Best Hiking Hats of 2021: Buying Guide & Reviews

Last Updated: January 2021

Quick Recommendations

When you're out in the mountains, the sun can be harsh. In fact, hiking in very sunny weather without a hat can leave you especially vulnerable to sunburns all over your head, neck, and face.

Thankfully, a quality hiking hat can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure, all while keeping you cool and comfortable in the process. However, there are so many different hiking hats to choose from that it can be hard to decide on just one that's right for you. 

To help you find your next piece of outdoor headwear, here's our ultimate guide to buying hiking hats. Plus, we've even reviewed some of our favorite hats on the market to get you started.

Article Navigation:

  1. Hiking Hat Reviews
  2. Hiking Hat Comparison Table
  3. Types of Hiking Hats
  4. Hiking Hat Buying Considerations

The Best Hiking Hats Reviewed

With so many hiking hats to choose from, it can be hard to know precisely which one is the best for your needs.

So, to get you started, here’s our ultimate guide to the best hiking hats on the market today, complete with reviews of our favorite models.

Best Overall Hiking Hat: Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure

  • Fabric: Nylon and polyester
  • Style: Cape style sun hat
  • UPF: 50+
  • Unisex: Yes

The Good: Offers excellent sun protection, even for the neck, very lightweight, "Sunglass Lock" technology to keep glasses in place.

The Bad: Not very stylish.

The Lowdown:  When it comes to sun protection and quality, the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure is hard to beat. This hat wins our award as the best overall pick because it offers a high-performing cape-style design that can keep the sun off your head and neck without weighing you down.

The Ultra Adventure is made with a lightweight, yet durable polyester/nylon fabric that has UPF 50+ sun protection. It even has a wicking sweatband to help you stay comfortable in hot weather.

This hat is also both water and stain-resistant, so it's designed to stay in good working condition for years to come. Additionally, we particularly like the hat's "Sunglass Lock" technology that can keep your sunglasses in place as you hike.

Runner-Up: Filson Summer Packer

For a hat that's slightly more stylish, but also very functional in sunny conditions, the Filson Summer Packer is an excellent alternative to the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure. This hat has a full brim for total sun protection for the head and face. It's also made in the USA from a super-durable fabric that boasts a lifetime guarantee.

Best Hat for Summer Hiking: Outdoor Research Sombriolet


  • Fabric: Nylon/polyester ripstop with mesh
  • Style: Full brim sun hat
  • UPF: 50+
  • Unisex: Yes

The Good: Full brim provides maximum sun protection, mesh around the head helps improve breathability, good wicking fabric to draw sweat away from the head.

The Bad: Minimal protection for the neck.

The Lowdown: The Outdoor Research Sombriolet is a modern take on a classic hiking hat design. This hat features a full brim, which provides ample sun protection for the head and the very top of the neck.

It is made with a durable nylon/polyester ripstop fabric that is both water-resistant and quick-drying. This hat has mesh overlays around the crown of the head for added breathability.

It also packs down reasonably tight but retains its shape even after being squashed into a backpack for extended periods. Plus, the Sombriolet has a foam-stiffened brim that stays in place even in high winds to keep your face protected from the sun at all times.

Runner-Up: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is a good alternative to the Sombriolet for people that want a baseball cap style hat for hiking. However, the Sun Runner is not your standard cap because it also includes a removable cape for added sun and ear protection. We have to admit that using this hat with the cape isn't terribly stylish. But, the ability to use or remove the cape on the Sun Runner is a big bonus.

Best Budget-Friendly Hiking Hat: Columbia Bora Bora II Booney


  • Fabric: Omni-Shade nylon and mesh
  • Style: Full brim sun hat
  • UPF: 50
  • Unisex: Yes

The Good: Affordable, excellent ventilation due to mesh paneling, comfortable fit.

The Bad: Brim is fairly short, so it doesn't offer as much sun protection as other models.

The Lowdown: The Columbia Bora Bora II Booney is an affordable hiking hat that offers decent sun protection for hikers on a budget. It is made with Columbia's Omni-Shade nylon fabric with UPF 50 sun protection.

The hat has large mesh panels for ample ventilation on very warm summer days. It also has an Omni-Wick sweatband that helps to pull moisture away from the head so it can evaporate and cool you down.

The Bora Bora II Booney also has an adjustable drawcord to help the hat stay attached to your head in windy conditions. Moreover, it has a toggle at the back so you can adjust the tightness of the heat around your head for added protection.

