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a good sun hat?
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Amy Bithiah
(plantedbystreams) - F
a good sun hat? on 02/04/2012 23:52:28 MST Print View

What's the best sun hat you know of? What makes it good?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: a good sun hat? on 02/05/2012 00:00:47 MST Print View

are you writing a book or going someplace in particular ?

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: a good sun hat? on 02/05/2012 00:23:57 MST Print View

I tried hats, various cool baseball cap types and a Tilley. They pack large and are warm even with vents. I went to Summer Buffs, cooler and you can place fully over the neck for lower sun protection. After my hat episode I concluded hats are more about fashion and cosmetic reasons than actual sun protection.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: a good sun hat? on 02/05/2012 00:59:04 MST Print View

Sunday Afternoon Adventure Hat. Profoundly ugly but very functional.

Outdoor Research Sun Runner. The neck cape is removable, so it is more versatile.
*Take your favorite baseball style cap and add a bandana or silk scarf for less cost (see below). Running caps with baseball-style brims usually have good ventilation.

Tilley, which provides an insulating space between the top of you head and the hat.

A shemagh, the Arab cotton head scarf which can be tied up many ways.

Military style boonie hat in a light color. Cheap, light, cotton ripstop, can be soaked in water for cooling,packs well. I wouldn't wear military style anything for foreign travel.

Letter carrier's sun helmet or bee-keeper's helmet. Provides insulating space and good air flow. The white plastic letter carrier's helmet is also a very good rain hat, with pitter-patter on the roof included :) It can annoyingly hit your pack if it is a tall one.

Here's the quick and dirty runnner's cap plus bandana, tied up with a small bit of line. You could add another line to hold the bottom together, a la OR Sun Runner. Another way is to put just put the bandana on your head and then put the cap on over it. That can be done with any hat for immediate neck, ears, and side-of-your-face protection. Wet the bandana for extra cooling.

$1.99 for the hat and $0.99 for the bandana from a thrift store vs $35 for the OR version.
Q&D sun hat

Edited by dwambaugh on 02/05/2012 09:54:18 MST.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Sun hat on 02/05/2012 14:42:43 MST Print View

Unless you expect constant rain, the Sunday Afternoon Adventure Hat is the best I've found. Tilley a close second. Sunday Afternoons is coming out with a waterproof version of the Adventure hat, if that's a concern. Otherwise I'd go with an Outdoor Research Sombrero of some kind.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: a good sun hat? on 02/05/2012 15:24:04 MST Print View

If I'm going for full-on desert use (e.g. 2 weeks rafting the Grand Canyon), I've got a goofy, nylon, very broad-brimmed hat with chin-strap to keep it on in the wind. One is by Columbia and another is by OP. But if I was more active - thru-hiking in the desert, I'd go for a silvered umbrella.

For UL backpacking, I'd use a visor and put my silk bandana under it. And in that mode, the bandana covers as much of my neck, ears, and sides of my face as I want. It isn't as cool as the broad-brimmed hat, so I think of it more for high-Sierra use where the it is cooler than in the lowlands. The visor is light and cheap. The silk bandana is 36" x 36" and multipurpose - neck scarf in a cold wind. Blow my nose. Bank-robber style facemask in a sub-freezing wind, etc.

I got a few of those 36x36 silk badana on Sierra Trading Post a few years ago for about $9 each. I'm sure they don't have them anymore. Sometimes you can find big silk scarves at a thrift store (but always in truly funky, white-trash patterns).

For hot travel with water sources (e.g. main trail corridor in the Grand Canyon), I like a cotton bandana and/or cotton, brimmed hat instead because it carries more water when I soak it at every stream crossing and drinking water source. I find water I put on the outside of my body cools me without being as tiring as when I sweat that same amount of water.

Joe Newton
OR Sun Runner on 02/05/2012 16:01:02 MST Print View

I spent two weeks rafting the Grand Canyon this past June and used a tan Sun Runner every day. Great hat. I had a Tilley with me also but never took it out of the dry bag.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Columbia Booney on 02/05/2012 18:35:56 MST Print View

I like the mesh sided Columbia Booney better than baseball style runners hats. No sun gets into the corners of your eyes. It's 4" brim provides so much shade it feels 5 degrees cooler than no hat. It's squishable. The size adjusts with a bungi cord. It has a chin strap for windy days.

It has some downsides too. Soaking it in water provided even more cooling - but the brim isn't stiff enough to hold keep from draping down around your face when wet. The brim also isn't stiff enough to keep from blowing upwards in a medium/light wind.
If it matters to you, it's no where near as dashy looking as a Tilley (I find Tilleys too hot to wear though).

Edited by JohnG10 on 02/05/2012 18:36:56 MST.

Colin Krusor
(ckrusor) - M

Locale: Northwest US
Sun hat on 02/05/2012 19:13:28 MST Print View

It seems to me that the Southeast Asian conical hat is superior to traditional western designs for both sun and rain protection. It's lighter, less prone to brim flapping and sagging, and much better ventilated than any western design. The Kavu Chillba hat is made of nylon in many colors and is designed for backpacking and kayaking. It has been mentioned a couple of times here on the BPL forums, but it doesn't seem to be very popular.


