Spending time outside has tons of great health benefits as it rebalances your nervous system, taking you from that stressful fight or flight mode and into the parasympathetic state of rest and digest. But there are some downsides to the great outdoors, no thanks to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Exposure to sunlight without protection can promote premature signs of aging and even put you at greater risk of melanoma skin cancer. The key to reaping the benefits of nature (and the sun) without the damage is to protect yourself—by way of sunscreen and a great sun hat.
Whether or not you consider yourself a hat person—like someone who has a display wall in their home dedicated to their collection—sun hats are a staple in any warm-weather wardrobe. Sun hats “are essential for health reasons first and foremost,” says Michelle Maslanka, the founder and CEO of Sister Swim. Plus, in addition to protecting your delicate facial complexion from the sun, sun hats are a great fashion moment, helping to complete any summer-inspired look.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Lulus' sun hats are so cute and versatile, but also functional, with many of its offers containing a wide brim for sure-fire protection. If you don't mind paying a premium, that of Eric Javits' has the added benefit of packability—it rolls and folds without the risk of damage.
From sun hats for the beach to sun hats for hiking to baseball and bucket hats, there is a hat out there for everyone—yes, including those who don’t consider themselves hat people. If you’re on the prowl for a great bucket hat, you’ve come to the right corner of the internet.
We went on a mission to find the best sun hats for any occasion. Peep our top picks, ahead.
Best Overall: Lulus Second to the Sun Natural Woven Straw Wide-Brim Hat
For the best overall sun hat, we looked for something classic, neutral, and reasonably priced for its quality. Our top pick? This stunning woven straw hat from Lulus. Doesn’t it just make you want to book a vacation? The hat is made from 100 percent braid palm leaf and features a larger brim (4.75 inches to be exact) for extra sun protection.
Material: 100% braid palm leaf | Brim: 4.75 inches | Circumference: 22.5 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Budget: Somaler Cotton Wide Brim Sun Hat
Budget-friendly without sacrificing quality, this under-$20 sun hat is an excellent option for someone looking to rock a brimmed look without too much investment. The hat is also packable, making it great for travel, and features UPF 50+ for even more sun protection.
Material: Polyester and cotton | Circumference: 20.86-22.83 inches | Colors: Beige, Black, Dark Blue, Pink, White, Brick Red, Grey Blue, Purple +more
Best Designer: Gucci GG Canvas Wide Brim Hat
If you’re going to go designer, we say go all the way in. We are obsessed with this sun hat from Gucci. It’s the perfect shape for a wide-brim canvas hat, features the iconic GG logo print, and offers a ton of great sun coverage with an oversized brim.
Material: 66% polyester, 17% cotton, 17% polyamide; 64% cotton, 36% linen lining | Brim: 5.7 inches | Circumference: 21.7-24.4 inches | Colors: Beige
Best Straw: Peter Grimm Sebastian Lifeguard Hat
Straw sun hats are easy to come by—and many are included in our list of best sun hats—so we wanted a style that felt a little more unique. We love this elevated take on the classic straw surf hat as it makes it all the more versatile. Wear it to the beach or pool, or pair it with your favorite sundress for a completed summer look.
Material: 100% straw | Brim: 6.5 inches | Circumference: 22.4-24 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Packable: Eric Javits Squishee A List packable Fedora Hat
Finding a packable straw hat that doesn’t end up bent out of shape is no easy feat. But, we found the best one, promise! Made with a patented straw material, this fedora-style sun hat makes for a great travel companion as it can be easily folded or rolled up and stowed safely in your carry-on.
Material: 100% Squishee® straw | Brim: 4 inches | Colors: Peanut, Black, Sky, White Mix, Blush, Honey, Latte
Best Nylon: Sunday Afternoons Sport Hat
Nylon sun hats are great for blocking out UV rays during more physical activities such as gardening, hiking, or even strolling down the street on a hot sunny day. This one from Sunday Afternoons checks all of our boxes as it is lightweight, breathable, features a UPF of 50+, and can be securely fastened to your head with an adjustable strap.