Runner-Up: Outdoor Research Sun Bucket

The Outdoor Research Sun Bucket is slightly more expensive than the Bora Bora II Booney. However, it is still within an affordable price range. It's our alternate pick for the best budget hat because it is slightly more durable. This hat also has a stiffer brim, which stops it from lifting up and exposing your face to the sun in windy conditions.

Best Hat for Trail Running: Outdoor Research Swift


  • Fabric: Supplex nylon polyester
  • Style: Baseball cap
  • UPF: 50+
  • Unisex: Yes

The Good: Lightweight, highly breathable, can fit under a helmet for use while climbing.

The Bad: No neck or ear protection

The Lowdown: The Outdoor Research Swift is a high-tech version of a standard baseball cap. It's made with 100% Supplex nylon that's both durable and water-resistant. 

This cap also has large polyester mesh panels on the side to provide maximum breathability as you charge up the trail. Additionally, it has a darkly colored fabric under the brim to help reduce any glare from the sun in your eyes if you happen to be running on snow.

The Swift is also a good choice for multi-sport athletes as it has a slim profile that can fit under a climbing helmet. This hat is even highly packable, so it's easy to stow in your pocket or running vest before hitting the trail.

Runner-Up: Arc'teryx Calvus

The Arc'teryx Calvus is an excellent trail running hat for people who recreate in particularly wet environments. It is made with a lightweight, moisture-wicking Socora polyester fabric that's treated with a DWR coating for added performance in light rain.

Best Bug Repellent Hiking Hat: ExOfficio Bugs Away Sol Cool Brim Hat


  • Fabric: Nylon with Bugs Away technology
  • Style: Full brim sun hat
  • UPF: 50+
  • Unisex: Yes

The Good: Built-in Bugs Away technology for bug protection, good amount of head and face sun protection, adjustable drawstring cord for use in windy environments.

The Bad: Not a lot of neck protection.

The Lowdown: When you're hiking somewhere with a whole lot of mosquitos or other creepy crawlies, a hat that's designed to ward off bugs is a good choice. The ExOfficio Bugs Away Sol Cool Brim Hat is made with 100% nylon that's treated with Bugs Away technology to repel any buzzing insects.

This hat has a full brim design that offers a decent amount of head and face protection from the sun. It also has a UPF 50+ fabric to prevent any of the sun's harmful rays from getting to your skin.

Additionally, ExOfficio built this hat with Silvadur technology, which reduces odors, even after frequent use. The hat's fabric also has a mesh liner to help wick away moisture and improve airflow on warm days.

Runner-Up: ExOfficio Bugs Away Baja Cape Hat

The ExOfficio Bugs Away Baja Cape Hat is a good option for hikers that want all the bug protection benefits of the Sol Cool but demand more sun protection. The main advantage of this hat is its removable cape, which offers complete neck and ear protection in very sunny environments.

Best Hiking Hat for Winter: Outdoor Research Transcendent Beanie


  • Fabric: 20D recycled ripstop polyester shell with 650 fill responsible goose down
  • Style: Beanie
  • UPF: N/A
  • Unisex: Yes

The Good: Very warm, recycled and responsibly sourced materials, highly packable.

The Bad: Some durability concerns with thin shell fabric, offers minimal sun protection for face and neck.

The Lowdown: The Outdoor Research Transcendent Beanie is a great option for winter hikers that need the ultimate in warmth for cold-weather adventures. This hat is crafted with an ultralight 20D ripstop polyester shell that's packed full of 650 fill goose down.

We especially like that this hat is made with recycled nylon and responsibly-sourced down, which is better for the environment. Thanks to its down filling, the Transcendent Beanie is one of the warmest on the market.

However, it's also highly packable, so it's a good piece of gear to stuff into your pocket before heading into the mountains. The fabric on this hat is even both water and wind-resistant for added protection from harsh weather.

Runner-Up: Smartwool Cuffed Beanie

The Smartwool Cuffed Beanie is a good option for people that want a warm hat for winter hiking but need something a bit more durable than a down beanie. It is made from 100% merino wool, which offers unparalleled wicking abilities and a lot of next-to-skin comfort for all-day use in the mountains.

Hiking Hat Comparison Table

man hiking hat

Hiking Hat Buyer's Guide

Although a hat might seem like a simple piece of gear, there's a lot that goes into making a quality hiking hat for use in harsh wilderness environments. To ensure that you end up with the right hat for your future adventures, here are the most important things to consider as you're shopping around:

Types & Styles of Hiking Hats

There are quite a few different styles of hiking hats out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. This is what you need to know about how different hiking hat styles affect performance in the outdoors:

Baseball Cap 

Baseball cap-style hiking hats look and function very similarly to the standard baseball cap that people wear on a day to day basis. However, hiking-specific baseball cap style hats are made with high-end fabrics that are designed for prolonged use in the outdoors.

