Sun Hats: Expectation vs Reality

Man with bucket hat and camera

Are you missing out on the benefits of sun hats because of an outdated set of expectations and misconceptions? For instance, we often hear that sun hats cost too much or are uncomfortable, bulky and not as good as sunscreen. Well, if you haven’t worn a sun hat before (or in a while), then it’s time to reconsider sun hats because a lot has changed. In addition to fabric and design improvements making sun hats safer and more comfortable, you now also have many more design options to match your personal style. All of this creates a disconnect between the expectation and reality of consumers and their sun hats, so let’s dig a little deeper to uncover what you should really expect from sun hats for men and women.

Cost of Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats cost too much.
  • Reality: In the long run, sun hats will save you money.

Sun hats will require a greater upfront investment (although many quality sun hats for men and women are available for less than $40, including one from Rayward Apparel), but they’ll save you money in the long run. How? We’re so glad you asked! Wearing a men’s or women’s sun hat will mean you need less sunscreen for your head, and it could also save you on costly medical visits to treat sun spots, skin damage and, worst of call, cancer.

Comfort and Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats are hot and uncomfortable.
  • Reality: New fabrics allow for lightweight, breathable sun hats.

The expectation of hot, heavy sun hats may have been true back in the olden days, but modern apparel fabrics have changed the game. It’s now possible to create lightweight hats that are still protective, yet breathable and moisture-wicking. Of course, not every sun hat is equally comfortable, which is why we prefer our sun hats for women and men over the typically heavier straw-style sun hats.

Rayward Apparel's Sun Ops Bucket Hat

Convenience of Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats are too big and bulky.
  • Reality: Modern sun hats come in lightweight, packable and machine-washable styles.

If weight and size are a factor in choosing your sun hat, then consider that modern sun hats come in a variety of styles, including lightweight, easily packable fabrics with foldable brims. With Rayward Apparel’s Sun Ops bucket sun hats for men and women, you can even throw your hat in the washing machine for easy-care cleaning!

Sun Hat Styles for Women & Men

  • Expectation: All sun hats look like straw-style beach hats.
  • Reality: There are countless styles of sun hats.

In choosing a sun hat, you’ll discover countless styles of sun hats for women and men. Whether you prefer a bucket hat (our personal favorite), baseball-style headwear, wide-brimmed beach hats, Panama hats or something more formal, the good news is that you have plenty of options!

Sun Hat for Women's UV Protection

Effectiveness of Sun Hats

  • Expectation: Sun hats aren’t as effective as sunscreen.
  • Reality: Sunscreen is safer if worn WITH a sun hat.

As long as your sun hat features a UPF 50+ rating, which means over 98% of UV rays are blocked, then you can trust the protection of your hat. The real question, however, is how much of your head, face and neck is your hat protecting? A baseball hat, even one with a UPF rating, offers little to no protection for your ears and neck. A wide-brimmed hat, on the other hand, is much more likely to provide effective protection for your ears and face. Just remember to also wear sunscreen to block those pesky indirect UV rays that bounce upwards from reflective surfaces like water and sand.

This Harvard Health article does a nice job outlining proper sun protection, and goes so far as to say that you should “always wear appropriate protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved clothing, and pants when possible.” It’s easy to compare sunscreen and sun hats as an either or, but the reality is you should be wearing broad spectrum sunscreen AND sun hats for men and women.

Has your reluctance about wearing a sun hat ever led to a sunburn? If so, relax. If you’re currently sunburned, check the advice below for the best treatment of a sunburn. Next, consider if your sunburn could have been prevented by wearing one of our sun hats for women or men. Either way, learn what you need to do differently to avoid repeating this mistake:

Great news! There are plenty of sun hats to choose from, including brand new UPF 50+ bucket sun hats for men and women from Rayward Apparel.

When to Wear a Sun Hat

Sun Protection Hat for Women

Sun hats are a critical component of sun protection. When combined with UPF apparel and proper sunscreen application, you can virtually eliminate your exposure to UV damage. The key, however, is knowing when and how to protect yourself. Fortunately, when it comes to sun protection hats, the answer is simple: wear a sun hat as often as you can.

Not the answer you were looking for? Hear us out, and we’ll explain why you really should wear a sun protection hat all the time. Of course, we’re realistic and understand that you can’t always wear a hat. That being said, let’s identify when a sun protection hat is MOST important.

Most Important Day to Wear a Sun Hat

Before venturing out in the sun, be sure to check the Ultraviolet (UV) Index for the day. The UV Index measures the strength of the sun’s UV radiation on any particular day. UV Index values range from 0-12, with the higher number indicating a higher risk of UV damage. On days with a UV Index of 3-7, you have a “moderate to high” risk of UV damage and should wear a hat while also limiting your sun exposure, especially during midday hours. A UV Index of 8 or greater indicates a “very high to extreme” UV risk with the potential for skin damage in less than 15 minutes! In the U.S., many days fall within this highest risk range, and not only during the summer. Any time the UV Index is 8 or higher, sunscreen, UPF apparel and sun protection hats for women and men are essential.

To track the UV Index, we suggest bookmarking this site for easy access. You can also use the tool below to quickly lookup the UV index for a particular location. Try it now:

Most Important Time to Wear Your Sun Hat

The sun’s UV radiation varies throughout the day, with midday being the most intense. Depending on your location (and daylight savings), this midday “solar noon” window occurs between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you’re going to be outside for even 10 minutes during this window, it’s time to put hats on heads, in addition to broad spectrum sunscreen. During this midday period, the sun is at its strongest, and sun protection hats for men and women are non-negotiable. Choose one that’s lightweight and breathable and you’ll actually feel cooler, even when the day is hottest.

