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MX News Update 2024


The Best Sun Hats of 2024

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a man wearing a sun hat on a hike

Sun hats make hikes even better. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

The Inertia

If you’re anything like us, you spend a lot of time in the sun, both in and out of the water. With so much sun exposure on a daily basis, we do our best to stay protected. And while we’re certainly no strangers to sunscreen, the best sun hats do a lot more than just protect your skin: They can keep sun out of your eyes, corral messy hair, and add a few style points to boot.

There are lots of sun hats out there, so it can be tricky to decide which hat is the one for you. After two full summers of testing out a bunch of different brands and styles, we’ve rounded up fourteen of the best sun hats out there to help you make an informed buying decision. For more information, check out our Comparison Table and Buyer’s Guide towards the end of the article.

Best Overall Sun Hat: The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer
Best Sun Hat for the Beach: Hemlock Hat Co. Printed Hat
Best Sun Hat for Hiking: Outdoor Research Swift Bucket Hat
Best Budget Sun Hat: San Diego Hat Company Raffia Straw Sun Hat
Most Stylish Sun Hat for Men: Fjallraven Abisko Summer Hat
Most Stylish Sun Hat for Women: Billabong Time to Shine Bucket Hat
Most Packable Sun Hat: Arcteryx Aerios Bucket Hat

Interested in hats specifically designed for surfing? Look no further. 

Best Overall Sun Hat 

Pros: Sustainably made, breathable
Not the most stylish

Lightweight, breathable, and offering plenty of sun protection, the Horizon Breeze Brimmer is a great option for lengthy surf sessions or long days chilling on the beach. The hat features a wide brim, UPF 40 fabric, and has earned the Seal of Recommendation for safe and effective UV protection from The Skin Care Foundation.

The body and lining are made with recycled materials, the chin strap sports a cord lock made from recycled ocean plastic, and the fast-drying sweatband relies on physics, not chemical coatings, to cool the skin. We’re big fans of the versatility of the hat, the fact that it’s sustainably made, and the generous sun protection it offers, which is why it sits at the top of our list.

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Best Sun Hat For the Beach 

Pros: Hand woven, wide brim
Difficult to travel with

Hemlock Hat Co. has an expansive collection of traditional lifeguard-style hats with plenty of prints to choose from. Made from 100% straw, the hats have a wide brim and offer UPF 50+ protection to ensure you don’t get burnt. Each hat is hand woven and features a drawcord to ensure it stays in place, even in windy conditions.

Although straw hats tend to get damaged if you’re not careful, all Hemlock Hat Co.’s hats are well-made and have everything you could want in a straw sun hat. Most straw hats sport straw all around, but we love that the Printed Hat has a pattern beneath the brim for a little extra flair. We found that the wide brim paired with the chin strap delivered secure sun protection even on windy days at the beach.

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Best Sun Hat for Hiking 

outdoor research sun hat

Pros: Breathable, UPF 30 protection
Cons: No chin strap

If you like being active out in the sunshine the Outdoor Research Swift Bucket Hat is for you. The top portion of the Swift Hat is almost entirely mesh, so it’s super breathable and lightweight. The hat also has a sweat wicking band, is quick drying, and offers UPF 30 sun protection.

Instead of a chin strap, the Swift Hat has a drawcord at the back to cinch it tight — this isn’t quite as reliable in windy conditions but it is more comfortable and stylish. Finally, the Swift Hat packs down nice and small for your travels. Plus, the bright, popping colors are fun.

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Best Budget Sun Hat

Pros: Built-in liner, affordable price-point
Not super water resistant

Made from 100% straw, the Lifeguard Hat features a wide brim and is rated UPF 50, so it offers plenty of sun protection. Although the hat is advertised as a men’s hat, it comes in two different size options, so it works well for both men and women.

The hat includes a liner and is breathable and lightweight, making it comfortable enough to wear all day long. Like many straw hats, we could see it getting easily damaged if you’re not careful (take care to dry it out thoroughly should it get wet), but it’s a solid price for a nice hat.

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Most Stylish Sun Hat For Men

fjallraven sun hat

Pros: Dries quickly, comes in four different size options
Cons: Pricey

If you’re looking for a lightweight hat for hiking, the Fjallraven Abisko Summer Hat fits the bill nicely. Made from recycled polyester, the Abisko is lightweight and the mesh interior makes it incredibly breathable. It also dries quickly should you get it wet.

The hat comes in four different sizes, allowing for a more precise fit, and the chin strap helps make it super secure. Although the Abisko isn’t cheap, it’s well made, durable, and is easy to pack along on adventures.

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Most Stylish Sun Hat for Women

Billabong time to shine bucket hat

Pros: Stylish, lightweight
Cons: No straps to secure the hat if windy

This one’s for the girls (and the guys who aren’t afraid to show some feminine flair). The Time to Shine Bucket Hat is a stylish take on a summertime classic. The hat features a dyed, woven unstructured design, so you can easily toss it into a bag or backpack without fear of it getting damaged.

