hat that will keep them away from your head.
- Comfort: Depending on the type of hiking you plan on doing, you may need to wear your hiking hat for eight or more hours a day. Therefore, look for something adjustable, as the fit is an important piece in comfort.
- Style: While we don’t think style should be the primary factor in choosing a hiking hat, you may want to consider style. Baseball hats are always in style, but booney hats are becoming more popular as hikers rediscover their utility.
The 4 Types of Hiking Hats We Considered
Hiking hats can come in a variety of shapes and styles, but there are three main designs.
1. The Sun Hat: This hat boasts a wide brim to protect you from the sun, and it’s especially useful for hikes without much natural shade. It usually has a chin strap.
2. The Baseball Hat: These versatile hats provide sun protection without the bulk. While any baseball cap could be considered a hiking hat, many brands have created enhanced designs with hikers in mind.
3. The Bucket Hat: Sometimes called a boonie hat, these hiking hats are usually made from cotton or canvas, making them easy to stuff in the bottom of a bag and easy to dry. They typically have a smaller brim and some eyelets or mesh pockets for breathability.
4. Beanies: For cold weather hiking, beanies are another great option.
Below, you’ll find 13 of the best hiking hats available online to complement your hiking boots, hiking fanny pack and hiking shorts. We’ve mostly focused on warm-weather hats, as most cold-weather hats are quite versatile. In our selection, you’ll spot each of the three types of hiking hats, as well as options for a range of budgets.
1. Columbia Bora Bora Booney
This Columbia Bora Bora Booney received high ratings from users across the board. The versatile hiking hat is great for protecting from the sun’s heat and UV rays thanks to its Omni-Shade materials, which block both UVA and UVB rays. The materials also include Omni-Wick technology to wick away sweat and moisture and provide a drier, more comfortable experience. Better yet, this quick-drying, easy-folding hat is available in 10 colors.
2. SUNSIOM Mens Sun Hat
Hiking hats tend to get lost, and, if you’re a frequent hiker, they may wear out quickly. So sometimes cheap and cheerful does it. The SUNSIOM Men’s Sun Hat costs less than $10, but will still provide you with protection from the sun and other elements. This boonie-style hat boasts a wide brim, a mesh window for breathability and a clasp for pinning up the brim if it’s blocking your view. The hat is also adjustable thanks to the pull-string closure at the back.
3. lululemon Lightweight Running Hat
BEST RUNNING HAT
lululemon makes some of the best running hats we’ve ever used, and this lightweight runner’s cap is perfect for hiking. In addition to the lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric, this hat is also extremely packable, so simply throw it into your pack before heading off for a hike and pull it out when your scalp is starting to feel a little crispy.
4. Mission Cooling Bucket Hat
BEST COOLING HAT
Bucket hats aren’t just incredibly popular, they’re also perfect for hiking in particular. This bucket hat was designed to keep you cool during long days in the sun, and it offers UPF 50 protection. However, it’s specifically designed to lower your body temperature in other ways. Simply douse the hat in water, wring it, and then place it back on your head. The instant cooling effect can be a huge relief in direct sunlight.
5. $averPak BodyForge & InsectGuard Cap
While the primary purpose of wearing a hiking hat is to protect you from the sun, some hats also protect you from insects. This looks like a standard-issue baseball cap, but it’s been pre-treated with InsectGuard, an insect repellent that also kills bugs on contact. The hat itself is made of durable acrylic material and is available in five colors.
6. Columbia Unisex Schooner Bank Cachalot
You might think baseball caps with neck flaps look a little funky, but you’ll be thankful for the extra coverage on the next super sunny day. The Columbia Unisex Schooner Bank Cachalot was designed with fishermen in mind, but it’s a great hat for anyone who loves the outdoors. Furthermore, the hat is a unisex option thanks to the drawstring fitting mechanism.
7. Solaris Men’s Neck Flap Sun Hat
BEST NECK FLAP
If you’re heading somewhere with high UV levels, grab this Solaris Men’s Neck Flap Sun Hat. The built-in neck flap will protect your skin from the sun and the flap can be hidden away when it’s not needed, leaving you with a normal-looking brimmed hiking hat.
8. EINSKEY Sun Hat
You never know what’s going to happen when you head out for a hike. If it storms, you get super sweaty or you drop your hat in the river, you want to make sure your head covering is still usable for the rest of the day. That’s why we recommend the EINSKEY Sun Hat, a wide-brimmed boonie hat that’s waterproof, lightweight and breathable. Plus, it comes with a handy drawstring chin strap for windy occasions.
9. Columbia Unisex Coolhead II Ball Cap
BEST COOLING CAP
Baseball hats can be unisex, like this Columbia Coolhead II Ball Cap. Available in seven colors, the brim doesn’t look too big or too small on anyone. Plus, Columbia has integrated just about every weather technology into the hat, helping you to stay cool as needed. It boasts Omni-Wick, Omni-Shade UPF 50 protection and Omni-Freeze in its advanced cooling sweatband.
10. REI Co-op Vented Explorer Hat
BEST FOR EXPLORING
A mix between a sun hat and a boonie, the REI Co-op Vented Explorer Hat has the best of both worlds. The bucket of the hat is made from organically grown cotton, which provides UPF 50+ and is both durable and breathable. In addition, the hat features a 3-inch wide brim for sun coverage. Handy additional features include an inner sweatband to wick away moisture, an adjustable chin strap and a stash pocket in the crown.
11. Better Sweater Fleece Beanie
This Better Sweater Fleece Beanie is a great option for cooler or even freezing temperatures. It will keep you cozy, just like your favorite sweater. Plus, it’s made from soft, recycled polyester, so you can protect the environments you love simply by choosing this environmentally friendly product.
12. Patagonia Baggies Brimmer Hat
As protection from the sun, the Patagonia Baggies Brimmer Hat is well worth its slightly inflated price tag. This hat boasts a full brim and is made from 100% post-consumer recycled nylon produced from recycled fishing nets. Not only is this very environmentally friendly, but the nylon also helps add superb breathability to this product. Furthermore, the hat is ethically produced and fair-trade sewn. Plus, it floats in water, making this one hat that won’t get lost.
13. GADIEMKENSD Reflective Outdoor Hat
The problem with wearing any old baseball cap while hiking is that they tend to make your head sweat. The GADIEMKENSD Reflective Outdoor Hat solves this issue with two mesh patches that aid in airflow. The hat, which is available in six colors, also features reflective patches for nighttime visibility and UPF 50+ sun protection.