20+ Best Hiking Hats That Are Functional And Cool

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Please read our disclosure.

Always take a hat when you go for a hike. Hiking hats are an essential piece of hiking gear. They are key to staying cool, comfortable, and maintaining good health on the trails. Hats are definitely an important item of clothing wear on your hikes.

Many people just take their favorite baseball or sun hat. However, there are strong benefits to wearing a hat that is specifically designed for the outdoors. A hiking hat.

We spent hours looking over what the top manufacturers currently offer to uncover the best hiking hats that you can get in 2020. Not only does our list of hats offer excellent performance, but they also look like cool hiking hats.

best hiking hats

So, why should you have a go-to hiking hat? Primarily for sun protection and comfort but there are additional benefits.

Benefits of a hiking hat

  • Protects your face and neck from the sun
  • Made of comfortable lightweight materials
  • Keeps rain snow and sweat out of your eyes
  • Props up jacket hoods away from your face
  • Keeps bug netting away from your skin (better insect protection)
  • Provides a surface to clip on lights or other tools
  • Better ventilation (than regular hats)
  • Waterproof or water-resistant fabrics keep your head dry

How to choose the best hiking hat?

There are a number of factors that you should consider before buying a new hiking hat.

The main focus should be on protection and comfort.

However, there are other important features and components to look for and think about.

Protection

The point of a top quality hiking hat is to provide protection from the sun and weather.

Sun protection

The first line of protection comes from the materials or fabric used in the hat. Look for a hiking hat that has the highest rating to combat the ultraviolet rays (UVR) of the sun. You want to shield yourself from UVA and UVB radiation. The best hiking hats block 98% of UVA/UVB radiation. The higher the ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) the better. Look for a hat that has least 30UPF, but ideally greater than 50UPF. The fabrics used in hats will have different UPF ratings. The fabric material, color, weight, and weave determine how high the UPF rating will be in a hat. Dark colors, heavier weight fabric, and a tighter weave will allow less UVR to penetrate the hat. Of course, lighter colors and fabrics are typically cooler and more comfortable.

The other way to protect yourself from the sun is to get a hat with a wide brim, larger brim, or neck cape. They may not look so cool but these features are effective at keeping the sun off your skin.

Rain protection

Another consideration is how a hiking hat can protect you from the rain.

Synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester can make a hat more water resistant compared to cotton.

Hats that have Gore-Tex lining will be waterproof and breathable.

Brim width/shape/style

This is pretty straight forward. A bigger or wider brim will provide more shade and thus protect more of your body and skin. A wide brim hiking hat is essential in hot climates, at high elevation, or during the Summer months.

A full brim that goes around the entire hat will shade your ears and neck better than a hat that only has a brim in the front like a baseball hat. A 3-4 inch brim will provide great protection from the sun. Full brim hiking hats are a great option for those that are sensitive to the sun.

Keep in mind that larger brims can impede your vision or be uncomfortable if you are carrying a large backpack.

Some hats offer flaps (neck capes) or detachable flaps to complement the hat brim. This provides additional ear and neck protection.

Comfort and sizing (fit)

Comfort is very important and should guide your decision. The degree of comfort is going to be determined by the sizing, how the hat fits, and the materials used.

One size fits all is most often one size fits many. It is a good idea to measure and know your head size. Then you can match it up to the size specifications of hats. Wrap a flexible measuring tape or a string around your head. Be sure to cross the middle of your forehead, across your temples, and around the back of your skull that sticks out the most.

Another option is to look for a hiking hat that is adjustable in size.

Avoid wearing hats that are too small or feel tight on your head. This feeling will only worsen over the course of a long hike.

Also, be sure that the hat isn’t too loose. That will just get irritating. A hat that is too loose will flop around, get in your eyes, and could blow away if it is windy. If you plan on hiking in windy conditions you may want a hiking hat with a chin strap.

Hat Materials

Synthetic Fabrics

Most hiking hats are made of synthetic fabrics. The most common fibers used are nylon and polyester. Polyester is great because it doesn’t absorb water, wicks away any moisture, dries fast and is durable. Nylon is very durable and does an okay job with moisture management.

Natural fabrics

The most common natural fabrics are cotton and hemp.

Cotton is not ideal for any article of hiking clothing in the majority of weather conditions. Cotton has benefits in very hot dry climates but that is about it.

