If you hit the trail without a proper hiking hat, what’s your plan?
Will you trudge through the wilderness like a masochist as the sun beats down on your face without mercy? Are you going to squint, grimace, and shield your eyes from the harsh UV rays as you pray for the next stretch of shade?
Of course you won’t. That’s why you’re here. You want the skinny on the best hiking hats of 2023, and we’re here to deliver.
Whether you’re searching for wide-brim bucket hats, stylish baseball caps, cold-weather beanies, or full-coverage headwear for challenging conditions, we’ve gathered the top options for hikers and backpackers like you.
And to ensure that you find a hat that’ll get the job done, we only recommend well-reviewed products from trusted brands in the industry. Patagonia, REI, Zpacks, Sunday Afternoons, you name it; the best of the best are all represented here.
Ready to stifle the sun in style? Let’s get started.
The following wide-brim sun hats will thrive in climates where you expect significant exposure to the sun’s rays. The following five products should shield your face, ears, and neck quite well, but don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your nose and ears if you’re fair-skinned or tend to get burnt easily.
Best for Men
The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer
Materials: Recycled nylon, recycled polyester
If you’re searching for a safari-style hiking hat that ventilates well, wicks moisture with ease, stifles UV rays, and looks good all the while, you’ve found it. The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer is our favorite men’s bucket-style hiking hat of 2023.
Not to say this do-it-all lid wouldn’t be great for the lady hikers among us, either! Hell, pretty much anyone hitting the trail will appreciate its eco-friendly construction, adjustable chin strap, and availability in five different colors. Grab one, and face that sunny trail without worry.
Pros: Very comfortable, breathes well, excellent sun protection, available in five colors
Cons: None to speak of!
Best for: All-around hiking, backpacking, camping, and outdoors
Outdoor Research Saguaro
Materials: Cotton twill
If you dig the Breeze Brimmer above but are looking for a more ladylike design, Outdoor Research has you covered. Their top-rated women’s Saguaro hat will block the sun and ventilate efficiently, all while keeping your hiking style locked in.
This stylin’ wide-brim sun hat should excel anywhere off the trail, too. So, whether you’re floating a river, camping out in the desert, or soaking in a music festival, don’t think twice about packing the Saguaro. It’s built for anything.
Pros: Stylish and comfortable, UPF 50+ sun protection, crushable and packable
Cons: Cotton twill might not be breathable enough for high-intensity hikes
Best for: Hiking, travel, and everyday wear in sunny climates
Ultra-Popular Bucket Hat
Columbia Bora Bora Booney II
If you’re searching for a well-priced bucket hat to block the sun’s harmful UV rays, the Columbia Bora Bora Booney II might be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s one of the most popular wide-brim hat for hikers on the market today.
I used to wear the Bora Bora Booney II on all of my sunny hikes before I switched up my look on the trail. It protected my face, ears, and neck from the sun very well, but I didn’t find it as stylish or functional as the baseball hat/sun hoodie combo I rock nowadays.
Pros: Affordable, crushable and packable, ventilates well, easy to wash
Cons: Not super stylish
Best for: All-around hiking, backpacking, and outdoors
Floats in Water
REI Sahara Guide
Materials: Bluesign-approved nylon
If you agree that the aforementioned Bora Bora Booney II isn’t the most stylin’ bucket hat of the bunch, check out the REI Sahara Guide. Thanks to its classy headband and more fashion-forward design, this hat will help you feel like less of a dork on the trail.
Not to mention, it floats when dropped in water and is bluesign-approved, meaning it’s made sustainably, ethically, and responsibly. Like this hat but crave more of a fedora style? Then grab one of REI’s Sahara Path Hats (assuming you’ve got the attitude to pull it off).
Pros: Floats, breathable, wicks moisture well, stylish for a bucket hat, available in five colors
Cons: None we can think of
Best for: Sunny hikes and backpacking trips, rafting, swimming, beach days
Stylin’ & High Class
Tilley Endurables Airflo
Materials: Nylon, polyester
If you’re still not impressed by the looks of the first four bucket hats on this list, worry not; I’ve been saving the most stylish option for last. If the Tilley Enudrables Airflow wide-brim can’t help you look and feel fresh on the trail, then I’m afraid nothing will.
As you might expect, this high-end wide-brim is as breathable, moisture-wicking, and UV-blocking as they come. It also floats in water, rocks a hidden pocket, has a lifetime warranty, and is available in 11 different custom sizes. What other hat on this list can say that?