In particular, these hats are often quite lightweight and water-resistant, thanks to their ripstop nylon or polyester shells. They also will generally have large mesh panels for added breathability and weight savings.

The major drawback to this style of hat is that it doesn't really provide any neck or ear protection. However, they are the most stylish option available, and they look just as good in town as they do on the trail.

Sun Hat/Safari Hat

Sun hats or safari hats are what most people think of when they picture a hiking hat. This style of hat offers more sun protection and comes in two different variations:

  • Full brim. Full brim-style hiking hats have a wide brim that wraps entirely around the head. They offer a substantial amount of coverage for both your head and face and look fairly stylish, all things considered. However, they aren't great at protecting your neck, which can leave you a bit sunburnt at the end of a bluebird day in the mountains.
  • Cape style. If you want even more sun protection, a cape style hat is a solid option. These hats have all the coverage of a full brim, plus a piece of fabric that drapes down the back of the neck to prevent any sunburns. Some of these hats also have removable capes, which makes them more versatile for use in a variety of situations. While they're not exactly going to win you any accolades at Paris Fashion Week, cape style hats are your best option for protection from the sun's harmful rays.


Your final option when it comes to hiking hat styles is the beanie. This type of hat is popular for use in the colder winter months because it provides a lot of insulation from frigid temperatures.

These hats are particularly useful because they cover your ears and keep them warm even when the temperatures drop well below freezing. That being said, they provide minimal sun protection for your face and neck, so they're best used in conditions where staying warm is the primary concern.

Hiking Hat Buying Considerations

When searching for your next hiking hat, keep the following key buying considerations in mind:


Most hiking sun hats will be made from either ripstop nylon or ripstop polyester. These two fabrics are both durable and lightweight, so they're good options for a hat.

Additionally, some companies will incorporate mesh paneling into their hiking hats to help improve breathability. This is particularly important in hot environments, where wearing a hat can make you uncomfortably sweaty.

Alternatively, beanies are usually made from either merino wool, fleece, or down puff. Down puff offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio but is less durable than the other options. Fleece is warm and comfortable, though it is a bit bulky to pack. 

Finally, merino wool is warm, wicks well, and is very cozy against the skin. However, it can be quite expensive, depending on the brand.

UV Protection

Most modern hiking sun hats will be built with a UV-resistant fabric. The strength of this fabric is denoted as a UPF or "ultraviolet protection factor."

Any fabric with a UPF above 40 will allow less than 2.5% of UV light to pass through to your skin. This is especially useful if you spend a lot of time in very sunny environments as you don't want to get a sunburn on your scalp, even though you're wearing a hat.

In reality, there aren't any downsides to UPF clothing. Although UPF hats are technically a bit more expensive than their non-UPF counterparts, most hiking hats these days (With the exception of most beanies) are made with this technology. So, it's unlikely that you'd really find any cost savings by opting for a non-UPF hiking sun hat, which will probably be harder to find.


Depending on the hat's fabric, it can actually offer quite a bit of water-resistance during a rainstorm. Most hiking hats that are made from ripstop nylon or polyester will naturally provide a bit of weather protection.

This is an added bonus if you spend a lot of time in rainy environments. But, unless you buy a hat that's specifically designed to be waterproof, a water-resistant model will eventually soak through in heavy rains.


There are no two ways about it: Hiking hats tend to smell bad after a few outings. So, it's imperative that your hat is easily washable to help eliminate or reduce any foul odors.

For the most part, hiking sun hats and wool/fleece beanies are machine washable, especially if they're made with ripstop nylon. However, it's always best to read the manufacturer's care recommendations before throwing your hat in the washing machine.

Plus, some hats are made with odor-reducing technologies, which can help them stay smell-free for longer, even with frequent use.


The last major thing to consider while shopping for a hiking hat is portability. Although your hat will likely spend much of its outdoor time on your head, if it gets dark or you just don't want to wear your hat anymore, packability is key.

For the most part, baseball cap style hats and beanies are going to be your most packable options. On the other hand, wide brim and cape style hats tend to be a bit bulkier and harder to pack away when they're not in use.

Key Takeaways

A hat is critical piece of hiking gear that you don't want to overlook. Without one, you are vulnerable to sunburns all over your head, neck, and face.

There are so many different hiking caps that it is important to choose the one that's right for you. Whether it is cape, full brim, or baseball cap-style. And to find the best hiking hat keep in mind our buying considerations such as the materials, UV protection, washability and so on. 

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