Hemp is different and offers the hiker benefits. This fiber is durable, comfortable, wicks away moisture, has natural anti-microbial properties, and can block up to 95% of ultraviolet rays. Hemp is environmentally friendly and is chemical free.

Wool is a fiber that can be found in hats. It is okay at moisture management, is very breathable, and is fairly durable.

Durability

For any hiking gear, hiking footwear, or hiking clothing, durability should be important to you and guide your decisions. Hiking equipment is expensive, so seek value.

A durable hiking hat will provide hours of service. Perhaps years. Why buy, wear, and destroy multiple hats per season if you can find one that will have a longer lifespan?

So, what factors make a hat durable and last longer?
  • Durable fabric (Nylon is the strongest)
  • Quality thread and stitching
  • A tight weave
  • Crushable fabric that can maintain hat shape
  • Mildew and mold resistant fabric (hemp)
  • Color
    • Light colors get dirty faster (cleaning can age the hat)
    • Dark colors get bleached by the sun (ruins fabric)
  • Washable fabric (most baseballs do not wash well)

Breathability and ventilation

A well ventilated and breathable hat is going to be more comfortable. If you are hiking in fair weather, hot climates, or warmer months of the year it is important to have a hat that breathes and delivers air flow. A hot, sweaty hat that doesn’t breathe is not comfortable. Sweating can cause sunblock and insect repellent to get in your eyes which is not pleasant and could be a health hazard.

Many hiking hats have mesh panels to help with ventilation. Mesh hiking hats that have vents are definitely going to keep you the coolest and are the best option.

Nylon hats are lightweight, dry quickly, and breathe.

The best hiking hats will keep you cool and comfortable. A bad hiking hat that doesn’t breathe properly can heat you up and cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Color

Most hiking hats are lighter in color. Light color fabric will reflect heat. Look for a hat that is a lighter shade on top.

Dark colors absorb more UVR. However, they can be much hotter on the trails. A darker underside to the hat brim can be beneficial.

Style

Looking good and feeling good is important. Not all hiking hats are stylish. Many look downright nerdy/geeky/dorky.

In our selection of the best hiking hats, we attempted to zero in on as many hats that we could find that approach a semi-cool rating at minimum.

When you buy a hiking hat take a good long look in the mirror before you hit the trails. Be honest, and ask yourself, “is this a hat I am okay with wearing over the long term”?

Protection and comfort should definitely be the number one priority. But it is also important to find a hat that you can feel okay with wearing on your hikes. The last thing you want to do is change your mind and waste your money. Or worse, not wear the hat and suffer health consequences.

Alright, we have covered everything you should look for in a hiking hat.

These are the 11 best hiking hats to take out on the trails.

Best Men’s Hiking Hats (Sun Hats)

In this first section, we are going to take a look at the best hiking hats for men that are of a traditional hiking hat shape. The cool hiking hats are further down. However, these picks are still pretty awesome and are not super nerdy by any means. We isolated the best options out of hundreds of hiking sun hats that you could possibly get. Let’s check them out.

Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat

This is the most popular hiking sun hat by Outdoor Research.

  • UPF 50 sun protection
  • Water-resistant
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight (65 grams)
  • Quick-drying fabric (89% nylon, 11% polyester)
  • Moisture-wicking headband
  • Foam-stiff brim make it a floating hat
  • Dark fabric under brim reduces sun glare
  • Adjustable drawcord

Check out the same hat in a cool printed version.

Tilley T4MO-1 Hiker’s Hat

This is the ultimate hiking hat made by Tilley. Out of all their options, we rate this one as the best Tilley hat for hiking and one of the very best sun hats for hiking. Definitely a top-quality hat.

  • Maximum sun protection (UPF 50+)
  • Hydrofil band wicks away perspiration
  • Broad stiff brim protects against sun and rain
  • Mesh insert around the top provides superior ventilation
  • Floats in water
  • Water-repellent finish
  • Chinstrap keeps the hat on in windy conditions
  • 98% organic cotton; 2% spandex
  • Brim size: Front & back: 3.5 inches, and Sides: 2.5 inches
  • Guaranteed for life

Want to buy a Tilley hat at REI? Try the Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat. It is almost the same hat.

Outdoor Research Sun Bucket

Want a hat with a shorter brim that still provides coverage from the sun? This is the best bucket hat for hiking and is suitable for men or women since it is a unisex hat.

