The Lanzom Wide Brimmed Panama Fedora was the hat we found ourselves reaching for most for travel, heading out on the town, and paddling on the lake. We love the fit and style, which is suitable for a head diameter of 7.75 inches or less. The airy architecture will keep your head cool during the warmest days of summer and stay on, even when a hefty breeze kicks up. We also appreciate that it can roll up and pack away without getting crunched or deformed. It receives or top marks for its excellent performance across the board.
Unfortunately, if your head is bigger than average, this may not be the right fit for you. It maxes out at a 7.75-inch diameter, which is typically a medium. It also doesn't have any attached lanyards or a removable ribbon. If a cute design that'll function for any casual affair is what you seek, this hat rises to the top of our recommendations.
The Muryobao Foldable Mesh Wide Brim Bucket is for the ladies that love to hike, paddle, and explore the great outdoors. It features a solid build with a large four-inch brim that can be folded up, buttoned, or folded down. The top of it is comprised of a multi-layer breathable mesh that provides excellent ventilation, as well as protection from larger bugs like pesky mosquitos. It's lightweight and designed to dry out quickly, so don't be afraid of rainstorms or lake dips. Its price is also hard to beat — it's our favorite deal in this lineup.
While this is an excellent choice for the great outdoors, some may find the style to be a bit dorky for around-town wear. You can get away with it in a mountain or beach town, but it may feel a bit out of place in the city. It's also suitable for small to medium heads best, as the adjustability range isn't large and pretty limited. Finally, while it does offer bug protection, there is a hole in the back of the hole for a ponytail. While we love this function, it also provides an entrance for small bugs, like black flies, to enter and bite the skin, especially if your hair is thin or short. Aside from that, it's an excellent valued option built for water, hiking, and more.
The Mission Cooling Performace Cap is our favorite for its lightweight construction that'll hold water to keep your head cool longer. At first, we were a little skeptical of its performance. We own several caps for running and notice that most baseball-style options will dry out after just 20 minutes of running in hot weather. The polyester construction used in this hat, however, manages to hold water a little longer, lasting up to one hour on our super hot run (90-degrees). The unisex sizing is versatile and fits the heads of all our testers. It'll pack away easily, without a wrinkle in sight — even after sitting in a backpack for over three days. We also appreciate the full-back design (no mesh used) that keeps your whole head and most of the face (to the chin) protected (with UPF 50) from the sun.
Unfortunately, this hat isn't very stylish, limiting its versatility. After a run, we'd take it off to get a meal in town. Also, it begins to look dirty after being on the trails. Though, if you'll looking for an excellent cap that'll keep you cool in hot weather, this is one to consider.
When looking to hang in the sun, the Simplicity Sun Visor is an obvious choice. With the top of the hat open, it provides excellent breathability while allowing you to wear your hair up. The Velcro tab makes it easy to pull on, with 1.5 inches of adjustability. It's pretty cute and an excellent option for the beach or sunny public places, with its huge visor protecting your face, neck, and upper shoulders. Another odd, but additional plus, is that it can be worn underneath a helmet. If you find yourself hanging out on sunny cliffs in the summer or love to ride horses, this may be a fantastic option to consider. Roll it up, pack it away, and take it out again. Don't worry about crushing it on your vacation, as it'll bounce right back.
While the large brim is quite protective, it is quite floppy when walking. The floppy nature of the brim limits peripheral vision, which for some of our testers was a bit bothersome. As a result, we wouldn't recommend it for hiking or walking in crowded areas. Also, after just two weeks, the bow in the back started to fray, indicating a lack of quality construction. If you're seeking an excellent hat for the beach or protection in the sun, this is one of our top recommendations.
The Furtalk Wide Brim with Lanyard will receive compliments from all your friends. This sun hat features a super cute and simple stylish flair that can be paired with your favorite white summer dress or worn with your hiking boots. The removable lanyard helps keep it secure, even when battling windy summer conditions at the beach or in the mountains. It features a wide brim (3 inches) that protects the face and neck but isn't large enough to shade the shoulders. It's cute and fashionable, making it a versatile hat option.
