Nobody says you can’t go hiking in just a typical baseball cap — they just have certain disadvantages when you’re on the trail all day.
They tent to offer a lack of coverage from sun and rain, and most caps aren’t made of moisture-wicking materials, so sweat tends to build up on you. But there’s a solution.
Hiking hats are specifically designed for just that: heading out on the trail. They’re built to take a beating from the elements while keeping your noggin cool, comfortable, and protected from the sun. This often overlooked piece of gear is as important as the boots on your feet and the pack on your back.
While gear can get pricey pretty quick, a quality hiking hat doesn’t have to cost much. For around a 20-spot you can get a solid hat for all your trail excursions.
From the full protection sunhat to the ever so stylish trucker, here’s a roundup of the ones we recommend. Take the leap and your head will thank you.
Outdoor Research Helios Sun Hat
Outdoor Research founder Ron Gregg got his start selling insulated gators in the 80s. Since then, his company has flourished into a household name brand producing a range of outdoor gear and apparel.
The ever-popular Helios Sun Hat is a staple in the OR lineup. At a single glance, you know this hat was made for a sunny trail.
It features a UPF 50+ rating and sports a 360-degree brim providing optimum coverage from sun exposure. There’s a built-in moisture-wicking TransAction headband along with a long adjustable drawcord for those windy days.
Lightweight, water-resistant, and breathable, this hat is a solid buy for any hiker looking for guaranteed shade despite the terrain.
Tillak Wallowa Camp Hat
Considering themselves “outdoor enthusiasts first” and an “outdoor brand second”, Tillak is all about giving back to the land they love. That’s why they donate 25-percent of proceeds to worthy environmental causes. If you’re all about giving back in your search for the right hiking hat, consider their Tillak Wallowa Camp Hat.
Snug and secure, no drawstrings are necessary to keep this cap on your melon. The 5-panel design is form fitting while the nylon and adjustable strap will accommodate a range of head sizes.
The brim is made from a water-log proof polyethylene so you can bounce back from those rain clouds thanks to the quick-drying material.
One of the more stylish, youthful hiking hats at that, it’s available in four attractive colors: Fir Green, Granite Grey, Midnight Blue, and Supai Red.
That’s all music to our ears, but the best part about the Wallowa is its packability. Made from 100-percent lightweight nylon, this hiking hat packs down to the bill so you can stuff it in your day pack and bust it out when you need it.
Leave the big bulky caps for the ballgame, this is what you’ll want on the trail.
REI Co-Op Screeline Cap
Other than those sweet annual member dividends, The wonderful thing about purchasing from REI is their 100-percent satisfaction guarantee. With a policy like that, you know when they design a product it’s going to be good.
For the trail trekker who likes the packability of the Tillak but wants that trusty REI guarantee, there’s the REI Co-Op Screenline Cap. This lightweight hat folds at the brim so it won’t get all bent out of shape when tossed in a pack loaded with all your gear.
Considering you’re likely to encounter all types of terrain on the trail, this hat comes prepared. It has a UPF 30 mesh liner, dual side vents, and moisture wicking properties for those warmer days. Should the sun disappear on you, just ditch the sunglasses and utilize the handy sunglass loops to keep your shades locked in place.
Although it’s a one size fits all deal, there’s an adjustable strap to tailor it to your liking. We’re personally digging the Army Coat Green, but it’s also available in a cooling Beechwood color.
Patagonia Fitz Roy Bison Trucker
We get it: not everyone digs the floppy nylon hiking hat — it’s not exactly a fashion statement. But come rain, wind, or shine, you’re going to need something to protect your dome from the elements while looking good and feeling stellar. In this case, we recommend the Patagonia Fitz Roy Bison Trucker Hat.
This hat nixes the old man look for the sturdy shape you like with the ventilation your head needs. Made from organic cotton and polyester mesh, it features a 6-panel design with a pliable bill durable enough to take a beating when stomping around in the woods. It has plenty of mesh to allow for proper ventilation, leaving air to circulate as you make your sweaty ascent.
And of course, being Patagonia, this stylish hat sports their infamous logo in the shape of a bison no less. Does it get any cooler?
Outdoor Research Retro Seattle Sombrero
Need something for those rainy days? Trade in those earthy tones for the big and bold with the Outdoor Research Retro Seattle Sombrero. The bright colors are guaranteed to make any gloomy trek a happy day on the trail.
Obviously color doesn’t matter when it comes to rain, and this hat brings it where it matters. This sombrero style hat is coated in Gore-Tex and sports a 360-degree polyurethane brim to keep you from getting soaked. And with rain usually comes wind so there’s a chin strap you can cinch down to keep everything snug in place.
Moisture wicking and quick drying, this hat was built to tackle the rain.
The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer Hat
The folks over at The North Face have committed to crafting quality equipment for exploration for over 50 years. Yet again they’ve brought the goods with their Horizon Breeze Brimmed Hat. This multi-sport sun hat boasts a plethora of features offering full head protection, whether it be a panoramic view on the summit or a breezy day at the sea.
To start, it’s made with ripstop nylon and clocks in at UPF 50 on the sun protection scale. The FlashDry wicking technology keeps moisture at bay while the elastic sweatband prevents it from streaming down your face.
Many other hats on this list have exposed mesh ventilation, but this hat offers further sun protection with overlays. It also takes sustainability into consideration by utilizing recycled material with its 97-percent recycled polyester lining.
Comfortable and lightweight enough to be worn all day, cinch down the drawstring and enjoy your stroll.
Outdoor Research Swift Sun Hat
Good air circulation, a solid bill, and proper fit are the main factors to consider when choosing the right hiking hat. The Outdoor Research Swift Sun Hat checks all those boxes.
Their most popular training hat, the Swift Sun Hat offers optimum airflow and sun protection. This 100-percent nylon hat has full mesh ventilation and a shaped bill to keep the sun off the face of any roaming wanderer.
Another highlight is the transaction headband. Hot days and serious climbs can leave you sweating like a pig before you even finish the first mile. This can easily lead to crown discomfort and sweat burning your eyes. The headband is designed to control moisture while providing additional comfort.
Available in 12 rad colors, take your pick and take a hike.