  • UPF 50 sun protection
  • Removable chin cord
  • 86% nylon, 14% polyester
  • Moisture-wicking headband
  • Lightweight (65 grams)
  • Water-resistant
  • Breathable

Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat

The Bora Bora Booney II hat by Columbia is a performance hiking hat. It is built to keep the sun out of your eyes. A very good Columbia hiking hat that is going to keep you cool.

  • Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
  • Omni-Wick ultra-sweat-wicking headband
  • 3-inch brim
  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Packable cape
  • Multiple sizes
  • 100% nylon

Best Women’s Hiking Hats (Sun Hats)

The first thing to know is that many hats are actually unisex. So whether you are a man or woman keep that in mind. Almost all the hats in this list are appropriate for women too. If you want a cool looking hat scroll down to the best baseball hiking hats, and the best trucker hiking hats.

However, there are some women-specific hats to consider. So, let’s take a look.

Arc’teryx Sinsola Hat

This is a cute hiking hat. A hiking bucket hat that is also a fashionable hiking hat. We rate it as the best pick for female hikers that want to maintain some style points. Yet at the same time, it is still a practical hat for hiking.

This is a lightweight, polyester sun hat with that has a soft, pliable brim that easily compresses to fit in pockets.

The Sinsola bucket hat will protect you for hours on the trails. The best bucket hat for hiking you can get.

  • UPF 50+ rating for sun
  • Stretches for the ultimate fit and comfort
  • Lightweight and air-permeable fabric
  • Laminated brim holds its shape
  • Comes in two sizes
  • Weight: 55 g / 1.9 oz

Check REI price | Check Amazon price | Check Arc’teryx

Outdoor Research Women’s Solar Roller Sun Hat

For a hiking sun hat this one is pretty good looking. We give it a semi-stylish rating!

  • UPF 50+ rating for sun
  • Broad brim hat
  • TransAction moisture-wicking headband
  • 100% Supplex nylon
  • Water-resistant
  • Breathable
  • Lightweight (65 grams)
  • Foam floating brim
  • An adjustable drawstring keeps your hat on in the wind
  • Removable chin cord
  • Packable

Tilley Women’s T4MO-1 Hiker’s Hat

This is the same hat by Tilley that we recommended for men. The Tilley Hiker’s Hat is designed especially for hiking. This is a unisex hat that comes in 8 different sizes. So get out a measuring tape and pick your size out.

A similar hat, the Tilley LTM6 Airflo is available at REI.

Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat

There is a unisex hiking hat, so all the notable features are the same as discussed above.

REI Co-op Sahara Hat

Not necessarily a super cute hiking hat for women. But it is a great budget pick if you want great sun protection.

  • UPF 50+ protection
  • Cape provides extra neck sun protection
  • Foam brim makes hat float
  • Mesh panels
  • Adjustable chin strap
  • Polyester headband wicks sweat

Best Kids Hiking Hats

Hiking hats are probably even more critical for kids. Younger children can overheat more quickly than adults and are generally sensitive to the sun. These are the best kids hiking hats.

Outdoor Research Kids’ Helios Sun Hat

  • 50+ UPF sun protection
  • Foam stiffened brim make this hat float
  • Water-resistant
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric (100% nylon)

Outdoor Research Kids’ Sun Runner Cap

  • 50+ UPF sun protection
  • Offers full coverage (face, head, and neck)
  • Sun skirt protects the neck from sunburns
  • Moisture-managing headband wicks sweat away from the skin
  • Water-resistant
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabric (100% nylon)

Sunday Afternoons Kids Ultra Adventure Hat

  • Lifetime guarantee
  • 50+ UPF sun protection
  • Crown ventilation
  • Comfort wicking headband
  • PFC-free durable water repellent finish
  • Foldable brim packs into pockets
  • Reflective panels
  • 3¼ inch brim and 5½ inch neck cape
  • Adjustable sizing
  • Multiple sizes

Best Baseball Hiking Hats

Regular baseball hats can get hot and sweaty. If you like the style of a baseball hat there are many options that are designed for hiking. That’s right, you can get a hiking baseball hat. They are made of materials that will keep you cool and wick sweat and moisture away from your skin. These are the best baseball hats for hiking.

Columbia Coolhead II Ball Hat

This is a great baseball shaped hat for that is designed to be worn on the hiking trails. This hat is an advanced sweat control, ultra-wicking ball cap that will keep you cool.

  • Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection
  • Omni-Freeze ZERO sweat-activated super cooling sweatband
  • Hook and loop back adjustment
  • 92% polyester / 8% elastane

Best Hiking Trucker Hats

Some people like the traditional baseball shaped hat and others like a trucker hat. As they say these days, “you be you”.