While the adjustable Velcro system allows for about half an inch of adjustable wear, it won't fit larger heads well. It offers some breathability, but on super hot days, we found ourselves taking it off as the collar around the circumference of the head gets sweaty, especially when temperatures rise from hot to scorching. If you're seeking a fashionable choice that'll stay on in windy conditions, this is a good one to consider.
The Hat Depot Cotton Bucket Hat is a simple and cute contender that comes at a low price to boot. It does the trick if you need a little sun protection, and comes in plenty of fun color options. We wore it out with friends, camping, hiking, and even paddleboarding. Its lightweight design can be worn all day, while the bucket brim provides a little protection if rain unexpectedly comes showering down on you.
Many of our testers like it, but many don't. The design looks a little childish, reminding some of our female testers of their 12-year old selves. While the two-inch brim allows you to see the world around you with ease, it doesn't provide much sun protection. If you accidentally forget your sunglasses, you'll find yourself squinting, as it doesn't give you the shade that's expected. Plus, the size isn't adjustable. If you like the cute bucket style, this low-priced contender is a high-value option that won't empty your wallet.
The C.C. Washed Denim is a distressed-style baseball cap with a unique hole for a high ponytail or bun. It looks super cute and features a full mesh back that offers a little ventilation. It has a wide range of adjustability for head diameter, so it is one-size-fits-all. Wear it while hiking or running, or sport it while having a beer at the bar. The look is versatile and appealing for most. The price is good, too.
While many of our testers like its distressed look, others weren't too fond of it. It is designed to look worn, with stitching showing. When we used it while hiking in Ouray, Colorado one afternoon, we learned that while the mesh backing offers ventilation, the thick cotton in the front accumulates sweat and fails to vent. As a result, it's not that breathable. Finally, the fit feels shallow. While it keeps your ears from folding down (thankfully), it's hard to make it feel secure as it fits so high on the head. If you wear a ponytail and like ball caps, this is one to consider.
The Furtalk Wide Brim Sun Hat UPF 50 is one of the biggest and floppiest contenders we've tested. If you prefer ample sun protection that extends shade all the way to the shoulders, this is one that'll do the job. This straw weave uses alternating fibers of both white and black, creating a stylish look that is just at home on the beach as it is out to dinner. This is an option we choose when sun protection and lookin' good are a priority.
While we love wearing it at the beach and dinners, we have difficulty finding other uses for it. It blows and flops easily in the wind and limits peripheral vision because of its massive five-inch brim. This isn't an option we'd taking hiking or would wear when on our feet all day. The bow isn't removable, so the style is fixed as well. The fit is adjustable, but only by a half-inch. The medium size option we tested has a diameter of 7 to 7.5 inches, which is true to fit. Just be aware that if it's rolled or crumpled for a long period, it takes days to reshape. If you're seeking a protective and stylish option that'll do well at the beach or in sunny weather, this is a good fit.
Why You Should Trust Us
This review of women's hats is brought to you by Amber King, a long-time gear tester, teacher, outdoor adventurer, and writer. She's worked with OutdoorGearLab for over seven years, testing over 30 different categories of gear. As a globetrotter, she spends her time traveling across the country and around the world with her laptop and gear in tow. She seeks out isolated beaches for surfing, high alpine single track for biking and running, and beautiful overhanging rock for climbing. She loves wearing headwear of all varieties on these outdoor endeavors and explorations.
Testing women's hats start with the selection. First, we check out which are the best selling options on the market. From there, we research, research, research. For this review, we took about four hours looking over other products before selecting the eight you see in this current review. Then, we buy them at retail price and begin the testing. We wore each for at least eight hours. We took them to the beach, paddle boarded, swam, and kayaked with them on. We also wore them around town, out to dinners with friends, and got all dolled up (even though going out is hard in COVID times). We also wore appropriate options while trail running, biking, and hiking. After our thorough testing period, we evaluate and compare them all. We also identify some "Best for…" awards to help you find the best option that your cranium will love.
