Best Bucket Hats

Updated May 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best bucket hats

Spending time outdoors means you’re in direct sunlight. Sure, it’s a no-brainer to wear sunscreen, but your protection against ultraviolet rays shouldn’t stop there. Wearing a bucket hat, for example, is effective at protecting your face, scalp, and neck.

Bucket hats are best known for their wide, floppy brim. This isn’t a just part of the style, though; rather, the brim is wide to provide a larger area of shade and coverage. Some brims on bucket hats are wider at the back to provide extended coverage to the nape of the neck, which often gets sunburned. But a bucket hat’s protection isn’t limited to the brim. Many are now made with unique UPF materials that are effective at blocking out a modest amount of UV rays.

If you’re planning an outdoor excursion, it’s a good idea to pick up a bucket hat. To help you find the right one we’re sharing this guide that covers popular styles and features of bucket hats.

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If your bucket hat retains odors even after washing, soak it in a dilute mixture of warm water and vinegar. Rinse thoroughly, and the odor should be eliminated at that point.

Key considerations

Perks

Besides the obvious reason of sun protection, there’s more than one perk when it comes to wearing a bucket hat. From protection to convenience, it’s safe to say a bucket hat is a solid investment.

Ventilation: Since many of these hats have vents or mesh panels, they help keep you cool in warm weather. While they won’t prevent your head from sweating, they’ll allow air to circulate around it.

Quick-drying: Unlike other hats, including those made with cotton or canvas, bucket hats are made with quick-drying materials like polyester. That means when your bucket hat gets wet, you don’t need to take it off and wait for it to dry. This also decreases the necessity of removing the hat right when you need protection the most.

Fit: Many people enjoy wearing bucket hats because they don’t result in the dreaded “hat hair” that is often experienced after wearing fitted hats like baseball caps, beanies, or Panama hats. Given their looser, more relaxed fit, a bucket hat is ideal if you’d like to preserve your hairstyle to some extent. At the very least, you won’t need to worry about strange kinks or matted hair in vacation photos.

Size

Bucket hats rarely come in different sizes; they’re designed to be unisex for the most part. Occasionally, bucket hats are manufactured in two sizes to better accommodate men and women, but the only major difference in sizing is between child and adult hats.

Always pack a bucket hat in your carry-on when you’re flying to a destination with outdoor excursions. In the event your checked baggage is lost, you’ll still have your bucket hat for sun protection.

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Features

Components

Brim: The signature feature of bucket hats, the brim is usually between 2 and 6 inches wide. The brim usually has a concentric circular stitching pattern, which seems decorative but is there to give the brim integrity and structure. While bucket hat brims are designed to be flexible, this small detail is what prevents them from being too floppy.

Mesh: Regulating body temperature is of the utmost importance, especially when you’re in direct sunlight. Bucket hats are designed with airflow details, namely mesh panels or vents. These help circulate air through the hat, allowing it to reach your scalp.

With that said, not every bucket hat is designed to have mesh panels or vents. Unfortunately, some hats do little to keep your head cool, which can result in excessive sweating. As expected, these styles are better for fashionable wear, while those with mesh and vents are recommended for outdoor wear.

Grommets: Some bucket hats have tiny holes surrounded by metal rings called grommets. Not only do these function as additional ventilation, they also add to the hat’s overall durability. Grommets prevent the hat’s material from fraying, especially in high-friction or high-tension areas.

Drawstring: Most bucket hats have a drawstring that loops below the chin to adjust the fit. This comes in handy when it’s windy or when you’re active and don’t want the hat to shift or pop off. Some bucket hats have an additional drawstring at the crown of the hat as well.

Materials

Popular materials for bucket hats include cotton, canvas, polyester, Terylene, and nylon.

Cotton and canvas bucket hats are durable and breathable; however, because they’re highly absorbent, they’re not ideal for all outdoor activities.

Polyester, Terylene, and nylon bucket hats are well suited for all activities, including water sports and wet or humid conditions. Not only are they quick to dry, they often wick away sweat, too. 

UPF material is effective at blocking out UV rays, and many bucket hats are advertised as being made with this ability. A bucket hat with a UPF 50 rating, for example, is capable of blocking out nearly 98% of UV rays.

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Did You Know?
Some bucket hats have a convertible design. The brim detaches to create different looks and styles.
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Accessories

Facial sunscreen: Neutrogena Clear Face Liquid Lotion Sunscreen
If you’re spending time in the sun, apply a facial sunscreen like this one by Neutrogena. It’s specially formulated for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Best of all, it has a lightweight feel and can be worn beneath makeup.

Sunglasses: Oakley Valve Rectangular Glasses
Your eyes need adequate protection in the sun, too. These sunglasses by Oakley feature a 100% UV protective coating. The frames are stress -resistant and durable, making them a solid choice for outdoor activity wear.

Water bottle: HYDRO CELL Water Bottle
Another way to protect yourself from heatstroke is by staying hydrated. We like this double-walled stainless steel water bottle that has a pop-up sport straw. Since the bottle is powder coated, it won’t sweat in your bag.

Bucket hat prices

Bucket hats cost between $12 and $60, mostly depending on quality.

Inexpensive: Entry-level bucket hats cost between $12 and $20. These include many fast-fashion styles, as well as simple designs for genuine outdoor bucket hats. Only some hats in this bracket have airflow details.

Mid-range: These bucket hats cost between $25 and $40. They’re manufactured by popular outdoor clothing brands and tend to feature several practical design elements. Bucket hats in this bracket almost always have airflow details.

Expensive: The most expensive bucket hats push the $60 mark. More often than not, the hats at this price point either have superior design and construction or are made by premium brands and you’re paying a higher price for the name.

Don’t let your bucket hat get crushed on the floor of a closet. Loop the drawstring on a hanger instead.

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Tips

  • Go with a low ponytail or braid. If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to wear a low ponytail or braid with your bucket hat for a good fit. Another option is to invest in a bucket hat with a ponytail hole, located at the back of the head.
  • Write your name inside the hat. If many people in your group or class wear similar bucket hats, it’s recommended that you write your name inside your hat with a permanent marker.
  • Wear a bandana. If you prefer a bucket hat with a snug fit, wear a bandana beneath it.
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Choose a bucket hat color based on your activity. If you’re camping or hiking with a group, for example, a brightly colored hat will help other people find you more easily. Dark or earth-tone bucket hats are often preferred for such activities as birdwatching.

FAQ

Q. Is it necessary to have a drawstring on my bucket hat?

A. Yes, if you happen to enjoy outdoor activities where there’s a chance of wind or motion blowing the hat off your head. If you intend to wear your bucket hat as a fashion accessory, it’s unlikely you’ll have a use for the drawstring, and it could get in your way more than anything.

Q. What’s the best way to wash a bucket hat made of a synthetic material like polyester?

A. These bucket hats can be washed in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with mild, bleach-free detergent. Avoid using fabric softener because it’s known to deteriorate many polyester blends. If the bucket hat has a drawcord, it’s a good idea to place the hat inside a lingerie bag before it goes in the machine. Otherwise, the drawcord can get caught around the agitator. As far as drying goes, air-drying is your best option to prevent the hat from warping or shrinking.

Q. Are there any waterproof bucket hats?

A. No, but there are bucket hats made of water-repellent materials. With these, water will bead off them, but they may become saturated with enough water exposure. Some consumers opt to coat bucket hats with a water-repellent spray for additional protection.

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