The sun is the number one cause of skin aging and skin cancer. Extended exposure to UVA and UVB rays can cause skin dryness, age spots, overproduction of melanin, and eventually, wrinkles. Apart from applying sun protection lotions and anti-aging creams, you can use a hat to shield your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays.

While you can always wear your usual trucker hat or wide-brimmed hat for protection, certain types of hats are made specifically to shield the skin from the sun. These hats feature longer and wider brims to improve coverage plus special material that deflects ultraviolet rays on the sides and rear.

Image used under Creative Commons from Adam Bautz

Best Hats for Sun Protection

Image
Name
Pros
Cons
Bottom line
Whispering Pines Sportswear 4-Panel Flap Hat
  • 100% Polyester
  • Elastic closure
  • Back flaps for neck protection
  • Wide brim
  • Zippered pocket for small items
  • Will not fit some people
Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat
Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat
  • 100% Polyester
  • Adjustable chin string
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Mesh lined Upper
  • 12 different colors to choose from
  • Sizes run small
Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
  • 100% Supplex Nylon
  • Snap-on Sun skirt
  • UPF 30+ Sun Protection
  • Convertible design
  • Small bill
Adam’s Headwear Extreme Condition Hat
  • Cotton/Nylon Material
  • UPF 45+ Sun Protection
  • Adjustable elastic cord
  • Long Veil for neck and ear protection
  • Flimsy components

Whispering Pines Sportswear 4-Panel Flap Hat


This 4-panel flat hat by Whispering Pines Sportwear features a large bill that covers most part of the face, providing ample protection from the sun as well as a 9-incher flap to keep the nape, neck, and ears protected from UV rays. This hat is made from 100% polyester and it features a fully mesh-lined crown and string clip for a perfect fit.It’s not the most stylish sun protection headgear we’ve seen but we’ll always choose protection over style anytime! We love how this hat provides all-around protection and the material feels durable. The flap is just the perfect side to cover our entire nape and ears so as far as protection goes, this hat does the job exceedingly well. This hat gets plus points for the string and clip that keeps the headgear snug even on windy days. There’s also a zippered pocket in the flap to store small items!

As far as the negatives go, the size of the hat is smaller than similar products so it’s not going to fit all people. Also, some users say the brim is a little on the flimsy side. That said, this Amazon user loved his 4-panel flat hat, saying the hat is the perfect partner for yard work:

I admit that I hesitated before purchasing this hat, as it seemed a little “over the top” as sunhats go, but I’m so glad that I ordered two. Hands down, this hat is my all-time favorite. Over more than half a century I have purchased and received many hats… they seem to wander in and out of my life like cats and humans tend to do, but this one is definitely a keeper. So if you are looking for a great sunhat, don’t hesitate! This is The One!

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Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat

Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat
Made from 100% polyester, the Camo Coll Outdoor boonie hat is a wide-brimmed hat that offers excellent sun protection. In fact, according to the brand, the hat features UPF 50+ plus anti-UV treated material. This summer hat has all the bells and whistles including a chin string to keep the hat in place when it’s windy, a bungee for better fit as well as a mesh upper band to promote better air circulation.

Camo Coll Outdoor boonie hat is clearly designed for people who love the great outdoors or those who tend to spend most of their time hiking, gardening, or touring. Its unisex design comes in 12 colors including Rose Red, Pink, grey and black.

As for the negative feedbacks, the upper portion of the hat tends to be on the small side so it won’t fit all people. And when the hat is small, it tends to sit on top of the head, which can look weird at times. We wish the Camo Coll Outdoor boonie hat came with larger sizes to accommodate more people. But for this Amazon user, the Camo Coll Outdoor boonie hat is the perfect outdoor hat:

This is a very nice hat that will get a lot of use on future vacations! It is very comfortable to wear, and the venting keeps you from getting too hot and sweaty. The neck strap is nice when you are on a windy beach or boat! It also looks nice on.

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Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap


Outdoor Research’s summer runner cap is a souped-up skirted headwear with a drape that conveniently snaps on and off. The snap on sun skirt, which can be attached from the bill, is designed to protect the neck, nape, and ears from sun exposure. This is a lightweight cap made from supplex nylon, which means the cap is pretty low maintenance. The convertible design allows you to adjust the coverage of the headwear.