Analysis and Test Results
The women's hats we test range in uses. Some you should only wear to the beach, while others are best for dinner, hiking, or running. This in-depth review compares each product and rates them on six important metrics; protection, comfort & fit, wind protection, style, breathability, and portability.
When the UV is high and the sun is bright, protection is critical. Bigger, broader brims with UV protection typically do better in this metric. We also consider if a contender protects from small bugs in mossie country. To test it, we simply wore each in the sun and observed how much shade each provided. We also assess materials to see if gnats or black flies can penetrate through the mesh and materials.
The Furtalk Wide Brim UPF 50 features the best sun protection with its five-inch brim that provides shade on your face, neck, and shoulders. It features UPF protection of 50 with holes that offer some breathability.
We also love the Simplicity Sun Visor with its 2.4-inch brim at the front. While it provides protection on the face, the back of the brim tapers, meaning the back of the neck doesn't see as much protection as the front. All are suitable for beachwear and offer the best sun protection of them all.
The high-value Muryobao Brim Beach Fishing offers more functional protection. Its brim is four inches and offers 360 protection from the sun. The upper also features mesh with many layers that are impenetrable for most bugs. The ponytail hole in the back is nice but provides an entrance for small bugs like black flies to get inside. This award winner is one of our favorites for bug and sun protection all around. All straw options also protect from bugs, but none are as light.
Of the baseball caps, the Mission Cooling Hat is the most protective. The brim is larger than the C.C. Washed Denim, offering shade for the eyes and half of the face. It also has a full construction in the back, meaning that your head is protected from bugs. The C.C. cap, on the other hand, uses a single-layer mesh back that'll allow entrance for bugs and other critters in the backcountry.
Comfort and Fit
We wore each product while working, recreating, and lounging around in the sun. When assessing comfort, we note differences in how the materials feel against the skin, especially when wet or sweaty. For fit, we measure the diameter of each and its range of adjustability. We provide insight on which feel small or large and which have a huge range of adjustability. In addition, we weigh each on a scale to compare relative weight, which affects comfort.
Our favorite hats are light enough to wear all day, don't affect peripheral vision or flop around, and stay in place while in motion. Our favorites are the Mission Cooling Performance and the Lanzom Panama. The Mission weighs only two ounces and fits like a dream. The bucket depth is great but doesn't force your ears to fold down when wearing it. The interior polyester material is soft and stays comfortable, even when wet. Of all options tested, it's one of the most comfortable for all-day wear. It also has an incredible range of adjustability, making it a nice fit for craniums of any size.
The Lanzom Panama is another surprisingly comfortable contender. While its adjustability range is small, a size medium will go between 6.5 and 7.75 inches in diameter. It's heavier (6.85 ounces) but comfortable enough to wear all day. The brim is also quite stiff and doesn't flop around or blow in the wind, allowing you to see all around without an issue. Other floppier options, like the Furtalk contenders, are both comfortable, but the floppy nature of the brims is annoying after wearing for long periods — especially in the wind.
The Muryobao Foldable is another comfortable contender. It has a smaller fit, so make sure to size up if you're unsure about size. It's comfortable, light, and simple. We also like that the brim (even though large) is stiff and stays out of sight when hiking or playing in the sun. The Hat Depot Bucket Hat is similar in its functionality.
A hat that'll stay on during a windy day at the beach or in the mountains is truly superior to others. Fit is a large part of ensuring that it will stay on your dome, but additional features like lanyards and other materials are also appreciated. So, if you're in a windy environment, first, make sure it fits.
Of all tested, the Mission Cooling and Lanzom Panama offer the best performance in wind. The Mission is a standard ball cap with a highly adjustable fit that can be cinched down on your head. When running over windswept tundra landscapes, it didn't budge. The Lanzom Panama is also quite impressive. Maybe it just fits our main tester the best, but the stiff, less floppy brim doesn't pick up with wind gusts. In fact, it stayed on our head while paddleboarding on our local Ridgway Reservoir, a place notorious for windy conditions. It doesn't have a lanyard or any features, it just fits well.