The wide brim offers plenty of sun protection, and the hat is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable, making it perfect to wear between sessions. Wear it with your bikini or pair it with a dress to add a little style to your ensemble. If bucket hats aren’t your jam, another top “style” pick here at The Inertia has been the Carve Designs Dundee Crushable, a wider-brimmed sun hat with leather accents and a packable construction.

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Most Packable Sun Hat

arcteryx bucket hat

Pros: Insanely lightweight, breathable
Cons: Pricey, no chin strap

At $70, the Arcteryx Aerios Bucket Hat is not cheap, but it is exceptional. The Aerios was hands down the lightest of all the hats we tried — the tag weighed more than the actual hat. As such, you barely notice it on your head and if you do want to take it off, it’s easy to stash in your backpack, fanny pack, or pocket.

The Aerios is also super breathable, so it’s a great pick for hot days. The micromesh headband and quick-dry lining help absorb sweat and keep you cool. The Aerios doesn’t have a chin strap but it does have a toggle in the back for size adjustments. Thanks to its comfort, breathability, and insanely light weight, the Aerios has quickly become our go-to hat for backpacking.

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Best Coverage

Pros: Packable, lightweight, neck flap
Cons: Kind of dorky

The Ultra Adventure Hat is nothing to write home about when it comes to style, but in terms of sun protection and performance, it’s a winner. One of the few hats on this list offering neck protection, this hat will keep you covered in the water and on the trail. It’s lightweight, comfortable, durable, dries quickly, and is packable, which is always a plus.

Additionally, the Ultra Adventure includes a couple of extra features, like a sunglasses keeper and an anti-glare material under the brim, which proved to be a great asset when surfing. If you’re looking for a stylish hat for lounging on the beach, the Ultra Adventure might not be the best pick for you, but if you’re looking for a versatile, adventure-ready hat, this one ticks all the boxes.

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Runner-Up Most Stylish for Women

hurley sun hats

Pros: Stylish, wide brim
Cons: Not very packable, small fit

The Hurley Santa Rosa Floppy Hat was made with the beach in mind. The wide brim provides ample sun protection while the loosely woven straw helps prevent your head from overheating. The frayed black polyester band adds some fun style points.

Because it’s a straw hat, the Santa Rosa isn’t as packable as some of the other hats on our list. The brim of the hat is flexible, so you can pack it down smaller, but you’ll want to be careful you don’t damage it. The fit is on the smaller side, which worked perfectly for our female tester, but you may want to look elsewhere if your head is on the large size.

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Runner-Up Most Stylish for Men

cotopaxi sun hat

Pros: Removable chin strap, made from recycled materials
Cons: Not super breathable

The Cotopaxi Orilla Sun Hat is a sturdy sun hat with a wide brim. Made from 100% recycled polyester, the Orilla Sun Hat was inspired by Panama hats in Ecuador. Although the hat is sturdy, you can easily roll it up for traveling.

The inside of the hat is lined with a sweat band and there are a few small holes for airflow, but the Orilla isn’t as breathable as say, a mesh hat. The Orilla has a removable chin strap, which we greatly appreciated as we could attach it on windy days and leave it at home when we didn’t need it.

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cotopaxi sun hats

Pros: Sustainably made, breathable
Cons: Might not work for someone with a large head

Made from recycled nylon, the Cotopaxi Tech Bucket Hat is lightweight and breathable while providing ample sun protection. The soft structured brim is somewhat malleable and easy to pack without fear of damaging the hat. The adjustable chin strap is helpful to ensure the hat stays on and the mesh side panels help keep your head cool while you’re out doing whatever it is you do.

Our tester enjoyed this hat for hiking as it was light and unobtrusive but kept her face and ears covered. Our tester’s head is on the small side and it fit her well with a little wiggle room, but she worries it might be a tight fit on someone with a larger head.

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Pros: Durable, side pencil pocket, packable 
Not a lot of color options or coverage

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more classic sun hat than the bucket hat. The Chore Bucket Hat by Outdoor Research is your classic bucket hat with a chin strap. This hat is made from a durable, water-resistant fabric and is rated UPF 50+. The material is tough yet breathable, ensuring you stay cool during hot days under the sun. Additionally, the hat features a side pencil pocket for when inspiration strikes. The Chore Bucket packs down well, so you can easily stash it in a backpack or carry-on to accompany you on all of your adventures.

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dakine sun hats

Pros: Different size options, fun print under the brim
Cons: Not packable

The Dakine Pindo Straw Hat is a classic lifeguard style hat with a fun pattern on the bottom of the brim. The wide brim provides ample sun protection and the integrated elastic headband and an adjustable cinch strap ensure the hat stay in place in windy conditions.

The Pindo straw hat comes in four different size options, which is nice for a more customized fit. The Pindo is well made, comfortable, and the pattern adds a little bit of fun style to the hat.

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a bunch of sun hats handing on a fence

Some of the many sun hats we tested. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

In order to test these sun hats, we spent some time at the beach and on the trials when the sun was shining. Our tester lives on Oahu, Hawaii where there is no shortage of sun. She also regularly takes trips to sunny Southern California and split her time testing the hats in California and Oahu. With all the back and forth, she had ample opportunity to see how well these hats travel and hold up in a range of conditions.

