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The best sun hats are a not-so-secret style staple that do so much more than accent your favorite looks. They provide additional sun protection, keeping harmful UV rays from your skin, eyes, and hair. The best part is that there are numerous styles offered so you don’t have to compromise on what you love to wear when you’re doing what you love—whether that is lounging on the beach or poolside, gardening, hiking, or traveling. And if you’re worried about how to transport wide brim sun hats, just know that hat boxes, while beautiful, are a thing of the past thanks to packable sun hats that are meant to be folded up and pop right back into wide brim hats when unpacked. Technology is amazing. Still unsure about the best sun protection for you? Read on for the best summer hats recommendations!

What the best sun hats can do for you

While sunscreen will always remain the No. 1 way to protect your skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays, there are additional measures you can take to ensure you have the utmost sun protection. This is where the best sun hats come into the picture. These summer hats will keep you feeling and looking cool, and will protect your skin, eyes, and hair from damage. They also will cover your ears and neck and those, let’s face it, are areas most likely to be only partially covered when applying sunscreen. Additionally, with the help of sunglasses, the best sun hats will prevent you from squinting in the sun, which will then prevent wrinkles around your eyes. 

Sun hats can be enjoyed by the whole family, too! If you’re still not sold on their importance, try out a versatile unisex sun hat and pass it around to multiple family members, assuming you all have similarly sized heads. Baby sun hats, meanwhile, will significantly protect your child’s skin when outside for long periods of time. If your little one isn’t too keen on hats, we’ve found one with a drawstring that will make it harder to remove. Whether gardening, beach and/or poolside lounging, or traveling are in your future plans, there are summer hats out there for you. And we’ve done the research, so you don’t have to! 

Related: These are the best sunglasses, from timeless to trendy.

A couple things to consider when shopping for these summer beach essentials

There are a few things to consider when shopping for summer hats. In general you’ll want something that breathes easily. Straw, cotton, mesh fabrics—these will all help keep you head cool from the beating sun. In terms of the shape of the hat, the wider the brim, the more protection it will give you. 

Additionally, look for sun hats that have a UPF level over 30. UPF, which stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, is how much a fabric prevents UV radiation from hitting your skin. Most sun hats for protection have a UPF 50, blocking 98 percent of UV rays, which in turn reduces your exposure exponentially. If you want to take sun protection a step further, and purchase some sun protective clothing—consider darker or brighter colors over lighter colors because they will absorb the UV rays rather than allowing them to penetrate your skin.

Best unisex: GearTOP Fishing and Safari Cap with Sun Protection



Don’t let the name of this fishing hat/safari cap fool you—it’s great for more than just anglers and adventurers. But if it’s good enough to protect you for the prolonged time you spend in the open on a fishing trip or a safari, it’ll be just fine for long walks, gardening, or camping. This 100-percent polyester hat, with a UPF 50+ protection, has breathable mesh panels that allow for moisture and heat to escape your hat, keeping your head cool. It’s lightweight and quick-drying, so you can even wear it while you take a dip to cool off!

Best for the beach: Furtalk Women’s Wide Brim Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard



The Furtalk sun hat, made of eco-friendly recycled paper, has a UPF 50+—protecting you from the sun’s most harmful rays. To avoid being the person chasing their hat down the beach, this wide brim hat has a wind lanyard chin strap and an inner velcro band, both of which you can adjust to fit your head and face comfortably. Additionally, the velcro band is sweat resistant and will wick away moisture, keeping you cool and comfortable. The best part is that you can bring your new packable sun hat wherever you go, and won’t have to worry about folding it up to fit into your bag!

Best sun visor: Simplicity Hats for Women Convertible Beach Visor Hat



If you’re someone who can’t choose between a sun hat and a visor, this sun visor hat is for you. There is a zipper that removes the top part of the hat, allowing you either to rock a visor, or wide brim sun hat. Made of a cotton/polyester blend, this lightweight and breathable hat is quick-drying, so you can even take it for a dip. The adjustable velcro back closure is covered by an adorable bow. And yes, answering that $1 million question, it is UPF 50+ and can be rolled up (later to pop back to its perfect shape) for traveling.

Best for babies: SimpliKids UPF 50+ UV Ray Sun Protection Baby Hat



This best-selling UPF 50+ protective baby/toddler sun hat with neck flap and drawstring uses a moisture-wicking material that is breathable and quick-drying, keeping your kid cool in the summer. It is offered in sizes from newborn to 4T and with the wide selection there is sure to be a color or pattern that will be the perfect fit for your child (notable prints include a shark print and a pineapple print). The hat has an adjustable chin strap to secure the hat so it doesn’t fly away or get pulled off. It’s the perfect hat to take on-the-go, as it can be easily folded up and packed for you and your little one’s next big adventure.

Best budget: Jane Shine Outdoor Sun Hat Bucket Hats

Jane Shine


This best-selling UPF 50+ bucket hat is made of 100-percent polyester, with a breathable nylon mesh top panel and an inner cotton sweatband, to keep you cool during camping, hiking, or biking. With the internal drawstring and rope chin strap, you can adjust the hat to fit your head comfortably. While this affordable sun hat may lack a bit in the flair department, it more than makes up for it in quality.


Q: Does a sun hat block UV rays?

Most sun hats will provide some sort of additional protection from harmful UV rays, especially if they are a wide brim hat. The larger the brim, the more sun protection you will have. In order to get the most protection from UV rays, you should opt for a sun hat that has UPF 50+ and always apply sunscreen. When sun hats or sun protective clothing have a UPF 50+, you know that 98 percent of the sun’s rays are being absorbed into the fabric, leaving only 2 percent to penetrate into your skin.

Q: What should I look for in a sun hat?

In order to narrow down your search, you should first know where you’ll be wearing your sun hat most. If you plan on doing more movement-based activities—think hiking, gardening, fishing, camping, etc.—you’ll want to look for a sun hat that uses lightweight and breathable fabrics and includes some sort of mesh paneling. It might be helpful that your sun hat is quick-drying and has an inner sweat-resistant strip, as well as a chin strap to prevent it from flying off. If the beach or poolside is where you want to be, again, you’ll want a sun hat that is designed with breathable fabrics. A wide brim sun hat would be a good selection as well to protect you from those UV rays. If you have a lot of travel plans coming up, consider a packable hat that folds and unfolds easily, while keeping its original shape.

Q: Do sun hats work?

In short, yes, sun hats do work…if you want them to protect your skin, hair, and eyes. If you want them to teach you Spanish, then no, they probably won’t work. But to ensure they are doing their job, help them out by applying sunscreen throughout the day and throw on some shades as well. Make sure to choose the best sun hat that fits your head and has the best characteristics to protect you during those long walks on the beach, bringing that vegetable garden back to life, or going on a long fishing trip. 
Related: Here’s your summer guide to sunscreen.

The final word on shopping for the best sun hats

The best sun hat will keep your head cool and provide additional protection from harmful UV rays. And remember while you’re shopping to keep in mind which activities you’ll need a sun hat for during the warmer months, and select the hat that has characteristics that best caters to that activity. Happy sun hat shopping!