The 9 Best Hiking Hats of 2021

Our list of the best headwear for when you hit the trail

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

TRIPSAVVY-best-hiking-hats

TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

The Rundown

Best Overall: Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat at Backcountry

"This hat provides plenty of shade for your face throughout the day."

Best for Men: KÜHL Sun Blade Hat with Mesh at KÜHL

"This understated hat, which comes in two muted color options, can be worn with either end of the brim facing forward."

Best for Women: Marmot Shade Hat at Marmot

"Features a super-wide 3-inch brim and an ultraviolet protection factor of 50."

Best for Kids: Sunday Afternoons Play Hat at Sunday Afternoons

"This hat is great for all warm-weather scenarios."

Best Color Options: Columbia Bora Bora II Booney at Columbia

"It's the ultra-sweat-wicking headband that effectively pulls moisture away from your skin."

Best for Cold Weather: Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat at Amazon

"It’s incredibly warm thanks to its quality rib-knit construction."

Best Waterproof: LETHMIK Outdoor Waterproof Boonie Hat at Amazon

"It keeps your head nice and dry even when it’s pouring out."

Best Sun Protection: Sunday Afternoons Clear Creek Boonie at L.L. Bean

"It offers up to 50 UPF."

Best Splurge: Tilley LTM6 Airflo at Tilley

"This hat is ready to brave the elements."

Whether you’re setting off on a multi-day backpack or just a short afternoon hike, wearing a good hiking hat is key for protecting your skin from the sun’s harsh rays. So, what constitutes a “good” hiking hat? Hint: It’s not a baseball cap.

“Baseball-style hats are ubiquitous among many hikers but don't provide sun protection for the ears and back of the neck,” says Wesley Trimble of the American Hiking Society. Instead of a cap, hikers should consider hats with more protective elements. "A good all-around hiking hat should be lightweight; dry easily; offer sun protection that covers your face, ears and neck; and be versatile enough for different conditions,” according to Domonick Zanarini of the Hiawatha Hiking Company

Read on to find out more about what features to consider before buying a hat, along with our recommendations for the best products to pick from, so you stay safe, comfortable, and protected during your outdoor journey.

Best Overall: Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat

Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat

Courtesy of Sunday Afternoons

What We Like
  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Water- and stain-resistant

  • Includes a moisture-wicking sweatband

  • Sunglasses lock

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color range

Oh, how we love the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat. Let us count the ways: Crucially, it has a UPF rating of 50+. That, coupled with the folding clamshell brim and neck cape, means that your face will get solid protection throughout the day. It's available in an array of bright colors. It's water- and stain-resistant, with a wicking sweatband to help manage moisture. It even has a sunglasses lock to keep your shades in place. Lots to love.

We’re not alone in our love. Zanarini says, “We are big fans of the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat. It’s great for hikes that have a lot of sun exposure. Or, in rainy conditions, it helps to keep water away from your face. Pair it with a good bug net to keep critters at bay,"

Best for Men: KÜHL Sun Blade Hat with Mesh

kuhl sun blade hat

Courtesy of KÜHL

What We Like
  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Secure fit

  • Good ventilation

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color range

KÜHL sun-roof tested this hat and claims it can stay secure on your head at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, meaning this is a great option for those whose favorite hiking spots tend to be windy. The understated hat, which comes in two muted color options, can be worn with either end of the brim facing forward and features a removable cord and cord lock. It's also got UPF 50 protection, a cooling sweatband, and great ventilation.

Best for Women: Marmot Shade Hat

Marmot Shade Hat

Courtesy of Marmot

What We Like
  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Comes in various sizes

  • Includes a moisture-wicking sweatband

  • Floatable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color range

Featuring a super-wide 3-inch brim and an ultraviolet protection factor of 50, the Marmot Shade Hat was designed to repel sunlight, which comes in mighty handy when you’re hiking or backpacking on an exposed route. The hat comes in multiple sizes and two shades of light green and grey, and the ventilation system—a moisture-wicking sweatband and laser perforation—is excellent. It’s also floatable and comes with an adjustable and detachable chin strap, so you won’t lose it on your adventures.   

Best for Kids: Sunday Afternoons Play Hat

Kids' Sunday Afternoons Play Hat

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Comes in various sizes

  • Water- and stain-resistant

  • Wide color range

What We Don't Like
  • Reviews mention sizes may run large

Keep the rays off your little one’s face with the Sunday Afternoons Play Hat, with an extra-wide brim and UPF 50+ ultraviolet protection to help provide shields against the sun. This hat is great for all warm-weather scenarios, with its strategic crown ventilation, breakaway chin strap, and fully adjustable sizing. It’s also water- and stain-resistant, making it a great, safe choice for younger kiddos.   