Material: Nylon and polyester | Brim: 4 inches | Circumference: 22-23.6 inches | Colors: Cream/Sand, Sand/Black, Teal Kaleidoscope, White/Charcoal, Coral Kaleidoscope, Cardinal +more
Best Waterproof: Toppers Wide Brim Gardening Hat with Neck Flap
If you’re on the hunt for a sun hat that is water-resistant yet stylish, we found your perfect match. This sporty sun hat is not only made up of water-resistant material, but it’s also lightweight, breathable, has UPF 50+, and features a longer brim in the back to keep your neck protected from the sun. Sun protection aside, our favorite feature is the chic bow on the back.
Material: Polyester | Circumference: 22.8 inches | Brim: 4.7 inches (front), 7 inches (back) | Colors: Black, Blue, Cream, Khaki, Light Gray, White
Best Floppy: San Diego Hat Company For the Gram Natural Straw Floppy Hat
There is something so chic about an extra-wide brim. If you’re looking to make a statement, this hat by the iconic San Diego Hat Company is the one for you. Made with 75 percent paper, it features an 8-inch brim for added sun protection and drama.
Material: 75% paper, 25% polyester | Brim: 8 inches | Circumference: 21.25 inches | Colors: Natural
Best with UPF: Solbari Everyday Sun Hat UPF50+
UPF is ultra-important in a sun hat as it can add an extra layer of sun protection (on top of your SPF, of course). This one from Solbari is made with UPF 50+, which is the recommended amount of protection. The brim also expands in the back for additional sun protection, has a small hole for a ponytail to fit, and is available in a ton of fun colors, so you’re bound to find your perfect match.
Material: Polyester | Brim: 4 inches (front), 6 inches (back) | Colors: Beige, Navy, Blush Pink, Tuscany, Citrus, Vibrant Pink, Iris Blue, Burgundy, Camel, Black, Evergreen
Best Visor: Baggu Visor
We love a good visor, but so many of them can easily lose their shape. If you want one that is flexible, durable, and super comfortable, we are all about the Baggu Visor. Available in two solid colors, plus three fun patterns (I personally have the black daisy and wear it all the time), and designed with an oversized look, this visor protects your face from the sun while also looking super cute. The best part? It’s machine washable, so you can give it a nice refresh as needed.
Material: 100% organic cotton | Circumference: 19.5-24.75 inches | Colors: Black, Periwinkle, Black Daisy, Brown Daisy, Lavender Trippy Checker
Best for Hair Up: FURTALK Sun Visor
The problem with sun hats is that they often made it nearly impossible to wear your hair up on a hot day. Enter what we call the topless sun hat. This style is great for 360-degree heat coverage and tossing your hair into a messy top knot. As far as the best one goes, this one is our top choice—and the top choice of over 6,500 Amazon customers—as it’s simple in design, comfortable, has UPF protection, and is available in a variety of colors.
Material: 100% paper straw | Colors: Khaki, Beige, Khaki Beige Stripes, Mix Beige, Ivory, Black, Mix Khaki +more
Best Cowboy: Hat Attack Raffia Crochet Cowboy
Cowboy hats make for great sun hats, but the traditional go-to doesn’t provide the most sun protection. We love this one from Hat Attack since it claims to block 97.5 to 98 percent of UVB rays, bringing shade and sun protection to your complexion. It is made of lightweight raffia material and despite being a cowboy hat, is neutral enough for any look.
Material: Raffia | Brim: 3.5 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Fedora: Gigi Pip Arlo Straw Teardrop Fedora
Fedora hats can double as sun hats—just make sure the brim is large enough. This one from Gigi Pip has a wider brim compared to more traditional styles, is a great neutral cream color, and has an elevated design that makes it great for wearing at the beach or with your favorite spring or summer look.