Pros: As stylish as hiking hats come, guaranteed for life, floats, bluesign-approved fabric
Best for: Hiking, backpacking, camping, rafting, traveling, and everyday wear
Baseball caps, my favorite option, are best for hiking in climates where the sun isn’t beating down constantly, and you don’t need full-coverage UV protection. If you do plan on significant sun exposure, pair your baseball hat with another form of protection (like sunscreen, a sun hoodie, or a neck gaiter).
The following five products offer the least UV protection of any headwear on this list but are versatile and stylish enough to wear around town or at your house.
Eco-Friendly Retro Steeze
Patagonia Boardshort Label Funfarer
Materials: Recycled fishing nets, organic cotton
The Funfarer is the newest of the snapbacks in my current hiking collection, and I wear it all the time off the trail, too. I’m eager to buy Patagonia products since they’re so steadfast in conserving and protecting some of the most sacred lands in North and South America.
Not to mention, this cap’s brim is made entirely of recycled fishing nets, while the rest is 100% organic cotton. An eco-friendly hat from a forward-thinking company that looks great and works both on men and women hikers? That, my friends, is what we call a no-brainer.
Pros: Looks and feels great, eco-friendly materials, buying Patagonia products promotes land conservation
Cons: Not trucker-style, so it won’t be very breathable on high-intensity hikes
Best for: Low-intensity hiking, everyday wear
Hiker Trash Five-Panel
Materials: Polyester, mesh
Take one look at my ultralight backpacking gear list, and you’ll quickly notice that I’m a shameless Zpacks addict. They make cutting-edge gear for thru-hikers and have been doing so for a long time, and that’s why I’m confident in recommending their stylin’ five-panel trucker.
In their words: “Our five-panel hat is the perfect hiker trash accessory. It looks great combined with those short shorts and that thrift store button-up. Great for blocking the sun, propping up rain hoods, or just rounding out that relaxed look.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Pros: One of the best brands on the market, three different colors/designs, only $20
Cons: No neck or ear sun protection
Best for: Letting people know you’re a thru-hiker
KUIU Air Mesh Flex Fit
Materials: Polyester micro mesh
I found this ultra-efficient lid as I was assembling my kit for my first season of backcountry archery elk hunting. Sure, I returned home empty-handed after a brutal few weeks chasing ghosts in the wilderness, but at least I discovered a sweet new brand in the process.
KUIU is the biggest name in the UL hunting community, and its cutting-edge products have started seeping into the backpacking world. I can attest to the quality of their gear through firsthand use and have since added a few of their products to my ultralight backpacking gear list.
Pros: Very lightweight and breathable, stretchy OFA band makes for a very comfortable fit
Cons: Doesn’t come in solid patterns
Best for: Hikers and backpackers who don’t mind rocking a little camo
Unique Euro-Style Running Lid
Materials: Depends on the model
Ciele, ever heard of ‘em? I hadn’t until JupiterHikes, one of my favorite ultralight backpacking YouTubers, popped one of their caps on his gear list. Ciele is a Montreal-based brand that creates lightweight, breathable, and packable running gear with a unique style.
I love the broad color scheme and creative patterns Ciele uses across their extensive selection of caps. So, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind hat you probably won’t see anywhere else along the trail, scroll through their inventory and grab whichever one speaks to you loudest.
Pros: Unique style, very breathable and lightweight, machine washable, packable
Cons: Pricey, not a very big brim
Best for: Trail running, thru-hiking, those who cover long distances
Black & White 7-Panel
Feathered Friends Smoking Man
Materials: Cotton, mesh
The Feathered Friends Smoking Man seven-panel hat is currently out of stock (and I’m currently heartbroken about it). This is perhaps the coolest trucker hat of the bunch, and I’m itching to get my hands on one. I’m not usually a big ‘logo’ guy, but let’s be honest, that’s a sweet patch.
Plus, I’m always eager to support Feathered Friends, a Seattle-based brand that makes some of the very best ultralight down bags and jackets on the market. Hopefully, this lid will be back in stock someday soon, so I can scoop it up and rock it in the backcountry.
Pros: Seven-panel construction, badass design, US-based company
Cons: Cotton isn’t as breathable as polyester
Best for: All-around hiking and backpacking, everyday wear
The following three hats are here to protect you from especially sunny, rainy, and buggy climates (in that order). So, if you’re willing to sacrifice a little style in exchange for extreme functionality in harsh conditions, look no further.
