Best Sun Hats

Updated December 2019
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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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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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Why trust BestReviews?
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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 
How we decided

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

39 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
405 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Shopping guide for best sun hats

Last Updated December 2019

A sun hat adds an element of style to your summer attire, but you’re doing much more than making a fashion statement when you wear one. That’s because in addition to looking good, sun hats are designed to provide protection from the sun’s skin-damaging rays.

But when it comes to shielding yourself from the sun, not just any hat will do. Sun hats are made of protective materials and have wide brims that keep rays from reaching your face and neck. They also come in a wide range of styles, so whether you want to look elegant strolling along the beach or need a rugged hat for hours of fishing, there’s a design to fit your look and lifestyle.

Materials, colors, structure, and more — there are a lot of features to consider in order to choose a sun hat that you will love. But you don’t have to get bogged down sorting through the details because we’ve done the research for you. Read on to discover what you need to know about sun hats, then check out our recommendations to find one that will be your go-to headwear on sunny days.

Sun hats range from stylish to practical, and some are made with both factors in mind. The best one for you appeals to your sense of style and pairs well with the activities you engage in while wearing it.

Key considerations

Sun protection

Sun hats are versatile when it comes to the protection they provide. They’re available for all ages and for every member of the family, including men, women, kids, and even toddlers and babies. It’s the sun hat’s combination of a wide brim and sun-blocking fabric helps to keep the sun’s rays from the face, ears, neck, and shoulders.

Brim: The brim of a sun hat is one of the most important factors when it comes to blocking UV rays. The brim is typically at least two inches wide (think of a fedora) to provide some protection, but it can be as wide as eight inches for more coverage. A hat with an extremely wide brim (in excess of five inches) is stylish and provides extensive protection, but it can interfere with some outdoor activities. Brims measuring approximately three to four inches offer the best balance of protection and comfort. Some brims have a bucket-like shape for added protection for the face and neck. Most sun hat brims are also flexible and can be shaped for targeted coverage or a specific look.

In addition to a wide brim, some sun hats also come with detachable front and back panels that provide added coverage to the face and neck. These accessories are designed for wearers who spend extended amounts of time in the sun.

UPF rating: The materials that make up sun hats are designed to keep out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Quality hats have ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) ratings that indicate the degree of effectiveness at blocking radiation from the sun. Similar to sun protection factor (SPF) that’s used to indicate the level of skin protection provided by sunscreen, UPF indicates how well a fabric blocks the sun’s rays. For example, a rating of UPF 50 is very good; it means that a mere 1/50 of the sun rays can penetrate the material. In other words, fabric with a UPF 50 rating prevents 98% of potentially harmful UVA and UVB rays from reaching the skin.

EXPERT TIP

A braided sun hat with a wide brim is perfect for beach days and looks great paired with a swimsuit or sundress.


Staff  | BestReviews

Sun hat features

Materials

Straw and synthetics: The first material that comes to mind when you think of a sun hat is probably straw. Many traditional sun hats are crafted of natural or synthetic straw or a paper blend woven together in a braided design. Typically, straw and other woven sun hats are more fashionable than fabric options, and are made to be worn with casual warm-weather attire and for leisure activities. They tend to be less durable than sun hats made of fabric. Woven straw and faux straw hats typically come in neutral shades including white, shades of tan and beige, and black.

Fabric: Fabric hats made of cotton, canvas, or synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are often designed to be worn during more strenuous outdoor activities like fishing, running, or hiking. However, some fabric sun hats are just as stylish as those made of straw and look great topping off a summer outfit. You’ll find sun hats made of cotton or synthetic fabrics in various colors. Dark-colored materials absorb more heat than lighter hues, so many sun hat enthusiasts prefer lighter colors because they’re somewhat cooler on the head. However, light-colored sun hats can be quick to show dirt and stains, so they may not be practical to wear for some outdoor activities.

Elegant sun protection

If style is as important to you as sun protection, chances are you’ll be impressed with the features this sun hat offers. It has a stylish design and is made of attractive fabric braided with a blend of paper straw and polyester. It also provides UPF 50+ for superior sun protection. The eight-inch brim protects your neck and shoulders plus offers a high-fashion look. You’ll also appreciate that it’s available in several stylish colors that are sure to complement your warm-weather wardrobe.

Cord

Do you spend a lot of time outdoors in windy conditions? If so, there are many sun hats made to accommodate your lifestyle, thanks to a drawstring cord or chin cord that can be adjusted to secure the hat on your head even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Size

Many sun hats come in just one size, but others offer a choice of sizes. For the best fit, choose  one that’s designed specifically for your gender, or opt for a unisex style. When it comes to choosing a sun hat for a child, consider the age range the particular style is intended to fit.