Material: 100% paper straw with leather band | Circumference: 55, 57, 59, and 61 centimeters | Colors: Cream
Best Cotton: Scala Cotton Hat UPF 50+
Cotton sun hats are a classic and, really, one of those items everyone should have in their closet as their packable nature makes them convenient to travel with, toss in a bag in case of emergency, or keep stored in a shed for gardening. We aren’t surprised this one comes recommended by over 3,000 Amazon customers as it’s made of 100 percent cotton, highly durable, has a medium-sized fold-over brim, and is available in a ton of fun colors.
Material: 100% cotton | Brim: 2.5 inches | Colors: Aqua, Azure, Banana, Black, Charcoal, Chino Green, Coral, Denim, Lavender, Lime, Linen, Mist, Natural, Oatmeal +more
Best Sustainable: Cuyana Wide Brim Panama Summer Hat
If sustainability is at the top of your must list, this straw Panama sunhat is the way to go. Made from toquilla straw—which is considered a renewable resource—that is harvested without harming the toquilla palm it comes from and handwoven by women in Ecuador, this is a hat you can feel good about wearing.
Material: 100% toquilla straw | Circumference: 56, 57, 58, and 59 centimeters | Colors: Natural, Pebble, Chocolate
Best Bucket: Lack of Color The Inca Bucket
Bucket hats are everywhere this season. So, why not go with a unique spin on the traditional style? We love Lack of Color hats, and this straw bucket hat is no exception. Made up of woven raffia tied together to create a bucket appeal, this elevated bucket hat is perfect for a day at the pool, beach, or even a picnic in the park.
Material: 100% raffia straw | Brim: 2.75 inches | Circumference: 55, 57, 59, and 61 centimeters | Colors: Natural, Noir, Special, Tan (Wide)
Best Boat: Fruition Hat Company Dr. February
We love a classic straw boat hat, and this one is extra special with its addition of colorful straw woven into the design. This sun hat option is great for anyone looking for a unique spin on a timeless style.
Material: Shantung straw | Brim: 3.5 inches | Colors: Natural/multicolor
Best Printed: Studio 189 Batik Bucket Hat
When it comes to printed sun hats, we say the bolder, the better. This 100 percent cotton bucket hat features an oversized design and stunning stamped leaf prints that are sure to make a statement poolside.
Material: 100% cotton | Brim: 4.75 inches | Circumference: 22 inches | Colors: Violet/White
Best Wide Brim: San Diego Hat Company Oversized Wide Brim Sun Hat
Wide brim hats aren’t the most functional for everyday wear, but they are a must-have for an all-day pool day. This raffia hat from San Diego Hat Company keeps things shady (in a good way) with a wide brim style, plus the added protection of UPF 50+. The thick monochromatic hatband is also swoon-worthy if you ask us.
Material: Raffia | Brim: 9 inches | Circumference: 22.5 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Crochet: Shiraleah Crochet-Accent Bucket Hat
This is a hat we can’t take our eyes off of. Perfect for strolling through your favorite vacation spot or spending the day at a luxe pool, this charming hat is made of 100 percent paper straw featuring crochet-knit accents on the crown, which makes it especially unique.
Material: 100% paper straw | Colors: Natural
Best for the Beach: Billabong New Comer Straw Sun Hat
Whether you’re bodyboarding or sunbathing, this classic surf sun hat is the perfect choice for a day at the beach. Made of breathable straw material and designed with a larger 4-inch brim with an adjustable strap, the hat protects your skin while staying put during your favorite sun activities.
Material: 100% straw | Brim: 4 inches | Circumference: 23 inches | Colors: Natural
Best Retro: FSIGOM Foldable Floppy Hat
If retro is more your style, this wide floppy sun hat turns up the glamor and comes recommended by over 5,000 Amazon customers. Made from straw and designed with an extra-large brim and a UPF of 50+, the hat is completely adjustable so you can find your perfect fit. The best part? It’s packable, so you can roll it up and tuck it into your carry-on for your next getaway.