Why do people favor Tilleys over these? Maybe it's akin to the recumbent bicycle phenomenon: sometimes the best design just looks too ridiculous.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
go with joe on 02/05/2012 20:24:01 MST Print View

Joe from Zpacks will make you a conical hat or he used to. Kavu kinda sucks. I used to live by them in Ballard and they really don't follow up with customer service if their crap breaks.

Colin Krusor
(ckrusor) - M

Locale: Northwest US
Kavu/Zpacks on 02/05/2012 20:47:47 MST Print View

Brett, I agree with you about Kavu, actually. I don't own the chillba hat, but I had a straw conical hat for a long time, and it seemed to be a much better design for a sun hat (or rain hat) than western hats like the Tilleys.

I heard, some time ago, that Joe Valesko's conical hat was made from a piece of closed-cell foam and fit like a puzzle piece into a cut-out in his sleeping pad at night. I don't remember who passed that rumor on to me. Do you know anything about the Zpacks hat?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Kavu/Zpacks on 02/06/2012 03:54:19 MST Print View

On PCT, "The Pointy Hat folds flat and was also a foam sit-pad and pillow."

On CDT, "The Pointy Hat folds flat and was also a foam sit-pad and part of my sleeping pad system."

A crude way to make a foam Coolie hat could be as below

Edited by jshann on 02/06/2012 04:29:59 MST.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
The best.... on 02/06/2012 07:52:36 MST Print View

Don't know if it is 'the best', but I've been using one form or another of a $10 surplus boonie-style hat for well over a decade. Using a cotton-nylon blend, the hat repels light rain, snow and sun.

Sure, there are lighter alternatives.

But the share durability and price factor makes it a winner for me. I use it for skiing, climbing (under the helmet) and for hiking/backpacking. Mash it up in the pack, pull it out, wear it for nearly 4 months straight and so on.

Mags with chix

Fried chicken is the food of choice for 25+ mile days hikes with nearly 10k gain. :D

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
No hat at all on 02/06/2012 08:23:00 MST Print View

I use a white Headsweats Supervisor (visor) with a half of a white XXXL Capilene 1 shirt. It will cover neck ears etc providing both sun and bug protection. I washed the "bandana" in permethrin to keep bugs off the tight part on the top of my head. Doesn't get much lighter or comfortable than this.

Heading off on the PCT.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Sun hat on 02/06/2012 09:27:49 MST Print View

Rather than overthink hats, one merely needs to look towards different regions & cultures which have been dealing with excessive sun exposure for centuries to get a general idea of what works.

Hence, the coolie hat, the sombrero, and of course the Western cowboy hat, respectively. The coolie hat has the advantage of providing a declining surface towards the brim, whereas both sombreros & cowboy hats tend to have upward rolls on their edges, which isn't so good in windy conditions.

But, perhaps the best combination of all these traits (including the downward tip) is the now ubiquitous straw 'lifeguard hat', which is de riguer on every construction job site in the southwest:

I've been wearing these bad boys for years; you can get them of $10 @ any hardware/garden store in SoCal. Beat them up for a year and get a new one at the beginning of the season.

I see people with smaller and/or flimsier hats with limited coverage in the high Sierra and wince. These big hats definitely help prevent exposure - I can spend long summer hours hiking & fishing in the sun and not feel worked at the end of the day.

Edited by Hobbesatronic on 02/06/2012 09:43:01 MST.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
a good sun hat? on 02/06/2012 14:36:32 MST Print View

Sun hat effectiveness is directly related to dorkiness. If people refuse to leave the house with you whilst you are wearing THAT hat then you are on the right path.

Joseph Bernier
(sigeats) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
a good sun hat? on 02/06/2012 16:55:40 MST Print View

I've also been using a lifeguard hats for years . . . I love them.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Thoughts on thoughts on 02/06/2012 17:11:00 MST Print View

Colin: I like the Coolie hat idea although I've never tried it. I also like the idea of using thin CCF and adding it to your sleeping pad. Maybe join the hat seam with velcro with corresponding velcro to add foam under your hips or extend your pad under your feet?

I also wonder about using a metalized CCF such that most heat was simply reflected off the top. But maybe the R-value of the foam is enough to isolate the hot side on top from the hopefully cooler side below. If a Coolie hat isn't highly breathable, how does hot air from your face and scalp not collect underneath?

Hobbes, I hadn't connected the dots, but you're right - when I'm doing field work in LowCal (geology, bio surveys), if hard hats aren't required, everyone is in a lifeguard hat. I think you forgot to caption your photo, "Girl not included".

Jason: I'm with you on the correlation of dorkiness and effectiveness.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: a good sun hat? on 02/06/2012 18:32:42 MST Print View


Forget the hat, that is some drop dead gorgeous desert behind you!

I usually wear a Tilley Air Flow when I wear a hat. Works for me. Sometimes a baseball cap or even a boonie hat. But more often than not, nothing. I like to work on my suntan when I hike. Also, I am coolest without a hat in nicer weather. If God had intended us to wear hats, he would have included them in our structure when he made us.

Edit: Maybe God is a woman. I hope so.

Edited by ngatel on 02/06/2012 18:33:56 MST.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: a good sun hat? on 02/06/2012 20:20:03 MST Print View

I hate the way they look, but the hat which has felt the coolest on my head while still preventing my face and neck from burning is the sunday afternoon adventure hat. Until is below around 35F, this is the hat you will see on my head.