What Are the Best Hats for Sun Protection?

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Woman wearing purple bucket hat

Hats play a critical role in sun protection, but not all hats are equally UV protective. Therefore, when determining the best hat for sun protection, several factors must be considered. These include style, convenience, comfort and, most importantly, UV protection. Continue below as we outline the best hats for sun protection, comparing baseball hats, straw beach hats and sun bucket hats!

Baseball Hats for Sun Protection

Style: Not likely to ever go out of fashion, baseball hats are a decent option for sun protection. Baseball sun hats come in many different styles and fabrics, including mesh, wool and cotton. One negative in the style department is that most baseball hats don’t feature a neck strap. This leaves little to prevent them from being blown away at high speeds, such as when riding on a boat.

Convenience: Baseball hats are the most commonly owned of these three hat styles. Given that, there’s an argument to be made that the hat you already have is the most convenient. Love the one you’re with, right? They are relatively compact and lightweight, and some are even packable. Depending on the exact fabric, you may even be able to wash them in the washing machine or dishwasher.

Comfort: Most baseball hats are adjustable to create a snug fit for nearly any size head. Or, if you prefer a cleaner look, you could wear a custom-fitted baseball hat! In addition to fit, the fabric has a lot to do with the level of comfort. Stick with something lightweight (and UPF rated) for breathable comfort.

UV Protection: Of the three hat styles we’re looking at today, baseball hats provide the least protection from the sun. The visor is only on one side, which exposes the opposite side of your head, and they leave your ears entirely exposed. Of course, baseball hats can be flipped around if you need to use the bill or visor to shade a different part of your head. For example, a baseball hat worn backwards might offer some additional protection for your neck.

In Summary… While far better than nothing, baseball hats lack the protection offered by sun bucket hats, as you’ll see below. We’ll note, however, that you can overcome a baseball hat’s shortcomings by pairing it with a hooded shirt. Our top choice for this combo? Rayward Apparel’s UPF 50+ Sun Bound hoodie.

Baseball hat at the park

Straw Beach Hats for UV Protection

Style: Whether you like the classic style with a wide brim and natural straw, or something more modern with synthetic fibers and bright colors, there’s a woven-style sun hat for you! It’s also easy to make a straw sun hat more personal with a unique ribbon.

Convenience: On average, woven and straw beach hats are the largest, and arguably least convenient of these sun hat types. Where they excel, however, is in versatility. A woven sun hat won’t look out of place going from the beach to the coffee shop, or from dinner out to a ball game.

Comfort: Depending on their material and brim size, straw beach hats can be the heaviest of the bunch. They are, however, undeniably comfortable. Besides, nothing says “I’m on vacation” quite like a straw hat paired with a tropical drink.

UV Protection: With what is typically the widest of brims, straw hats do an excellent job of shading your face, ears and head from the sun. Be wary, however, of straw hats with a loose weave or any material that features areas through which UV rays could penetrate.

In Summary… While sometimes lacking in convenience and comfort, straw hats make up for these shortcomings with excellent UV protection. If a straw beach hat fits your fashion, then consider this a good option for UV protection. However, before you settle on a straw hat, consider how they compare to sun bucket hats.

Women wearing straw beach hats

Sun Bucket Hats for Sun Protection

Style: The perfect combination of style and substance, sun bucket hats are back and here to stay. Long gone are the days when bucket hats were reserved for fishing and outdoorsmen. Thanks in part to the rise of athleisure, sun bucket hats are now just as appropriate on the street as they are on the boat. Plus, practical features like adjustable neck straps keep your sun bucket hats where they belong!

Convenience: Bucket hats are the most convenient of all sun protection hats. Not only are they lightweight, but they are also easily packable without any concerns of damaging a stiff visor (like on a baseball hat) or of taking up too much space (like with a straw hat). Plus, they’re usually machine-washable, and a built-in chin strap conveniently allows hanging your bucket hat around your neck.

Comfort: With a lightweight, breathable fabric and a soft, shapeable brim, sun bucket hats offer incredible comfort for a variety of weather conditions and a range of activities. Plus, an adjustable drawcord allows you to loosen or tighten the circumference for a comfortable, snug fit around your head.

UV Protection: Sun bucket hats with UPF 50+ rated fabrics, like the ones available from Rayward Apparel, offer the best sun protection. The adjustable 360-degree brim protects from all angles, and the fabric dries quickly if submerged in water. Worn properly, you’ll protect not only your scalp, but also your ears, neck and face.

In Summary… It should come as no surprise that bucket sun hats, which excel in every category, are also our top choice for UV protection. Lightweight, comfortable, versatile and packable, plus with 360-degrees of sun protection, the best hats for sun protection are sun bucket hats. If you’re going to rely on one hat for sun protection, make it a UPF 50+ sun bucket hat.

Golfing with Sun Bucket Hat

Wearing any of the hats above is better than not wearing a hat at all, but our clear favorite is sun bucket hats. Their combination of style, convenience, comfort and UV protection make them safest and the best choice for sun protection. Of course, with any sun hat, check for a UPF 50+ rating to ensure you are adequately protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Just remember, always pair your hat with broad spectrum sunscreen.

Sun bucket hats are coming soon to Rayward Apparel! Subscribe to our e-newsletter and be the first to know when they’re in stock!

For additional tips on how to stay safe in the sun, check out this short video from Cone Health:

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