Soft, flexible sun hats made of polyester, nylon, or canvas are the most practical for travel because, unlike straw hats, they won’t lose their shape after being folded and packed in a bag.

Sun hat prices

You can find sun hats for as little as $5 and as much as $100 or more. You won’t get top quality in a cheap hat, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money for a stylish one. Fabric and straw hats are available across the price spectrum.

Inexpensive: Sun hats that cost between $5 and $20 tend to be fairly basic, and they may have some durability concerns. Most kids’ sun hats fall into this price range.

Mid-range: Most consumers can find well-made sun hats that will last many seasons in the $20 to $50 price range. Numerous styles are also available.

Expensive: These sun hats are stylish and well made, but you don’t need to spend top dollar to get a quality hat. Keep in mind that if you spend between $50 and $100, you may be paying for a brand name as much as you are for quality.

EXPERT TIP

Do you spend a lot of time hiking, fishing, or camping? Wearing a sun hat is a great way to block out some of the UV rays when doing activities that require spending a lot of time in direct sunlight.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Choose a sun hat with mesh panels. If you’re concerned about your head getting too hot in the sun, you can find sun hats with portions made of mesh. However, keep in mind that the mesh isn’t likely to provide adequate UPF protection.
  • Suit the sun hat to the activity. Sun hats made of light-colored materials aren’t practical for heavy-duty activities, but they are suitable for outdoor events when stylishness is a priority over functionality. They look great worn with summer shirts, shorts, and sandals, too.
  • Spot-clean your sun hat. Thoroughly washing your sun hat too frequently can cause the material to wear out prematurely. Unless your hat is heavily soiled, stained, or soaked with sweat, occasional spot-cleaning should do. In fact, this is the only way that some UPF materials can be safely cleaned.
  • Keep sun hats on hand for every member of the family. Take them along the next time the gang heads out for an outdoor adventure.
  • Pick a hat with a sweatband. Do you sweat easily? If so, consider a sun hat with a interior sweatband that soaks up perspiration.

Practical and affordable

Versatile, attractive, durable, and inexpensive — those are the features you’ll love in this sun hat that also provides UPF 50+. The classic styling is uncomplicated, so it can easily be worn by a man or woman, plus it’s made of polyester and nylon for a lightweight, comfortable fit. And you won’t have to worry if you drop it in the water because the foam-stiffened brim is designed to float. It’s available in several colors and has an adjustable drawstring to keep it securely in place even in windy conditions.

Other products we considered

Sun hats come in different styles for every member of the family to suit different needs, tastes, and budgets. The EINSKEY Sun Hat for Men and Women has a lot to offer for a reasonable price, including a foldable structure and water-resistant material. The casual styling pairs perfectly with outdoor activities like camping and fishing. If you prefer an affordable sun hat that looks great for trips to the beach or pool, the straw FURTALK Women’s Wide Brim Panama Hat offers the perfect blend of sun-worthy protection and style, thanks to the wide-brim fedora design and durable woven paper straw craftsmanship. It comes with a removable and adjustable chin cord to keep it in place on windy days. Guys who need extra sun protection will appreciate the DDYOUTDOOR Trade Wide Brim Sun Hat that is made of nylon that stands up well to frequent wear and exposure to the elements and comes with removable face and neck flaps for added protection. For youngsters, we love the Home Prefer Safari Sun Hat that’s available in different adorable prints and comes in sizes for various ages. It offers UPF 50+, has an adjustable chin cord, and is made of resilient and soft 100% polyester.

For the highest level of sun protection, choose a sun hat made of a material with UPF 50 or higher.

FAQ

Q. How do I wash my sun hat?
A.
The answer depends on the type of sun hat you have. Many hats made of materials like polyester, nylon, and canvas can be machine washed, while those made of braided materials like straw or synthetic straw can’t be submerged and require spot-cleaning. Keep in mind that the correct method for cleaning a sun hat depends on the recommendations for care provided by the manufacturer. You should always check the hat’s care instructions before you wash it.

Q. What’s the best way to store a straw sun hat?
A.
One factor that can lead to the breakdown of the materials used to make a straw sun hat is improper storage. If you crumple it, pile other items on top of if it, or cram it in a drawer, it could very well lose its shape and structure. The best way to protect a sun hat made of straw, straw-like material, or braided paper blends is to hang it on a hook or rack or store it in a hatbox.

Q. Do I still need to use sunscreen lotion if I wear a sun hat?
A.
A well-made sun hat with a wide brim will do a good job of blocking the sun from many parts of your upper body, but it’s still a good idea to add extra sun protection by using a sunscreen lotion, cream, or gel on exposed skin. This is especially important on areas of your body that the sun hat’s brim can’t cover, as well as on days that you plan to spend extensive amounts of time outdoors. 

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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