Material: Straw | Circumference: 22.1-23.7 inches | Colors: Beige, Blue, Navy Blue, Orange, Red, Mint Green, Violet, Yellow
Best for Hiking: Columbia Bora Bora Booney
If you’re looking for a sun hat that will protect you from the glaring sun while on a hike, a sporty Booney style hat is the way to go. This one from Columbia is made of 100 percent nylon material with moisture-wicking technology and features a drawstring strap to keep it secure on your head while you trek through nature. Additionally, it has an ultra-tight weave and UPF protection, so your skin stays concealed from the sun’s rays.
Material: 100% textured nylon poplin | Brim: 3 inches | Circumference: 21-22 and 22-24.25 inches | Colors: Boulder, Bright Aqua, Canyon Sun, City Gray, Navy, Coral Reef, Electric Turquoise, Fossil, Mango, White +more
Meet the Expert
What to Look for When Shopping for Sun Hats
“Never skimp out on quality,” says Maslanka, adding that hats can easily look cheap and lose their shape if they aren’t high quality. “If spending a little more on a great quality hat that you will wear all the time is an option, it is a great investment piece in a wardrobe,” she says. “A great quality hat will wear and age with you."
The size of your hat also matters. You want it to first and foremost fit your head, but also “consider your destination and what your activities will be,” suggests Maslanka, adding that you might need something that is snugger if you are planning on doing more than basking in the sun.
The material that makes up your hat can also be important to consider—especially if your head and face sweat a lot. “Ensure your hat is made of breathable and sweat-wicking material,” Maslanka says.
“You also need to consider how much protection you will need,” says Maslanka. “If you’re going to be on the equator with direct overhead sunlight, you’ll want a hat with a wide brim,” she adds, noting that you have more wiggle room with the amount of protection depending on the amount of available shade, weather, and where you are in the world.
What is UPF for sun hats?
Instead of SPF, sun hats have something called UPF, which “measures the amount of UVA and UVB radiation from the sun that can penetrate a person’s clothing,” says Maslanka. “It’s the best way to measure the protectiveness of clothing,” she adds, noting that “the higher the rating, the better.” With that said, clothes alone can’t protect you from the sun. Maslanka says they “should be used in tandem with sunscreen.” A good rule of thumb for UPF is to look for a UPF rating of 50+, but 30+ will “provide good protection,” she says.
What are some benefits of wearing a sun hat?
As far as the benefits of wearing a sun hat are concerned, Maslanka says it’s about style but also health. “No matter how much sunscreen I put on, I also layer with a hat,” she explains, adding how it is so important to wear one when you are outside all day, even if it’s a cloudy day. “There is a reason why sun hats have been worn for centuries and originate from areas with warmer climates,” she notes.
How do you match a sun hat to your bathing suit?
If you want to match your sun hat to your swimsuit, Maslanka recommends a neutral straw hat as they go with virtually anything. “If wearing a solid-colored swimsuit, experiment with printed bucket hats; if wearing a printed suit, let the pattern shine by wearing a neutral, versatile hat,” she notes.
How do you measure your head for hats?
“You can measure by taking measuring tape or a piece of string that you can measure afterward and wrapping it around your head,” Maslanka explains, adding that the string or measuring tape should be placed right above your ear and an inch above your eyebrows—where a hat would sit comfortably. “Depending on inches or centimeters, you should be able to determine your hat size,” she adds. And, if your hat is a little too big for your liking, you can always purchase hat tape to place around the inside for a snugger fit.
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON Magazine to now writing about the best style trends for various publications, Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds. As a born-and-raised Californian with fair skin, Jessie has had a particular love for the sun and sun hats since she was a baby. Her first love was a white cotton bucket hat that she wore nearly every day as a kid. Now, Jessie considers all of her hats to be sun hats (especially in the Los Angeles heat). Her go-to styles are wide-brim or oversized Panama hats and baseball hats, but she still has a soft spot for bucket hats, too. When Jessie researched the best sun hats, she put her own experience with shopping for hats that offer sun protection and style into the process—as well as tapped swimwear founder Michelle Mislanka for her expertise.
Armstrong BK, Kricker A, English DR. Sun exposure and skin cancer. Australas J Dermatol. 1997;38 Suppl 1:S1-S6. doi:10.1111/j.1440-0960.1997.tb01000.x