Reviews You Can Rely On

Billabong Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Review

This wide-brimmed straw hat is stylish, protective, breathable, and ready for a day at the beach
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Billabong Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Review
Credit: Billabong
Price:  $30 List
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Manufacturer:   Billabong
By Sam Schild ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 1, 2023
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 20
  • Protection - 30% 7.0
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Breathability - 15% 9.0
  • Durability - 15% 5.0
  • Style - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Billabong Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard is a favorite for days on the water. It's inexpensive, stylish, and shades your face during peak sun hours. This takes the classic beach favorite straw hat look and gives it a modern twist with multiple print options available on the underside of this massive 4.25-inch brim. Its straw construction isn't the most durable, but that's common with straw hats, and the breathability of straw is hard to beat. This hat is very comfortable. It has a comfortable sweatband lining and is lightweight, so you barely feel it on your head. It's one of the least expensive hats we tested, these hats were such a good deal we bought two for testing. Get the scoop on how it stands up to the competition in our review of the best sun hats.
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable
Very breathable
Stylish
Large brim
REASONS TO AVOID
Not packable

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Star Rating
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Bottom Line Great for wearing at the beach or on the water, this hat is stylish and protectiveThis hat is comfortable enough that kids won't take it off and comes in tons of colorsWhat it lacks in the style department, it makes up for in protection, versatility, and excellent valueOne of the most comfortable, breathable, and affordable hats that we testedThis ultra-wide brimmed straw hat looks great for the beach but lacks the durability needed for many outdoor pursuits
Rating Categories Billabong Classic P... Sunday Afternoons K... Outdoor Research Su... The North Face Hori... Quiksilver Pierside...
Protection (30%)
7.0
8.0
10.0
6.0
7.0
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Breathability (15%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Durability (15%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Style (15%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Billabong Classic P... Sunday Afternoons K... Outdoor Research Su... The North Face Hori... Quiksilver Pierside...
Weight 4.8 oz 2.2 oz 2.8 oz 2.9 oz 4.3 oz
UPF rating Not Specified 50+ 40 40+ Not Specified
Brim Size 4.25" 2.75", with 5.5" neck cape 2.75 brim, 7.25" neck cape 2.9" 5"
Material 100% Seagrass straw 100% Polyester 100% nylon Nylon Ripstop, 97% recycled polyester mesh lined 100% straw
Cinch Cord Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Packable/Compressible No Yes Yes Yes No
Size Tested One Size Medium L L/XL One Size

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Billabong Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat is a style-forward straw sun hat that's perfect for hanging out on the beach or anywhere else the sun is shining. This hat comes in multiple prints on the underside of the brim to up the cool factor. But it's more than just stylish; this hat is also extremely lightweight, breathable, and comfortable.

Performance Comparison



We liked this hat so much that we got multiple prints to be thorough with our testing.
Credit: Viktoria McNamara

Protection



The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat features a massive brim that keeps all the sun off your head, face, and neck when the sun is highest in the sky. This hat provides some of the best sun protection of any hat without a neck cape.


It features a 4.25-inch brim, which is one of the largest we tested. This brim is wide enough to protect the entire face when the sun is high in the sky. It's also big enough to protect our necks, which isn't always the case with shorter-brimmed hats. We never experienced any sun hitting our faces or necks until later in the afternoon or early in the morning with this hat.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - the printed straw lifeguard hat is a favorite for days on the water.
The Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat is a favorite for days on the water.
Credit: Sam Schild

The underside of the brim has a printed pattern, which helps with glare from the water. We found the printed material helped prevent sunlight from making its way between the woven straw pattern.

The woven straw does let a small amount of light through between cross-hatched pieces of straw. But the weave is tighter than other straw hats we tested, so it doesn't let as much sun through.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - the woven straw lets some light through between cross-hatched straw...
The woven straw lets some light through between cross-hatched straw, but the weave is tighter than some straw hats we tested.
Credit: Sam Schild

Comfort


The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat is one of the most comfortable hats we tested. It's lightweight for a hat with this big of a brim, the brim doesn't dig into your head, and it has a comfortable sweatband and chin strap.


Most large-brimmed hats we tested are pretty heavy. Compared to many of those hats, this hat feels like it's barely there. We happily kept this hat on our heads all day. It never made our necks tired or squeezed our heads uncomfortably.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - the printed material on the underside of the brim prevents light...
The printed material on the underside of the brim prevents light from passing between the woven straw and helps with glares off the water.
Credit: Chris McNamara

It has a simple sweatband around the inner brim made of soft polyester webbing. The sweatband doesn't look like much, but we found it more comfortable than many more substantial sweatbands made of elastic. The sweatband on the Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat does just enough to prevent the straw from sitting directly on your forehead without squeezing your head unnecessarily. And that's all the sweatband on a straw hat like this needs to do.

The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat has a comfortable chin strap cord with a simple toggle to hold the hat in place. We found this cord very comfortable against our faces. It's soft and round, so it has no sharp edges that could chafe or uncomfortably rub.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - the chin cinch cord and toggle are soft and comfortable.
The chin cinch cord and toggle are soft and comfortable.
Credit: Sam Schild

Breathability


The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat is an extremely breathable sun hat. Straw is by far the most breathable hat material we've tested, and the straw used on this hat is no exception.


Between each piece of straw is a small gap. These gaps allow tons of air to flow through the hat while you're wearing it. This hat was one of the best hats to wear in the hot sun for this reason.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - we love the breathability of straw hats.
We love the breathability of straw hats.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Durability


The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat isn't great to have to pack in a backpack or suitcase. While straw is an excellent material for breathability, it's very durable.


If you bend the brim or compress this hat, some of the straw fibers will break. Depending on how much you crush or bend it, you may destroy this hat if you stuff it into a bag. If you'll be carrying this hat as much as you're wearing it, we recommend letting it hang around your neck or putting it on top of the rest of your gear in a tote bag or duffle. It won't survive much more than that.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - straw is a brittle fiber, so it will break if you attempt to...
Straw is a brittle fiber, so it will break if you attempt to compress this hat.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Style


The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat stands out most for its style. We love the look of a straw hat on the beach, and we like the look of this one especially.


The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat looks the most like a classic straw hat of any sun hat we tested. It comes in multiple prints under the brim. Other than under the brim, this hat takes a low-key approach to style.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - we love the many available prints for the underside of the brim.
We love the many available prints for the underside of the brim.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Some sun hats we tested have large logos or none at all. The simple patch on the Classic Printed Straw Hat gives just the right amount of flare without standing out. This is a minor detail, but that's what makes for a great style.

Should You Buy the Billabong Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat?


The Classic Printed Straw Lifeguard Hat is a great hat if you're looking for a stylish straw hat to wear in casual outdoor settings. It's inexpensive, looks great, is very comfortable, and is extremely breathable. If you're looking for a hat to wear during technical pursuits, this might not be the best choice, however.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - we think the small logo patch completes the style on this hat.
We think the small logo patch completes the style on this hat.
Credit: Sam Schild

What Other Sun Hats Should You Consider?


If you're sold on the straw hat look but want something more durable, check out the Sunday Afternoons Islander Hat. If you like the full-brim look but don't want straw, try the Filson Summer Packer Hat. If you want something for technical pursuits that breathes and protects, check out the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat.

billabong classic printed straw lifeguard - testing the classic printed straw hat in california.
Testing the Classic Printed Straw Hat in California.
Credit: Chris McNamara

Sam Schild