As far as sun protection goes, this sun runner cap is not messing around. It boasts of UPF 30+ to keep the skin protected from sun up to sun down. It also features a TransAction headband for a comfortable fit all day. The side panels are mesh lined for better airflow while minimizing the accumulation of moisture that makes hat wearing so uncomfortable.

As for the negatives, we find that the snap on closure on the hat’s brim is somewhat flimsy, we can imagine these closures breaking at some point. And speaking of the brim, the sun runner’s bill is not as wide so despite using the snap on skirt, the sun will still hit a large portion of the face. This Amazon user recommends the Outdoor Research summer runner cap because of its effective sun protection:

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It’s dippy-looking as hell when worn with the neck cape, but it works like a charm.

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Adam’s Headwear Extreme Condition Hat


Made by Adam’s Headwear, the Extreme Condition hat boasts of UPF 45+ for superior sun protection and cool colors to boot. This heavy-duty outdoor hat features 4 panel low profile crown for improved fit, an adjustable elastic cord for hands-free use as well as cotton and nylon material for improved airflow! Several eyelets are also added to the crown to boost air ventilation for a cool, comfortable fit.

The rear end of the hat features a long veil that effectively covers the entire neck and ears to prevent sun exposure while the wider brim keeps the sun off the face. Other outdoor friendly features include a terry cloth-lined sweatband that absorb sweat and a mesh lining for better air circulation. The Extreme Condition Hat from Adams Headwear comes in six colors including black, white, and red.

As for the negatives, the overall construction of the Extreme Condition Hat is not as durable as other hats on this list. Some users are also complaining about the material, which was deemed as flimsy compared to other hats from the brand. Still, for this Amazon user, the Extreme Condition Hat is the perfect companion when braving the great outdoors:

This hat is extremely comfortable to wear, and does the best job of protecting exposed skin area. My biggest concern is the back of my neck and the tops of my ears, and this hat covers both.

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Why Wear a Sun Hat

Effective Sun Protection
Under the punishing heat of the sun, ultraviolet rays will penetrate exposed skin. And sometimes, we forget to apply sunscreen on certain areas of the body, particularly the ears and neck. A sun hat provides an extra layer of protection, ensuring that exposed skin is covered without needing SPF lotion!

Cool and Comfortable
Strolling under the sun seems like a fun concept at first, and it is, until the heat becomes too strong, making the skin sticky and uncomfortable. Wearing a sun hat keeps the skin cool and comfortable. Plus, there’s no need to bring an umbrella to get ample sun protection.

Maximize Your Sun Protection Products
If you made the habit out of slathering SPF lotion, sun protection lip gloss and sunglasses to keep your skin protected, wearing a sun hat will maximize all your efforts at keeping UV exposure down to a minimum. There’s no need to apply more product on your skin to protect yourself from the sun!

Reduce Incidence of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is caused by extended exposure to the sun. The body can only take so much sun before it starts overheating. Wearing a sun heat keeps you feeling cool and comfortable, preventing overheating that may lead to dizziness, fatigue, and disorientation.

Girl wearing a sun hat

Image used under Creative Commons from Gatanass

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing an Outdoor Hat

Material
One of the most important factors you need to consider when choosing the right outdoor hat for you is the material. You want to get an outdoor hat that’s specifically designed to withstand extreme wear and tear. This goes especially if you’re a huge fan of the great outdoors. The best outdoor hats are made from nylon or polyester because the fabric is tough, water resistant yet lightweight!

Air Flow
Another factor worth considering when on the hunt for the right sun protection headwear is the air ventilation. Get a hat that’s made from breathable fabric and lined with mesh so warm air can escape as you wear it. Some sun protection headwear can literally cause a headache because of poor ventilation.

Design
Go for outdoor hats with wider brims or longer drape on the back and sides to keep your neck, nape, and ears protected from the sun’s damaging rays. We also recommend hats with darker brim to reduce UV reflections. Finally, make sure the headband is adjustable for a comfortable fit.