The Best Sun Hat Review

What is the best hat to protect you from the sun? We took 12 of the top hats on the market today and put them in head-to-head testing throughout California where we tested each hat in five key categories; Protection, Breathability, Comfort, Durability, and Style. Through our testing we found the best value hat, the most protective hat, and the best all-around hat that excelled in just about every category. Read the full review below to see the winners.

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 << Previous | View All | Next >>

Analysis and Award Winners

Review by:
Devin Chance

Last Updated:
December 3, 2012

Best Overall Sun Hat

Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat

Editors' Choice Award

Price:   Varies from $38 - $39 online
Compare at 4 sellers

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The Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat is the overall best hat we tested. It has great protection, and is very breathable while still maintaining its comfort and durability. It's not the most stylish hat we tested.

Top Pick for Most Protective

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

Top Pick Award

Price:   Varies from $22 - $36 online
Compare at 6 sellers

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The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap won our Top Pick award for being the most protective hat we tested and one of the most comfortable.

Best Bang for the Buck

REI Paddlers Hat

Best Buy Award

Price:   $30 List

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The REI Paddlers Hat wins the Best Buy award for being the best value hat at a very reasonable price. It was especially good with protection, comfort, and breathability.


We chose protection as the most important rating because this is usually the reason you buy a hat in the first place. The best hats have enough protection to keep you fully protected throughout the day while still maintaining your sense of dignity. The most effective hats had capes that went down the back of them, completely covering your neck, and had high UPF ratings. The Top Pick award winning Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is the perfect example of this. Keep in mind that the most protective hats are usually not the most stylish.
Click to enlarge
The top pick award winning Outdoor Research Sun Runner giving us total protection from the sun. This is only one of two hats we tested with a cape, which provides you with better protection than just a brim.


Comfort is essential in a sun protection hat. If your hat isn't comfortable it's less likely that you will grab it while going out the door whereas the most comfortable hats you want to wear even when it isn't sunny out. The most comfortable hats are usually very soft internally and are very lightweight. The Outdoor Research Sun Bucket and the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap were the winners in this category.


Breathability is key when selecting a hat to protect you from the sun's rays. On hot days when the sun is beating down on your head, you will want a hat that not only protects you but that allows the pent up heat to escape. The best hats have ample ventilation and are made with breathable fabrics so that your head can stay cool on hot days. The most breathable hat we tested was the Outdoor Research Sombriolet. It has some of the most breathable fabric we tested and also is covered in mesh ventilation so that you can stay cool.
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The Tilley T5MO Organic Cotton airflo Hat's ventilation on the crown.


A good durable sun protection hat will last you a lifetime of healthy skin. The most durable hats are well made with strong materials and a crushable brim. The best ones can be crushed for days without the brim being affected at all and are able to be tossed around carelessly without worry. The worst can't even be crushed and fall apart at the seams over a short time. The most durable hats we tested were the Tilley hats each one was given our maximum rating for durability. Tilley T3 Cotton Duck Hat, Tilley T5MO Organic Cotton airflo Hat, Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat.


Style can make or break your dignity; it is often what your decision of a hat will ultimately come down to. The most stylish hats have sleek classic looks, while the least stylish have huge brims and weird capes. Usually the more protective a hat is the less stylish it is. So you will have to make the decision for yourself as to how much protection to sacrifice so that you look good. The most stylish hat we tested in our opinion was the Coolibar Crushable Ventilated Canvas Hat. We didn't think the brim was too large and it has a very classy look to it.


Click to enlarge
Testing the hats durability and water resistance in Tuolumne Meadows
We hope we have been able to help you narrow down your top choices to find a model that will best suit your needs. However, if you're still unsure about which model to purchase, consider browsing our Buying Advice for tips and guidelines to make your decision a bit easier.
Devin Chance
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose a Sun Hat - Click for details
 How to Choose a Sun Hat

by Devin Chance