Lightweight Sun Hat
Outdoor Research Sun Runner
Materials: Supplex® nylon
Do you hike in hot and sunny climates with little to no escape from the UV that beams down from above? If so, the sun runner cap should be on your radar. Its well-ventilated full-coverage sun cape will effectively block harmful rays and easily protect your ears and neck.
And when clouds roll in, or you’re hiking in the shade, simply detach the cape and stash it away until you need it again. I don’t own the Sun Runner yet, but I plan to grab one for my upcoming trek of the Arizona Trail this fall. It should protect my pale skin perfectly in the desert.
Pros: Full-coverage sun protection, removable sun cape, lightweight, ventilates well
Cons: Isn’t going to win any fashion contests
Best for: Hiking and backpacking in sunny and hot climates
Great for Rainy Climates
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Storm
Materials: Nylon, polyester
As a Colorado boy who has spent many happy days hiking in dry and sunny weather, I’ve never seen the need for a rain hat. I imagine that would change in a heartbeat if I started hitting the trails in the ever-rainy Pacific Northwest or somewhere similarly drizzly.
If I ever do embark on a backpacking trip into such a climate, I’d be wise to grab the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Storm rain hat beforehand. It’ll shed rain with ease, protect me from the sun once the clouds have parted, and fold away easily into my pack when I don’t need it.
Pros: 100% waterproof, fully adjustable sizing, comfortable, folding brim makes packing away easy
Cons: Will wet out in extended downpours
Best for: Hiking and backpacking in rainy climates
Booney With Bug Net
Sunday Afternoons Bug-Free Cruiser
Materials: Nylon crown, polyester
Hate to break it to you, but this eyesore isn’t going to win the heart of that cute hiker you just bumped into on the trail. Thankfully, hikers don’t need this bug net booney to attract potential partners. They need it to keep the mosquitos, gnats, and no-see-ums at bay. And it does so quite well.
Buggy climates will never be an issue thanks to its full coverage netting — which can be tucked away under the hat’s crown when not in use. Did I mention the Cruiser floats in water, blocks the sun effectively, and is backed by a lifetime guarantee?
Pros: Keeps the bugs at bay, great at blocking the sun, floats, lifetime guarantee
Cons: Can’t bend brim, looks a bit dorky when netting is deployed (but what wouldn’t?)
Best for: Hiking and backpacking in buggy and sunny climates
Hiking isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can get downright cold out in the backcountry, especially if you like to hit the trail in the winter months. I recommended following three beanies to trap your body heat and keep your ears nice and toasty when the temperatures plummet and there’s a nip to the air.
Materials: Polyester, spandex
Hiking and trail running can get chilly, and a baseball cap or bucket hat won’t keep your noggin warm when the mercury drops towards freezing. Grab a skullcap if you’re searching for a lightweight solution to keep your ears warm and trap your body heat.
This model from New Balance will thrive during crisp morning runs and nippy dusk hikes in typical spring and fall conditions. But, since it’s so lightweight, I wouldn’t rely on it to properly insulate your head if temps get too far below freezing.
Pros: Very lightweight and breathable, stretchy and cozy, can fit comfortably underneath all hats on this list,
Cons: Might not provide enough insulation in below-freezing weather
Best for: Hiking and trail running in brisk temperatures
Smartwool Thermal Merino Reversible
If the New Balance Skullcap doesn’t seem warm enough for your cold-weather excursions, this Smartwool reversible merino wool beanie turns up the warmth. It sports a cuffed roll-up that’ll give your ears an extra layer of protection and might be just what you need to stay toasty.
And because it’s made of merino wool, it’ll be excellent at wicking sweat away from your head and regulating your body temperature. Merino is also highly antimicrobial and will keep odor-causing bacteria at bay to keep you smelling fresh and feeling clean on the trail.
Pros: Very comfortable, excellent at wicking moisture, antimicrobial, highly odor-resistant, environmentally-friendly
Cons: Less durable than a well-made polyester or cotton beanie
Best for: Hiking, backpacking, and running in cold weather
Heavyweight Lid for Winter Weather
Materials: Toray nylon, stretch, and insulation
Are you the adventurous type who loves to crush trails even when the temperature drops well below freezing? If so, you’ll need some substantial winter insulation to protect that precious head of yours. Thankfully, the KUIU Kenia was built for hikers like you.