Headsweats Performance Trucker Hats

Headsweats offers a tonne of different styles and graphics to the trucker hat. Check them all out here. Our favorite is the Mountains TruckAir hat.

  • Perforated back and side panels provide incredible ventilation
  • 6-panel style hat
  • Moisture wicking
  • Black under-visor reduces sun glare
  • Adjustable snapback

Outdoor Research Trucker Sun Runner Hat

The Sun Runner is our top pick for the best hiking trucker hats. Hands down. It looks cool and provides the best sun protection.

  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Comes with full coverage sun cape with removable chin strap
  • Breathable mesh in the back
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Quick-drying fabric
  • Adjustable snapback
  • 100% Supplex nylon

Outdoor Research Performance Trucker Hat

This is a high-performance lightweight trucker hat built for moving fast on the trails. This hat will protect you from the sun but does not have a UPF rating.

  • Moisture-wicking
  • Cool & dry headband
  • Very breathable back mesh
  • Quick-drying fabric
  • Elastic back adjustment
  • Packable

Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat

This hat by Patagonia will keep you cool on the trails with excellent moisture wicking and ventilation. This hat will obviously keep the sun off your head and face but does not have a UPF rating.

  • Open mesh in the back delivers great ventilation
  • CoolMax fabric headband wicks moisture
  • DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • The dark underside of the bill reduces glare
  • Foam brim bends and retains original shape if folded
  • Adjustable with rear buckle

ExOfficio BugsAway Trucker Hat

This baseball shaped hat for hiking has two benefits: sun and bug protection.

  • Insect Shield repels a variety of pesky bugs
  • Mesh back maximizes breathability
  • Adjustable clip back strap
  • Semi-curved bill keeps the sun out of your eyes

Best 5-Panel Hiking Hats

5-panel hats are the modern style of baseball hats. They are great for hiking too. These are some great options if you want a 5-panel hiking hat.

KUHL Silencr Aktiv 5-Panel Hat

  • Soft foam brim that won’t distort if packed
  • Stretch polyester fabric
  • 50+ UPF rating
  • Mesh panels for ventilation
  • Durable water repellent (DWR) finish on fabric resists moisture and stains

Arc’teryx Elaho Cap

  • Polyester
  • Elastic sweatband for moisture management
  • 50 UPF rating

REI Co-op Screeline Cap

  • Adjustable strap for a snug fit
  • Sweatband wicks sweat
  • Foldable brim
  • 30 UPF rating
  • Sunglass loop
  • Side vents for excellent ventilation
  • Floating brim

Best Hiking Hat For Hot Weather (aka Desert Hiking Hats)

Extreme hot weather demands superior protection and comfort. These desert hiking hats are great for hot climates. These options are also great if you are looking for a Summer hiking hat.

Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat

For a near-geeky hat shape, this hiking hat looks okay to me. The tight-knit fabric somehow makes this hat seem cooler than it should appear. Perhaps, elegant compared to similarly shaped hats.

  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Wide varied brim width
  • Lightweight
  • Super breathable with strategically placed vents
  • External breathable mesh panels
  • Wicking fabric in the crown
  • Brim piping provides wind resistance
  • Dark fabric under brim
  • Adjustable drawcord
  • Removable chin strap
  • Packable

Check REI price | Check Outdoor Research | Check Amazon price

Alchemi Labs Expedition Hat

This is a cool hat with some interesting technology. It seems space like which for me makes it kind of cool. No other hats look like this hiking hat! And it also appears to deliver sun protection like no other hat.

  • Radiant barrier technology (reflects 80% sun’s heat waves)
  • Blocks 99.8% UV rays (UPF 800+)
  • Super lightweight
  • Incredible ventilation
  • Moisture-wicking sweatband
  • Adjustable sizing
  • Chin strap

Outdoor Research Sun Runner

This is a cool two in one hat. Essentially, this is a baseball hat with a detachable sun cape that gives you maximum sun protection for your neck and ears.

  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Removable cape
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Water-resistant
  • Dark fabric under brim
  • Moisture-wicking headband
  • Removable chin cord
  • Packable

This concludes our guide to the best hiking hats. We hope that one of these suits your fancy. It is important to stay protected out on the hiking trails so get a quality hat. If you are not sure about the cool factor, than clip a second hat to your backpack for your photo sessions. Problem solved. Easy.