Best Color Options: Columbia Bora Bora II Booney

Columbia Bora Bora II Booney

Courtesy of Columbia

What We Like
  • Wide color range

  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Includes a moisture-wicking sweatband

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes in one size

Some hiking hats may solely come in neutral (read: boring) shades of beige, but that’s not so with the Columbia Bora Bora II Booney, which comes in an array of bright, distinctive shades: Canyon Sun, Mountain Red, and Tropic Water, just to name a few. This eye-catching sun hat checks all the boxes when it comes to performance, too. Expect full-coverage UPF 50 protection, a mesh vent panel, and an ultra-sweat-wicking headband that effectively pulls moisture away from your skin.

Best for Cold Weather: Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat

Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat A18

 Courtesy of Carhartt

What We Like
  • Wide color range

  • Durable and stretchy

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Hand wash only

For all the myriad beanies out there, we still keep coming back to a classic: the Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat. Available in every (neon) color of the rainbow, this trusty, cult-fave beanie is beloved not just for its street-cool factor but also for its incredibly warm, quality rib-knit construction. It is noticeably more durable and stretchable than other beanies and is also one-size-fits-all. It's affordable, too, so there’s a lot to love here. 

Best Waterproof: LETHMIK Outdoor Waterproof Boonie Hat

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Lightweight

  • Great ventilation system

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes in one size

Trekking in rainy conditions? The LETHMIK Outdoor Waterproof Boonie Hat is made of 100 percent waterproof polyester fabric, which keeps your head nice and dry even when it’s pouring out. The ventilation system allows air to flow freely, which moves sweat away from your face—a crucial factor when you’re pounding out the miles. Simple, lightweight, breathable, and more waterproof than most...what more could you want from a hiking hat?

Best Sun Protection: Sunday Afternoons Clear Creek Boonie

Sunday Afternoons Clear Creek Boonie Reversible Sun Hat

Courtesy of L.L. Bean

What We Like
  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Covers head and neck

  • Reversible

  • Comes in various sizes

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color range

The Sunday Afternoons Clear Creek Boonie is here for those long, sunny days out on the trail. Crucially, this UPF 50+ rated hat doesn’t just protect the skin on your face (though it does an excellent job at that); it also provides sufficient coverage for your head and neck. Available in pretty shades of jade and lavender, this packable, reversible hat has a broad, 3-inch brim and a chin strap to keep it in place while you trek along.    

Best Splurge: Tilley LTM6 Airflo

Tilley LTM6 Airflo

Courtesy of Tilley

What We Like
  • Has a UPF 50 rating

  • Great ventilation system

  • Water- and ice-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Though your first instinct may be to balk at that price tag, we assure you that the Tilley LTM6 Airflo is worth every penny. This hat boasts an exceptionally high level of craftsmanship that’s apparent with every feature. The fabric is certified UPF 50+ (the highest rating given), with 3/4-inch of mesh around the crown that allows for an impressive amount of ventilation. This hat is also ready to brave the elements: the water-repellent finish keeps off water and ice, and the firm brim and front-and-back cord system helps to secure your hat in windy conditions.

Final Verdict

We like the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat (view at Backcountry), which provides an unparalleled mix of breathability, coverage, and packability. It also stays on tightly but doesn’t block your view, and it even comes with a sunglasses hold. Plus, we love the available colors.

What to Look For in a Hiking Hat


Price


A solid hiking hat doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive one. Many good-quality hats cost less than $50. It’s more about making sure your hat offers substantial protection and feels good rather than getting the most expensive product.

Material


When it comes to materials, it’s all about lightweight, quick-drying construction and ample sun protection. To that end, look for absorbent, moisture-wicking, UV-resistant fabrics like mesh-paneled nylon and/or polyester. 

Sun Protection


“If you're someone who forgets to apply sunscreen before leaving the trailhead and every few hours while hiking, you might consider a hat with a wide brim or a Sahara-style hat that covers your ears and neck,” Trimble says.  

You should also look for a hat with a rating of UPF 50+. This is the highest protective rating and does the best possible job of decreasing the number of UV rays before they reach your eyes.


Breathability 


Look for a hat with generous mesh venting (or a similar built-in ventilation system) so that your head stays cool when it’s hot out.

Comfort 

Of course, the ideal hiking hat should be comfy enough for all-day wear. Aside from breathability, look for a hat with an adjustable neck strap and a well-fitted brim to ensure that it stays on in windy conditions. 

Why Trust TripSavvy

Jessica Macdonald interviewed hiking experts and enthusiasts on what characteristics they recommend in a hiking hat. The author also has extensive experience trekking across Africa and knows how to stay protected.

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