True, the Kenai was designed for late-season ultralight hunters, but it should also serve hikers and backpackers equally in ‘cold to frigid’ conditions. Its cutting-edge Toray nylon material will trap warmth, breathe well, and thwart wind and moisture with ease.
Pros: Very warm, high warmth-to-weight ratio, utilizes ultra-warm and breathable Toray insulation
Cons: Might be too warm for hiking in typical spring and fall conditions
Best for: Cold-weather winter hiking and backpacking
To ensure that we recommend only top-notch products to you, we analyzed each hat for six essential considerations when putting this list together. Here they are:
When choosing a hiking hat, look closely at its materials before making a purchase.
Cotton may be comfortable and stylish, but it absorbs sweat and doesn’t breathe very well in hot climates. Cotton can still work for you, but I’d look another direction if you tend to break a significant sweat while you hike. As such, I’ve only included a few cotton hats in this post.
Polyester and nylon, on the other hand, are lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking materials best suited for high-intensity hiking and outdoor activities. Most of the hats on this list are made from these two high-performance synthetic materials.
Why do we hikers wear hats on the trail in the first place? To shield us from the sun’s pesky UV rays, of course. To cover all the bases, I’ve recommended a variety of hats that’ll provide varying degrees of sun protection.
Booneys and wide-brim sun hats are best for hiking in sunny climates where you anticipate hours of significant UV exposure. They should protect your face, ears, and neck quite well, but I still recommend applying sunscreen to your nose and ears if you’re fair-skinned like me.
Baseball hats are best for hiking in climates where you can expect a decent amount of respite from the sun’s rays. Be sure to pair them with another form of sun protection — sunscreen, sun hoodies, neck gaiters, etc. — if you plan on hiking in sunny climates. Though baseball hats are my go-to option, they offer the least UV protection of any headwear on this list.
Full-coverage hats with ear and neck flaps will offer the best sun protection of any headwear on this list (for obvious reasons). If you’re embarking on a desert hike where the sun beats down relentlessly or simply want the best protection available, get your hands on a full-coverage lid with ear and neck flaps like the Outdoor Research Sun Runner.
Breathability & Moisture Wicking
If you tend to push yourself hard while you hike, chances are you’ll emanate significant heat and sweat from that lovely head of yours. That’s why you need a hat that ventilates your body heat and wicks moisture away to help keep you cool, fresh, and focused.
Some hats on this list breathe and wick moisture better than others, so be sure to check out the materials used and read some reviews to ensure you get a hat that fits your intensity of hiking.
Comfort is key.
Obviously, we don’t want our hat (or any other piece of our wardrobe) to bother us and harsh our vibes while we’re out trying to enjoy the pristine backcountry. For that reason, I only chose well-reviewed hats known for their breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and overall comfort. Look good, feel good, hike… well.
Nobody wants to look like a square on the trail.
That’s why I’ve picked stylish hats that’ll keep your fashion game tight as you cruise down the trail. Sure, a couple of the booney hats and full-coverage sun caps you see might look slightly dorky by nature, but that’s the cost of protecting that face of yours.
Proper sun protection looks good on you no matter what.
Hiking is a relatively affordable hobby, so I did my best to choose reasonably-priced hats for this list. You won’t catch me recommending any cheap $10 Amazon knockoffs; you’ll only find quality caps at approachable prices here. Most of the products on this list should fall within the $20-40 range, which is quite reasonable, in my opinion.
Want to save some dough? Go for the Columbia Bora Bora Booney II. Want to splurge a little? Go for the Tilley Endurables Airflo. Want to keep it mid-range? Go for any of the versatile baseball hats on this list.
You wouldn’t dare hit the trail without one of 2023’s best hiking hats… would you?
If not, how the hell do you plan on blocking the sun and protecting that precious face of yours on your next backcountry adventure?
You don’t have to trudge down the trail like a pain-seeking loon as the sun scorches you without mercy. I promise. Being ill-prepared for a hike is so not you. Let someone else make that mistake.
The choice is yours, my friend.
Whether you pick up a lid from Ciele, Outdoor Research, Feathered Friends, or some other fantastic brand on this list, may it block the sun, hide that bed head, and keep you looking snappy as you tear up the trail.
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Last Updated on August 10, 2023