The Best Sun Hat Review

What is the best sun hat? We took 12 of the top sun 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 >

Review by: Devin Chance ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab December 2, 2012

Top Ranked Sun Hats Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
Read the Review
Video video review
Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat
Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat
Read the Review
Video video review
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
Read the Review
REI Paddlers Hat
REI Paddlers Hat
Read the Review
Video video review
Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat
Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Top Pick Award  Editors' Choice Award    Best Buy Award   
Street Price Varies $26 - $35
Compare at 8 sellers
Varies $36 - $38
Compare at 3 sellers
Varies $29 - $55
Compare at 9 sellers
$30
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $77 - $79
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score 
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78
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75
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1 rating
Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Total protection, removable cape, good in the wind, stable.Great protection all around, especially on the back; brim is angled for longer protection, good ventilation, comfortable.Comfortable, breathable, good protection, packs down to a good size and reforms quickly, style.Comfortable, breathable, drys quickly, large brim, style.Extremely durable, comfortable.
Cons Looks a little funny, can get hot on the back of your neck.Velcro tab on the back.Bad in wind.The sweatband is always flipping out, making it hard to put on sometimes; neck cinch is not the strongest.Brim size.
Best Uses Climbing, hiking, camping, sightseeing, kayaking, rafting, just being outside, running.Climbing, hiking, camping, water sports, barbeques, reading outside.Climbing, hiking, camping, being outside, water sports.Hiking, camping, reading outside, being outside, kayaking, rafting.
Date Reviewed Jul 01, 2012Jan 12, 2013Jul 01, 2012Jul 01, 2012Jul 01, 2012
Weighted Scores Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat REI Paddlers Hat Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat
Protection - 30%
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
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7
10
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8
10
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6
Breathability - 20%
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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7
Comfort - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
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8
10
0
8
10
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8
Durability - 15%
10
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6
10
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8
10
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7
10
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7
10
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10
Style - 15%
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4
10
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5
10
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8
10
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7
10
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8
Product Specs Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat REI Paddlers Hat Tilley LTM3 Airflo Hat
UPF rating 30+ 50+ 50+ n/a 50+
weight 2.8 oz 3 oz 3.1 oz n/a 4 oz
Size of Brim 2 3/4" front 4Ã front 3.75" sides 7.5" back neck flap 3" front and side 3 3/4" back 3" front 4" back 3" sides Front: 2 3/4" Back: 2 3/4" Sides: 2 3/8"
Material 100% nylon 100% nylon 86% nylon/14% polyester 100% nylon brim, 100% polyester mesh 100% supplex nylon
Cinch Cord Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Packable/compressible yes yes yes yes yes

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products

Protection
We chose protection as the most important rating because this is usually the reason you buy a sun 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.
Credit: Devin Chance

Comfort
Comfort is essential in a sun 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
Breathability is key when selecting a sun hat. 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 Sun Hat. It has some of the most breathable fabric we tested and also is covered in mesh ventilation so that you can stay cool.
Click to enlarge
The Tilley T5MO Organic Cotton airflo Hat's ventilation on the crown.
Credit: Devin Chance
Durability
A good durable sun 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
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.

Winners

Editors Choice
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.
Click to enlarge
Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat
Credit: Sunday Afternoons
Top Pick
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.
Click to enlarge
Top pick OR Sun Runner completely protecting us from the sun while hiking in the sierras
Credit: Devin Chance
Best Buy
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.
Click to enlarge
REI Paddlers Hat
Credit: REI

Devin Chance
Buying Advice
How we Test
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How to Choose a Sun Hat - Click for details
 How to Choose a Sun Hat

by Devin Chance
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