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REI Paddlers Hat Review

REI Paddlers Hat
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Price:  $35 List | $36.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable, breathable, dries quickly, large brim, style
Cons:  The sweatband is always flipping out, making it hard to put on sometimes; neck cinch is not the strongest.
Manufacturer:   REI
By Devin Chance ⋅   ⋅  Nov 11, 2016
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  • Protection - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The REI Paddlers Hat wins our Best Buy award for being the overall best value hat we tested. It scored highly in every category, giving you a hat that will perform well in just about any situation. This hat also gives you great protection without sacrificing style, unlike some of the other hats we tested that make you choose between style vs. protection.

Our Analysis and Test Results


With its very large and slightly down-turned brim, the REI Paddlers Hat will keep your skin nicely protected from the suns harmful rays. The brim measures three inches in the front, four inches in the back, and three inches on the sides, giving you great protection. Even though this hat doesn't come with a UPF rating, that doesn't mean it won't protect you from the sun. UPF rating is measured by the amount of UV radiation that is allowed through the material, and the tighter the weave of fabric, the more UPF protective it is. The Paddlers Hat will protect you from most of the UV radiation trying to get through.


The Paddlers Hat was one of the most comfortable hats that we tested. It almost feels like you're not even wearing a hat. This hat is also very versatile. We were able to use it in a variety of activities, from rock climbing to trail running to just hanging out in the sun, the whole time protected from the sun. Some of the other hats we tested excelled in a specific activity but had to sacrifice some comfort or protection because of it. We didn't find that so with the Paddlers Hat. This hat is comfortable regardless of your activity.


The breathability on this hat is great. It has mesh side panels that allow it to breathe while you do your favorite activities without getting drenched in sweat from a non-breathable hat. This hat and the Editors' Choice Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat have the most amount of mesh on them, and this gives them great breathability, but exposes the side of your head to more UV rays than a hat like the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat that has covers over the mesh. This allows it to be very breathable without compromising the protection.


The Paddlers Hat wasn't the most durable hat we tested, but it was still good. During its testing period the only problems we noticed were that the neck cinch cord rips easily but still works fine.
The stopper on the cinch cord frays very easily on the REI Paddlers Hat
The stopper on the cinch cord frays very easily on the REI Paddlers Hat
We expect that this cinch will be useless when it rips again, however, so be careful when pulling the end when it's fully un-cinched, since it is very easy to grab the foam while trying to grab the cord.


We really like the style of the Paddlers Hat, but when you buy it make sure that you get a size that fits. If you get a size that is too big it will look a little funny. But we loved the design and color. Remember to ask opinions of your friends before you buy; a hat could look great on one person but really dorky on someone else.

Devin Chance