Sun Protection Hat for Golf

Most Important Activities for a Sun Protection Hat

The activities that most require sun protection hats for women and men are the activities that might require you to be outside on a day with a higher UV Index, or in the sun during the intense midday solar noon. Of course, this includes a huge range of activities, including sporting events, gardening, yardwork, fishing, running, concerts, festivals, barbecues, pool parties and so forth, but you get the idea.

It’s because this range of activities is so broad that Rayward Apparel is launching our first UPF sun protection hats for men and women. Made of UPF 50+ rated fabrics, our sun protection hats will keep you cool, comfortable and protected. Keep in mind that all sun protection hats must still be paired with broad spectrum sunscreen to ensure protection against indirect UV rays. Indirect sun damage can happen when the sun’s radiation bounces off of reflective surfaces, such as water, sand, cement, ice and snow.

Before you go, be sure to shop Rayward Apparel’s new UPF sun protection hats for men and women.

Bonus: To learn more about the UV Index, check out this informative video:

Bucket Hat or Baseball Cap for Sun Protection?

UPF Bucket Hat in Black

We are often asked whether bucket hats or baseball hats offer better UV protection from the sun. While both offer sun protection, we recommend a UPF bucket hat instead of a baseball cap for a few reasons. Continue below as we compare the advantages of bucket hats and baseball hats. We’ll look specifically at style, comfort, convenience and UV protection. By the end, we’re confident you’ll agree that the UV protection of sun protection bucket hats just can’t be beat!

Runway Face-off: Sun Protection Bucket Hats vs Baseball Hats

Much of style is subjective, but we’ll highlight a few key differences and let you draw your own conclusion. Bucket hats feature a 360-degree brim, which turned upside down gives them a bucket shape, hence the name. Baseball hats, meanwhile, feature a single visor extending out in one direction. Both come in fitted or adjustable varieties, with bucket hats usually accomplishing this with a more discrete rear drawcord. Both types of hats actually come in a number of sub-styles and materials. When buying a hat for sun protection, look for styles that feature as few holes and mesh as possible. This is because every hole creates a way for UV rays to reach your head.

Rest assured that neither hat type is likely to ever go out of style. If either is trending, however, it’s bucket hats making a resurgence as part of the athleisure and outdoorsy fashion movements.

Which Is More Comfortable, a Bucket Hat or Baseball Cap?

The individual comfort of a bucket hat or baseball hat depends largely upon the specific fabric. Baseball hats typically feature a stiff visor, which might be less comfortable against your head. This would be especially uncomfortable when pressed against another surface, such as a car headrest or beach blanket. As far as fit, both style hats come in fitted and adjustable varieties, as mentioned above. Ultimately, the main comfort differences will be determined by the material used. At Rayward Apparel, we only use lightweight, outdoor-friendly fabrics to keep you cool even on the hottest of days. As a result, you know you’ll be comfortable in our sun protection bucket hat.

Baseball Hat Exposes Ears to the Sun

A Matter of Convenience: Sun Protection Hats

We would never describe baseball hats as “inconvenient,” but there are certain conveniences afforded specifically to lightweight UV bucket hats. For instance, the soft and shapeable brim of a bucket hat is easier to wash and pack. With baseball hats, you have to worry about protecting the shape of your visor. Additionally, bucket hats are typically made with breathable, moisture-wicking materials. This is opposed to the plastics and foams sometimes used in ball caps. Lastly, any bucket hat worth its weight (light as it may be) will also feature an adjustable neck strap to keep your hat securely in place. Consider how inconvenient it would be for your sun protection to blow away because it wasn’t properly secured. If this sounds far-fetched, just watch this video below:

The Main Event: Which Offers Better Sun Protection?

If the other categories are close (and subject to personal preference), this is where our undisputed sun protection champion emerges. In terms of sun protection, a bucket hat is far better than a baseball hat. Since bucket hats feature a 360-degree brim, the wider of which the better, bucket hats offer protection for all sides of your head. Most critically, this includes UV protection for your ears, which are probably the biggest vulnerability exposed by only wearing baseball caps.

Wearing either a sun protection bucket hat or a baseball cap is better than wearing no hat. However, based on its especially strong performance in the categories of comfort and, most importantly, UV protection, the UPF bucket hat is our winner for best sun protection hat. If for some reason a bucket hat isn’t for you, or circumstances find you without one, at least wear a baseball hat. If that be the case, just make sure you pair your baseball hat with our UPF 50+ hooded shirt to protect your ears and neck. Alternatively, you could lather on a bunch of sunscreen, but sunscreen has its own downsides and will probably cost you more money in the long run.

Rayward Apparel has launched its first sun protection hat, the Sun Ops Bucket Hat, and it should come as no surprise that UV protection was our highest priority. With that in mind, we created the best sun protection bucket hat which, like everything else we design, doesn’t compromise style, comfort or performance to achieve the best in UV protection.

Shop Rayward Apparel’s Sun Ops UPF 50+ bucket hat today!

What Are the Best Hats for Sun Protection?

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 available now at Rayward Apparel, so shop our Sun Ops UPF 50+ bucket hats today!

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

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