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran in April of 2023. We updated this review in October of 2023. The bulk of our updates were formatting, but we did add in a new hat from Dakine. We updated this review once again in April of 2024. We deleted a hat that was no longer available and added six new hats that we felt were more technical options for hiking. We also shifted around our awards section a bit as some of the newer hats we tried were deserving or extra acknowledgement. 

dakine hat

The Dakine Pindo Straw Hat offers lots of sun protection. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Should I Choose a Straw or a Fabric Sun Hat?

There are pros and cons to both. A straw or raffia hat does a great job of holding its shape, and avoiding floppiness in wider brims. But straw has a distinct lack of friendliness with water — get it wet and you risk the hat losing its shape, or even rotting if it isn’t dried properly. Straw hats also don’t travel well, so if you spend a lot of your life out of a suitcase, you’ll want to consider other options.

Fabric hats typically don’t hold their shape as well as their straw counterparts, but they pack well, and water is typically a non-issue. Straw hats are often bulky, so fabric hats can be a good choice when doing something active like paddling or hiking. However, fabric hats often aren’t as stylish and look silly when you’re away from the trail.

Best Sun Hat for the Beach

Best Sun Hat for the Beach

The Hemlock Hat Co. Printed Hat has everything you could want in a sun hat: It has a wide brim, UPF 50+ protection, and a drawcord. Available in multiple fun patterns, there’s a print for everyone.

Price: $45

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What Makes a Good Sun Hat?

In our book, there are a few things that make a good sun hat, but the number one most important factor to consider is how well it protects you from the sun. After that, we think about things like style and durability.

Sun Protection
It wouldn’t be a good sun hat if it didn’t protect your face from the sun. We want a sun hat to have a wider brim and offer plenty of coverage so we don’t have to worry about our faces getting burnt. It also nice if the hat protects your ears (you’ll notice no ball caps made this list) and some neck protection as well. When buying a fabric hat, we’ll often check the UPF rating as well. However, some hats don’t have a UPF rating simply because their manufacturers haven’t run them through the standardized UPF testing, but they still can offer ample sun protection — something to keep in mind.

We’re not saying a sun hat must be runway ready, but we don’t want to feel like total kooks when we wear a hat. Whether it keeps up with modern trends or is a stylish classic, we want a hat that looks good atop our heads. Drawstrings can be helpful on the trail or on the water, but it’s nice to have the option to remove them for added style when theyr’e not neeeded. Through this review, we tried to focus mainly on function but high functioning hats like the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat lost some points because there’s really no way to make a neck flap look cool.

Like most of our belongings, we want a hat that’s going to withstand the test of time. Considering our tester is not too gentle on her things, she needs a fairly durable hat if it’s going to accompany her on beach trips for years to come. Sweat and saltwater take a serious toll on the lifespan of a hat, so it’s also a good idea to regularly rinse your hat in freshwater to extend its life.

a woman hiking wearing a sun hat

Features like a chin strap can be helpful when it’s windy. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

What Else Should I Look for in a Sun Hat?

Surprisingly, there is a significant range in pricing for sun hats. Obviously, the cheaper, the better, but we don’t want to sacrifice quality, so we’re after a happy medium. At $26, the San Diego Hat Company Raffia Straw Sun Hat was the most affordable hat on our list whereas the priciest hat rang in at Arcteryx Aerios Bucket Hat rang in at $70.


Strings or ties on a hat are nice to have if it’s windy or if you plan on surfing in your hat. We think they take away a few style points, so if you just plan on lounging, we’d opt for a hat without them. But if you plan on hiking, surfing, or hanging in windy conditions, they’re a huge plus. Some of the hats on our list, like the Cotopaxi Orilla Sun Hat, had a removable chin straps which felt like a best of both worlds scenario. We wish the chin straps were always removable, so we could use them when we needed them and stash them when we didn’t.


Be it via planes, trains, automobiles, or our own two feet, we regularly find ourselves on the move. When purchasing a new hat, we consider how well it will fare on our travels and if it can easily pack down in a suitcase or backpack. Straw hats are not very packable as they get easily get damaged if smushed down. Fabric hats, on the other hand, are much more malleable and packable, making them a better choice when traveling.

Waterproof/Water Resistant

Regardless of whether you plan on paddling out in your hat or not, you’ll want something that’s waterproof or at least water-resistant. If you spend a lot of time at the beach, odds are your hat is going to get wet, so you don’t want something that will get ruined if/when that happens. We’re big fans of hats that can take a splash and then dry out quickly.

Neck Protection

If your hat has a wide brim, it will naturally offer some neck protection. But, if you want your neck to be fully covered, you’ll want a hat that has some sort of neck flap like the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat. Sometimes the neck flaps are removable, which is our preference, because they’re kind of dorky and we’d prefer to only wear a neck flap when we need it. But to each their own.

Editor’s Note: Sun hats are great, but make sure you’re fully covered: Check out our guide to Best Sun Shirts, Best Reef-Safe Sunscreens, and Best Sunglasses. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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