We learned that big floppy hats typically catch wind easily, even though they offer better sun protection. Of the floppy options, the Simplicity Straw Visor and Furtalk Wide Brim with Lanyard are our favorites. The Simplicity Visor Velcros around the head and stays in place easily. The fact you can cinch is down is a nice feature when faced with windy conditions. The Furtalk options have removable lanyards. Even though these typically get picked up in the wind, they stay on your head as the lanyard keeps them in place. The Muroyabo Fishing Hat also has this feature, making it suitable for all weather conditions.
Rating a hat's style is incredibly subjective, as so many women have different tastes. To try and assess this, we talked to many friends and family members, asking their opinions on each. Those with a stylish flair that could be worn practically anywhere are awarded the highest accolades, while those that seem childish, dorky, or specific to a certain liking score a little lower.
By far, the Furtalk Wide Brim with Lanyard receives the most "oohs" and "ahhs" from our testing pool. The continuous straw-like exterior looks charming, cute, and suitable to wear with a pair of hiking shorts or a long flowing summer dress. Many love the simple style of the removable lanyard that can easily be changed by adding your own bow or features. The Lanzom Panama is a fedora that also receives snaps from our testers. Many love it because it lacks a lanyard and goes nicely with a bathing suit, skirt, or pair of jeans. Both are excellent options for travel or wear around town or to the beach.
A hat that breathes well in hot weather is important. Our favorites are light with lots of opportunity for ventilation. Those that dry quickly are even better as they don't leave your hair and neck feeling hot, wet, or sweaty.
The most breathable stylish option is the Simplicity Sun Hat Visor. Since it has a large hole at the top, it easily vents heat on the hottest days of summer, but it lacks protection for the top of your head. The materials are "holey", which promotes even more ventilation. When sitting out in the hot tub in the summer, this is the option we typically chose to wear. Other paper-based contenders like the Lanzom Panama and Furtalk options are quite breathable but don't have as much ventilation.
The Mission Cooling Performance excellent for running or hiking because of its lightweight nature and cooling nature. While it's a fully enclosed design (no mesh used), it's incredibly thin and has terrific breathability right through the fabric. If you wet the cap, it provides even more cooling. The C.C. Washed Denim is another with a mesh back. It's less breathable than the Mission but still suitable for wear while traveling, hiking, or bumbling around town on hot days.
The Murayoba Wide Brimmed Fishing is another to be considered. The materials are completely breathable and light, all the way around. If you get hot, simply dip it in the water, and you'll instantly cool down. We appreciate the mesh ventilation at the top of it, which is also protective of bugs.
How well does your hat travel? If you don't live close to the beach or you love to travel, portability is imperative. A contender that folds up and doesn't crush or deform is a huge plus. While many manufacturers claim they can roll up and pack away, many simply don't stand up when packed for long periods. To test this, we rolled up each option, stuffed them inside a backpack, leaving each there for two days. Then, we took them out, unrolled them, just to see which bounced back and which stayed deformed. All hats tested can roll up inside a beach bag or backpack with ease. Not all bounce back, though.
The most portable options are those that don't stay wrinkled or crunched. The Furtalk Wide Brim with Lanyard performs the best. It is quite flexible and immediately unwrinkles, and is ready for wear. In our tests, all other contenders had wrinkles out of the bag.
Baseball caps like the Mission Cooling Performance and C.C. Washed Denim both had a few wrinkles after our test, but after wearing for about 15 minutes, these wrinkles disappeared. This is similar to the Hat Depot Bucket Hat and Simplicity Sun Visor. The only option that stayed deformed for days was the Furtalk Wide Brim Sun Hat UPF 50, which hasn't been the same since our test. All others did a good job and can easily be packed away in your luggage for travel and adventure worldwide.
Testing hats for women has been a real treat. Hours in the sun, from town to beach to trail, were spent evaluating each product. We hope that our extensive hands-on research and advice helps you find the best option for your needs. Whether you're hiking, boating, running, or simply lounging around this summer, you'll be sure to find a hat in our lineup.
— Amber King
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